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Mission and History of Irmo High School International School for the Arts

Our Mission 
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.

Town of Irmo

The Town of Irmo was established in a small farming community when the Columbia, Newberry, and Laurens Railroads constructed its line here in 1890. The town officially became incorporated on December 24, 1890 and was named after the two officials of the railroad - Mr. C.J. Iredell and H.C. Moseley.

During the late 1920s, 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 1950s, made possible the continuing rapid growth of the greater Irmo area.

Old Irmo

Irmo High School

Until the construction of the railroads in 1890, the area now known as Irmo was referred to as the Dutch Fork area. The area was devastated during the Civil War by General Sherman's troops, only making the extreme poverty for the people living here even worse. Shortly after the Civil War, a one-room school was built at the site of the present Irmo Insurance Agency, adjacent to Irmo Elementary property.

In 1928, the first Irmo High School was built at the current location of Irmo Elementary School. By 1930, eleven grades were housed in this location, with 11th grade being the final grade of secondary education. 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, gymnasium, spacious classrooms, and an athletic field. This is the current Irmo Elementary School building and it was the first centrally heated building in Irmo, using steam heat.  By 1940, Irmo High School had 300 students and 17 teachers.

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.   

Historical Irmo

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 during this time. The construction limited space at the high school, causing rising 9th graders to have to stay at the middle school an additional year.

By the 1980s Irmo High School was a growing and well recognized school throughout the state. The school had already won many state athletic championships and academic competitions. By the mid-1980s Irmo High School acquired the adjacent Irmo-Chapin Career Center, now referred to as the West Wing,  and became a comprehensive high school, offering all courses and career training programs to provide a well-rounded educational experience to Irmo High School students.

In 1995 and again in 2003, Irmo High School, under the leadership of Principal Gerald Witt, received the United States Department of Education Blue Ribbon Award. This national recognition is the highest honor a school can receive, proving the academic excellence of Irmo High School. Irmo High School continued its march towards academic excellence in 2006 by adding the globally recognized International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme to its program offerings.

Through further support of the community, the Field House was built in 2014. This upgraded the athletic facilities with modern weight-rooms and office spaces for the athletic department. The football field was resurfaced at this time, and the stadium was upgraded to accommodate a growing community.


Irmo High School International School for the Arts

In 2013, Irmo High School became Irmo International School for the Arts when it became one of the few schools nationwide to receive the Magnet Schools Assistance Program (MSAP) Grant by the United States Department of Education. This grant developed arts-infusion throughout all academic courses. The school also added a new Center for the Arts, a state of the art theater greatly improving the school’s infrastructure and connecting the East and West Wings of the campus. This grant further offered an expanded selection of arts courses at the school.

Irmo High School International School for the Arts again was selected to receive a second MSAP grant in 2017. This grant was developed to allow Irmo to expand its IB offerings to include the IB Career-related Programme. This program created a stronger connection between Irmo and The Center for Advanced Technical Studies in offering technically advanced career training options for the students at Irmo High School.

For nearly 100 years, Irmo High School International School for the Arts has been an agent of academic excellence in the community, state, nation, and world. Irmo continues to pursue excellence in all areas - academics, athletics, arts, and community involvement. Irmo High School International School for the Arts is a high school with a strong foundation with a “Proud Past, Bright Future.”