The community has spoken and the official mascot for the new Lucy Beckham High School will be the Bengals. And that is pretty close to a Clemson Tiger, Beckham’s favorite college team. She would be thrilled according to her daughter, Susan Antonnelli, who spoke at the groundbreaking this morning. The four final choices were the Barracudas, Bengals, Bolts, and Ospreys.
The three story facility is set to open in August 2020 to ninth and 10th graders and add a grade over the next two years to eventually accommodate 1,500 students. Initial course offerings include all levels of college preparatory, honors, advanced placement and dual credit pre-collegiate classes. The school will be a traditional high school with core academics, athletics, JROTC and visual and performing arts.
The school will be located on the campus of the original Wando High School at 1560 Mathis Ferry Rd. The project budget is $94 million. The project was designed by McMillan Pazden Smith and will be constructed by Cumming Construction Management.
Lucy Beckham was principal of the new Wando High School and was instrumental in making that establishment a state-of-the-art learning environment recognized nationwide. She also led the charge to begin plans for a smaller, complimentary high school.
Her sudden passing in December 2015, during the planning phase of what was then called (temporarily) Wando South, led all interested parties to agree that the new school should be named after her.
As an educator for more than 40 years, Beckham was a valued leader, colleague, mentor, and friend in the Charleston County School District (CCSD) community. Originally from Fountain Inn, S.C., she attended Presbyterian College and the College of Charleston, where she earned a Bachelor of Science in mathematics. She continued her education earning her master’s and specialist’s degrees from The Citadel in school administration. Raised by her mother, a high school math teacher, and her father, a South Carolina State Legislator, Beckham learned the value of education and the importance of strong leadership. Upon her college graduation, she became a math teacher at Bishop England and was later named the Teacher of the Year at Stratford High School, where she first became a school administrator. In 1998, she was named the principal of Wando High School where her vision and extraordinary leadership helped Wando become a highly successful high school earning numerous state and national awards, including being distinguished as one of U.S. News & World Report’s “best in the country” high schools. Beckham was also named the State and National High School Principal of the Year and was awarded both the South Carolina Order of the Palmetto and Mount Pleasant’s Order of the Gavel.
CCSD superintendent Gerrita Postlewait told the crowd who gathered for the groundbreaking, “color us blessed – blessed to have known Lucy Beckham.” She described the educational pioneer as someone who honored and valued all children and ensured they would get the education they deserved.
District II board chairman Sarah Shad Johnson said that the two schools will be closely related in more ways than one. Despite the separate campuses the schools will share a regional stadium and the Center for Advanced Studies. But more importantly would be supported by the united, close-knit community of East Cooper.
Mount Pleasant Mayor Will Haynie noted that the school’s namesake is testimony to what one person can do and told the Moultrie Middle School students in attendance and all future students that they are the lifeblood of the community and the citizens of Mount Pleasant will be here to support their endeavors in making a difference.
Beckham’s family were all in attendance and daughter Susan glanced at them as if all in agreement and said her mother would be honored – “tinkled pink” – that this school was named after her. She said that her mother’s principal’s were that “best is the standard” and “children first.” She had no doubt that those would continue on at Beckham High School under the leadership of principal Anna Dassing and at Wando High School under the leadership of Sherry Eppelscheimer.