The Daily Southerner
The staff of North East Carolina Prep School put the finishing touches on its new school building Thursday in preparation for Saturday’s open house and the first day of the second semester on Monday.
The public is invited to the open house from 1p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the school, located at 274 Husky Trail on the outskirts of Tarboro on the site of the former Mary Frances Center.
“Some of our staff took Christmas Day off and that was it. We’ve been working diligently to get the school ready,” said Cheryl Iannucci, the school’s director of student support services. “This building’s going to service our needs a lot better. It’s nice and fresh. There’s a lot more space for the students ... We have a nice drama space where we can do dance. We have a band room. We no longer have classes in the cafeteria.”
Among the other features of the new school are a classroom for every teacher, a large conference room for meetings, office space for exceptional children’s staff, a reading center for students in need of improvement in reading comprehension, two computer labs, a testing area, and rooms for speech and occupational therapy.
Iannucci said the charter school had outgrown its temporary facility, the building on Davis Street they were leasing from St. Stephen Missionary Baptist Ministry, before the school year even began. At the new school, the buildings have been completely remodeled by Bouma Construction for use in an educational setting. The building that will house second through eighth graders is approved for 730 students, while the smaller building at the entrance of campus, which will serve kindergarten and first graders, is approved for 169 students, Iannucci said.
“We are proud to provide this region with an outstanding educational setting,” said the school’s executive director, John Westberg. The school currently has 403 students, but plans to add a grade level each year, with an ultimate enrollment goal of 2,200 students in grades K-12.
“Because of the sheer size of the acreage  that we have, we don’t have to worry about finding spaces to grow,” said Taro Knight, NECP’s director of communications/community outreach. “Our primary goal is improving and maintaining an excellent academic tradition, where the beauty of the campus becomes secondary.”
Rachel House, Westberg’s administrative assistant, said she believes students will “flourish” in the new facility.
“When you’re in a good place, a good environment, I think it’s more conducive to learning,” she said.
“I think the students will be much more excited to be here and hopefully that will help the motivation of the students,” Iannucci said. Expansive windows in the hallway and art and science rooms offer a view of the property’s grounds and duck pond, while the large classrooms feature brightly-colored walls.
“I love it. I think it’s beautiful,” said school media coordinator Cindy Brittain. “I can’t wait to see the kids’ faces when they come in and see everything.”
Anderson Sessoms, a fifth-grader, has already gotten a sneak peak of the new school building.
“It’s a lot bigger,” he said. “We’re all together [in the middle school wing]. There’s more room in each classroom.”
“It’s very exciting. It’s a fresh start,” said third-grade teacher Megan Fink, as she worked to set up her new classroom on Thursday afternoon.