• 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…



  • Icy Roads Force Closure of Area Schools; Snow Day Makeup Procedure Reminder from Watauga County Schools


    December 13, 2019. For the fourth time in the 2019-20 school year, Watauga County Schools were closed due to adverse weather and road conditions. According to the updated Watauga Schools Calendar, this is the third day missed in December, in addition to one day missed in November. Temperatures began to slowly warm up through late morning and mid-afternoon, however, roads were very slick in areas this morning, especially on side roads outside of Boone. As a reminder, North Carolina schools are required to complete 1,025 hours of instruction or a minimum of 185 student days in a school year covering at least nine calendar months. The 2019-20 school calendar for Watauga County started the school year with 180 student days, 10 annual leave days, 11 holidays, nine optional teacher workdays and five mandatory workdays. Weather is the biggest impact on the school calendar, sometimes requiring the use of the optional teacher workdays, holidays and other leave days to be used as makeup days, as well as the possibility of school on Saturday. Those calendar changes and makeup plans are left to Watauga County Superintendent Dr. Scott Elliott.  By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • Appalachian State University Commencement Ceremonies Underway Today; Classes Resume January 13

    December 13, 2019. A new group of college graduates from Appalachian State University will celebrate earning their degrees today with commencement ceremonies. Over 1,300 students will graduate with a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree today. The first group of graduates from the College of Arts and Sciences, Hayes School of Music and Walker College of Business took the floor at 10 a.m. at the Holmes Convocation Center. The next group of graduates from Beaver College of Health Sciences, College of Fine and Applied Arts and Reich College of Education will have their ceremony at 2 p.m. inside the convocation center. Both ceremonies will feature a student speaker from the college that they are graduating from.  By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • No Decision on Valle Crucis School Property Until March of 2020

    December 9, 2019. The idea of a new Valle Crucis School will be put on hold until March 2020 at the earliest after the Watauga County Board of Education decided to extend the due diligence period on the property that the county has under contract. “The board voted to extend the due diligence period on the property until March to perform some additional testing. We are still waiting for those results at the moment,” said Garrett Price, the Director of Communications for Watauga County Schools. Citizens have voiced their opinion on the potential property, known locally as the Hodges Property on Broadstone Road, a 14.4-acre parcel of land that is roughly a quarter-mile from the current Valle Crucis School. While everyone agrees that Valle Crucis needs a new school, opinions have differed greatly on where that school should be located.  By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • The Powder Horn is Back in Print, WHS School Newspaper Relaunches Print Edition


    December 9, 2019. In a matter of weeks, we are set to turn our calendars to the second decade of the 21st century. Over the past twenty years, our society has become indelibly plugged-in. In the past two decades, the technology that first allowed us to make calls without being tethered to a cable between phones has supplied us with computers in our pockets and virtual assistants in our homes. In the modern world, everything from the refrigerator to the doorbell is connected, digitized and networked. But for a group of students at Watauga High School — digital natives who never lived in a pre-internet world — there is an appetite for renewing a long-familiar medium: a print newspaper. Over the past three months, journalism students at Watauga High School have worked to revitalize the school’s newspaper, The Powder Horn. The publication, whose print edition has existed in some form since Watauga High School’s foundation in 1965, has been online-only for several years. / Read more…



  • Mast Farm Inn Lawsuit Against School Board Completely Dismissed in Superior Court

    November 21, 2019. Superior Court Judge Susan E. Bray signed an order Nov. 14 completely dismissing the lawsuit filed by Deschamps Holdings, LLC and others against the Watauga County Board of Education that sought to prevent the school board from purchasing the Hodges Property in Valle Crucis for the construction of a new school. In her order, the judge rejected the plaintiffs’ request for a preliminary injunction to stop the school board from completing its purchase of the property. Judge Bray determined the plaintiffs could not demonstrate a likelihood of success on the merits of their case if it went to trial. The Judge also found that the plaintiffs could not show that the use of the Hodges Property for a school would cause irreparable harm to the Mast Farm Inn and could not show how the inn’s legal rights were in jeopardy. In addition, the judge found that the plaintiffs’ did not have legal standing through any of their claims to permanently prevent the Watauga County Board of Education from purchasing the Hodges Property. The signing of the order follows an earlier hearing before Judge Bray on Oct. 29 in Boone. / Read more…



