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What was once a wildfire became an outdoor classroom for students in Western Carolina University’s Natural Resource Conservation and Management Program this spring. 

As part of a spring capstone course, 23 students studied four post-fire aspects of the forest ecosystem — forest composition, wildlife habitat, soil and water. Now, they’ve just finished compiling and analyzing the data they gleaned from the 728-acre burned area of the Dicks Creek drainage near Dillsboro.

As a writer, it’s easy to feel that one’s ability is never quite good enough; as a writer in the American South — long a befuddled region characterized by ugly stereotypes highlighting ignorance and violence — even more so.

Karen Williams only had a handful of students in her beginner class when she first took the band director position for Swain County Schools 14 years ago, but today she has an average of 50 beginner students a year and the program continues to grow.

A Georgia developer hoping to build a 388-bed student housing complex in Cullowhee has cleared two of three major hurdles to starting construction.

Two years have passed since developers first got approval to build a student housing complex along South Painter Road in Cullowhee, though not a shovel of earth was ever turned. But the stalled project could move forward this summer if a handful of Jackson County boards give approval.

A fleet of new mountain bikes has come home to roost at Swain County High School, thanks to a donation from Bryson City Bicycles.

In December 2016, the bike shop landed an award from Synchrony Financial that granted it $10,000 to grow the business and another $10,000 earmarked for a community project of its choosing. Bryson City Bicycles was one of only five small businesses nationwide to land one of the Working Forward Small Business Awards, and co-owner Diane Cutler had no doubts about where in the community she wanted to invest that $10,000.

Sophia Calhoun was 9 years old the day the world changed. Her mother died, leaving her dad to care for Calhoun and her younger sister. When her father passed away four years later, the two girls were officially branded orphans, wards of the state.

On virtually any college campus, they’re there — students who have recently exited foster care, are homeless, wards of the state, or orphaned. And most of the time, they’re invisible, blending in with the student body at large and keeping their struggles wrapped in a tight armor of privacy. 

A new initiative at Western Carolina University, however, will reach out and serve those students in a way that no other college in the state is doing. 

School systems in Western North Carolina were hoping a proposed piece of legislation regarding class size requirements would make it through the General Assembly this session to take some pressure off their 2017-18 budgets, but now it seems unlikely the bill will pass. 

The newly hired principal of the newly formed Catamount School in Sylva won’t be new to the environment at Smoky Mountain High School, where the Catamount School is to be located. 

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