The Swain County High School marching band was noticeably absent from the annual Bryson City Christmas Parade last weekend, but they had a good reason.

Armed with five-gallon buckets and a groundswell of energy, 14 teens from Balsam-based SOAR Camp descended on Eugene Christopher’s Waynesville farm this month with a simple task before them — feed the hungry of Haywood County by collecting as many potatoes as possible. 

Clouds hung low over the waning daylight Nov. 11, air slightly hazier than usual from the smoke of nearby wildfires. The leafless November scene could have been a bleak one but for the liveliness of the soundscape, which featured the back-and-forth banter of high school kids freed from the rules of volume control that govern a typical school day. The rumbling of Christopher’s tractor served as the background to their shouts as he traversed the rows, turning the soil for harvest.

When Ricardo Nazario-Colon first stepped onto Western Carolina University’s campus to interview for the new chief diversity officer position, one thing stuck out to him above all else.

It was a sunny Constitution Day at Western Carolina University, and the colors shone brightly on the giant beach ball — dubbed the “free speech ball” — that the campus chapter of Young Americans for Liberty rolled from spot to spot.

Western Carolina University saw its previous high-water mark for enrollment blasted away this year as final student counts for 2016 came in, with new records set for both total enrollment and freshman class size.

With fall classes newly underway, 420 Western Carolina University students are settling into their rooms in brand new Noble Hall, a $29.3 million building that the university just completed. 

op 911Recently, a group of Waynesville Middle chorus students were at the 9/11 Memorial in New York City, and when they tried to sing the national anthem, they were stopped mid-song by a security guard who told them they needed a permit to perform. Before beginning the song, they had received verbal permission from a different security guard.

fr bucellaThe trials of adulthood came early for Nicole Ferguson.

fr chalkSidewalk chalk was all anyone was talking about as campus woke up Thursday morning (April 21) at Western Carolina University. The chalk was everywhere, its biggest explosion around the fountain behind the A.K. Hinds University Center, colorful dust spelling out phrases running the gamut from  “Build that wall” and “concealed carry saves” to “Hillary for prison,” and “blue lives matter.”

coverIt started with a poster. Or, more accurately, with a collection of posters in the window of Western Carolina University’s Department of Intercultural Affairs. February is African-American History Month, and the display aimed to draw attention to the issue of police brutality, especially as it relates to race. 

Some students took offense. In particular, a Facebook post by WCU student and campus EMS Chief Dalton Barrett went the Western North Carolina version of viral, drawing 81 shares and 58 comments.

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