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Carolyn Lewis School is 50 percent complete and on schedule

Published on Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2022

construction crew on a roof jonathan roberts and david hogge on upper landing of construction
BCSD photos / Monica Kreber

Every time she visits the new school in Carnes Crossroads, Sissy Day is blown away by how much work is getting done.

Earlier this month, construction crew members were putting up new roofing panels over the cafeteria wing (“Which is really cool to watch,” she said), and also installing some window panels and some steel structures.

There is still a lot of work to be done, but Day is pleased every time she visits the construction site.

“It’s really coming to life,” she said.

Berkeley County School District’s newest school in Carnes Crossroads, named Carolyn Lewis School, is slated to be completed in August 2023. The district broke ground on the building, which should hold about 1,200 students, last September. The school is named in honor of the late Carolyn Lewis-Craft, who was the first female BCSD board member.

Day is currently the principal of Sangaree Middle but in March, BCSD board members named her the principal of Carolyn Lewis School.

Summer in South Carolina means a lot of thunderstorms, and subsequently a lot of muddy soil (which can create conflict with new construction), but project officials said the building is on schedule so far. JoNathan Roberts, executive director of new construction and capital projects, and David Hogge, director of capital projects and planning, said the school’s construction is just past 50-percent complete.

The building sports some white-colored brick accented with dark bronze metals – something Roberts said matches the “theme” of Carnes Crossroads.

“That contrast of light and dark is really nice for the campus and ties in with the rest of the Carnes community,” he said.

The next milestone is finishing all the steel structure installation, and construction officials hope to install the final beam this fall; the last beam is anticipated to go on top of the school’s gym.

Roberts said they are very optimistic about completing construction on time.

“We’ve just got a lot of work to do in the next 11 months to make that come to fruition,” he said.

Hogge echoed similar thoughts.

“I think this is going to be an outstanding school for this community,” he said. “It’s really coming along. I think all the aesthetic parts are looking good – we can thank Ms. Day for that.”

This is Day’s first experience opening a new school. She said she looks forward to connecting with families and starting new programs that will benefit the students.

“Those things will evolve as the school gets up and moving,” she said, adding, “We’re thinking about the spaces in this school, wanting to make them student-friendly and vibrant.”

The school’s colors are going to be green and teal, and Day said the school will get the community involved in helping to select a mascot at a later date. JoNathan Roberts, David Hogge and Sissy Day in front of construction

Day has learned a lot about her school’s namesake from Nancy Leigh, who is Lewis’s daughter and the principal of BCSD’s other K-8 school, Daniel Island School.

“She (Lewis) was definitely a legacy in the Berkeley County community,” Day said.

Day is particularly excited about the school’s two-level media center (there is a downstairs section for the lower grade levels plus an upstairs section for the older students).

“It’s really just going to be amazing, and I think kids are really are going to really gravitate to that space,” she said.

Near the media center is the school’s Makerspace classroom, which are special spaces geared toward hands-on learning. Equipment may differ from school to school, but many Makerspace rooms are equipped with a combination of items like computers, 3D printers, art supplies, woodworking tools and more.

There are a couple of neat outdoor features as well, including an amphitheater with a pavilion to be used as an outdoor classroom, three large ponds and some play/multiuse fields for sports and activities. The campus will also have stacking lanes that should be long enough to pull school traffic off the main roads and into the campus; there will be separate drop-off locations for middle and elementary school students to further help manage traffic.

Day said she wants Carolyn Lewis School to be a place where students are proud to attend school.

“It looks amazing,” she said, adding, “It’s going to be a beautiful school – it’s going to make a statement, I think.”

Day promises families they will have a positive experience at Carolyn Lewis School.

“I want this to be an exciting place to come, to learn, to grow,” she said, adding she wants a lot of parents involved and engaged with the school. “I’m real big on kindness and making sure that kids treat each other fairly and kindly, because I think in the world that we’re in today, that kindness really does matter.

“I think that we’ll have some wonderful students here and we’ll have a wonderful experience,” she said.

Monica Kreber