Lake Murray, SC (Paul Kirby) – Lexington School District One’s latest school, Beechwood Middle, was dedicated Thursday afternoon in a ceremony meant to be the last detail before the school’s opening next week. A large crowd of students, their families, faculty, district officials, and honored guests filled the gymnasium for the short but meaningful ceremony. Thursday, it wasn’t about the speeches, it was all about the new school.
Describing the first impression an area newcomer would have of Beechwood Middle would be interesting. If they were not allowed to look from point of pickup to the beginning of the campus’ drive, where would they first guess they were? Its exterior and grounds certainly don’t say school. You’d most likely think you had arrived at a high-end mountain resort or a small foothill city’s convention center. It’s just that grand!
The stacking lanes, a road for parents to offload or pick up their students, immediately gives you the feeling of riding through a winding mountain lane; It’s certainly worthy of its own rally race. When you finally make it to the school’s entrance, it truly a thing of beauty.
There’s a great deal of glass, but that’s mixed with features like stacked stone to give it that mountain resort feeling. As you enter the secure foyer with its multiple layers of security, just stop and take it all in. The expansiveness of it all almost overwhelms you. Passing by the reception area, you file through glass doors into halls wide enough to race several cars side-by-side.Seriously, two cars could race in these and never trade paint unless they wanted to! Those halls are covered with gleaming tiles in various colors that include blue arches and sweeping designs and swooshes that would make Nike envious.
Almost immediately, you’re met by a grand staircase to take you to the second level. It may not be Gone With The Wind grand, but grand none the less. Everywhere you look is more glass and the most beautiful blond woods you’ll ever see. From the doors in the halls to the floor in the gymnasium, or perhaps the surface in that huge, mirrored dance studio, this gorgeous wood abounds. It’s not institutional, it’s stunning!
The gymnasium where the ceremony was held has that wood on its floor. Thursday, someone covered it with plastic to protect it from the many shoes that tread through. In one area, a staffer had a laptop connected to something under the bleachers that clearly controlled or tweaked some gadget. It’s certainly not the,“Let’s gather a crowd and push the bleachers in,” scenario of yesteryear.
If the laptop controlled whatever in the gym isn’t enough, I never found a spot where I could stand and not see a large flat screen television. They’re literally everywhere! The ones in the hall aren’t quite as large as the huge ones in each classroom, but they’re impressive. Thursday, they displayed a Powerpoint that included Twitter screenshots and other interesting information. I am confident this will all be of importance when the students fillthe building.
The new “Classroom of the Future” furniture fills most rooms. Each student’s workspace is a tetrahedron shaped table. That’s a triangle with the top cut off for those less in the know. They can be arranged in many ways. You can put a few together for collaborative learning, or place six in a pattern that looks something like a flower. There’s a high-top special workstation in a corner with taller chairs and a secondary flat screen for one or several students to do something different. A teacher that was giving tours of her classroom was quick to point out that these weren’t the school desk of yesteryear. All the electronics were new, and at one point, she had to admit she’s still exploring all the features those provide.
This could go on and on. From the school’s Reception Office, to its Media Center, it’s enough to make a small college green with envy. Just the school’s very own football field is enough to have that same result. Amazing! Did I say amazing, because that may still be selling Beachwood short; It’s spectacular.
I’d go on about the programs, the holistic approach to learning, the focus on computer science essentials in partnership with Code To The Future, but Thursday was a day to dedicate the building. Besides, most parents would need to earn some continuing education credits just to understand it all.
In short, if the school thing doesn’t work out at Beachwood, which I’m pretty sure it will, I’ll be first in line to book a vacation at the new Beechwood Resort. I’ll just play the back nine while the ski slopes are under construction. It’s a gorgeous, mountain resort at the least. To sum this up, you can’t sum it up with words. You’d really have to see it yourself.
With the star faculty that District One has in place to all the doodads and extra programs, if a student can’t learn at Beechwood, they must not be trying. It’s a temple to learning and all the latest, greatest techniques and features are in place to make that possible.
As an interesting note, this school will be the model for the new Pelion and Lexington Middle Schools.
Take a look at a few numbers:
Student Capacity: 1,200
Student Enrollment: 880 +
Grades Served: 6-8
Staff Members: 97
Building Sq. Footage: 196,000
Tract Size: 34.57 acres
The school will open for the 2019/2020 school year on Tuesday, August 20, 2019.