  • Watauga County Schools Prepare for Winter Weather


    November 15, 2019. With another high country winter well underway, Watauga County Schools would like to remind families how the district makes and communicates decisions about the operation of school during inclement weather. Watauga County Schools Superintendent Dr. Scott Elliott said during severe weather, he considers every possibility to keep school open and on a regular schedule, but certain conditions often force delays and cancellations. “Changes in the school schedule have a real impact on our families, so I don’t make the decision to delay or cancel school without serious consideration,” Elliott said. “But when it is necessary for us to make a change to the schedule, I want to be sure we do the best possible job to communicate those changes.” When bad weather begins overnight, the process for making decisions about the operation of school kicks off at 3 a.m. when Elliott and Transportation Director Jeff Lyons begin the process of gathering information about road conditions and the most current weather forecast. / Read more…



  • Board of Education Expects Court Decision Sometime This Week in Valle Crucis Lawsuit Case

    November 5, 2019. The Watauga County Board of Education could find out as soon as this week what the Watauga County Superior Court will rule on the lawsuit filed by the Mast Farm Inn. The pre-trial hearing took place last Friday and according to Garrett Price, the Director of Communications for Watauga County Schools, the final opinion of the court hasn’t yet been filed, but “we expect it to be completed sometime this week.” The lawsuit was filed on October 10 in Watauga County Superior Court and lists the plaintiffs as The Mast Farm Inn and owners Henri Deschamps, Marie-Henriette Deschamps and Danielle Deschamps as well as Deschamps Holdings, LLC and Deschamps Enterprises, LLC. Defendants in the cast are the Watauga County Board of Education, board chairman Ron Henries, vice-chair Brenda Reese, and board members Dr. Gary Childers, Steve Combs and Dr. Jay Fenwick.  By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • Watauga County Schools Expands Agriculture Classes to Middle School


    November 4, 2019. At Mabel School, sixth-graders in Benjamin Brown’s agriculture class are stationed in the school’s vegetable patch. The field that plays host to the small garden shares duty as a playground for Mabel’s younger students, but the sprinting group of seven-year-olds in the distance are no distraction to Brown’s middle-schoolers, who are hard at work harvesting dried green beans to be replanted in the Spring. The students are among the first groups at Mabel and Cove Creek schools to take advantage of agriculture classes at the middle school level, which until this school year, were only available at Watauga High School. While WHS has a long tradition of strong agricultural education and one of the most successful FFA programs in the state, it’s Brown’s hope that by expanding the program to students in middle school, Watauga County Schools can improve ag education across the district and further connect younger students to their world. / Read more…



  • Election Security Forum Happening at Appalachian State on November 1

    October 31, 2019. A special forum will be taking place on Friday that will include information sharing and discussion about the worrisome issue of election security, particularly in North Carolina. The forum will take place from 3-5 p.m. at the Gordon Gathering Hall inside the Reich College of Education Building, located at 151 College Street. The event is co-sponsored by Appalachian State’s Department of Computer Science and the Department of Government and Justice Studies. 99 percent of the votes tallied across the country will be done either on computers or by using the paper ballot-scanning machines, meaning that making sure these computer systems are modern and secure. According to information provided by Dr. Ray Russell, who will moderate the forum, the federal government recently allocated $250 million to make these systems secure. There will be three speakers at the forum who have a vast amount of knowledge of the subject of elections and election security. By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • Mast Farm Inn Files Lawsuit Against Watauga County Board of Education to Stop Purchase of Land for New Valle Crucis School


