It all started in a white Victorian house on South Main Street. Now, Pinewood Preparatory School sits on a 43-acre campus on Orangeburg Road in Summerville, and its students are making their mark academically and on the field with numerous honors and championships.
Pinewood students, faculty, staff and alumni came together Jan. 11 to celebrate the school’s 60th anniversary at an assembly.
When it first started, the school, founded by Henrietta Allan in 1952, had only 52 students in grades 1-8. Now, it has almost 800 students from pre-K to seniors in high school.
Bill Walker, an alumnus and former Pinewood development director, attended Pinewood School at the South Main Street house, the Brokaw Mansion, before it merged with Summerville Academy in 1980.
“It was a big old house, and some of us were convinced it was haunted. As a curious 6-year-old, I managed to get lost in the maze on purpose ... and sometimes by accident,” Walker told the audience.
Walker said every classroom in the house had a fireplace, and dogs would come and go and take naps in the rooms. There were no athletics or extracurricular activities back then, with the exception of a “ragtag” band.
Walker described Allan, who was headmaster from 1952 until she died in 1972, as a “benevolent dictator.” The students at Pinewood today are beneficiaries of her strong and lasting legacy, Walker said.
William McIntosh became headmaster after Allan’s death.
“It was just a relaxed place to be ... just the people and the friendly atmosphere,” McIntosh said at the anniversary celebration when asked what he misses most about being headmaster.
McIntosh reminisced with former staff members Natalie Drummond and Rosalind Blackwell after the celebration.
“There has always been a friendship. Some of us have been friends for 40 years. That always meant a lot to me,” Drummond said.
When asked what she misses most about teaching at Pinewood, Blackwell, who taught from 1971-98, replied, “Working with Mrs. Allan. I just loved that woman. She hired me.”
Blackwell said one of the best feelings is running into her former students.
“I tell them I can’t pat them on the head anymore,” she said with a laugh.
McIntosh was headmaster from 1973 until the school merged with Summerville Academy in 1980 to form Pinewood-Summerville Preparatory School.
Dan Stone, a senior faculty member, has been at Pinewood since 1970, when there were only 200 students in grades K-10.
“I haven’t looked at the old annuals, but as you may know, it could get a lot worse,” Stone laughed when the school displayed one of his old photos during the celebration.
Dr. David Price, a current board member who has been with the school since 1974, had fond memories of his children walking to school at the Brokaw Mansion.
“We have come a long way. I’m proud of being a part of it. If you have an education, that’s something no one can ever take way from you,” Price told the audience.
And after reminiscing on the early years of Pinewood, the entire school joined in on a new tradition: the bleacher dance led by lower school music teacher Rachael Sordillo. Even first-year head of school Steve Mandell joined in the fun.
“This is the year of Pinewood Pride. We are very enthusiastic about the love for our school and our school’s history. It’s a birthday, and so we are going to celebrate it,” Mandell told The Post and Courier in August when celebrating the start of the school year.
State Reps. Chris Murphy, a Pinewood parent, and Jenny Horne also presented Mandell with a House resolution commending the school for its accomplishments over the years.
Before all the students were dismissed, Mandell had three pieces of advice for them: always look back, look around and at what they currently have, and look forward to the future.
Reach Jade McDuffie at 937-5560 or firstname.lastname@example.org.