Ten years ago, when Wando High School first opened, just a small portion of the 100-acre campus was put to use. Soon, all of it will be bustling with students, staff and visitors when the doors open Aug. 18.
To provide for the safety and security of everyone on campus, traffic patterns for arrival and dismissal have changed, as has the visitor check-in system.
The Wando High School Center for Advanced Studies (CAD) will open its doors to students, creating an entirely different pedestrian flow, as will the new auto mechanics shop and greenhouse. In addition, students will change classes four times a day.
The existing building, athletic fields and cottages also create great foot traffic, which was never part of everyday life in those early days.
According to William “Jeff” Scott, director of Charleston County School District Security and Emergency Management, as far as the Lowcountry is concerned, Wando High School puts more people and cars in one place within an hour than anywhere else, except for the North Charleston Coliseum.
The school, as of last week, has 3,887 students registered and will have an average of 400 teachers, staff and guests on campus per day.
Officials had to find a more suitable, safer way to handle the incoming and outgoing traffic now that infrastructure outside of the school has improved, allowing motorists to get to the school more quickly.
Park Avenue is a new road constructed along with Carolina Park that accesses the school's west lot. With this addition, there are now four ways to get on campus, which could cause confusion if not planned correctly, Scott said.
What's new on campus are mechanical fences that will be in the down position to guide traffic during arrival and dismissal and to guide visitors in and out of one main gate during the school day. There will be traffic-monitoring supervisors during arrival and dismissal to guide motorists. In addition, the Welcome Center check-in gate will streamline early dismissals, whether planned or sudden.
Visitors will check in at the Welcome Center and then be directed in the proper direction to the parking area of their intended destination. According to Scott, it is a way to aid newcomers to the campus and avoid having visitors driving around campus stopping students to ask for directions.
Principal Lucy Beckham said the Welcome/Visitor Management Center will serve as the customer service piece of the Wando experience where everyone will be greeted with “Welcome to Wando.”
In addition, she said, it is designed with the students' safety in mind. “We have to do it and I'd like to think the community would appreciate the effort, and prefer it for that matter,” Beckham said.
It will serve as a front office for all the school's facilities; however, all visitors must still check in at the front office of the designated building for which they are destined.
The new traffic flows, Scott added, allow for a continuous flow rather than the previous four-way-stop intersection that cars endured.
All changes will be monitored and adjusted as needed, Scott said.
Both Beckham and Scott urge parents who bring their children to school to allow other students to carpool with them. In addition, Beckham asks that parents avoid the urge to drive their child to school on that first day and to get all first-day-of-school picture taking done at home before they arrive on campus.
Biking to school and riding the bus are also efficient methods, she said.
And lastly, Beckham added, students attending after-school activities have the option to utilize CARTA's Bus 40, which has a stop directly outside of campus.
School begins at 8:25 a.m., but students may start arriving at 7:30 a.m.
West lot permit holders must use Park Avenue Boulevard.
East lot permit holders must use Warrior Way.
Buses must use Warrior Way.
Car riders must use Tomahawk Trail.
Anyone visiting or exiting the campus will go through the Welcome Center guard gate during school hours.
Dismissal will be the exact opposite.