• Appalachian State Reporting 202 Total COVID-19 Cases; Spring Break Already Canceled in 2021


    August 26, 2020 Appalachian State University is reporting 202 students, employees, and contractors that have tested positive for COVID-19 since March 27. Despite rumors of moving all classes to online instruction, the campus is still continuing with in-person classes as of Wednesday. At this time there were 41 active cases on campus. “The decision to welcome students back to campus was guided not only by our desire to give students the Appalachian Experience they hoped for but also by recommendations from public health officials and the UNC System,” said Appalachian State Chancellor, Dr. Sheri Everts. “Across the nation, the operations of colleges and universities face daily uncertainties. These first few days are critical in ensuring we are able to flatten App State’s curve. We must all be diligent following the 3Ws, and limiting social gatherings to small numbers.” By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • Appalachian State Continuing With In-Person Class Instruction For Now; 40 Students Currently Have Active COVID-19 Cases

    August 19, 2020 In a message from Appalachian State Chancellor Dr. Sheri Everts on Monday afternoon, it appears that Appalachian State will continue to offer in-person classes for the time being. UNC-Chapel Hill made the decision to discontinue classroom sessions and return to an entirely online learning format, becoming the first school in the UNC System to made the switch back to online classes only. “The decision to adapt operations applies to UNC-Chapel Hill only because no other UNC System institution has reported information, at this time, that would lead to similar modifications,” said UNC System President, Peter Hans, in a statement. “All students must continue to wear facial coverings and practice social distancing as part of their personal responsibility, particularly in off-campus settings. Taking personal responsibility and enforcing community standards are essential for the success of this semester and for protecting public health. Each campus is different, and I expect situations to evolve differently. In any circumstance, we will be grounded by reliable public health data and prevailing local health conditions. I will continue to stay in close contact with our chancellors and fully support their efforts to fulfill our core educational mission in safe learning environments.” By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • Classes Begin Online for Watauga County K-12 Students and In-Person for Appalachian State University Students

    August 17, 2020 Monday marked a back-to-school moment that many students and parents will never forget. Watauga County Schools returned with virtual classes to open the fall semester while Appalachian State started its fall semester with a mix of in-person and online classes. Freshmen and returning students crowded the roadways last week to move into campus residence halls and off-campus rental properties in preparation for the school year. Students and staff at App State are required to wear face coverings while in classrooms and all other locations where social distancing is not possible. For the public school system, Watauga had initially planned on a “2×3 Flex Schedule” where students would go to class for in-person instruction two days a week and online instruction three days a week. However, as COVID-19 positive infections continued to increase in the county, the school board returned to entirely online instruction.  By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • Watauga County Schools Implements Extra Health and Safety Precautions


    August 14, 2020  As teachers and other employees returned to work in school buildings on August 11, Watauga County Schools staff had its first chance to fully employ the district’s stringent health, safety, and screening procedures for its facilities. As teachers and staff prepare to start the school year Aug. 17, anyone entering a school facility — employee or visitor —  must pass a temperature screening at the door. They are also required to answer a series of questions that assess their potential exposure to COVID-19. All staff inside school buildings are required to wear masks at all times except when teachers are alone in their classrooms conducting virtual lessons. Alongside the involved screening measures at school entrances, the district has also implemented a number of enhanced cleaning and safety procedures around school facilities as a whole.  / Read more…



  • App State to Require Students, Faculty and Staff to Complete Online Daily Health Check for Access to Campus

    August 14, 2020 As part of classes resuming and students returning to campus for the fall semester, Appalachian State University will be requiring students, faculty, and staff members to administer daily health checks on their mobile devices or computers to receive a “passport” to be on campus for that day. According to the university, each person will fill out a simple questionnaire about how they are feeling and if they have any COVID-19 symptoms. If the individual is not sick, they will receive a passport for that date that will last through midnight of that day to have access to places on campus. If the person answers that they may have COVID-19 symptoms, they will not be cleared to access campus and will be asked to stay home or seek medical attention. Students may be asked to show their passports to their instructor to get into class and all faculty and staff members may be asked to show their passports to their supervisors when entering a classroom, workplace, or campus facility. The passport can be viewed on a smartphone or tablet or printed off to be carried at all times for that day. By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • Appalachian State Students Begin Moving in Next Week with Classes Starting on August 17

