Symbol of education in Fort Mill gifted to school district

joverman@fortmilltimes.comOctober 8, 2012 

— A sculpture that has become a symbol of education in Fort Mill will soon be relocated to the school district’s new central office.

The Close family has given the district the “Education” sculpture currently located in downtown’s Walter Elisha Park. The sculpture will be relocated to the district office in the next few weeks.

The “Education” sculpture is one of seven bronze sculptures in a series called “The Springs of Achievement,” by Bruno Lucchesi commissioned in the 1990s by Walter Y. Elisha, then the CEO of Springs Industries.

The sculptures were designed to represent one of seven guiding principles of the company, including “Quality,” “Creativity,” “Services,” “Family,” “Respect for history” and “Planning for the future.” They were placed in and around the Springs Industries grounds.

The “Education” sculpture depicts a graduate wearing a graduation gown with her mortar board held high in the air. In her other hand is a diploma.

Fort Mill School District spokesperson Kelly McKinney said the statue is representative of both the district and the Close family’s commitment to education in the community. The company, and later the family, have donated money that led to the creation of the LEAP Ahead program, pioneered a horseback program for children with special needs and in previous years have helped provide funds for teachers seeking advanced degrees.

“We have this wonderful family with a long history of supporting public education in the community and here we have this sculpture showing a graduate and that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? Getting them from kindergarten through twelfth grade so they can carry on. That’s the ultimate prize as a school district to make sure they get a quality education,” McKinney said.

The sculpture was placed in the park in 1995. The district started using the silhouette of the sculpture as its logo in 2007.

“This is another example of the Close family’s long standing commitment and generosity to the school district,” said Fort Mill Superintendent of Schools Dr. Chuck Epps. “It is an honor for the district to be given the opportunity to preserve, communicate, and further highlight the significant contributions to education and to the town made by Springs Industries and the Close family.”

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