Wednesday, 09 August 2017 06:48

LN Charter welcomes K-2 for the first time

Written by  Cassie Fambro
LN Charter welcomes K-2 for the first time Cassie Fambro

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. -- Lake Norman Charter Elementary School opens its doors for the first day of school Aug. 17, and to school administrators, it feels like expanding a family.

Lake Norman Charter began as a middle school in 1998, expanding to high school grades in 2007. Now, nearly two decades after first opening its doors, the in-demand charter school is set to host its first K-2 classrooms.

Both the middle and high school campuses are located on Old Statesville Road in Huntersville; the new elementary school is putting down roots on Hambright Road.

Initially, the elementary campus will welcome 100 Kindergartners, 100 first-graders and 100 second-graders. Next year, the school will launch the inclusion of third and fourth grade classes.

The demand for entry into the charter school is high — more than 1,000 parents applied for their children to get into the 100 kindergarten spots alone.

Principal Michelle Holland believes the demand is representative of the school’s upper grade success.

“I really believe taking the culture we have there and bringing it to the elementary, that’s going to be great,” said Holland. “I tell parents, look at what we’ve done fifth through 12th grades — imagine what we will accomplish when we get them beginning in kindergarten.”

The new students for school year 2017-18 will learn under modular building roofs. Six classrooms make up the legs of the module, with a joining hallway at its heart. Five of those classrooms will hold 20 students per grade level apiece, and the sixth classroom will host a different activity per building such as art, music or STEM instruction, a new specialized course to engender young students to science, technology, engineering and math at an early age.

Students and staff will remain in the modular setup for a couple of years until permanent structures are built at the same location on Hambright Road. The first order of business is the construction of a gymnasium, which will serve a dual purpose.

The gymnasium is co-funded by the town of Huntersville, which will allow both entities to use the facility. As part of the $500,000 partnership, Lake Norman Charter agreed to build the gym before construction on the primary school building.

In the meantime, Holland says kids will be able to use the outdoor facilities for recess and activities. Beyond the playground, there are athletic fields for the elementary school directly behind the modular units.

There have been some setbacks to the opening of the facility. On Wednesday, Aug. 16, the school will host an open house to show students and parents the classrooms. School officials had hoped to do it sooner, but the unusual amount of rain in the last two months delayed progress.

A week prior to opening, kindergarten teacher Demi Ckezepis pulled her hair into a bun and dug through boxes, setting up instructional materials in preparation for 20 curious minds.

“It’s exciting, it’s fun, it’s overwhelming,” she said of the beginning of the school year. She went into teaching to help people, she said, and having an impact on a child’s life accomplishes that. Ckezepis said the “firsts” make it all worth it.

“The first numbers, letters, their first day of school, it’s everything,” she said.

And it’s a big first for the school. The children who enter her classroom this year will be the graduating high school class of 2030 — and the first graduating class to be able to complete all 12 grade levels at Lake Norman Charter.

Holland administered at the middle school level and said she sees the potential for improvement in crucial skills at the elementary level now.

“I saw the skills they were coming with were lacking, particularly in math. So now that we’re going to have them K-4th, we’re going to be able to groom them for middle school,” said Holland. “I will be excited to hear from the middle school teachers how they improve.”

Entry into Lake Norman Charter is based on a lottery system, available through its website during designated enrollment periods.

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