Cool School: 'The Dutch Fork Experience' - - Columbia, South Carolina |

Cool School: 'The Dutch Fork Experience'

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Carol Jackson teaching the teacher cadet program. Carol Jackson teaching the teacher cadet program.

Dutch Fork High School is pulling out all the stops when it comes to showing how cool their school really is. After interviewing numerous faculty members and students, it's clear that they take great pride in what Dutch Fork is all about.

Athletic Director Tom Knotts refers to students high school careers there as "the Dutch Fork Experience" -- something WIS was able to get a real feel for while highlighting them as a Cool School. A sea of students all decked out in silver and green gathered in the auditorium known as the "Den of Destruction" to be featured on our morning newscast Sunrise. The band was playing, cheerleaders and dancers were performing, and students from the STEM Magnet program gave us a glimpse of their science experiments. Safe to say that there was plenty going on in one gymnasium and it was all happening before the clock reached 7 a.m.

This year has been monumental for the seniors who are gearing up to leave. Starting in the classroom, nearly 40 seniors are making their way through the Teacher Cadet Program. The program began in South Carolina in the 1980's to draw in students with strong academic abilities and prepare them for careers in education. Carol Jackson has called Dutch Fork home for two decades, and teaches the teacher cadet program. She says she loves sharing her passion for the job.

"You get to plant the seed of being a great teacher and a good teacher heart," said Jackson.

It's obvious Jackson has her heart in the program, which is something well received by her students.

"My teacher is so passionate about her job. She makes me want to do what she does every day, " said student Sarah Ritzle.

The motivation of Dutch Fork's students has also proved to reach well beyond the school walls and onto the field. The Dutch Fork football team defeated Sumter for the 4A state championship in December, becoming the first Midlands school to win a 4A crown in 23 years. It's a memory quarterback Derek Olenchuck says will last a lifetime.

"We left a legacy. Our history will definitely be here forever, the senior class, it's something we will take with us forever," said Olenchuk.

This year also proved to be a big win for the Dutch Fork dance team. The Dazzlers perform regularly at football and basketball games, pep rallies, and community events. This year they received an invitation to perform at the Capital One Bowl. Senior Dazzler Madison Oliver said the experience was amazing since they were able to perform on the 50yard line and visited Disney World.

"Everyone looks at you, like wow look how hard they worked and they earned their spot, so it's really awesome," said Oliver.

Seven Dutch Fork athletes also signed their letters of intent Friday morning, all planning to head to colleges throughout South Carolina, playing various sports.

Whether it's excelling in the classroom or winning on the field, this Cool School is proving that the "Dutch Fork Experience" is definitely paying off.

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