By Silas Marion

The North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics is a two-year, publicly funded, residential school for high school students going into their junior year. It includes intensive studies of science, mathematics, technology, and research and humanities. NCSSM also includes art and music classes as well as athletics of all kinds and many extracurricular activities.

NCSSM has been a school since it was founded in 1980 by Governor James B. Hunt. The school was created on the grounds of what was previously Watts Hospital in Durham. Originally, there were 150 high school juniors. The school was the first of its kind. It was publicly funded and brought in students from all over the state. Since its founding, other schools have been established in other states similar to NCSSM. These schools became the National Consortium of Secondary STEM Schools. In 2022, NCSSM opened up its second location in Morganton. Collectively, the two schools have a total of 980 students. 680 currently reside at the Durham location, and 300 reside at the Morganton location. NCSSM also has an online program that offers the same classes that are offered at the two residential schools.The online program caters to the students who do not want to leave their hometowns for various reasons. 

NCSSM is clearly not your regular high school. Students attend class daily through a unique block schedule, and eat meals in the cafeteria. If they would like, students can venture off campus during their free time to go get a bite to eat elsewhere. Students live on campus and practically make it their homes. They live in dorms in various halls all across campus. Dorms are separated by gender at birth. Every 3-4 weeks students will come home to their hometowns on extended weekends. These are to give the students a break and see their families.

NCSSM is a great school for so many reasons. One of these reasons is their wide variety of class offerings. NCSSM was ranked the number one high school in America mainly due to their great academic programs. All of the staff and teachers at the school have at least a masters degree and are specialized in what they teach. NCSSM has multiple different departments including science, mathematics, research and humanities, art, music, and technology and engineering. Every department has many different intensive courses where students can explore more about what they are interested in as well as grow and learn as leaders in a STEM environment. Language classes are also offered at NCSSM. The Durham campus offers Spanish, French, Latin, Japanese, and Chinese. The Morganton campus offers Arabic, Spanish, and French. All classes offered at NCSSM are either honors or AP classes. Many of the classes offered are college level classes. 

To get into NCSSM, an application is required. The application includes three essays and a list of involvements, accomplishments, and achievements. Teacher recommendations are also required. Recommendations are required from one STEM teacher, English teacher, and guidance counselor from freshman or sophomore year. SAT and ACT test scores are not required in order to attend NCSSM. Students trying to get into NCSSM must work very hard on their application because it is very competitive within the state. Applicants are separated by congressional district. This means that applicants only compete with other applicants from their district instead of the entire state.

NCSSM also offers most of the sports that any normal high school would offer. Students at NCSSM participate in sports like basketball, soccer, cross country, track and field, volleyball, baseball, softball, swimming, and others. NCSSM does not offer football and lacrosse.  

NCSSM is truly a wonderful school. It was ranked the number 1 high school in the United States of America for 2022. It is a great way for students to expand their knowledge and make new friends. Considering that the school is very college-like, it is also a great way for students to get ready for college life. Students that graduate from NCSSM also receive guaranteed admission and waived tuition to any NC System university. This includes the 16 public colleges across the state. NCSSM has many opportunities and more for all students willing to put in the work. The school will train problem solving and real world abilities as well as making students leaders within their community.

For the sophomores interested in NCSSM, the application is due January 17th. I hope to see you apply!