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Lancaster County School District Superintendent Dr. Gene Moore has named Lancaster High School Assistant Principal Chris Thorpe as Indian Land Middle School’s new principal.
Thorpe, 38, will replace outgoing ILMS Principal David McDonald, who accepted a position with Greenville School District as principal of Northwest Middle School in Traveler’s Rest.
A 15-year veteran in the school district, Thorpe helped in the development of LHS Ninth Grade Academy as a teacher, and has led the program since 2005 as an assistant principal.
District officials chose Thorpe for the position from a field of approximately 20 applicants.
“Chris has impressed us with his passion for helping students and teachers,” Moore said. “He is a talented administrator, and his extensive experience helping ninth-graders make the transition from middle school to high school will be valuable at the middle school level.
“We look forward to seeing the great things Chris and the Indian Land Middle staff, students and community accomplish together,” he said.
A Gainesville, Ga., native, Thorpe is a 1998 graduate of Presbyterian College with a degree in biology and a minor in secondary education.
He began teaching applied and college prep biology at Lancaster High School after graduating from college. In 2004, Thorpe went on to earn his master’s in educational leadership from Winthrop University.
He is married with two daughters, ages 6 and 18 months.
During his tenure at LHS, Thorpe served stints as head coach for the boys track team and as an assistant football coach for the varsity football team.
Thorpe said he’s been in contact with McDonald, whom he knows from McDonald’s days as a fellow ninth-grade teacher at LHS, and is looking forward to his new job.
“I’m excited to have the opportunity to be a principal, and in particular, up there at ILM,” Thorpe said. “They’ve done a great job at the school, and we’re going to continue to build on the success they’ve had over the last five years.”
Thorpe will be joining a school that has consistently improved its performance on standardized tests over the years, earning Palmetto Gold and Silver Awards for performance several years in a row.
The school earned national recognition for academic excellence and character development in both 2010 and 2012 as a national School to Watch, an honor reserved annually for fewer than 350 middle schools nationwide, including only 14 in South Carolina.
Even though he doesn’t take the helm at ILMS until July 8, Thorpe said he plans to spend the next week learning more about the panhandle community by visiting and introducing himself to area businesses and community organizations.
After that, he said, it’s straight to work, familiarizing himself with the ILMS campus, meeting with staff and administrators, and settling into the job of preparing for the 2013-14 school year.
School board member Don McCorkle, like Moore, said he is confident Thorpe’s Ninth Grade Academy experience will be an asset.
“It (Ninth Grade Academy) had as many as 400 children, so essentially, he’s been the head of a school already,” McCorkle said.
“He has seen kids transfer into the ninth grade, and now he’ll be able to help prepare kids for the transition into the ninth grade.”
Thorpe said he considers teaching middle school-age teens second nature since the Ninth Grade Academy’s team concept is nearly identical to the middle school approach.
Thorpe said he believes the role of educating middle schoolers is of paramount importance because they’re at a point in their lives where what they learn will shape who they are as adults.
“At middle school, you’re going to have the opportunity to mold an individual through both their education and their character development, which is just as important as the education part,” Thorpe said. “It’s important to have the grades and the content, but it’s even more important that they walk out good people.
“I’m looking forward to working with the teachers and the staff of Indian Land Middle School, getting to know the community and molding great students into great people,” he said.
Contact reporter Reece Murphy at (803) 283-1151