POST - CCS News and Events

XQ Superschool $10 Million Dollar Grant

posted Aug 4, 2016, 7:36 AM by Randy Bryant   [ updated Aug 4, 2016, 7:37 AM ]

Most of Cherokee County is unaware, but I want to give a shout out and a spotlight to Tri-County Early College who is one of the top 50 FINALISTS in the Nation for the XQ Superschool $10 million dollar grant. Cherokee County Schools' Principal of the Year Alissa G. Cheek has led an amazing team of educators and students through a tremendous process of innovation, creation, and reflection.

The brain child of this process is a powerful new view of high school and the way students actively learn. It is so important that I post this TODAY because tonight in the wee hours of the morning the top 5 grant winners will be selected. I want to personally thank Alissa G. Cheek, and her staff for accepting a challenge that added hours of labor to each of their lives and to let each of you know that despite the outcome, what you have demonstrated and created already through collaboration and vision will enrich the lives of your student's beyond measure.

I have been an awe-struck spectator at the accomplishments of this school and it's staff since taking the superintendent's chair and am blessed beyond measure to have a front row seat at the 50 yard line as this adventure plays out. TCEC (staff and students) YOU have re-imagined school. You have reshaped forever the paradigm for learning and are a model in so many respects for all of our schools.

As Rodney Alt noted last evening in communication, you are ALL winners. Congratulations on achieving the culmination of a journey. Just know that you have already succeeded in your plan by embracing new innovative practices. The money indeed will be nice if granted, but in my book- irrelevant at this point because you've conquered the piece that cannot be bought. Here's to the spirit of innovation and inspiration! Go Jaguars!

Jeana Y. Conley, Superintendent

CCS Robotics Camp

posted Jul 27, 2016, 10:39 AM by Randy Bryant

This summer, CCS held it's very first weeklong Robotics Camp.  There were two sites, one at MES and one at AES with over 40 kids in attendance!  The coaches worked with the EV3 and WeDo Lego Robotics kits.  They were put into teams and in charge of building their robot and then programming the robot to run missions and races.  CCS is so proud of these kids and what they accomplished this week!  We look forward to next year and building even bigger and better robots.  A huge thank you to Sherry Brookins, Gabrielle Gagnon, Lisa Scott, Debbie White, and Nancy Vento for being the coaches for the week.

Murphy Middle School - STAC Competition

posted May 10, 2016, 9:40 AM by Randy Bryant

Fifteen students from Mrs. White’s sixth grade class at Murphy Middle School attended a STAC (Student Technology Advisory Council) competition at Cherokee Central Schools in Cherokee, NC, on April 26, 2016. Coordinated through Linda Dills: Student Technology Advisory Council and Jennifer White: Cherokee County N.O.C. Center.

There were two robotic teams that spent three months (equaling sixty hours) programming a brick (robot base) to perform various challenges. They had four challenges assigned to them at MMS, but when they attended the competition, all the programs had to be cleared and attachments broken down. At the competition, they were assigned four new challenges, and as a team, they had to program the brick to perform the missions on the spot. The process to get to competition required a lot of work and team building. Team One won third place and one hundred dollars.

Student Rachel Reid entered a competition for hobbies. She won first place and three hundred dollars. Her hobby was writing a novel. Her plans are to be an established author and have her book published. Rachel had to present a plan of her objectives using technology.  She created a power point for presentation, along with a portfolio, outlining how she got started, whom she had contacted about becoming an author, and what companies would be interested in her genre.

Six other students attended various workshops that ranged from technology, robotics, bead works, and the history/culture of the American Indian. In the workshops, they learned various information and had a lot of hands-on activities and fun.

Front row: L-R: Ketcher Esterling, Hugh Martin, Logan Hyde.
Second row: L-R: Brailey Barmore, Ethan Barnes, Torin Rogers, Taylor Phillips, Alyssa Phillips, Molly Kay West.
Back row: L-R: Mia Wilson, Rachel Reid, Steven Laney, Briggs Cornwell, Alyssa Sowerby.