    August 7, 2020 A new way of campus life and a mixture of online and in-person classes will await students as they begin moving in on Monday, August 10 in preparation for the fall semester starting on August 17. The other public universities in the UNC System are beginning class on Monday, however, Appalachian State’s semester will begin the following week to make sure the newest student housing projects are completed in time. Freshmen and transfer students will move in on August 10-13 while returning students will move in on August 14-16. “I am proud of the way we have adapted to the challenges of this global pandemic, which has challenged every aspect of daily university life — from how we live and learn, to how we engage and educate,” said App State Chancellor Dr. Sheri Everts in a weekly email update to faculty, students and staff. By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • Watauga County Schools Hires Tech Director and Cove Creek Principal


    July 29, 2020  At its July meeting, the Watauga County Board of Education approved the hire of two leadership positions within Watauga County Schools, appointing a Dr. Alison Schleede Director of Technology and Scott Carter as principal of Cove Creek School. Schleede takes the helm of Watauga County Schools’ technology department after the retirement of Nancy Zeiss while Carter is set to take over from Mary Smalling, who has filled as principal of Cove Creek School since earlier this year. Schleede comes to Watauga County Schools from Knightdale High School where she taught American History. She has served in various capacities across the state as a technology facilitator, teacher, principal, and assistant principal. Schleede earned her bachelor’s degree in history from the University of New York College at Brockport. She went on to earn a Master’s in instructional technology education from East Carolina University and an Ed. D. in education leadership from Wingate University.  / Read more…



  • Watauga County School Board Hosting Emergency Meeting on Tuesday Evening

    July 27, 2020 The Watauga County Board of Education will hold an emergency meeting on Tuesday, July 28 at 5 p.m. The meeting will be held in person with appropriate precautions taken for the health and safety of the public. The purpose of the meeting is for the board to hear an update on school reopening planning and to consider taking action on an updated recommendation for the return to in-person instruction. The public may offer comments to the board either in person or via email to Superintendent Scott Elliott at [email protected] The deadline for submitting comments is 4:30 PM on July 28, 2020. / Read more…



  • Watauga County Schools Receiving Positive Feedback on Fall Semester Reopening Plan

    July 24, 2020 As the old saying goes, you’re not going to make everyone happy. With the first day of school now less than a month away, Watauga County Schools continue to prepare for Plan B of reopening school buildings at 50-percent capacity. They have received a good amount of positive feedback so far. “We’ve gotten a great deal of support from parents and community members as we’ve planned our reopening. It’s a community-wide effort to solved a hugely complicated issue that doesn’t have a best-size-fits-all answer,” said Garrett Price, the Director of Communications for Watauga County Schools. “We’ve gotten extremely useful feedback from parents and staff through a number of surveys regarding reopening plans that have been instrumental as we’ve worked out details specific to Watauga.” The “2×3 Flex Schedule” plan will have half the students at each school attend class on Monday and Tuesday and the other half attend on Thursday and Friday. Wednesday will be a remote learning day for all students, and when the students are not in the school building, they will be participating in remote learning the other two days of the week. By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • Eagle Scout Project Restores Bethel School Bell That Has Been at the School Since the 1930s


    July 22, 2020  When rising Watauga High School Senior Logan Sturgill set out to find an Eagle Scout Project, he was immediately drawn toward work that could have a positive impact on Watauga County Schools — the system where he’s attended since pre-Kindergarten at Mabel School. Sturgill contacted WCS Superintendent Scott Elliott to express interest in doing a project which would also benefit one of the schools in some way. Elliott solicited ideas from the school system’s principals, and then put Sturgill in touch with Bethel Principal Brian Bettis. Bethel School is home to a very large but long-neglected school bell that was placed at Bethel School when the building was first constructed by the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s. Over the years since its original construction, remodeling at Bethel School saw the bell removed from its perch atop the building and stored in the school courtyard, where it has been largely unprotected from the elements for years. / Read more…



