International School for the Arts
Irmo falls within both Lexington and Richland Counties and is located within 10 miles of the capital, Columbia. The origin of Irmo tells the story of the railroad's influence. Irmo was incorporated in 1890 and flourished along the tracks of the Columbia, Newberry and Laurens railroads on the high ridge between the rivers. The town was named by combining the first two letters of the names of two railroad company men - C.J. Iredell and H.C. Moseley
During the late 1920's, the largest earthen dam in the world (at that time) was built across the Saluda River, forming Lake Murray. The dam, along with the construction of I-26 adjacent to Irmo in the late 1950's, made possible the continuing rapid growth of the greater Irmo area. Today, The town of Irmo has an estimated population of 11,000.
Irmo High School History
In 1928, The first Irmo High School was built. By 1930, Eleven grades were housed in the present Irmo Elementary School. There were only 126 students who either walked to school or rode in buggies. Karl Lowman, the principal of the school from 1930 to 1941, also commanded the basketball team and coined the nickname "yellow jackets."
Four years after the School's opening, it had initialized a five-bus transportation system and a diversified sports program which housed Football, Basketball, and Baseball. A few years later, Irmo High School acquired several clubs including Beta Club and 4-H Club. In 1935, A new school was built with an auditorium, gym, spacious classrooms, and an athletic field. The new school was also centrally heated. By 1940, Irmo High School had 11 grades, 300 students, and 17 teachers. Karl Lowman was the principal and athletic Director.
In 1964, a new one-story school campus (the current Irmo High School) was built on St. Andrews Rd. The 42-acre site was designed to house 500 students, grades 7 through 12. The new campus was the first all electric school in the state and the first to have air-conditioned classrooms. F.W. Allen was the first principal at the new campus.
In 1968, Irmo High School became integrated. Students who went to Richlex High School (a segregated black school in Dutch Fork) came to Irmo High School. The Richlex School was converted into Dutch Fork Elementary School. By 1970, Irmo High School enrollment totaled 800. Five years later, Enrollment doubled with a total of 1600. The school realized it needed some more room to accommodate the growing population. By 1979, Builders had added a second floor in a risky process which involved installing a new floor on top of an existing one. Athletic fields and a gym was also completed.
Gerald Witt, Irmo's principal from 1995 to 2005, has helped the school develop into a thriving community of students, teachers, and administration. The school did not have internet access in most classes. During Witt's time as principal, the media center was renovated and classes were added in the career center. The school moved to a less-traditional A-B Block Schedule and has new course offerings to meet the needs of a technologically inclined generation.
In 1995 and 2003, Witt traveled to Washington, DC to accept on behalf of the school the Department of Education's Blue Ribbon Award. A blue ribbon school is the highest honor a school can have. Witt said one of his fondest memories was standing on the lawn of the White House to accept the award on behalf of Irmo.
Mr. Eddie Walker, the principal from 2005 to 2010 was a true educator, and was loved by all of Irmo nation. Mr. Walker's contagious energy brought a positivity to Irmo that led us forward and brought the school and community closer. He helped develop Irmo's diversity into its greatest strength and created a culture of learning and teaching.Mr. Rob Weinkle, the principal from 2010-2013 came to Irmo from Asheville, NC. He brought his experience and a terrific personality that won over all of Irmo nation.Our new principal for 2013-2014, Mr. David Riegel comes from Franklin, Ohio, where he served as principal since 2008 at Franklin High School. He is quoted, "as principal at Irmo High School, I will be striving to make the school excellent in everything it does. From academics to athletics, excellence is the goal."
"..kids wanted to go to school because there was nothing else to do."
"My fondest memories were the good students and fine people in the community. (The Parents) had real good students."
"The first Irmo bonfire was for the Football State Championship. We were playing Summerville. Several of my friends and I went out and painted stings."
English Teacher, Debbie Debenport
"We have a rich school history here and we want to be sure we are doing things that add to the quality of education."
Principal, Gerald Witt
"We have a proud past, and a bright future"
Principal, David Riegel
The mission of Irmo High School, where excellence is never compromised, is to develop an educational community of lifelong learners who meet the global demands of the 21st century through a challenging educational program which embraces diversity and unity, instills integrity and character, and provides opportunities for leadership and teamwork.