Low Country Students May Be Switching Schools

Construction crews are still working on the new Bluffton High School, but that isn't stopping educators from trying to get the students ready for the first day of class. The new principal and school district leaders are giving students and parents an idea of what to expect at a meeting last night at Bluffton's McCracken Middle School. Part of it is an introduction, and another part is a sales pitch. With hundreds of kids set to change school in the middle of their high school careers, they want to make sure everyone's ready for it to actually happen.

A lot of upcoming seniors have a tough decision to make in the next few months: stay at Hilton Head High School. or go to a new school in Bluffton next year. "Probably towards Hilton Head I think," said student Christine Warner before the meeting. "Just because I know everybody and I'm really comfortable with everything there. I'm in the band and on the swim team and right now both those programs are more built up than I think this one would be."

But after the meeting, Christine was not so sure. "They sold it really well," she said. "It does sound enticing."

Bluffton High officials are trying to squash rumors they'll be starting from scratch. The new school's principal, Aretha Rhone-Bush, spent about an hour and a half reassuring more than 50 people there will be no drop-off in education. In fact, they think the new programs will be an improvement for the school district.

"I believe in taking a proactive approach as opposed to a reactive," she said. "If you hear something, contact the school, go to the source so that you can get accurate information."

Right now, there's a lot of talk about students from Bluffton who want to stay at Hilton Head High School, but administrators and students say the opposite might happen: people who live on Hilton Head who want to switch to Bluffton.

"I think a lot of people are going to want to leave," said student Ciri Putich. "Because the opportunity to go to a brand new school and have more opportunities than they have already and it will all be new."

Rhone-Bush says almost everything's falling into place for the new school. The biggest project she's got left is to hire teachers, which she says won't be a problem.

Reported by: Chris Cowperthwaite, ccowperthwaite@wtoc.com