  • School Reopening Plans Continue to Come Together with First Day of School a Month Away

    July 17, 2020 Schools in Watauga County and every other part of the state are finalizing their plans on how they will proceed to reopen once schools start next month. The first day for Watauga County students will be Monday, August 17 and the current plan is to reopen schools with a “2×3 Schedule.” The 2×3 Schedule is designed to allow half of the students to attend school on Monday and Tuesday while the other half will attend on Thursday and Friday. Wednesday will be a remote learning day for all students. “In total, all students have three days of remote learning at home each week,” said Garrett Price, the Director of Communications for Watauga County Schools. Remote learning options will be available for all students where parents will have a choice of sending their students to school on a part-time basis or keeping them at home for full-time remote learning, according to Watauga County Superintendent Dr. Scott Elliott. Elliott shared that information in an interview with Boone Chamber of Commerce CEO/President David Jackson on Tuesday. By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • Watauga County Schools Adopting ‘2×3 Schedule’ to Open 2020-21 School Year in August

    July 15, 2020 Following Governor Roy Cooper’s announcement on Tuesday afternoon that all North Carolina K-12 public schools would open under what has been called Plan B with 50 percent school building capacity and required face coverings, Watauga County Schools unveiled their “2×3 Schedule” for how they will begin the year. “Since the governor made the announcement that schools will open on Plan B, we’ve been working to prepare Watauga-specific information for staff, teachers and parents. We will be opening on what we’re calling our 2×3 schedule with significant social distancing and cleaning protocols,” said Garret Price, the Director of Communications for Watauga County Schools. The 2×3 Schedule is designed to allow half of the students to attend school on Monday and Tuesday while the other half will attend on Thursday and Friday. Price said that Wednesday will be a remote learning day for all students. By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • Appalachian State Grappling With How to Handle Classroom Return this Fall for Students and Faculty

    July 13, 2020 It appears that colleges and universities in the UNC System are waiting alongside public K-12 schools for a final decision on how to handle a return to the classroom for the fall semester of 2020. On Friday, Appalachian State University Chancellor Dr. Sheri Everts released an update about the current academic vision for how App State will open up with COVID-19 cases continuing to pile up across the country. “We are considering all possible scenarios and confirming as many specifics as possible while also awaiting further guidance from Governor Cooper and the UNC System. Governor Cooper’s announcement expected next week about the next steps of his phased reopening plan will be an important indicator for us. I appreciate the collegiality of our faculty and staff, and the patience of our students, as we all work toward the best solution for continuing instruction in the fall. I know all of us want the safest possible learning environment and I appreciate those who are working on this,” Everts said in last week’s update. By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • Gov. Roy Cooper Delays Announcement on School Reopening Plan for 2020-21 Academic Year

    July 1, 2020 Parents, students and teachers were expecting an announcement to come on Wednesday afternoon about how North Carolina public schools would plan to reopen in August. That announcement has been delayed, according to a press release provided by Gov. Cooper’s office. The news was first reported Tuesday night by WRAL TV. No additional info has been provided yet as to when the announcement might be made in the future. A press briefing at 3 p.m. today from the Coronavirus Taskforce will still take place as scheduled. In June, each school district in North Carolina was told to be prepared for three different scenarios for reopening schools in the fall. Plan A would include minimal social distancing and students returning to the classrooms. Plan B would include social distancing measures with schools operating at 50 percent capacity. Plan C would be schools providing all education through online learning and school buildings remaining closed. By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • Avery and Watauga County Schools Prepare for State Guidance on Reopening Schools; Lees-McRae Focusing on Fall Semester

