BATESBURG-LEESVILLE, S.C. — Batesburg-Leesville High School is celebrating its 100-year anniversary as a school.
According to the school district, the towns of Batesburg and Leesville had their own separate schools in their own communities. In the early 1900’s, they discussed building one school for both towns.
The district said in an email, “In 1920, Act #805 granted permission from the state legislature to provide funding to build a consolidated Batesburg-Leesville High School."
The Batesburg-Leesville High School began construction, and their first classes started in September of 1920.
A hundred years later, students and faculty are beginning to celebrate the monumental year.
Aliyah Shealy and Shanez Padgett are both seniors at the high school. They’re both members of student council and helped decorate the rock sitting outside the high school.
"For all of us to work together to create something that resembles so big, this is a very monumental thing for our district and our community," said Padgett.
Padgett is also the student body president. His family are longtime members of the community. His parents both graduated from Batesburg-Leesville High.
“We go to the local pharmacy, the local grocery store, and they’re like, ‘Hey, that was my teacher, that’s my student, that’s my classmate.’ I think it’s amazing that we were actually born in 2001, around this time and that we’re graduating around that same time frame as well,” said Padgett.
Shealy says the community is special because everyone cares and looks out for one another.
“Our class has always been a tight knit family and so just to grow up and realize we're going to be the 100th class, it just really said something about that,” said Shealy.
Throughout the school, there are markers and banners celebrating the century old school. There are street signs placed inside the school marking former roads, like West Columbia Avenue and Maple Street.
This school year marks the third year Sonya Bryant has been principal of Panther nation. She grew up in the community and started her teaching career here. It’s easy to say Batesburg-Leesville has a special place in her heart.
“It’s always been my dream to be principal of Batesburg-Leesville High School and to be principal of Batesburg-Leesville High School as we celebrate our 100th graduating class. It’s almost unimaginable for me,” said Bryant.
The principal says this year is a celebration for what this school means to the entire community.
“We’ll always be that shining beacon in our community and do the very best we can for our young people,” explained Bryant. “We are a family. We are a Panther family and our community supports us and loves us.
Bryant says throughout the year there will be events to celebrate the century long history of the school.
Bryant explained, “I'm excited about the 100 years but what I really want them to see is what a special place this is, what a special school this is, and how great our students are."