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 While each story was accurate on the date it was published, it may be outdated when viewed.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.

MAY 2016

WEST SMITHFIELD STUDENTS CREATE NATURAL SCIENCE MUSEUM (Submitted by Johnston County Schools) Students at West Smithfield Elementary School got a hands-on learning experience after their school hallways were transformed into a natural science museum. Students created a "Biome Walkthrough," where each grade level displayed projects and information from a different ecosystem. The students spent a month of in-classroom time learning about their designated ecosystem. Kindergartners study the ocean, first graders study the desert, second graders study the rain forest, third graders study freshwater, fourth graders study the grassland, and fifth graders study the tundra. On Wednesday, the students toured the school and learned about the biomes they didn't specifically study in their classes. Students in each grade level created projects relating to their designated biome. Students created everything from paper mache animals to terrariums. Some third grade students even created their own websites with information about their ecosystem. The second grade students also took a field trip to the Museum of Natural Science in Raleigh to get more knowledge about rain forests before presenting their projects.

DURHAM TEEENS GET EDUCATION ON HEALTH ADVOCACY (North Carolina Health News) Any given day at the North Carolina General Assembly finds groups of schoolchildren lined up outside the glass double doors waiting for tours and to sit in the gallery to watch lawmakers in the afternoons. But a group of 41 kids from a charter high school in Durham actually jumped into the task of advocacy, pushing lawmakers on a range of issues from teen tobacco-cessation funding to policy changes around cancer chemotherapy drugs.

DRONES HELP TEENS RE-IMAGINE THE WORLD (Gaston Gazette) They’re flying robotic technology into the future. Teams of students from five Gaston public high schools have spent the past few months developing business plans for real-world applications of robotic drones. Essentially, they’re brainstorming the possibilities of how drones could be harnessed in the future. Monday, teams from each school unveiled their plans in the county’s first Cyber Drones Expo and competition at Bessemer City High. Teams earned prizes for the top concepts. They also earned prizes as they competed in a variety flying drills.

LENOIR EARLY COLLEGE CELEBRATES PERFECT GRADUATION RECORD FOR SECOND STRAIGHT YEAR (The Free Press) For the second straight year, the Lenoir County Early College High School will boast a 100 percent graduation rate. Tonight, 34 students will walk the stage and receive their high school diplomas. Of those, 28 students will receive a two-year degree from Lenoir Community College. “Great kids, great staff, they get all the credit,” Nicholas Harvey II, principal at the early college, said. “We are fortunate to have an environment that is conducive to learning, and I couldn’t be more proud of the hard work these kids have put in the last four or five years.”

JOHNSTON COUNTY STUDENTS SAVE THEIR CLASSMATES’ SPECIAL OLYMPICS (WTVD) Students in Diane Johnson's special education class at North Johnston High School have been preparing for the county's annual Special Olympics for weeks. They even had special t-shirts made for the games, but the anticipation turned to disappointment when the athletes learned last week's event was postponed due to bad weather. "It's something they look forward to all year long. It's a very special day for them. They were sad, and they didn't understand," said Johnson. When their classmates got word of the news, they quickly went to work. "It's the one thing they get to do all year, so a couple of us started brainstorming, 'Why can't we just have it here in the gym?'" questioned junior Kelly White.

WHS STUDENT DEVIN HOLLARS TAKES FIRST PLACE IN STATE SKILLSUSA CARPENTRY COMPETITION (High Country Press) Watauga High School student Devin Hollars won first place in the state level SkillsUSA carpentry competition, which had a field of 40 tough competitors. Jason Matthews, carpentry teacher at the high school, remarked that that Hollars “exemplified tremendous skill and patience in a very high pressure and intense competition.” Hollars will now go to Louisville, Ky. in June to represent the high school and North Carolina in the National Carpentry Competition.

DOUGLAS ELEMENTARY SCHOOL IN RALEIGH NAMED TOP US MAGNET SCHOOL (News & Observer) Douglas Elementary School was named the top magnet school in the nation on Friday and Wiley Elementary School was named the top magnet elementary school. Douglas received the Ronald P. Simpson Distinguished Merit Award from Magnet Schools of America, a trade organization holding its national conference in Miami. The Simpson Award is the group’s highest honor and is considered to be the most prestigious award that a magnet school can receive. It comes with a $5,000 cash prize. Douglas, in the North Hills area of Raleigh, offers the creative arts and science magnet theme. The arts are integrated into all the classes. Students are also provided hands-on science instruction through a science lab and a specialized science teacher.

STUDENTS STAND PROUD FOR EDUCATION AT “SIGNING DAY” (The Mountaineer) The Pisgah High School gymnasium sounded like a football pep rally last week as students at the high school and across the nation took part in an event that celebrates college. Pisgah seniors proudly wore their future college shirts and held signs for their new school as their families and underclassmen peers watched and cheered at the school’s second annual signing day. At the event, seniors proudly displayed which two or four year school they will be attending after high school graduation, then they signed a banner on the wall.