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NOTE :: "Celebrate N.C. Schools" feature stories contained on this site are for historical purposes only. While each story was accurate on the date it was published, it may be outdated when viewed.

Below are some innovative programs in North Carolina school and districts that have made local, state and national headlines. To see your program featured here, contact Vanessa Jeter.


APRIL 2017

WESTOVER HIGH SCHOOL: BUILDING ROBOTS, SOLVING CRIMES (Education NC) Ask Chip Lucas, executive director of career and technical education for Cumberland County Schools, about the dead body in his Westover High School classroom and his eyes light up. Don’t ask one of the students working with the body; they are too busy solving the case.

Welcome to Westover High School in Fayetteville where robots and medical sleuthing are the norm.

“It’s CSI meets medicine,” says Lucas, describing the scene in the class. The dead body is a mannequin the students have named “Anna Garcia.” The first time the students walk into their medical detective class the first thing they see is a crime scene. Anna is on the floor with clues scattered about.

“They see a mannequin with a chalk outline around it and they have to examine it and investigate the death,” Lucas says. “They don’t know what happened to Anna Garcia. The students are able to investigative the pieces around her–what they see and what they read as far as how she died. In the class, Anna Garcia dies a different way each year.”

But Lucas is not excited about the unfolding drama or figuring what caused Anna’s death in any given year. Lucas gets excited about the way the scenario excites the minds of the students in Westover High School’s Academy of Health Science. He is excited it gives them a challenge that exposes them to a wide swath of health-science disciplines.

CVCC STUDENTS TAKE CLASSROOM LESSONS TO THE FIELD TO PROTECT WETLANDS (Hickory Record) Catawba Valley Community College students in Emily Whiteley’s General Biology class have been taking what they learn in the classroom out into the field this semester.

They are involved in several long-term service-learning projects focused on local parks, helping remove invasive plants and reintroduce native flora.

The projects have a dual purpose, besides helping the local parks and green spaces stay healthy, they allow the CVCC students an opportunity to take ownership of their community.

“It feels good to be part of helping to change things. I feel like we’re actually making a difference,” CVCC student and Challenger Early College High senior Ally Dula said. “This is our home.”