Cool School: Haut Gap Middle School

Cool School: Haut Gap Middle School (Image 1)

Strong academic gains, solar power green initiatives, the arts, community and business partnerships. There is a lot to be proud of at Haut Gap Middle, an advanced studies magnet school.

We’re on Johns Island for our Cool School of the week.

News 2 received a special steel drum welcome to Haut Gap. Advanced Studies Magnet Haut Gap Middle School is a Palmetto Silver award winning school, with 525 students in fifth through 8th grade. Haut Gap is the only middle school on Johns Island and has a diverse student body. The partial magnet draws students from across the county, and allows students who qualify for the program to receive high school credits. It’s a pre-magnet program for two classes of fifth graders, the only fifth grade prep program in a middle school in Charleston county.

Haut Gap is a Positive Behavior Interventions School. Students have use of the latest technology, including IPads. The Title One school was once a failing school, but over several years brought their school grade up to an “A,” and they’ve had that rating for the past two years. Principal Travis Benintendo says Haut Gap provides a rigorous educational experience, creating global competitors who are also stewards of the environment.” Benintendo says, “Haut Gap Middle School is a Cool School because so many things are happening here. I have the privileged of having the best staff and best students. They’re constantly coming up to me saying we want to try this, we want to do this. Can we take this further? I’ve never been at a school that is so proactive. It’s like a springboard. We have so many different people contributing to the success of our kids.”

Eighth grade student Keagan Larkins says, “Our school does a lot of things for the environment, and we have compost, and we have a solar panel. We have magnet and traditional and there is lots of integration of all the races and its just a cool school to be at.” Seventh-grade magnet science and STEM teacher Deborah Batzer, “It offers a large variety of opportunities for students from a diverse background.” Fifth grade math and science teacher Summer Pettigrew says, “Haut Gap is a Cool School because we have such amazing students, staff, and administrators. We support one another as a learning community, and we work really hard to make sure our students are prepared for middle school, high school, and the world. We do a lot of really neat things in terms of sustainability making sure our school is a model for being green, and we also use technology to help differentiate for our students in terms of personalized learning. We’ve got a lot of really great things going on here at Haut Gap.” “There is just so many opportunities at this school, being that you have the magnet kids and everything. The school really pushes us to do our best. I appreciate that,” says seventh grade student Janai Whaley.

Haut Gap have an impressive athletic complex, which serves as an epicenter for Johns Island families. They have disc golf, tennis, baseball, softball, football, volley ball, basketball, and a playground. Haut Gap is undefeated in football for the last two years.

Coming up Wednesday on News 2 Today, we’ll take a closer look at Haut Gap’s green and wellness initiatives.

We want to hear about the good things going on at your school. Send an email to Octavia at, maybe your school will be the next Cool School of the week.

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