Former Horry County Education Center Principal Jimmy McCullough and current SOAR Academy Principal Gina Sabol joined hands Monday afternoon to cut the ribbon on the new SOAR Academy building on Old Dunn Lane in Conway.

“This school is dedicated to the empowerment of students,” Sabol said. “I am confident this facility will instill a sense of pride and strength.”

The Horry County Board of Education, Horry County Schools Superintendent Rick Maxey, architects Quackenbush Architects + Planners and general contractor H.G. Reynolds were in attendance for the dedication ceremony.

The $17.9 million SOAR Academy was previously known as the HCEC or the alternative school, and its name now stands for “Shine On After Return”.

The 50,000-square-foot building boasts 15 high school classrooms, 14 middle school classrooms and one for elementary school with a dedicated restroom. There are four small group meeting spaces and a multipurpose room for physical education.

The facility, which sits on over 36 acres, also has a dining room, kitchen and administrative suite. The design of the building allows for high schoolers to have one side of the building and middle schoolers to have their space on the other side.

Their Eagle mascot is important to the school’s philosophy, Sabol said.

“Eagles are strong, proud and inspiring,” she said. “[The students] are capable of soaring to new heights.”

McCullough, who has since become the principal of Loris High School, was honored for having the vision for this new facility.

“Thank you to the board for understanding the value of having a place where students can learn and feel safe,” McCullough said as he thanked all those involved in the process of preparing the school for opening. “I was blessed enough to have this dream become a reality.”

Board chairman Ken Richardson said he was honored to have been a part of the school’s creation.

“I am so proud of this place,” Richardson said.

Maxey said that McCullough’s ideas and vision were “revolutionary”.

“[His ideas] will have an impact on the lives of many children,” Maxey said.


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