Story and photo by Trey Martin
Televisions throughout the school were tuned to ETV Tuesday afternoon to watch the live broadcast of the state’s Palmetto’s Finest announcement. Announcements were made and classes were changed to have as many people watch the event as possible, with anticipation hovering over the school after the five month process. Everything was set up perfectly to celebrate being named the finest school in the state of South Carolina, until it wasn’t.
As State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman read Seneca High School’s name as the winner of the award, a wide range of emotion, including laughing, disappointment and relief filled every classroom. The announcement marked an end to rigorous evaluations that impacted plenty of aspects throughout the school.
Despite not winning the award, it should be clear that Dutch Fork High School is the best public high school in the entire state.
Dutch Fork sets a standard not only for schools in the district, but for the state as well when it comes to academics. The school rates above average in both math and english proficiency, and students are 69% proficient or advanced in mathematics and 76% proficient or advanced in english on exit exams. 60% of the student body takes Advanced Placement classes, and the school is home to a 43% minority enrollment rate. These test score statistics help rank Dutch Fork as the number three high school in the state of South Carolina, number 843 nationwide, and the top traditional public school by US News.
Test scores and grades are not the only thing the school has to offer. The curriculum, as well as the introduction of CATE classes, sets students up for success after high school. Whether it be a doctor, accountant, journalist, teacher, engineer, artist or chef, the school assures that students will be taught the fundamentals of the career, and exposes students to real life applications, resulting in millions of dollars of annual scholarship money. Personally as a journalist, I have had two years of experience interviewing and working on stories, while most students enter college journalism programs without ever working in the field. The Teacher Cadet program has seniors in classes throughout the district right now, teaching the future generations themselves. You can be anything you want to be at this school.
Let’s also not forget the amazing athletic programs we house. Athletic Director Tom Knotts has guided the program to heights that were previously unheard of. In the last four years, the school has won state titles in football (twice), cheerleading (twice), girls’ basketball, girls’ tennis, and track, as well as putting dozens of athletes on athletic scholarships to colleges throughout the country.
Though our name wasn’t called, the school still has plenty to be proud of, and thanks to our wonderful principal Greg Owings, students are assured success as they continue through their lives. The programs and opportunities students and teachers have through Dutch Fork are astounding compared to other high schools throughout South Carolina and the rest of the country. While we won’t be recognized by the committee, our students will continue to set the educational bar for the state and go out and change the world.
Statistics used from US News’ evaluation of Dutch Fork High School.