Gates County Schools Awarded Obici Healthcare Foundation Grant for Health and Wellness Facility

Gates County Schools is happy to announce they are the recipient of an Obici Healthcare Foundation Healthy Spaces grant of $49,993 to fund a health and wellness facility at Gates County High School.

The Obici Healthcare Foundation was established in 2006 to improve the health status of the people living in Western Tidewater, Virginia and Gates County, North Carolina by responding to the medical needs of the indigent and uninsured and by supporting programs which have the primary purpose of preventing illness and disease.

“This facility will be a catalyst for improved health outcomes for our citizens and students. It will also advance the level of performance of our athletes with equipment designed for that purpose,” emphasized Brian Rountree, Director of Gates County Community Partnership. “We would like to thank the Obici Healthcare Foundation for their generous gift to Gates County Schools and its community. Congratulations to our partner, Gates County Schools!”

Many will gain from the Gates County Health and Wellness Facility. The physical education department will use the space to assist students in developing healthy behaviors. Training will provide students with expert guidance in activities that promote overall health and wellness. Outside of school hours, student athletes and the community will utilize the facility. Gates County Schools will staff the space and will post hours for public use.

Gates County Schools is excited about the benefits the training center will provide, as there is compelling evidence that suggests exercise programs offered in communal settings improve physical fitness. Healthy behaviors are key to helping students achieve their potential. It is vital to ensure that healthy habits begin at youth.

Dr. Barry Williams, Gates County Schools Superintendent stated, "The Healthy Spaces Grant awarded to Gates County Schools for a Health and Wellness Facility by the Obici Healthcare Foundation has been achieved through the collaboration of Gates County Schools and the Gates County Community Partnership. Our community and our schools will greatly benefit from the facility with a focus on wellness and building healthy habits that can continue throughout an individual's lifetime. I appreciate the support of all those involved in this endeavor and look forward to continuing to institute programs and attain facilities that benefit the students and staff of our school district as well as the Gates County community."

Gates County School’s Health and Wellness facility should be open for use by Fall 2022.


Partnership Sponsors Trip to USS Wisconsin for Navy Cadets

Gates County Community Partnership (GCCP) sponsored a recent trip to Nauticus and the USS Wisconsin for Gates County High School’s Navy National Defense Cadet Corps. During the Norfolk trip, the cadets were able to take a step back in history and experience living during World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and Desert Storm. They learned firsthand what life was like aboard a real American battleship.

“When we found out from Chief Howard his desire to take his cadets to the USS Wisconsin, we had to do what we could to help, as their ideals of leadership, character, honor, and service fit directly into what we believe as an organization,” stated Brian Rountree, Director of Gates County Community Partnership. “We are excited about what the NNDCC brings to our students and are looking forward to the program’s progression to JROTC.”

As the cadets toured the ship, they saw how sailors ate meals and slept while fighting our nation's wars at sea. They also had the unplanned experience of meeting 200 Chief Petty Officers and others who had just completed the time-honored tradition of transitioning from First Class Petty Officer to Chief Petty Officer.

“The young men and women of this program are awesome! Providing these wonderful young people with this opportunity granted them newfound respect for those who have served our country,” said the director of Gates County’s program, Chief John Howard.

“Chiefs who were present and able to meet our cadets had wonderful things to say about their behavior, respect, motivation, and attitudes. I am sure this will continue as we move forward to bigger and better things. We cannot thank this community enough for this opportunity.”

Dr. Barry Williams, Gates County Schools Superintendent, participated in the tour with the cadets and stated, “Gates County Schools has achieved one of our long-standing goals by instituting the NNDCC program at Gates County High School. In a short period of time, our cadets and instructor have brought pride and leadership to the school and the community. I am excited to see the program progress as our cadets grow and advance through the program, learning from their leader, Chief Howard, and through firsthand experiences, such as the tour of the USS Wisconsin. I am truly appreciative to Gates County Community Partnership for all they do to support our students.”

Gates County Community Partnership is a 501(c)(3) public charity whose mission is to inspire and increase community engagement by the citizens of Gates County for the educational and social development of its youth.


The Gift that Keeps Giving

By Benjamin C. Saunders, Jr.

President, Gates County Community Partnership

“The Model – Spearheaded by a passionate entity with knowledge, infrastructure and financial resources. This entity immerses itself into a community and collaborates, developing trusting relationships with its government, schools, and citizens. The programs and services offered by the entity improve circumstance and outlook, broadening horizons and boosting morale, while training and inspiring others within the community to organize and work together for its betterment.”

UNC-Chapel Hill is the flagship of the University of North Carolina System. Its mission is to serve as a center for research, scholarship, and creativity and to teach a diverse community of undergraduate, graduate, and professional students to become the next generation of leaders. It also strives to enhance the quality of life for all people of the state.

The university's Morehead Planetarium and Science Center adds the goal of serving North Carolina by bringing together the unique resources of the university to engage the public for an improved public understanding of science, technology, and health.

