file_000-4Story by Justice Nawman, Lindsay Long, and Warner Otto, photo by Justice Nawman

Palmetto’s Finest is an award given to the most supreme high school in the state of South Carolina by the South Carolina Association of School Administrators. Dutch Fork High School is up for the award, which makes it a stressful time for both teachers and students.

“First, we do an application [that is read] by a group of administrators, and if it’s good enough then we get a visit. The first visit, you get a 2 week time frame and they come one day and visit classrooms and talk to teachers and students,” principal Dr. Gregory Owings said. “We have the school look pretty, and the second visit is between us and Seneca. They’ll visit us both and pick the one that’s the best. Everyone will be on their best behavior and the school will look nice. They’ll look at academic performance and extra curricular activities and sports.”

Since academics are a crucial component of this award, teachers are cracking down on the amount of work students do, with some administering any tests a week in advance, so that they may focus on their coursework when the observers come.

“We’ve been doing a lot of studying because we’ve been having a lot of tests this week so we don’t have them next week when [the] Palmetto’s Finest people are here. Our teachers are going over what we should do when they come into class, but they’re mostly just preparing us for the tests,” freshman Eden Turek said.

While this is a chaotic time, many students are optimistic and agree that this observation is a way to showcase Dutch Fork’s abilities as a school, providing validation for everyone involved.

“I’m feeling good about it, because they can see what we do better at and what we can work on,” sophomore Elizabeth McCants-Baker said.

To junior Katherine Baxley, the arrival of Palmetto’s Finest is just another school day, but is still knowledgeable that that this award, if won, could benefit Dutch Fork and its academic future.

“I am okay with it, because they are just people and it doesn’t affect me personally but I know it is really good for the school,” Katherine said.

In the end, it all comes down to preparation and consistency. Dutch Fork is a superior school, both in athletics and academics, and according to senior Kaitlyn Dowd-Howell, this superiority is one that should be recognized.

“I don’t think we should be more prepared, because we’re already the best school in the district,” Kaitlyn said.