BRANCHVILLE – Branchville High School students are looking forward to the replacement of their grass athletic field with new, artificial turf.

Students and staff converged on the high school athletic field on Monday morning to celebrate the groundbreaking for the new turf. Installation begins this month.

“You guys are worth that investment. You’re much more than just a student in the classroom, or an athlete. I say this to all of our students: We love you. That’s the one most important phrase we can use, but the one thing that shows: It is when you invest in the things that you love,” said Dr. Shawn Foster, superintendent of the Orangeburg County School District.

He added, “This is a space to come together, but (also) gives us an opportunity to expand when those opportunities arrive because this field will be lined for soccer, for football, but also if we want to open lacrosse, that’s an opportunity, as well.”

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Student-athletes were also excited and grateful for the new turf field.

“As football players, we are thankful for the field we had before and the memories we experienced from it. … That being said, we’re excited for the new turf field and how it will make our campus and facilities look even better. We are thankful for the district person that stood for us,” Seth Shaw said.

OCSD trustee Dr. William O’Quinn said, “This is a great day today. This is a plus for us in Branchville. As I walk out here and I see the new track, and I see the things that have been done, it’s wonderful. I never thought 25 years ago we’d be seeing what I used to call AstroTurf here, but I think it’s a wonderful thing.”

Student-athlete Copeland Hayden, who plays football and soccer, said, “This turf field that has been given to us by the district will help us save time. For soccer and football, we both have to paint the field. Not having to do this will allow us to save more time and have more practice time.”

“Thank you for the turf field, and we look forward to seeing you out here for our first soccer game on this new turf field,” he said.

Ashton Priest, Nicholas Smith and Khasean Saldano, who all play soccer and football, said they are looking forward to the new turf field.

Priest said he looks forward to playing on the field, noting that it represents “a lot of hard work and good dedication.”

Smith just concluded his final football season for the team, but he’s still happy the school is getting a turf field.

“The students in the future get to experience the turf field. … It’s a good thing for them,” he said.

Saldano said, “It was a very good investment for the students. I feel like every kid in football, soccer – no matter what kind of sport you play – they’d like it.”

Hayden said, “I think it will inspire the community and probably bring more athletics towards us and the school.”

Ronald Nester Jr., athletic director at Branchville High School, asked, “Why not Branchville?”

“We travel to Columbia, we travel to Charleston, and we see all these nice fields and the money that’s spent on their students, their student-athletes. Why not Branchville? I’m very thankful, and I know this community will be thankful for this great investment,” he said.

“I just want to make a commitment to the staff, to Dr. Foster, that we will take care of this field, and we will be great stewards,” the athletic director said.

Branchville High School Principal Charles Gregory said he’s thankful for a beautiful field and excited for players, coaches and fans.

“One of the exciting things about this for our football field is it’s actually going to help our coaches. Our coaches work a lot of hours on this football field. It’s always in great shape, so that turf field is going to allow them to spend more time coaching and doing other things. So I’m really happy for them,” Gregory said.

“I’m happy for our student-athletes. Our student-athletes will be able to come out here anytime. The field will be lined off. As you see, it’s not lined off right now, but it’ll always have lines on it. So if they want to practice running the 40-yard dash, they’ll be able to come out here and it’ll already be measured off for them,” the principal said.

The new turf will be placed down by Louisiana-based GeoSurfaces. The turf is called AllSport Ultra, a 50/50 blend of monofilament and slit film fiber.

The district’s board of trustees voted to spend at total of $5.4 million for the fields at the district’s six high schools earlier this year.

The cost of the athletic fields is included in the larger $190 million bond referendum approved by voters in November 2022.

Contact the writer: or 803-533-5534. Follow “Good News with Gleaton” on Twitter at @DionneTandD

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