Impressive, immense and architecturally clean. The only external frill on the new May River High School campus is the digital sign beside the main entrance, embossed with the school’s prowling Shark mascot, greeting students, staff and visitors.

Rows of enthusiastic student ambassadors in the school’s colors of royal blue, black and silver greeted visitors with continuous cheers as they processed into the new auditorium prior to their tour at the facility’s grand opening.

Guests were treated to a close-up view of the school’s many amenities, from the cafeteria with a designated “seniors-only” section to the media center with one of several in-school coffee stations. Water fountains in the hallways encourage students to carry personal water bottles. A digital monitor at each fountain keeps tabs on when the water bottle option is used, counting up the number of plastic bottles that are kept out of the environment.

The 550,000 bricks in the structures enclose several unique opportunities for the current population of nearly 1,000 students with room for 1,400 – a number that has the potential to grow as high as 1,800 with additional wings already built into the planning.

The new school cost $68 million and covers approximately 240,000 square feet. A future two-story addition would add 40,000 square feet.

Both the auditorium and the gymnasium have separate entrances flanking the main entrance, eliminating the need for attendees at performances and sporting events to come in the front door.

The high-tech auditorium can seat 615 people; the gym can hold 2,100 fans or – in the event of inclement weather – families and friends gathered for graduations.

May River joins Battery Creek as the two schools offering CATE – career and technology education courses – to district students. May River’s courses include health sciences, information technology and cybersecurity, mechatronics – which combines electronics with mechanical engineering, welding, and automotive (including design, development, manufacturing, marketing and selling of motor vehicles, as well as maintenance and repair).

Gwyneth J. Saunders is a veteran journalist and freelance writer living in Bluffton.