    June 29, 2020 Avery County Schools Superintendent Dan Brigman spoke at a meeting on June 25 discussing what the education system could look like in the upcoming school year, which begins August 17. On July 1, the North Carolina Board of Education and Department of Public Instruction are prepared to release operational plans for the upcoming 2020-21 school year. The DPI has released three plans ranging from normal class schedules with increased health monitoring and building cleaning to entirely at-home remote learning. The three different scenarios of levels of operation to reopen that could be implemented for schools include Plan A: Minimal Social Distancing, Plan B: Moderate Social Distancing or Plan C: Remote Learning. By Harley Nefe / Read more…



  • Watauga County Schools are Asking Parents to Complete a Survey on Reopening Plans for August

    June 19, 2020 Watauga County Schools are looking for feedback from parents on their thoughts on the current plan to reopen schools for the 2020-21 school year in August. The school system also released a video highlighting North Carolina’s plan for how schools should reopen in the fall. For parents interested in taking the survey, it is available by going to www.wataugaschools.org/coronavirus or clicking the survey direct link here.  / Read more…



  • Appalachian State Plans to Start Fall Semester on August 17 and End Classes Before Thanksgiving Break


    May 25, 2020 In an update from Appalachian State University Chancellor Sheri Everts, the school has put together a plan that will bring students back to campus for the fall semester and have the final day of classes before Thanksgiving. The first day of school is scheduled for August 17, but the biggest change to the calendar will be eliminating the two-day Fall Break in order to complete classes by November 24. All final exams will be held online and the final exam period remains unchanged, according to Everts. “This plan will allow for the greatest number of our students to remain home for an extended period of time before the spring semester begins in January,” Everts said. “I would like to extend my thanks to the faculty, staff, and students who make up the Academic Calendar Committee for the work they did to recommend this change. As of now, Everts said that the current plans are to hold an in-person graduation ceremony at December Commencement. By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • Watauga County School Board Votes to Extend Due Diligence Period to July 30 for Potential Valle Crucis School Property

    May 13, 2020 At Monday’s Watauga County Board of Education meeting, the board voted to extend the due diligence period for the possible property for a new Valle Crucis School. This is the third time that the due diligence period has been extended. Previously on March 12, the board extended the due diligence period for 45 days. “We are waiting on test results to come back from the state. The board is dedicated to totally vetting the Hodges Property’s suitability for a new Valle Crucis School, so they voted to extend the due diligence period until we can get all the results back from the state,” said Garrett Price, the Director of Communications for Watauga County Schools. The 14.4-acre area of land near where the current Valle Crucis School sits has been viewed as most likely the best fit to construct the new school. The current school is over 80 years old and has had numerous flooding issues over the years.  Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • Watauga County Schools Names Teachers of the Year


    May 4, 2020 Watauga County Schools has named its 2020-21 teachers of the year — one from each school in the district. Chosen by their peers, the group was selected from a group of more than 300 teachers district-wide at all grade levels. This year’s group includes Chelsie Eldreth from Bethel, Angela Watson from Blowing Rock, Leslie Hall from Cove Creek, Tara Watson from Green Valley, Elizabeth Hutelmyer from Hardin Park, Erin Ellington from Mabel, Sydney Sieviec from Parkway, Leslie Howser from Valle Crucis and Hunter Lloyd from Watauga High School. WCS teachers of the year were awarded by groups of peers, family members, and staff who surprised the award winner with the recognition in their classrooms in the days preceding the statewide stay home order that closed schools. Watauga County Schools Superintendent Scott Elliott offered his congratulations to the newly-named teachers of the year and thanked them for their dedication to their students. / Read more…



  • Appalachian State Shares Additional Details on Virtual Commencement Ceremonies for Class of 2020 Spring Graduates


