Last updated: June 01. 2013 6:55AM - 206 Views
Nathan Ham
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As students at Ashe County High School prepare to hear a presentation next week on the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics in Durham, several local students are experiencing an education there already.

Two of those students currently attending the prestigious residential school are Mitch and Josh Rees-Jones, twin sons of Hugh and Lynn Rees-Jones of West Jefferson.

Mitch and Josh were excited with the school year approaching in early August as their mother kept busy getting them ready as if going off to college.

“They will get a jump on college,” said Lynn of her sons attending NCSSM. “It is a residential boarding school with a focus on math and science, and they pull from the top students across the state. It’s a very competitive process – transcripts, SAT, teacher and counselor recommendations, extensive application, looking at extracurricular activities. They are looking for academic achievers who do other things as well. It’s an interesting group of motivated kids.”

Lynn said there were 1,300 applications this year with 320 accepted for the approximately 680-student population. The application process took several months.

“NCSSM is legislatively mandated to enroll a roughly equal percentage of students from each of the state’s 13 congressional districts,” the school’s website reads. “Students applying to NCSSM’s program compete for enrollment with other students within their congressional district rather than competing with every applicant from across the state. This assures that applicants with access to the same community resources are competing with one another.”

Mitch and Josh Rees-Jones are especially interested in computer science, programs and design. Their classes include such topics as robotics and advanced computer science and programs. Mini-terms in between terms will involve specialized projects, and senior year will include travel to sites related to studies.

“They will have opportunities to go into real world situations working with companies in the area,” said Lynn.

Mitch said they would also have other classes such as English, American studies and music, plus they hoped to participate in a cross country team sport.

Although they’ll be away from Ashe County for their junior and senior years in high school, Mitch and Josh are no strangers to studying in different surroundings.

The family lived on a sailboat for over two years and the boys spent their second and third grades and half the fourth grade being homeschooled aboard the boat traveling up and down the east coast. Lynn said they went on 99 field trips during that time, wherever they were at the time, and she developed lessons for them around that experience.

“They have a passion for learning, and on the boat they learned that education is not just about books but being exposed to people of diverse cultures,” she said. “At the school, they will get exposure to a lot of opportunities to maybe open their eyes to what they could do.”

Students at NCSSM are exposed to college level classes as well as experiences in business and real world situations, college representatives come and introduce themselves and the students learn about colleges they might want to attend.

“We’re really excited for them, for the opportunities they’ll have, but it’s hard not having them around on a daily basis,” Lynn said. “Part of being a parent is raising kids to be independent to where they are comfortable in going early (away from home).”

She said their acceptance to the school and eagerness to go was a credit to the level of maturity they have achieved, and they will serve as ambassadors for Ashe County, encouraging other students to apply.

Mitch and Josh both said they were most looking forward to the people they would meet as well as the classes they would be able to take. “We enjoy everything,” they said.

Learn about NC School of Science and Math

Rob Andrews, an admissions counselor with the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics will share information and application process for this free, residential, public high school located in Durham.

The presentation will take place at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 2 at Ashe County High School, room 105.

Students spend 9th and 10th grades at their local school and then transfer to NCSSM for 11th and 12th grades.

Visitors should check into the ACHS administration office upon entering the building and will be directed to room 105.

For more information, contact Annette Bednosky at annette.bednosky@ashe.k12.nc.us or call 846-2400.

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