Haylie Shope Named the NCHSAA Female Athlete of the Year

posted May 5, 2016, 11:15 AM by Randy Bryant   [ updated May 5, 2016, 11:24 AM ]

Haylie Shope of Hiwassee Dam High School and Nick Coe of Asheboro High School were named male and female athletes of the year by the N.C. High School Athletic Association during the association's annual meeting and award ceremony Thursday afternoon in Chapel Hill.

Both athletes participate in multiple sports at their respective high schools. Shope competes in basketball, volleyball and softball at Hiwassee Dam. Coe is a football, wrestling and track athletes at Asheboro.

Shope was a four-time all-conference selection during her basketball career at Hiwassee Dam. During her senior season, she was named to the 1-A all-state team while averaging 16 points per game, 12 rebounds per game and five steals per game. She ended her basketball years with more than 1,600 career points and 103 career wins.

Mr. Ben Owens - NC Outstanding 9-16 Educator in Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education

posted May 4, 2016, 7:47 AM by Randy Bryant   [ updated May 4, 2016, 7:50 AM ]

On Saturday, April 30, 2016, Mr. Owens was recognized as the NC Outstanding 9-16 Educator in Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education by the NC SMT Education Center.

Ben Owens is a physics and mathematics teacher at Tri-County Early College High School in Murphy, NC and a 2014 Hope Street Group National Teacher Fellow.  He earned degrees in physics and mechanical engineering, respectively, from North Georgia University and the Georgia Institute of Technology. After a 20-year career with a multinational corporation at manufacturing and R&D locations across the U.S., he got his Masters of Arts in Teaching from Marshall University and then left the private sector in 2007 to teach in rural Appalachia. He is passionate about retooling education to better connect the classroom to what happens in today’s global, knowledge-intense economy. Ben is TCEC’s lead teacher and coordinator of their Project Based Learning program. He is a Center for Teaching Quality Virtual Community Organizer, a North Carolina New Schools’ Champion for Change, and recipient of the North Carolina Science, Mathematics, and Technology Center’s 2016 Outstanding 9-16 Award in Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education. Ben is also a member of the National Science Teachers’ Association, National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.


Teachers learn how to get students excited about science, math at Durham conference

posted Apr 6, 2016, 9:05 AM by Randy Bryant

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — From robots, to homemade cars, to unbreakable eggs – you’ll find them all at an education conference in Durham this week.

Teachers from across the state are learning new ways to get students interested in science and math. Meanwhile, students are showing off the results of new teaching strategies.

There was a giant catapult designed to hurl objects hundreds of feet. But it was also a physics lesson. “We were studying kinematics and projectile motion,” said student Maddie Taylor.

A group of high school students from Tri-County Early College in Cherokee County put the project together in physics class and presented it to other students at the Scaling STEM conference.

The conference brings together teachers, students and corporations focusing on moving from textbook learning to hands-on projects in science, math and technology.

Ainissa Ramirez scientist, author 12:32:10 “What we need to do is get away from looking at things like boring facts and making sure we get the right answer on a test.” said Ainissa Ramirez a scientist and an author. “If we tell stories, if we have projects that are meaningful to kids that will get them to be encouraged.”

Ben Owens, a science and math teacher, assigns projects like building a catapult or even a gravity car. “I can get students who were otherwise disengaged in the process, the light had gone out and now they’re excited again about science ,” Owens said.

The students are proud to show off their accomplishments. The teachers want them to also understand the science behind it.

“It’s not just all fun and games,” Owens said. “I will stack any of my students up and ask ‘Can you defend what you’re doing? Can you justify what you do? Can you show me the physics’ and they can and that’s the really cool thing.”

The Scaling STEM conference continues through Wednesday.

For more about this please visit:


posted Apr 5, 2016, 7:04 PM by Randy Bryant

CHAPEL HILL— Tiffany Holloway of Andrews High School and Justin Bullock of South Granville High School have been named recipients of the NCHSAA Performance of the Week awards, powered by Time Warner Cable SportsChannel with Jersey Mike’s Subs®.

Each week two athletes in North Carolina High School Athletic Association competition are selected for this award from nominations received from media and school administrators.