    May 1, 2020 If this were any other year, Appalachian State University students would be preparing for one of the most memorable days of their lives, walking across the stage at the Holmes Convocation Center celebrating their college graduation. Things are quite a bit different this spring. “While we are heartbroken that we are not able to offer a traditional May Commencement this year, we are excited about the work our Commencement planning team has underway to provide a memorable Commencement experience for our Spring 2020 graduates that honors the work they have done to bring them to this stage in their academic careers,” said Megan Hayes, Appalachian State’s Chief Communications Officer. “We haven’t canceled a Commencement in the history of Appalachian – not even for the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918-19 or during World War II. With the available technology that is allowing us to continue our mission of teaching, research and service, we feel it is very important to offer a way to celebrate in May for those who wish to. Classes officially ended on April 29 and students are finishing up final exams through next Thursday, May 7. By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • Gov. Cooper Announces NC Schools Will Remain Closed for the Remainder of the School Year

    April 24, 2020 On Friday afternoon, Governor Roy Cooper announced that schools across North Carolina would remain closed for the rest of the year. Online instruction will continue, however, no more in-class instruction will occur this spring. Gov. Cooper made the announcement during a 2 p.m. media briefing on the COVID-19 coronavirus impact in the state. Summer school and the operation of summer camps remain up in the air. “The opening of schools in the summer and fall and the availability of summer camps are going to depend on meeting health guidelines that will be established later,” Cooper said. “I have every confidence that we will find a way to get schools open safely in the new school year.”  By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute Begins Summer Registration Today, April 22


    April 22, 2020 Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute is now registering for the Summer Semester. Academic advisors are ready to help by phone or online. The class schedule for the summer semester is currently all online classes due to the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak. The registration date for the fall semester of 2020 has tentatively been postponed until a later date. If you are concerned about being able to pay for summer school classes, there are scholarships and financial aid available. Financial aid information can be found here. To get started, call 828-726-2200 or visit www.cccti.edu. / Read more…



  • App State Re-Envisions Spring Semester, Transitions to Virtual Academic Experiences


    April 17, 2020  In late March, Appalachian State University moved to virtual modes of learning due to concerns posed by COVID-19. Faculty and staff across campus have been simultaneously re-creating related, on-campus academic experiences — everything from thesis defenses to a reading clinic — through online platforms. The university converted 2,600 courses from face-to-face instruction to online learning, and the university’s Center for Academic Excellence has provided assistance for faculty through this transition — reaching nearly 600 faculty in one week with more than 50 workshops, support and training sessions. Many faculty members report being excited about the opportunities presented by online learning. By Megan Bruffy / Read more…



  • Watauga County Schools Providing Extra Meals for Students over Spring Break


    April 8, 2020 Next week, Watauga County students and staff will be on spring break from April 13-17. Over the break, the nutrition staff will not be serving daily meals as all school facilities will be closed. WCS has planned ahead for that. This Friday, all children 18 and under who visit one of the sites on Friday will be provided with the regular meal service along with six additional shelf-stable meals for the week of spring break. The extra meals are available to any children 18 and under at any of Watauga County School’s distribution sites regardless of means or enrollment. “We are encouraging staff and students to take the time with their families and loved ones to enjoy a well-earned break. They’ve put in some incredible work over the past weeks! Our child nutrition staff will not be serving meals over spring break and our facilities will be closed, but we encourage families to come out to any of our meal distribution sites this Friday, April 10 to pick up extra meals for over the break,” said Garrett Price, the director of communication for Watauga County Schools. By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • Keeping a Routine: Watauga County Students Learning From Home Until at Least May 15


    March 25, 2020 Students, parents, and educators across the state have had to figure out the best ways possible to keep children engaged in education as the COVID-19 coronavirus has put a stop to all in-person K-12 classes. Watauga County Schools rolled out its Remote Learning Program and has tried to bring some normalcy to the lives of students across the county. “Given the circumstances that they were dealing with, I could not be more impressed with the way that the information was organized to get to parents. Between the online resources and the notes that teachers put in bags and the bits of encouragement and outreach that they have had, it has been very impressive to see how they are trying to keep normalcy for kids that are craving normalcy,” said Boone Chamber of Commerce President David Jackson, who has two children enrolled in the county school system. Jackson’s second-grade daughter gets excited each morning for the daily classroom Zoom meeting where she gets to interact with classmates. By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • Shooting Stars 2020 Canceled Due to Ongoing Public Health Concerns


