Not Bill Runyon. When he got the job at West Ashley High School, first thing he did was rush out of the boardroom and start work on re-knitting the two histories, the two traditions of his fairly new school.
He would need a crane, as it turned out.
For decades, West Ashley was home to two competing high schools, one at Middleton High, the current home of West Ashley Middle School, and St. Andrews High, the current home of St. Andrews Middle School, located on Wappoo Drive.
Both schools had their shares of success in the classroom and on state championship-winning sports teams.
It was hoped that when the main campus of the current WAHS opened in 2001, the two schools’ pasts would come together and the West Ashley community would be able to focus all their loyalties on one school.
Didn’t happen. Charleston being Charleston, change was not welcomed. The school began to operate as a divide. With no family tradition or ties to the school, many West Ashley parents had no qualms sending children to other schools, like James Island Charter High School or Academic Magnet.
What Runyon, a former basketball and football coach, needed was a symbol. Or two. And he set out that day after getting his new job to transport two symbols of the past schools to his campus to help the community feel a deeper connection with WAHS.
The Rock, a four-foot-tall chunk of granite, had been a gift from the Class of 1982 at St. Andrews High, had sat outside what had become a middle school. Runyon had to have it.
First to try and draw the rock from the earth was a front-end loader. But its articulated arm was no match. Next up. The school district hired a crane to hoist the slab out of the ground and into the back of a waiting truck.
Next were the tiles that announced you had arrived at Middleton High School. They didn’t need a crane for removal.
Both totems have been implanted on the walkway in front of the field house at the football stadium, which, interestingly, employs a decoy coyote instead of a wildcat to keep geese from the field during the school day.
And this weekend, Runyon hopes to make inroads in bringing back both halves of WAHS history together with what the school is terming a “West Ashley Renaissance.”
The rebirth includes two days of festivities. Beginning with an unveiling and dedication of the totems before the football game with Cane Bay on Friday, Nov. 7 and continuing with an alumni basketball game between former Middleton and St. Andrews players on Saturday, Nov. 8.
Former coaches from both the Middleton Razorbacks and the St. Andrews Rocks have been invited, as have former principals from all three high schools.
With everyone on the same team, Runyon hopes WAHS will refocus its culture of winning and move the school forward.

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