It was promising to be a sticky August day in 1964 when V.M. Lomas unlocked the door to Greenville County's newest elementary school. Surrounded by cornfields and grazing cattle, the sand colored brick school cost $327,910 to build on 13.6 acres between Mauldin and Simpsonville, two small cities in the northwestern part of South Carolina. When school started that year, the building wasn't quite ready.
Mr. Lomas was ready for the 477 students who would step through the double metal doors. He hired 15 teachers and filled the 18 classrooms with desks and chairs despite having no phone all summer.
Today, Bethel sits in the heart of the fastest growing region of South Carolina. Cornfields have given way to housing developments, country roads to highways. The tiny sand colored school was enlarged to three times its original size in a $6 million expansion in 1995. Bethel has had five principals since Mr. Lomas retired: Richard Barker, 1980-1987; Brenda Moody Turner, 1987-1993, Dr. Katherine Howard, 1993-1999, Dr. Paula C. Ely, 1999-2006, Brenda Byrd, 2007-2014, and the current principal, Nerissa Q. Lewis.