    October 24, 2019. The ongoing dispute between Valle Crucis community members and the Watauga County Board of Education took another turn with a recent lawsuit filed by the Mast Farm Inn and its owners against the board of education to place an injunction on the property purchase for a new school. The lawsuit was filed on October 10 in Watauga County Superior Court and lists the plaintiffs as The Mast Farm Inn and owners Henri Deschamps, Marie-Henriette Deschamps and Danielle Deschamps as well as Deschamps Holdings, LLC and Deschamps Enterprises, LLC. Defendants in the cast are the Watauga County Board of Education, board chairman Ron Henries, vice-chair Brenda Reese, and board members Dr. Gary Childers, Steve Combs and Dr. Jay Fenwick. The plaintiffs in the case are represented by Four Eggers of Eggers, Eggers, Eggers and Eggers of Boone and Robert Hunter of Higgins Benjamin Law Firm in Greensboro. The defendants are represented by John Henning of Campbell Shatley PLLC of Asheville. By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • Hardin Park’s Clara Lappan Wins District Spelling Bee


    October 18, 2019. Hardin Park sixth-grader Clara Lappan correctly spelled “Marathon” and “Autumn” to secure victory in the Watauga County Schools district-wide spelling bee held Oct. 18. Green Valley’s Zeke Walker from Green Valley secured the runner-up spot in the contest. The top-speller in each school was invited to attend the competition held at the WCS central office. This year’s contestants were: Liliana Wyatt of Bethel, Iris Westerman of Blowing Rock, A.J. McAulay of Cove Creek, Zeke Walker of Green Valley, Clara Lappan of Hardin Park, Mark Spaulding of Mabel, Ben Baublitz of Parkway and Grant Painter of Valle Crucis. A single speller from each school secured a stop at the district-wide spelling bee final by winning a competition among fourth through eighth-grade students at her or his school. Meredith Jones, Watauga County Schools Director of Middle Grades Education, said regardless of the competition’s outcome, students had demonstrated hard work and dedication to make an appearance at the district bee. / Read more…



  • Appalachian Guarantees Admission to Qualifying High School Seniors in 11 NC GEAR UP School Districts


    October 18, 2019. Current seniors in 11 Western North Carolina high school districts who meet specific academic requirements and submit an application by Friday, Nov. 1, are guaranteed admission to Appalachian State University through a newly announced program called GEAR UP Guarantee. Appalachian’s GEAR UP Guarantee is a collaboration between the university and the region’s 11 Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) school districts to provide a seamless pathway for high school students to enroll at Appalachian. The 11 GEAR UP school districts are Ashe, Alleghany, Burke, Clay, Graham, Madison, Rutherford, Swain, Watauga, Wilkes and Yancey counties. By Elisabeth Wall / Read more…



  • Avery High School Students Volunteer and Take College Tours with Mountain Alliance


    October 4, 2019. A select group of eight Avery County High School students recently had the opportunity to both prepare for their academic future and lend a helping hand. Through the non-profit organization Mountain Alliance, eight students from the high school toured N.C. State University, UNC-Wilmington and Campbell University, and spent time volunteering in Wilmington with the Wilmington Area Rebuilding Ministry (WARM). “We are proud to offer this trip to students as we feel that touring colleges allows students the opportunity to envision themselves on a college campus,” said Brittany Starbuck, the Program Director at Mountain Alliance. “We try to include colleges that have differences so students can compare and think about what type of college they would be most happy and successful at.”  By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • Watauga County Schools Named Accomplished District by National Board for Professional Teaching Standards


    September 30, 2019 Watauga County Schools has been named an Accomplished District by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, a national non-profit organization that certifies teachers based on a rigorous set of evaluations and standards. The honor is given to school districts in which 20 percent or more of teachers have achieved National Board certification. Watauga County is one of just 81 school districts across the nation that were awarded the Accomplished District designation. To a achieve a National Board certification, teachers must prepare a series of essays, presentations and videos that demonstrate their content knowledge, differentiation in instruction, command of teaching practices and learning environment, and their abilities as an effective and reflective practitioner of teaching. / Read more…



