By Al Dozier
The Irmo community was invited to offer feedback as Lexington-Richland District 5 begins a huge project to replace the east wing of Irmo High School.
Local residents received a preview of the $50 million project at a gathering of students and citizens May 18 at Irmo High School. The new wing will replace the 50-year-old current wing, which will be demolished.
The upgrade will provide a modern new look for more than 60 new classrooms, a media center, and administrative offices in a 60,000 square feet structure with two to three stories.
Lexington-Richland District 5 officials say it will take a while. Completion is expected in 2025.
Meanwhile, community input on the project is being encouraged.
LS3P Architects, the company developing the design for the project, invited citizens to several different “stations” showing the different models for the project and to provide their own opinions.
While the gathering was informational, district leaders shared a message of pride about Irmo High School and its legacy.
Board Chairwoman Jan Hammond the project is particularly important because it further enhances the reputation of a school that is the “flagship” of Lexington-Richland District 5, and is recognized throughout the state.
“The pride is alive and well,” she said. “It’s a new chapter of pride and leadership.”
Superintendent Akil Ross said the words “Irmo Strong” come to mind when he envisions the project.
A room dedicated to the history of the school, known as Pride Hall, will be re-established in the new wing.
It’s not just a new building, Ross said. The new wing will come with a new program for students who want to learn how to start their own business.
But the motivation behind the project is the declining conditions of the aging building, with cracked floors and inadequate windows. District officials said it doesn’t meet the needs of a modern educational facility.
Irmo Mayor Barry Walker Sr. said Irmo High is a reflection of the outstanding resources now being offered by the Lexington-Richland School District 5, recognized as one of the best school districts in the state.
Walker calls the school “the University of Irmo.”
Walker said he had a personal experience with how well the district operates when he observed how school officials successfully handled a health issue with his own son.