Children and their parents flooded the campus of North East Carolina Prep School (NECP) Thursday for a back-to-school open house.
“We had a very high turnout,” said Diane LeFiles, NECP director of communications. The torrential rainstorms had the students and parents dodging puddles on the trek from the main building to the newly constructed middle school building, but seemingly had no effect on enthusiasm levels.
“We’re returning and very, very pleased with the school. We love the energy of the teachers and are excited to have a new teacher,” said Brandy Chappell, mother of second-grader Molly Palmer and fourth-grader Mary Samuel Palmer.
“I’m excited. I really love the teachers. They’re all so nice and sweet and they help you learn,” said Mary Samuel Palmer. She said she looks forward to playing instruments in music class once again this year.
Laura Muse, a first-year teacher at NECP, will have Molly in her class.
“I think everyone’s just ready to start (school). My plan is to get every child I have excited about coming to school and excited about learning,” she said. “I’m so happy to be at the school with the support we get from the administration.”
NECP Executive Director John Westberg was Muse’s high school principal in Catawba.
Over at the new middle school building, eighth-grade teacher Steve Shorter welcomed students into his earth and environmental science classroom.
“Everybody’s kind of kicked into high gear getting things ready to go,” Shorter said. “I love the new building. It’s going to be a great learning environment for the kids.”
Tachianna Phillips, a seventh-grade and returning student, was in awe of the new two-story building.
“It’s big, huge,” she said. “We got lockers this year. We won’t have to carry around our stuff this year.”
Phillips can’t wait for Monday, the first day of school.
“I’m ready to come back,” she said.
Belinda and Mike Riley toured the new building with their son, Mason, a seventh-grader.
“It’s a really nice facility,” Belinda Riley said. She and her husband said they like the smaller-sized classes at the school.
The new building features a media center, high school size gymnasium that doubles as an auditorium, wireless Internet access and state-of-the-art science labs. Workers were still on site finishing up last-minute construction work.
“We’ve had to be flexible because we’re still getting ready for Monday. The teachers are still putting their finishing touches on their classrooms and we’re still putting together the finishing touches on the building and the grounds,” LeFiles said. “Everyone has been very patient and everyone is very excited.”
Back at the main building, second-grader Isaiah Anderson and his third -rade sister, Katie Grey Anderson, visited the second-grade classroom of Mary Lynch with their grandmother, Panis Kirkland.
“I think they’re ready. They’re ready to go; they’re eager to learn,” Kirkland said. “This school is a great place for them to learn.”
Isaiah’s favorite school subject is math, while Katie Grey’s favorite subjects are reading and writing.
Lynch, who is new to NECP, said she was impressed the first time she arrived on campus.
“To me, it looks like a little university,” she said. “The buildings are beautiful. I don’t think you could ask for anything else.”
Lynch began her career as an educator in 1968 and retired from the Halifax County school system.
“It makes me feel good to see them (children) blossom and grow,” she said. “If I do my part right, keeping them inspired and happy and willing to learn, I think I’m going to have another great year.”