SPARTANBURG CO., S.C. (WSPA) – In Spartanburg County, the new Fairforest Middle School is opening its doors on Monday.
It’s one of the only middle schools in the nation to have its own planetarium.
The facility is a $52 million project that involves no tax increases and no referendums. Spartanburg School District 6’s board of trustees estimates this project will be completely paid off within 4 years.
It’s 100,000 square feet larger than their former middle school, which was built in the 20’s.
“Since there’s newer technology, because stuff at the school was pretty old and getting dusty… we might get to learn more and do new things,” says rising eighth grade student Anna Kate Shaw.
The school’s most exciting feature is its own 4-k planetarium, which has seats for 100 students at a time.
“Nobody in the nation has this setup and the capabilities that we have to serve our kids,” says Scott Taylor, Director of the Lincoln Science Center.
“I think every single subject, every single grade level can benefit,” agrees teacher Sarah Kate Higgins.
The planetarium is part of the school’s Lincoln Science Center, named in honor of Lincoln Public School, a segregated school for African Americans that closed on this site in 1970.
Principal Darrell Belgrave says “We want to be able to merge both communities because it’s important to a lot of families.”
This Fall, the science center will also open an observatory, which is still under construction.
“Be able to shoot live feeds from the telescope and those will be able to shoot straight into the planetarium.”
All of these details, even the labeled water pipes in the hallway, were designed to foster curiosity.
“The lights in the main hall, if you are walking down… [have] different constellations. The design of every space is just another learning opportunity for students,” he says.
The school’s Lincoln Science Center plans to host other students from Spartanburg School District 6.
Plans are also in the works to use the former Fairforest Middle School for career and technology programs for all of Spartanburg County high school students starting next Fall.