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Two Rivers Live: Saturday Event at Center 45 to Support High Country’s Public Charter School

By Jessica Isaacs | jessica@highcountrypress.com

Take your weekend plans to new heights at Center 45 on Saturday with the inaugural Two Rivers Live celebration — a brand new, adults-only fundraising event to support the only public charter school in Watauga County.

The fun will include live music, friends old and new, live and silent auctions and local food and beverages, and it’s all for a good cause. Can you think of a better way to spend a Saturday night?

Two Rivers Live

Two Rivers Live
Two Rivers Live

All proceeds will support Two Rivers Community School, a public charter school that offers a tuition-free alternative to public education in the High Country.

“This is our inaugural community fundraising event. We’ve never done anything of this scale,” said Ryan Robinson, the school’s development director. “It’s going to be really fun and exciting and it’s at the new climbing gym in town.”

One ticket will get you in the door and provide food, one drink and access to a cash/card bar, access to the auctions and a chance to check out Boone’s own bouldering gym. Get your tickets for $30 in advance, $35 at the door or $50 per couple.

Less than 30 tickets remain available, so don’t wait to get yours!

Auction items up for grabs include great gifts and experience-based prizes, like rafting and fly-fishing trips.

Event sponsors include local establishments like Mast General Store, High Country Local First, Stick Boy Kitchen, Appalachian Mountain Brewery, Artemis Independent, TAPP Room and Over Yonder.

There’s no doubt you’ll have a good time at Two Rivers Live, but you can also be sure your contribution will have a major impact on the school, which receives only a portion of the funding granted to the traditional school systems.

Two Rivers Community School

As the only public charter school in Watauga, Two Rivers is the area’s only tuition-free alternative to the county school district and focuses on “teaching the whole child.”

Two Rivers Community School
Two Rivers Community School

It serves approximately 180 students at a time and employs a staff of 25, including teachers.

“Two Rivers is the only school of its kind in the High Country, and our approach to education is a lot different from other public schools,” Robinson said. “We focus on academics, but we also teach kids how to have strong character, how to be engaged citizens, about the major issues facing the community and how they can add to the community’s strengths or fix some of its weaknesses.”

Most of its students hail from Watauga County, although some live in Ashe, Caldwell and Wilkes counties. The school features one classroom per grade level for kindergarten through eighth grades and offers hands-on, project-based learning curriculum.

“Our dynamic curriculum engage students and is designed so that students and teachers develop meaningful relationships based on trust and mutual respect,” its website reads. “The Expeditionary Learning Curriculum allows them to work collaboratively over time to guide the students’ learning, develop and achieve their goals and live in the world as engaged citizens.”

Two Rivers parent Tara Stollenmaier said her daughter received a traditional public education, but she was ready to explore other options by the time her two younger sons were old enough for kindergarten.

Two Rivers was the best fit for her boys, who are now in fourth and second grades there, and she remains an outspoken advocate for the school.

“The kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Vicki, is such a loving soul — I met her before our sons were old enough for school and I loved the options my children had at TRCS,” she said. “Coach Pack and adventure fitness, Spanish, Brain Gym, student-led conferences, all the time they spend outdoors and, most importantly, the project-based learning.”

Two Rivers Community School
Two Rivers Community School

Stollenmaier also appreciates the small size, friendly environment and personal relationships that her family enjoys at Two Rivers.

“I have had the advantage of getting to know the teachers of other grades and parents, as well. No school is perfect, but Two Rivers approaches education and parent participation in a different way from what I experienced when my oldest grew up,” said Stollenmaier. “Parents are relied on here to accomplish what other schools may see as routine things. This morning, I saw the director shoveling at the school, and other days it has been parents. Parents come in and offer some lessons, too.”

Established in 2005, Two Rivers is kicking off its second decade in the High Country and offers a locally controlled experience that traditional school systems just can’t match.

“We are governed by a local board of directors who are partners to the school. When we want to make a decision about our school, we can go straight to our board and make quick decisions, and we have the freedom and flexibility to make the right choices for us,” said Robinson. “In other school districts, they have to go all the way to the school board, and that kind of bureaucracy can really slow the decision-making down. We can also let our teachers govern their own curriculum.”

The relationships established in the classroom at Two Rivers contribute to a more rewarding and positive experience for the students, too.

“We have some teachers who have been on board since day one, and many of them still have a close connection with those students,” Robinson said. “I think that’s really special. They’re mentors and they get to stay in the kids’ lives, and that’s a critical part of their lives.”

Why Support Two Rivers?

A tuition-free Two Rivers education comes without the constraints of bureaucratic regulation, but it also comes with much less funding from state and local governments.

Two Rivers Community School
Two Rivers Community School

The public charter school doesn’t take funds from the county school system, but receives some per-pupil funding and some state and county dollars for students who require individualized learning plans.

All in all, Two Rivers only receives 75 cents to each dollar that regular public schools receive.

“Altogether, we receive funding just like any other school, but we don’t receive funds for facilities, buses or lunches,” Robinson said. “We are 25 percent less funded than other schools, and that’s why community support and fundraising are so important to us.”

Stollenmaier and Robinson agreed that contributions to the school help provide a quality educational choice for all students.

“It’s good to have an alternative. It lets people choose where they want to be. You can choose to be in the county school system, to home school or to be in the charter school,” Stollenmaier said. “Also, being the only charter school means we have students from all over the county and not just one community. It makes things harder for play dates, but it adds some diversity to the mix.”

Ready to make a contribution? Tickets to Two Rivers Live are going fast, so contact Robinson by email at rrobinson@tworiverscommunityschool.net or call 828-262-5411 to get yours.

For more information on the school, check out wp.trcsboone.org.



Saturday, Feb. 27, 6-9 p.m.

Center 45, 200 Den Mac Drive in Boone

Tickets: $30 in advance, $35 at the door, $50 per couple

Call 828-262-5411 for more information.