While there will soon be two high schools in Bluffton, many parents hope the schools can share one athletics program.
According to S.C. High School League Commissioner Jerome Singleton, such a scenario is possible under league rules.
Speaking at a Beaufort County School District town hall-style meeting Thursday night, Singleton said the two schools could share one program if the district created one school with two campuses. Singleton traveled from Columbia for the meeting at Bluffton Town Hall.
It would not be possible, he said, if Bluffton High and the new facility -- to be built in the New Riverside area and opened for the 2015-16 school year -- were two separate schools.
"If you have one school, we can't dictate where you house them (students)," he said. "I can't say that because they don't fit ... in one building (that) they can't be on the same team."
Bluffton parents and community members were excited by the news. Many have asked the board to keep the Bobcats athletics teams together as one program.
"It took about five years before Bluffton was ever even on the map of being competitive in athletics," Bluffton Town Councilman Fred Hamilton said. "But the primary goal is to support one community, so it's promising for the board to know it's an option and the community is behind it."
However, Singleton said he wouldn't necessarily recommend one program.
"It can't be about scholarships or championships," he said. "But if it's about participation, teamwork, honesty, perseverance and hard work, why not give more kids the opportunities to do it?"
School board member Laura Bush, one of the five Bluffton representatives at the meeting, said it was helpful to learn what is possible.
Dave Adams, Bluffton High's athletics director, declined comment Thursday night.
The board's Student Services Committee will continue to discuss districtwide attendance zones and the future of the Bluffton schools at meetings March 17 and 19.
Follow reporter Sarah Bowman at twitter.com/IPBG_Sarah.