  • Watauga High School Hosts Inaugural Senior Mini-Conference


    September 26, 2019 As high school seniors prepare to graduate, they are asked to make a series of difficult decisions. Choices that will affect their secondary education or career training — choices that, in short, that have the potential to alter the course of their entire lives. With these pivotal moments in mind, staff at Watauga High School set out to connect its senior class with the tools and skills it needs to tackle just those kinds of decisions with its inaugural Senior Mini-Conference. Laura Turner, WHS GEAR UP Coordinator, who helped to plan the event, said the goal was to host a session for seniors that looked and felt like a professional development conference their teachers might attend in the course of their ongoing career training. “The idea behind the Senior Mini-Conference was to help these students prepare for what’s next,” Turner said. “It was really geared towards helping students have a good start on the experiences and challenges they will face as they prepare to graduate high school.” / Read more…



  • Blowing Rock School is Awarded the NC Schools Go Outside Grant


    September 19, 2019. The NC Outdoor Heritage Advisory Council (OHAC) is pleased to award a North Carolina Schools Go Outside (GO) Grant to Blowing Rock School. “Seventh-grade students from Blowing Rock School will be given the opportunity to participate in an overnight outdoor experience at Buffalo Cove Outdoor Education Center. Students will engage in activities involving hiking, camping and learning essential survival skills including fire making and shelter building. A requirement by the state for all seventh graders is to learn about homeostasis. Students will be able to apply this concept to a real-life experience by learning how to maintain homeostasis in an outdoor setting,” said Blowing Rock School teacher Liz Tincher. The NC Outdoor Heritage Advisory Council established the NC Schools Go Outside (GO) Grants earlier this year. Go Grants are $250 to $2,500 grants that will be provided to access field study locations and assist with other expenditures that result from form taking students outdoors. / Read more…



  • Cove Creek Students Take Science Class into the Field Thanks to Donation


    September 18, 2019. Students at Cove Creek School are set to spend a little more time in the creek thanks to a donation from Blue Ridge Resource Conservation and Development, a non-profit that works to study and protect natural resources in Northwest North Carolina. The organization recently donated 35 pairs of water shoes to second graders at the school. Cove Creek sits on a plot of several acres on Vanderpool Road in Vilas. The school building, playground, track and gym are obvious features to passersby, but perhaps the school’s best-kept secret is a large tract of woods and creek access along the back of the property. Thanks to their surroundings, students at Cove Creek are uniquely situated to learn about their environment by taking their science classes out into the field and getting first-hand experience in their local ecosystem. / Read more…



  • Community Members Pack Valle Crucis School Gym for Meeting to Discuss New School Location


    September 5, 2019. Valle Crucis parents, teachers and community members, as well as elected officials, gathered for a special joint meeting between the Watauga County Commissioners and Watauga County Board of Education on Tuesday to speak their minds about the location of a new Valle Crucis School. The information session included data and comments from Watauga County Superintendent Dr. Scott Elliott and Clark Nexsen architect Chad Roberson. Following that, the public was invited to comment and share their thoughts either in support of the proposed location for the school or against it. “After lots of talk and lots of consideration, the priority was given to first make every effort to keep a school in Valle Crucis, whether that be on-site or a different site,” said Dr. Elliott. “I believe that a school is a place where children and families come, live and exist and we certainly want to continue to be a positive member of the community.” Elliott added that the school system had “no intention of building what might be described as a large institutional structure.” By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • Watauga County Schools Hosting Information Session for Valle Crucis School on September 3


    September 3, 2019. The general public will have a chance to learn about the potential location for the new Valle Crucis School at an information and input session set to take place at the current Valle Crucis School gymnasium on Tuesday, September 3 at 6 p.m. According to information from the Watauga County Board of education, both school board members and the Watauga County Board of Commissioners will hold this joint meeting to provide information on the proposed construction of a new school in the Valle Crucis community and hear public comment on the issue as well. Some in the Valle Crucis community have taken issue with where the proposed school will be constructed. The land, commonly known as the Hodges Property, is currently under contract by the Watauga County Schools and is a quarter of a mile from where the Valle Crucis School sits right now. By Nathan Ham / Read more…



