BATESBURG-LEESVILLE, S.C. — Batesburg-Leesville High School is one of three schools in the state to be selected as a finalist for Palmetto Finest school.

It's been a thrilling year already for the Batesburg-Leesville Panthers. This year marks their 100th year.

Sonya Bryant, the Principal at Batesburg-Leesville High School, says it's a big honor for the school.

"We are so excited that we've been named one of three Palmetto Finest Finalist this year," said Bryant. "It's just been a great opportunity for us to showcase all of the fantastic things going on at Batesburg-Leesville High School."

Palmetto's Finest is given by the South Carolina Association of School Administrators (SCASA). It's one of the most covenant awards in the state for schools.

"I think that for us, I believe what our strength has been is that we truly love our students and we make sure that all of our practices here are student centered and we're always keeping them at the forefront," explained Bryant. "Quite honestly, it's our students that led us to even apply for this award."

This isn't the first honor the school has received. Principal Bryant was also named the South Carolina Secondary Principal of the Year for 2020.

The only other high school in the Midlands named a finalist for Palmetto's Finest is Dutch Fork High School.

Miguel Torres, a junior at the school, believes Panther pride is strong in Batesburg-Leesville.

"There's definitely a sense of community with everyone. We're like a big family," said Torres. "Once a Panther, always a Panther."

Senior Jaylah Barr says it would mean a lot for their school to be named the winner of the award.

"Being a finalist for Palmetto's Finest means a lot. I feel like we're the best school in South Carolina and I feel like being Palmetto's Finest would help the community around us show everybody that," said Barr.

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Hannah Derrick, a senior at Batesburg-Leesville High, says she loves her school.

"Palmetto's Finest, it would mean everything to us. We are just so close to each other and we're so much smaller than all of the other schools so that makes us so much more closer," said Derrick.

"This is exciting for our school, our school district and our community at large. We've had tremendous community support and they've been cheering us on and it's just a great step for Batesburg-Leesville as a community and as a district and certainly as a high school," said Bryant.

The Panther family won't find out until mid-March if they've been named winners of the award. Either way, Bryant believes they are all winners.

"I think it would just be a great inspiration for our students to show that we are special and that we have such great things happening and that we can compete on a state level, and not only compete but excel at a state level."

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