Holloway, a junior track and field athlete from Andrews, set a school record last week in the shot put with a whopping 41 feet, 6 inches throw during an eight-team meet at Murphy. This is the best recorded shot put distance this spring in the western part of the state. Her throw would have won last year’s 1A State championship shot put event by more than three feet.

Gutierrez Taking on Big Load at Murphy

posted Apr 5, 2016, 11:00 AM by Randy Bryant

Ray Gutierrez was only at Hiwassee Dam for four years.

But it was four of the best years in the girls basketball program's history.

His teams ruled the Little Smoky Mountain Conference and won 103 combined games. Gutierrez was named the Citizen-Times All-WNC Coach of the Year over the weekend on the heels of a 30-2 season.

Gutierrez has confirmed that he is switching schools in Cherokee County. The 1999 Murphy graduate is going back to his alma mater to become athletic director as well as coach of the boys and girls basketball teams.

For the foreseeable future, it's a big workload. Gutierrez said he is hopeful that eventually as A.D. he will be able to hire someone to head up one of the basketball teams, while he takes the other.

"I'm going to miss Hiwassee Dam. That community was so good to me," Gutierrez said.

"And it's a tough time to leave because I honestly feel like they are capable of winning 30 games next season, too. Hopefully we can get the same support at Murphy. My wife and I graduated from there, and going back is important and it's special."

This week will be Gutierrez's final one at Hiwassee Dam.

Phillips to coach Andrews Football

posted Apr 5, 2016, 11:00 AM by Randy Bryant

Veteran Swain County assistant coach James Phillips is returning to his roots in Smoky Mountain Conference football.

The 1996 Andrews graduate is the Wildcats' new head coach, it was announced Friday.

Phillips had been an assistant with the Maroon Devils for 16 years, a time during which they won three state championships (2001, 2004 and 2011). He specialized in coaching the offensive and defensive lines.

"I have always said it would take a perfect job situation to pull me away from Swain County Schools and I feel like this is it," Phillips said.

"Obviously it's an opportunity to go back and coach where I played. I think if you talk to any football coach, they will tell you it's a dream to go back and work your butt off to make a difference where you played and graduated. But more than that, I believe coaching is about trying to make an impact. There's a group of young men over there (at Andrews) who are waiting for me to come over. I'm going to build relationships, work them hard, and have a level of expectation that we're going to constantly get better."

Phillips, 38, was out of coaching in 2015 due to his role as Principal at Swain County West Elementary. Phillips will leave that administrative position to join the Cherokee County school system.

"This is a real home run for us," Andrews athletic director Lance Bristol said.

"We're excited to say the least. I think it's one of the biggest days for Andrews athletics in the past 50 years that a guy like this agrees to come here."

Phillips replaces former Andrews coach Avery Cutshaw, who was fired on March 2 after going 15-33 in four seasons, including a 6-7 mark last fall. The Wildcats reached the second round of the 2015 NCHSAA 1-A playoffs after a 26-14 win over Cherokee on Nov. 13.

Phillips said that he will expect three core values out of the locker room — hard work, toughness and coachability.

"Those core values have always served me well as a coach," Phillips said.

"It's been a tremendous opportunity to coach here at Swain and be part of three state championships and countless conference titles. When I made my decision, the person most excited for me was our superintendent (former Swain County football coach Sam Pattillo).

This offseason has been an interesting one for Western North Carolina football.

Six other mountain programs have changed coaches since the season ended in December. The new coaches are Asheville High (David Burdette), Hayesville (Kenneth Dockery), McDowell (Andy Morgan), North Henderson (Justin Clark), Roberson (Jason Dinwiddie) and Smoky Mountain (Chris Brookshire).

Madison has not yet named a replacement for Mark Gosnell, who stepped down in late-February.

NCHSAA teams can begin official practice on Aug. 1 and play their first game on Aug. 19.


posted Apr 5, 2016, 10:58 AM by Randy Bryant

Peachtree – Tri-County Early College High School students are learning science, technology, engineering and math through designing, building and racing their own cars.

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