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Mountain Discovery celebrates new gym

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It felt like a party on Saturday evening, Aug. 11, as students, teachers and families gathered at the new gym facility for Mountain Discovery Charter School for a ribbon cutting. 

The students were taking full advantage of the huge gym, enjoying the bounce houses that were there for the special occasion, playing basketball, tag and more. Families stood in line at the food trucks parked outside, and then sat down for a meal in the spacious dining area inside. Several also enjoyed the spectacular views of the mountains  through the windows. 

The building offers a dining space area and a full court basketball regulation size gym. It gives the school an indoor play space, an area for whole school assemblies and a lunch room. Plus, there is an area with big windows that will serve as a corner lounge or seating area for staff and parents. 

Mountain Discovery Charter School graduates opened the ceremony reflecting on how the school has shaped them. 

Elijah Bassett, a rising junior at Swain County High School, said he developed his love for computer programming and music at Mountain Discovery. 

“The environment here is always challenging but very supportive,” he said. 

Emma Pindur, Swain County High School 2018 graduate who will be a freshman at Yale University on scholarship where she will run track and cross country, agreed that her time at Mountain Discovery helped her pursue her love of running and succeed academically. 

Cal Shelton, a recent graduate from Rabun Gap Nacoochee Hampden-Sydney, Virginia, on a full scholarship also said his time as a student at MDCS, where he met friends for life, made a big impact on his life.

Board member Rob Young thanked MDCS Director Carter Petty and board member James Busbin, board chairman leading up to and through much of the gym process, for bringing the building to a reality. 

“I’m really optimistic about the future of MDCS,” Young said. 

Among new programs at the school is a commitment with North Carolina Outward Bound School, where some teachers will participate in leadership programs they can then bring to their classrooms. 

“We’ve come a very long way,” said Carter, who went through a slide show of photos documenting the history of MDCS and its facilities. 

The land was purchased in 2014, and they began planning in 2016, broke ground in summer of 2017 and was completed in June 2018. 

Petty said Monday that the school couldn’t have made the building possible without the USDA Rural Development and the 40-year low interest loan. The charter school is open to all students, but doesn’t receive government funding for capital projects. 

There were serious limits to the outdoor areas for the school in the beginning. It wasn’t until 2007 that a concrete slab was poured for a stage/flat area for things like ball. Shade, too, was hard to come by. Between 2008-2011, the walkways to the classrooms were finally all covered. Then, in 2016, a tent was put up over the stage area. 

Now, it’s time to cover the pathway to the new gym. 

With the new building completed, the next Plant A Seed capital campaign is covering the path through the woods that leads from the main campus to the building. 

“We really need to connect this facility to our main campus and get it covered,” Petty said. 

Just before the ribbon cutting to mark the official opening of the building, it was announced that MDCS has received a Great Smokies Health Foundation $5,000 grant to purchase gym equipment for the new building. 

To donate to the capital campaign for a covered path, visit mdcscapitalcampaign.com. 

Smoky Mountain Times

Mailing Address:
PO Box 730
1 River Street
Bryson City, NC 28713 
Phone: 828-488-2189
Fax: 828-488-0315