    March 18, 2020 In alignment with and guidance from federal and state agencies–and in consultation with the  Watauga County School system–the Watauga Education Foundation Board of Directors has decided to cancel this year’s Shooting Stars 2020 talent showcase. While this was a difficult decision to make, our nonprofit organization wants to make every effort possible to keep our students, educators, staff and community members as safe and healthy as possible. We join in responsibility and solidarity the global and community response. The performing arts auditions and visual arts videotaped interviews that were scheduled to take place at the Schaefer Center on March 28 have been canceled, and the artists reception scheduled for April 3 is also canceled; the Jones House is currently closed until further notice.  / Read more…



  • Watauga County Schools Establishes Community Feeding Sites Across the County

    March 16, 2020 While state officials have mandated that schools close for students until March 30, Watauga County Schools Child Nutrition Staff are planning ways to continue providing meals to those in need. Beginning Tuesday, March 17, Watauga County Schools will operate five feeding sites across the county. Parents from any school may pick up takeout meals at any of the designated sites in a drive-through line. Lunch and a packed breakfast for the next day will be served at Bethel, Mabel and Green Valley schools from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. each of the days that schools are closed for students. Dinner and breakfast for the next day will be served at Hardin Park School and Brushy Fork Baptist Church, located at 3915 Highway 421 North in Vilas, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. each of the days school is closed for students. / Read more…



  • Watauga County Board of Education Extends Contract for Location of New Valle Crucis School


    March 13, 2020 On Thursday, the Watauga County Board of Education voted to extend the contract of the Hodges Property in Valle Crucis for another 45 days. The property is the current proposed location of where the new Valle Crucis School will be constructed. According to Garrett Price, the director of communications for Watauga County Schools, the extension includes an additional payment of $5,000 that will be applied to the final purchase price for that property. “The extension the board requested stems from a delay in the state permitting process. The state official who specializes in the model and analysis being used at the property has bee out of work due to an illness,” Price said. “The official is back at work this week and is now reviewing the most recent tests. The delay made it unlikely that a permit would have been issued by the March 16 due diligence deadline so the board voted to extend the contract.” By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • Watauga County Schools Celebrate National School Breakfast Week


    March 5, 2020 To encourage more families to take advantage of the healthy choices available at school breakfast —  and to showcase some of the new options available to students in their cafeterias — Watauga County School celebrated National School Breakfast Week March 2-6. Busy weekday mornings can make it a challenge for some families to find time for a healthy breakfast at home. However, US Department of Agriculture data show that more and more students are starting their day with a nutritious breakfast in their school cafeterias. According to the USDA, students who start their day with breakfast at school, reach higher levels of achievement in reading and math, score higher on standardized tests demonstrate better concentration and memory, are more alert and maintain a healthier weight. / Read more…



  • Longtime Educator Laura Johnson Presented with Servant’s Heart Award by Board of Education


    February 12, 2020. The Watauga County Board of Education has presented the Watauga County Schools Servant’s Heart award to longtime Cove Creek educator Laura Johnson. The award is presented to a WCS employee who is nominated by his or her peers for exemplary service to the school district. Johnson, who taught at Cove Creek School from 1989 to her retirement in 2015, was recognized for her dedicated service to the school — both during her tenure as a teacher and after her retirement as a substitute. Christy Parker, a longtime Watauga County Schools Human Resources staff member said Johnson was always one of the first people she would call on when a school needed support. “If I had to describe her in a few words, I would say she is one of the most passionate educators I have had the opportunity to work with,” Parker said. “She cares deeply for all of her students and their families and her co-workers, alike. She’s usually one of the first ones to show up when there’s a need.” / Read more…



  • Bethel School Cafeteria Manager, Melody Howell, Granted NC Child Hunger Hero Award


