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Council members react to new NCSSM campus
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NC School of Science and Math
Glimpse of the future

Council members react to new NCSSM campus

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Members of the Morganton City Council were treated to a glimpse of the progress on the new North Carolina School for Science and Math Morganton campus during a tour Thursday.

Council members were excited to tour the facility and are looking forward to seeing how the campus will positively impact Morganton’s development.

Morganton Mayor Ronnie Thompson was excited to participate in the tour and see the progress that has been made throughout the campus during this past year.

“City council was able to take a tour today and it is just a fantastic building,” said Thompson. “They have just put stuff together and it’s really just going to be a special place for students to come and learn science and math. The natural light and how they have placed the windows to have as much light in each room as possible.

“They’re still keeping some of the old buildings and repurposing those buildings … It’s just an unbelievable space and the view and the setting here is going to be a great place for kids to come and enjoy Morganton while learning about science and math.”

The city council members were excited to see the progress on the development of the campus and are looking forward to students from across the state coming and enjoying Morganton while studying at the School for Science and Math.

Council member Chris Hawkins said he’s excited to see how the campus will turn out once it’s finished.

“We’re going to draw students from all across North Carolina,” Hawkins said. “Many who may have never been to Morganton or have never visited the western region of our state. I think they’ll find what a lot of us have found living here, that this is a beautiful area and a beautiful, welcoming city. This city has a lot to offer and has beautiful surroundings. Hopefully the ripple effect will be that these students come here, be a part of the campus and then as they continue to further their education, they will want to come back here to contribute and be a part of Morganton.

“Our city council was fortunate enough to have a tour of the campus and what a beautiful setting for a campus … I think this will be the envy of many other schools across the state. The natural lighting, the views that we have, the ability that we have to incorporate many of the old buildings with some of the new and the detail with the students in mind. I think that this will be a crown jewel for Morganton and the N.C. school system for many years to come.”

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Council member Chris Jernigan, like Hawkins and Thompson, had positive reactions to the campus including the setting and the construction progress.

“I was very interested to see all the production that is going on here,” Jernigan said. “I am amazed at how far they have been able to come with the pandemic and all of the hesitations that have been caused through that. They have done such an amazing job and I’ve got to be honest, I am just blown away at how beautiful this property is and what they’re creating here. I just can’t say enough about how thrilled we are in Morganton to have this here in our community.

“This is going to be one of the best things to happen to Morganton in decades, I think. Just having this here puts us on the map and makes us a very important part of North Carolina, especially western N.C. It’s going to be a great opportunity to bring people to Morganton who have may have never thought to come here before … I think it’s just opening all kinds of opportunities for Morganton and Burke County.”

Council member Butch McSwain sees the school as a great opportunity for more people to come and visit Morganton and be involved in the culture of the city. He wants people who have never been to Morganton to see its beauty and potential.

“I really have enjoyed and been inspired by the tour — it was incredible,” McSwain said. “Years ago when the deaf school used to participate in the recreation department, I was over here with their athletics a lot. To see what is happening to a lot of the buildings I remember is really spectacular. The development has come along incredibly considering all of the road blocks they ran into like COVID, budget freezes and all the different things. To think of where it was four years ago to now is incredible.

“We’re looking forward to being a partner with them. We see this as a great opportunity for Morganton. Parents visiting here to see their kids, staying in downtown, seeing the downtown and finding out what our area has to offer, can only help us. Hopefully it will entice people to come in.”

During the tour, council members got to see the different buildings, conference rooms, dining areas and many other facilities being created for future students. They were able to ask questions and have face-to-face interaction with Kevin Baxter, vice chancellor and chief campus officer for NCSSM, about the progress that has been made on the campus.

Baxter was excited to show off the campus to council members so they could see the progress, the facilities and ask questions.

“The representatives of the Morganton city government has been phenomenal ambassadors and have welcomed us to this community with open arms,” Baxter said. “To be able to show them the progress for what we drew out in blue prints and designs over strategic planning sessions over the last five years. I am just blown away at how excited they are and really thrilled to be able to steward this project and to make it into the kind of transformative impact it’s going to be for this community and for the region.

“I think it’s going to inspire a lot of economic development and inspire a lot of name recognition and awareness for the city of Morganton, Burke County and the region overall. The opportunities that we have to provide synergies between, not just the city and the school, but all the agencies and partners that are invested in this and this region ... It’s something that’s pretty rare in public education and to be able to maximize it with such engaged and excited stakeholders has been a true joy of this project.”

For more information on the NCSSM campus, visit ncssm.edu or visit the Facebook page at NCSSM-Morganton.

Sydni Hall is a staff writer and can be reached at 828-432-8907 or at shall@morganton.com.

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Sydni Hall has been covering education, features and new business for The News Herald since April 2021.

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