EDITORIAL: Eastern neighbor in the news
Our neighbor to the east, Union County, is in the news now-a-days for an appeal to the SC High School League and for a decision by a state lawmaker.
The High School League has decided to let Union County High School compete as a Class AAA school, even though its enrollment qualifies it for Class AAAA status. Because we are the closest, that decisions puts the Yellow Jackets in Clinton’s region starting in the fall sports season.
The decision was not popular with Clinton High School’s powers-that-be. While they are dedicated to being competitive against anybody, and are able to control just what they can control (ie, effort, attitude), having a much larger school in the region just is not fair. It stands to reason, more students to pull from, more athletes you will find on campus. That, after all, is the reason there are five regions in South Carolina high school sports.
Our colleague Monte Dutton summed up the situation well in an on-line report: “Union County High School’s entry into Region 3-3A was a controversial matter when it was announced last fall, and it was clear in a meeting of the South Carolina High School League’s Appellate Panel that the move remains unpopular with the region’s members, one of which is Clinton High School. District 56 superintendent Dr. David O’Shields, Clinton director of athletics Nickie Templeton and head football coach Andrew Webb attended the meeting to lobby in vain for further consideration of the matter. ‘All we wanted was the common courtesy of making our case,’ O’Shields said. ‘They had previously made up their minds. They allowed us to speak, but their intentions were clear from the beginning. They weren’t going to do anything.’”
Eight AAAA schools have enrollments larger than Union County, Dutton’s report points out, but UC won the day because it convinced the league that traveling in a AAAA region would be a hardship. Kind of like the hardship on Clinton when it used to be in a region with South Pointe (Rock Hill) and Lancaster.
That region was re-cast, and then re-cast again, so that now we will be in a nice, tight I-26 region -- that is until Union comes in. They are way, way off I-26 - way past Whitmire - but, we’ll play them; heck, we’ll play anybody.
The High School League’s lawyer said the agency was not legally required to notify Clinton and the schools of Region 3 that Union County was coming in. And they fulfilled that non-legal requirement to the letter - blindsided by the decision would be an understatement.
“I feel like the concerns of due process have not yet been addressed,” Woodruff superintendent Rallie Liston told the Spartanburg Herald-Journal. “They still need an answer. Maybe this committee couldn’t answer that, but my questions are greater than any one school. It’s about equal representation and a right to be heard.”
“Our kids are missing too much time out of school,” Union County’s superintendent Bill Roach said to the Herald-Journal. “They get home late and they’re tired and don’t have time for homework, or they miss school the next day because they sleep in. All those things are negatively impacting achievement.”
We were surprised, but not necessarily “blindsided,” by another decision coming out of Union.
State Rep. Mike Anthony, a well-respected teacher and coach, has decided not to offer for re-election. His district territory includes the Presbyterian College side of Broad Street in Clinton, and Union County. With Anthony out, the district almost certainly will go Republican in the next election - and, then, who knows what kind of listening ear Clinton will get in the state legislature. Whoever wins the seat won’t “owe” his or her election to Clinton, and we may or may not see “our elected representative” after the election. Such is the power of gerrymandering the South Carolina General Assembly.
Anthony has been a good friend to Clinton, and the other member of the Laurens County delegation have been visible, as well. Rep. Mark Willis was at the Gillam Center in Clinton recently to give the Laurens County Community Theatre a recognition resolution.
Thank you, Representative Anthony, for all the times you came by to see us at The Chronicle office. You certainly merit a well-earned retirement.