School and Community: A Reflection of Each Other
Corina Vidaurri | May 23, 2016
Calhoun County High School (CCHS) is located in St Matthews, SC and is at the center of the community. As an award-winning high school, CCHS received the Bronze Award from US News and World Report for being one of the top high schools in the country for eight consecutive years. Principal Cynthia Johnson has been successful in creating a school environment focused on community engagement and student learning.
She has made it a priority to allow the community access to the school’s outdoor recreational facilities. That is a big deal in an area where there is a lack of affordable recreational facilities. Principal Johnson is helping fill this void by allowing the community to use the track before and after school. Signs posted on the fences communicate the rules for using the track.
As a result of opening the school’s outdoor facilities to the community, parents and alumni continue to support the school. At the football games, alumni help clean the facilities after the Saints’ games. Allowing open community use has created a strong community engagement at CCHS. In addition, providing a space for the community to be active creates a healthier community. After visiting the school, it is easy to see that Calhoun County High School explodes with positivity amongst the students, staff, and teachers.
The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control is encouraging schools and districts to expand open community use statewide. Healthy Eating/Active Living coordinators from DHEC’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity are providing assistance and guidance in an effort to convince schools across South Carolina to make their outdoor facilities available for public use to promote physical activity, healthy lifestyles, and stronger communities.