    February 12, 2020. Bethel School Cafeteria Manager Melody Howell was recently granted a North Carolina Child Hunger Award by No Kid Hungry NC, a statewide non-profit that works to combat childhood hunger. The NC Child Hunger Hero award is presented to a variety of workers from across the state who operate in various capacities to serve quality meals to children in their areas — from school nutrition staff to community volunteers. Howell, who has worked in Watauga County Schools since 2002, was nominated by Principal Brian Bettis. “I nominated Mrs. Howell for this recognition because of how well-respected she is in our school and community,” Bettis said. “I frequently talk with people that mention how much she does for our students and families and how much she loves our students. Mrs. Howell has worked to create an environment in our cafeteria in which all students feel a part of our school family. They know they are loved, and they know that their stomachs and hearts will be well fed.” / Read more…



  • Founder of Eco Strategies Group Andrea Ruiz-Hays Named 2020 Lees-McRae College Commencement Speaker


    February 7, 2020. Andrea Ruiz-Hays, founder of Eco Strategies Group, will address graduates during the Commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 9. Ruiz-Hays’ sustainability firm provides consulting and training for businesses that desire to implement more sustainable strategies. Her clients include corporations, businesses, government entities, hotels, food and beverage companies, retail locations, stadiums, hospitals, K-12 schools, colleges, universities, as well as private residences. Bringing more than 28 years of experience in the hospitality industry to her consulting firm, Ruiz-Hays “combines her unique skill set, experience, and her passion for conserving the planet’s natural resources by educating others on how to be excellent environmental stewards,” according to her website. Specifically, Ruiz-Hays gained 20 years of executive leadership experience with the Walt Disney World Resort. / Read more…



  • Watauga High School Robotics Team Wins Regional Competition


    February 6, 2020. The Watauga High School Robotics team recently took home a victory in the FIRST Tech Challenge Tournament held Feb. 1 in Asheville. The competition tasked students with designing, building and programming a robot to compete in head-to-head challenges against machines designed by other teams. With its victory in the regional competition in Asheville, Watauga’s team earned a spot to compete in the state championship to be held Feb. 29 in Greensboro. Watauga’s team — known as Tungsteel —  was also awarded the contest’s Inspire Award and scored a tournament-high 111 points — outpacing their competition by 15 points. The Robotics Team Adviser, WHS teacher Dinah Miller said the contest tested her students on a wide variety of skills and disciplines. / Read more…



  • Watauga High School to Hold Eighth Grade Parent Nights


    January 30, 2020. Watauga High School is set to host its annual Eighth-Grade Parents Nights from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. on February 10th and 11th. Hosted at WHS, the sessions are intended for rising Freshman and their parents to gain insight and information on the transition from middle to high school. Students from Green Valley, Blowing Rock, Parkway and Bethel are invited to attend on Feb. 10. The session for students from Hardin Park, Valle Crucis, Cove Creek and Mabel will be held on Feb. 11. Homeschool, Grace Academy and Two Rivers students may elect to attend either session. The sessions will start with an assembly hosted by next year’s Freshman Counselor Samantha Elam that gives families a brief overview of operations at Watauga High School. / Read more…



  • Classes Resume at Appalachian State and AppalCart Returns to Normal Route Schedule

    January 13, 2020. Appalachian State University students headed back to their dorms and classrooms on Monday with spring semester classes getting underway. A total of 19,280 students were enrolled to begin the 2019-20 academic year and approximately 1,300 students graduated in December’s commencement ceremony. Looking at the rest of the 2020 spring calendar, the university will be closed next Monday for Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Spring break is scheduled for March 9-13 and early enrollment for the 2020 fall semester will begin on April 1 and continue through April 15. The university will be closed on Friday, April 10 for Good Friday. The last day of classes will be April 29 and final exams will start on May 1 and continue through May 7. Commencement ceremonies will take place on May 8-9.   By Nathan Ham / Read more…



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