Four Rowan students head to School of Science and Math

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 18, 2011

By Hugh Fisher
Four students from Rowan County moved one step closer to their dreams this week as they began their studies at the N.C. School of Science and Mathematics.
Founded in 1980, the public residential high school in Durham offers a specialized curriculum with an emphasis on math and science.
About 660 students attend the residential program, with more students studying via an online program.
Hunter Denham of Salisbury moved into his new room at NCSSM last weekend.
“It’s everything I thought it would be and more,” Denham said on the phone.
The students are friendly, and the classes are very good.
He, along with Anna Page and Kate Cater of Salisbury High School and Janssen White of Jesse C. Carson High School, started their studies at NCSSM this week.
Admission is highly selective, with more than 1,000 students applying each year for a limited number of slots.
Applying to NCSSM is a challenging process, Hinson said.
Students are required to take the SAT as sophomores and report those scores as part of their application.
They must also submit evaluations from their math, English and science teachers.
Denham’s guidance counselor at Salisbury High, Michael Cobb, said his job had been to encourage students to take an array of challenging courses early on — “honors classes as a freshman, then starting them with AP classes in their sophomore year,” Cobb said.
“That’s to show that students are capable of the strenuous work the School of Science and Math has to offer,” he said. “The rest is up to the student.”
Then came the stress of waiting to hear whether their names had been chosen.
Lynn Hinson, Hunter’s mother, said he was very stressed in the days before the decision came through.
But all that turned to joy when his acceptance finally came through, she said.
“He’s wanted this ever since middle school,” Hinson said.
“He will be with kids who are all on his level. He’s going to have the challenge he’s always wanted,” she said.
Hunter wants to become an anesthesiologist. Right now, he’s planning to double-major in science and math.
So far, he said, it’s been an easy adjustment.
Classes at NCSSM are shorter than the ones he’s used to at Salisbury High, and the school is on a trimester system instead of two semesters a year.
Right now, he’s signed up for AP chemistry I, AP calculus, introduction to sociology, introduction to Spanish and American studies.
That last course, he said, is team-taught by both an English teacher and a history teacher.
There’s also a student life course.
“It’s everything I expected and more,” he said.
And so far, he said, everyone has been friendly, and there has been a lot of camaraderie.
Cobb said he was glad to see the students get accepted and started on a path toward their careers.
“We’re very, very proud of them, though we’re sad to see them go. They are such great students,” Cobb said. Contact Hugh Fisher via the editor’s desk at 704-797-4244.