Goodbye old Lowcountry General Hospital, hello new Jasper County charter school

RIDGELAND, Sc. (WSAV) – What once was the Lowcountry General Hospital is now a bittersweet sight for the community as construction workers began tearing it down Wednesday. Memories fell in the rubble but the ground underneath is a foundation for the future in Jasper County.

“Well… they hadn’t gotten to the operating room yet… but that’s the businesses offices and the dining room, and straight on back is the operating room and that’s just a part of me gone…” said Ridgeland resident Kaye Davis. Davis says she ran that operating room from the day the hospital opened in 1971.

“My grandson said yesterday, ‘Nana, does that make you sad?’” she said, “We came by here, and he said, ‘Does that make you sad?’  And I said yes… it does… to see it go, but it’s gonna be good.”

The building sat dormant for more than a decade, and soon it will have different life-long memories… as Jasper County’s second charter school – Polaris Tech.

“We are calling project-based teaching and learning. Which is not new, but it is a bit different for this particular county,” said Polaris Tech Board Member Lloyd Newton.

It’s a tuition free school focusing on preparing young people for successful work in aerospace, health sciences, IT, logistics, advanced manufacturing, and business management.

“Six different areas that we think are key to the industries that are in the area or will be coming to the area,” Newton said, “We also think this will spawn other industries to say, ‘You know what? That’ll be a great place for us to come and set up and do work.”

With Gulfstream on the other side of the river and construction of the Jasper Ocean Terminal down the road…

“They are not quite finding the labor skill that they need so they have to import the skills to the local area,” Newton said, “We think it would be much better if we had our youngsters prepared to take advantage of those very key and high skilled jobs so we think this is a grand opportunity to make that happen.”

“It’s a proverbial double edge sword,” said Ridgeland Mayor Joey Malphrus, “We hate to see the building being torn down, it’s such a historic building and meant so much to so many people, but it’s going for such a good cause.”

The school is currently accepting applications for 250 spots for grade 6 through 10 to being August of 2018. They plan to add 11th grade in 2019, and 12th in 2020.

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