McCORMICK, S.C. (WJBF)- Tucked away in McCormick County is 1310 acres of land, which is home to the SC Governor’s School of Agriculture at John de la Howe.
They were founded in 1797, but for the last three years they’ve been a governor’s school, allowing students to learn more about the outdoors.
“Our school has to offer a very hands on approach to education, and hands on approach to agriculture. It serves a great purpose because agriculture is the #1 industry in the state of South Carolina,” said Principal Greg Thompson.
Those students learn alongside two other governor’s schools in the state. But what sets them apart are the residents halls for men and women the nearly 100 students have at John de la Howe.
So in a way, it’s like a college campus for high schoolers.
Principal Thompson says students have an opportunity to choose from four different agriculture programs that are offered.
“We have horticulture, plant and animal science, natural resources and ag make. So they choose one of these pathways to focus on when they enter school here,” said Thompson.
Students say they have enjoyed every minute at John de la Howe, and feel it has prepared them for the real world.
“I’ve loved every day here. I’ve gotten to do challenges, last year I got to do a lumberjack competition and we took home first place and the trophy is sitting in the office of the school. I just love all of the venues we have here,” said senior Sam Bennett.
“Each day is pretty new, and you look forward to each new day instead of it just being a dredge and repeating every single day. I’ve been able to grow by learning a lot of very genuinely helpful social skills that you wouldn’t get in a normal schooling environment,” said senior Logan Doty.
“I want to be a John Deere Marketer. And John Deere looks at kids that specifically come to this school, and once they graduate they can hire them right out of high school. So that’s why I wanted to come here so bad,” said junior Kelly Tasch.
Thompson says on top of the educational experience they will get, it’s also about how they finish, and prepare for the next step.
“We want to help them fulfill their dreams. When they leave here, and they shake my hand and give them a high school diploma, every kid will have a post-secondary plan,” said Thompson.
PIO Tony Baughman says times are exciting for the school right now, but the future is even brighter.
According to Baughman, over the next 5 years there will be work going on to add new cabins, horse riding trails, and two new programs for agro-tourism and culinary arts.
Students received electronic devices Sunday morning, as they will be back in the classroom Monday morning.