A new high school is coming to Aiken County in 2020-21.

Horse Creek Academy received approval Feb. 12 to change its charter and begin a ninth grade academy in the fall to enroll 100 students.

“We're going to offer the South Carolina high school diploma track as well as South Carolina credential track, which is for students with disabilities, which is work-based,” said Dr. Ann Marie Taylor, the school's executive director. “We're also going to have career-centered experiences right here on campus, and we're starting with agriculture.”

A graduate of Clemson University will build the agriculture department.

“We're really hoping to do a farm-to-table experience here, and eventually, we'd like to add on all kinds of other career-centered experiences, as well,” Taylor said.

The new high school also will offer honors and advanced placement courses.

Each class will have 100 students for a total high school population of 400 when the senior class starts in four years. The maximum high school class size will be 20 students.

Taylor said about 60% of the first ninth-grade class for the next school year is full. For information about the 35 remaining openings, call the school at 803-226-0160.

The new school also will offer as many as 300 different online courses, Taylor said.

“Students can take everything from American sign language to criminology to Mandarin Chinese,” she said. “Anything they could possibly want, we're going to have on the online platform we're supporting as well for high school credit.”

All members of Horse Creek Academy's administrative team also teach, and Taylor will teach a criminology class for freshmen next year.

“That's one of the other big differences between us and other schools,” Taylor said.

The new high school will begin building its athletic program next year.

“Right now, we'll definitely have volleyball, girls and boys basketball and baseball, and we're hoping cross-country to start next year,” said Sarah Morris, who will be the middle and high school assistant principal. “As we grow and build the high school amenities, some of the athletic fields will be the first things that we will really try to break ground on to show students that, while we're a small high school, they're not going to miss out on some of those nostalgic high school experiences that we all reflect back on.”

Ninth-grade and future high school students will attend classes in temporary portable classrooms until the school builds a high school building on its 30-acre campus east of downtown Aiken.

“When I say portable, I don't mean a trailer out in the yard kind of portable,” Taylor said. “It is definitely a beautiful building that we'll use for several years in addition to maybe some additional portables until we build our brick-and-mortar building.”

Students will not be required to wear a uniform, but the school will have a dress code. Reserved student parking will be available.

Horse Creek Academy's board of directors passed a resolution in October to transfer its charter from Aiken County Public Schools to the Charter Institute at Erskine associated with Erskine College. The agreement will become effective July 1.

Horse Creek Academy currently enrolls 637 students in grades 4K-8 with an anticipated enrollment of more than 750 next year.

Founded in 2002 as Midland Preparatory School in Graniteville, Horse Creek Academy changed its name when it moved to its new campus at 1200 Toolebeck Road in 2014.

​Larry Wood covers education for the Aiken Standard.