“Someone once defined a school building as a building that has four walls and the future inside,” said Union County School District Board of Trustees Chair Dr. Wanda All in her opening remarks at Sunday’s dedication ceremony. “As you tour the building, I hope you can see all our tomorrows.”
Sims Principal Mickey Connolly said the legacy of many great education leaders lives on in the new building while welcoming the crowd to the ceremony.
“Let us embrace the past and dream of the future,” Connolly said.
“What a joyous moment this is,” All added later in her comments. “We’re here to celebrate and offer our pledge of dedication to this community.”
“We’re so thankful for what we have,” said Sims eighth-grade class president Michael Todd Harris who led an invocation at the start of the ceremony.
Work on the new building began in July 2006 when the school district started making financial plans for its construction and the construction of the new Jonesville Elementary/Middle k-8 School.
Financing was finalized before the end of that year for both buildings and, according to district Finance and Operations Officer Lynn Lawson, the basic floor plans for both schools were completed in June 2007 with site and building designs finished between July 2007-February 2008.
Construction began in April 2008 and the Office of School Facilities approved the schools for occupancy in July 2009. School started on schedule this year on Monday, Aug. 17.
“A project of this magnitude requires much time, talent, labor, sacrifice and faith,” All said.
She and other representatives of the school district board of trustees thanked everyone involved in the completion of the Sims building, including former Union County School District Superintendent Thomas White and his successor, current superintendent, Dr. David Eubanks.
These are the first new schools built in Union County since Buffalo Elementary School opened in 1986.
“Much has happened in our community and the world in the last 23 years but one thing has not changed — our commitment to education,” All said.
The construction of the new Sims building and Jonesville building only strengthen that commitment and All said the board of trustees “has faithfully served” and will continue to serve to honor that commitment.
Board of trustees member and 1969 graduate of Sims High School Betty JoAnn McMorris acknowledged many people during her portion of the ceremony.
“We acknowledge and respect all educators — past, present and future — in the continuation of the Sims name,” she said after running down the history of the name and how it has been tied to schools in the county. She acknowledged many people including the board, Sims alumni and the From family and honored the Sims legacy.
Since 1926, four schools in Union County have borne the name of the Rev. A.A. Sims, who was the first principal of Sims High School which became Sims Jr. High in 1970 when the county’s schools were integrated.
Eubanks never had the honor of meeting the Rev. A.A. Sims. The current superintendent did, however, have the pleasure of meeting former principal and one of the most successful football coaches in South Carolina history James F. Moorer.
Moorer was with the school district from 1948-1969 and served as principal of Sims from 1951-1968.
Portraits of Sims and Moorer now don an entrance wall at Sims Middle School with the Union County Schools emblem between them.
Eubanks said Moorer enjoyed teaching and like many before him also liked talking and telling stories. The superintendent was privy to several of those stories and shared one with those in attendance at the dedication ceremony.
As a football coach, Eubanks said Moorer knew he only had a specific number of time outs he could take during a game. What some people might not have known is the coach also had a trick up his sleeve if he needed an extra break in the action.
“He had what he called a designated timeout man,” Eubanks told the packed gym.
The superintendent recalled this player’s name was James and it was James’ job to go into the game and pretend to get injured on the play so Moorer could get some extra time on the sidelines.
“That would be James’ only appearance of the night,” Eubanks retold.
In one particular game, Moorer told James it was time for him to go out on the field and “do his thing.” So the player did what his coach requested and the plan went off without a hitch.
At least, that’s what Moorer thought until James didn’t get up.
Eubanks recounted that James was taken off the field on a stretcher by members of the ambulance crew and taken away not to return to the game.
Moorer became concerned and, not knowing what happened to James, called his player’s home after the game.
“James answered the phone,” Eubanks said.
Moorer asked him what happened and James didn’t hesitate giving his answer.
The “designated timeout” player told Moorer his father had to work that night so he didn’t have a ride home following the game. So when the ambulance crew came out on the field he negotiated with the driver to get a ride home.
The story garnered the desired laughter from the crowd at the dedication ceremony, but it also illustrated Moorer’s reason for telling the tale.
“His point was you’ve got to have a plan,” Eubanks said. “And sometimes the circumstances dictate the plan.”
The new Sims building and Jonesville building are a big part of the school district’s plan for the future.
“This is an important investment in the future of Union County,” Eubanks said.
He added building one new building is difficult but taking on two projects is extremely difficult and thanked the board and everyone who was involved in the planning, construction and supporting of these two projects.
“We appreciate what they’ve done,” Eubanks said.
Before letting those in attendance go, he issued them another calling.
“I challenge you to not let this be the end of something,” Eubanks said, “but the beginning.”