Long-Awaited School Officially Opens Morganton Campus | Local News
Jason Koon Screenwriter
State, county and city leaders gathered with faculty, staff, students, alumni and supporters of the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics to celebrate the grand opening of the Morganton campus Friday.
For school leaders, Friday represented the culmination of more than a decade of planning and work.
“We are delighted to be able to share this day with so many people who have helped make it happen,” said NCSSM Chancellor Todd Roberts. “To be here on this day for the grand opening is fitting, not only a historic day for our institution, but truly for the UNC system and the state.”
Kevin Baxter, vice-chancellor and campus director of NCSSM-Morganton, agreed.
“It’s a day we’ve been waiting for a long time; it’s amazing that it’s finally here and we’re so excited to celebrate it with all of our friends across the state,” he said.
Held in a large tent that can accommodate more than 600 people, the Grand Opening Ceremony included remarks from Roberts and Baxter as well as North Carolina Commerce Secretary Machelle Baker Sanders; North Carolina Rep. Hugh Blackwell; CN House Speaker Tim Moore; Jabbar Bennett, Chairman of the NCSSM Board of Directors; NC Senator Warren Daniel; NC Senate Vice President Pro-Tempore Ralph Hise; Peter Hans, president of the UNC system; Morganton City Manager Sally Sandy and some NCSSM students and alumni.
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“Today marks a new chapter in the rich history of the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics,” Bennett told the crowd. “A story full of early challenges and boundless future opportunities for our students, the city of Morganton, Durham, and the state of North Carolina.”
Secretary Sanders emphasized the critical importance of STEM education to the future of North Carolina’s economy.
“STEM education and careers are critical components of our current success and our future economic success,” she told the crowd.
Sanders said the new Morganton campus will have a statewide impact, increasing access to world-class STEM education for North Carolina students, regardless of background or geography.
“It’s going to expand access to STEM programs here to North Carolina’s brightest and best students and have a huge economic impact,” she said. The herald of the news.
Rep. Blackwell told the crowd he was especially excited about the new campus being located in western North Carolina.
“He says to people out of state and people inside of state, this kind of quality education, this kind of education for the future is available wherever you choose to live,” he said. he declared.
Hans told the crowd that NCSSM represents equal opportunity for all students, regardless of background, financial status or location in the state.
“The science and math school was intended to serve not just those students lucky enough to attend, but all of North Carolina,” he said. “It would attract talent from all regions, inspiring students from around the world, reminding us all that ability is not tied to geography.”
NCSSM serves academically talented high school and senior students from all parts of North Carolina, including in its residential high school program in Durham and hundreds more through online programs. Funded by $85 million in public appropriations and an additional $12 million in private investment, the new campus will expand both residential and online offerings.
Hise told the crowd that Morganton was the perfect location for the new campus.
“The community of Morganton and surrounding area was really the only community in the state to stand up and say, ‘We want this campus here. There were other considerations, but they were never going to happen,” he said.
Sandy praised the commitment and energy surrounding the project, not only at the state level, but also from local leaders and educational institutions.
“It’s a project that from the start has received positive support,” Sandy said. “Everyone is excited about it, and everyone brings excitement and energy to the table to do it.”
Roberts agreed, saying The herald of the news local support was essential in realizing the vision of a new campus.
“We had universal support from day one,” he said. “We wouldn’t be here today without lots of people from the city, county, public schools, local colleges and local community efforts.”
Roberts reiterated NCSSM’s continued commitment to partnering with educational institutions, including Burke County Public Schools, Western Piedmont Community College and North Carolina School for the Deaf.
“We are blessed to expand what we can do in this amazing place,” he said. “We have incredible supporters in the region as well as in the UNC system who make things possible and will make things we can’t even imagine possible as we work together in the future.”
Construction of NCSSM-Morganton is nearing completion, and the new campus is now welcoming its first batch of students for summer programs before opening its doors Aug. 10 to an inaugural class of 150 high school students. Full campus enrollment of 300 residential students will arrive in August 2023.
Jason Koon is editor and can be reached at [email protected]