  • Watauga High School Celebrates 2019 Senior Class


    June 20, 2019. A total of 343 graduating seniors from Watauga High School were honored last Friday night at the Holmes Convocation Center on Appalachian State’s campus. The 2019 senior class included 313 tradition graduates and 30 early graduates. These seniors accounted for over $4 million in college scholarship money and have already earned 667 college credits. A total of 29 graduates have already earned a community college degree along with their high school diplomas.  / Read more…



  • Geological and Environmental Sciences K-12 Science Education Strengthened by Community Partnership


    June 19, 2019. Vulcan Materials, the nation’s largest producer of construction aggregates with a local office in Boone, N.C., has given over $61,000 to the Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences at Appalachian State University, supporting the department in many ways for decades. “They have truly donated thousands of dollars in personnel and equipment time to make projects and growth become a reality at Appalachian,” said Dr. Andrew Heckert, a professor in the Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences. In 2018-19, the Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences at Appalachian reached over 5,000 school children through outreach events at over 34 schools and organizations with assistance from over 50 undergraduate students. The department has been awarded five outreach-specific grants ranging from $1500 – $62,000 with a predicted total of $100,000 for the year. Faculty and students from the department are committed to helping strengthen K-12 science education by fostering partnerships with schools, training teachers, involving students, highlighting faculty’s research and advertising program offerings.  / Read more…



  • One Hundred Thirty-Four Graduate From Avery County High School In 2019 Class

    June 13, 2019. Avery County High School held its annual commencement and graduation ceremony on June 7th in the school’s gymnasium, sending off the latest group of graduates into the next journey of their lives. There were 134 in the 2019 graduating class, which marks the 50th in the school’s history. The ceremony had to be moved indoors from the school’s MacDonald Stadium due to heavy rain. According to Avery Schools Superintendent Bryan Taylor, the 2019 graduating class received a half million dollars ($500,000.00) in scholarship awards to attend colleges, universities and other institutions of higher learning. The Avery High Band and chorus were featured during graduation as “Pomp and Circumstance” was played as the graduates marched into the gymnasium in front of a capacity crowd of family, friends, special guests, teachers and school system officials.  By Tim Gardner / Read more…



  • Dr. Scott Elliott Named Regional Superintendent of the Year


    June 11, 2019. Watauga County Schools Superintendent Dr. Scott Elliott was recently named Northwest North Carolina Superintendent of the Year by the Northwest Regional Educational Service Agency (NWRESA), an organization that provides professional services, staff development and support for public schools in the region. The Regional Superintendent of the Year Award winner is chosen by fellow superintendents from the 12 school districts in Northwest North Carolina. Award winners from each of the eight regions are eligible to go on to win statewide recognition for their work. NWRESA Executive Director Don Martin said Elliott was chosen for the award for his dedication to public education and commitment to Watauga County Schools. “Elliott was selected by his peer superintendents for this award because they recognize his hard work and leadership both in Watauga and the state and regional levels,” Martin said. “He is well known and highly respected across our state as a vocal champion for both Watauga County Schools and for public education.” / Read more…



  • Phil Norman Named the New Principal at Hardin Park School


    June 11, 2019. The Watauga County Board of Education voted unanimously Monday, June 10 to appoint Phil Norman Principal of Hardin Park School. Norman is set to take the job at Hardin Park after an extensive interview and vetting process led by Superintendent Dr. Scott Elliott. The process is designed to evaluate candidates for administrative roles in the district. The hiring process began with a stakeholder survey in which teachers, parents, students and community members were given the opportunity to express traits they’d like to see in a leader at their school. Hardin Park’s survey received 416 public responses. Norman, who has served as Principal of Green Valley School for the past five years, was chosen after a four round interview process with an interview committee of 30 people and a one-on-one interview with Elliott. Elliott said Hardin Park, Watauga’s largest K-8 school, required a skilled and experienced candidate to lead effectively. / Read more…



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