Story by: Eddie Bates and Robin Hendricks

Halls fill with bleary-eyed, stumbling zombies lugging backpacks half their size. They move together in the same synchronized sluggish pace to classes they may have had a chance to arrive on time to if it weren’t for the blocked artery this school calls a stairwell.

It’s 8:15 a.m. and ain’t nobody got time for this.

One would assume that the highest rated public school in the state of South Carolina would be able to find a way to fit all their students comfortably into the school. But no, apparently not. At least not now.

Over 20 years ago when the school was first built, it was done with the bright-eyed and somewhat naïve assumption it would only educate 950 students at a time. Dutch Fork currently has a population of 1,897.

Apparently they had a tiny bit of an estimation problem.

About 15 years ago, the school received an addition called the “new wing.” The term “wing” may have been a bit of a stretch, but the sentiment is appreciated all the same. And to be honest, we could use another one.

The two new halls, one for the main floor and one for the third, were a help to the school’s growing population. The only problem is that it keeps growing.

And growing. And growing.

Now the school’s student population is three students short of housing double what it was originally built for, a slight problem for the 1900 students zoned here.

So now as they walk to class, students get their daily exercise through a number of creative methods. They expertly dodge around the slow herds of gossipers/selfie-takers that always seem to come in packs of four and they hightail it to the corner stairs in the hopes that maybe, just maybe, today they’ll catch a break and make it up those crowded steps in under two minutes.

And don’t forget about the lockers. See, if there isn’t enough room to even walk in the halls, there’s certainly not enough room to stand at a locker and switch out textbooks. Grabbing stuff from your locker is starting to feel more like parking your car on the middle of the interstate.

There are certain things one learns to do to stay alive in this world, and going locker-free is a sacrifice Dutch Fork students should be prepared to make.

In all honesty, though, Dutch Fork is a really great school. That’s probably why it has so many students. It distributes more AP tests than anyone else in the district. The STEM program sets it apart. And in general, Dutch Fork is a great place to learn.

With the addition of a new health-science building, all the locker rooms and training rooms have been moved out to the new space and the older facilities have been converted into classrooms. However even with all the new extra space, there are still classes of 25 or more that have to borrow desks from other teachers so students have a place to sit. There has been no announcement of money to start another major construction project anytime in the foreseeable future.

The new addition to the district, Spring Hill, was supposed to act as a levee for the schools of District 5–and cut down the school population by almost 200 underclassmen. However, students are already returning from their first year over at the new school and coming back to Dutch Fork.

If another public high school were added to District 5, then theoretically all the excess population from the schools would go to the new one. Anything like that would take a few years and a pretty penny.

So for now, students must trod on through the crowd with hope that maybe Dutch Fork’s next generation will get a little more room to spare.