Morehead serves the entire state of North Carolina, but no other school district receives the level of support as Gates County Schools. Morehead has entrenched itself in Gates County, providing educational programming to its students and the community. But why Gates County??

In 2017, Morehead Planetarium and Science Center received funding to expand services in eastern and northeastern North Carolina. They reached out to multiple school districts in the area with minimal response. During the process, Morehead contacted me. I encouraged them to talk to Mr. Jeremy Wright, then the principal of T. S. Cooper Elementary School. The first mobile planetarium visit was scheduled, and things grew from there.

In 2018, Dr. Crystal Harden, the Director of Program and Inclusion Initiatives at Morehead, told me about a program they wanted to start in a rural community in North Carolina, loosely modeled after the science enrichment programs they direct in Chatham and Durham counties. They had a funder who was “all in” on the initiative. I volunteered my assistance and advocated for Gates County. Dr. Harden already recognized that Gates County was the perfect location for this unique opportunity, as a good working relationship existed and the need was substantial.

Later that year, Saunders Science Scholars launched (named for my father, Benjamin C. Saunders, Sr., a lifelong educator in Gates County). The program is a science enrichment initiative that provides resources and events that encourage the exploration of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) to the community of Gates County Schools.

The base program consists of 15-8th graders, 15-9th graders, and at least one supporting adult. They are immersed in STEM. Mentorship will continue through high school graduation and the duration of their college journey, with an expectation of a debt-free post-secondary experience. Activities include monthly science enrichment meetings, science engagement events, college tours, summer camps, and “Science Saturdays”, where Scholars complete community service.

Participating families also gain from the program. They develop a better understanding of science, experience unique family bonding through academia, and realize enhanced social interactions augmented by new experiences.

As part of the Saunders Science Scholars initiative, additional offerings were provided to Gates County and its schools. They include “Science on Your Street” and “Morehead in Motion: Lab to Life”, which encourage students to learn anywhere; “Science Stage”, a program that captivates students and engages audiences in exciting science demonstrations; STEMville Science Symposiums, which expose students to careers in STEM; classroom and educator visits; Duke Energy Family Science Nights; UNC Science Football Tailgates; educator professional development; science equipment donations; and a recent community day acknowledging our citizens for their support.

This summer, Morehead offered several weeks of GSK “Science in the Summer” and Sloan Foundation “Science RISING!” camps at county schools. “Science in the Summer” is an inquiry-based science education program that helps elementary school children grow to love science. “Science RISING!” is an aerospace science program.

Morehead Planetarium and Science Center’s presence enables Gates County Schools to leverage them for additional opportunities. They drive various projects not related to what they provide as a science center. Morehead directed the preparation and submission of the GEAR UP NC grant proposal for Gates County Schools, which was awarded in 2020. The seven-year grant is a national college access initiative funded by the U.S. Department of Education. Its goal is to significantly increase the number of students in disadvantaged communities who are prepared to enter and succeed in postsecondary education / college. The grant provides academic readiness and college access support to middle and high school students and engages high school students through a designated full-time college advisor.

Morehead encourages community action for the benefit of Gates County. They stressed the importance of having a partner in Gates County to work with them on local initiatives and serve in the interests of its citizens. From this, Gates County Community Partnership formed “to inspire and increase community engagement by the citizens of Gates County for the educational and social development of its youth.” Speaking as a director of the organization, Morehead Planetarium and Science Center is our guiding light. They actively participate in most of our major projects, often behind the scenes.

Morehead Planetarium and Science Center is indeed “The Gift that Keeps Giving.” And the kicker is, everything that I mentioned, and more, is provided to Gates County and its citizens for free!


GCCP Provides Sponsorship to the Gates County High School Athletic Booster Club

Sports benefit the physical fitness and mental health of participants. They also offer the opportunity to work in a team environment, amplify leadership skills, and develop perseverance.

Recognizing this, Gates County Community Partnership recently decided to sponsor the athletic program at Gates County High School by providing an annual contribution to the Gates County High School Athletic Booster Club.

“It is important to give back and athletics matter to the educational and social development of our youth, which is our mantra. We want the best for our program and that requires financial support,” stated Brian Rountree of Gates County Community Partnership. “Also, local sports offer needed entertainment and boost the morale of our populace. Events present a chance for us to be together, which exposes and emphasizes our commonalities.”

Gates County Community Partnership is excited about the future of Gates County! They advocate working collaboratively for the uplift and advancement of all its citizens.


Gates County Community Partnership Provides Scholarships to North Carolina Promise Plan Recipients

Gates County Community Partnership (GCCP) presented full tuition one-year scholarships to North Carolina Promise Tuition Plan recipients Makayla Hathaway and Emma Taylor, both 2021 graduates of Gates County High School. Makayla will be attending Elizabeth City State University and Emma will be attending Western Carolina University.

"As an organization founded to support the educational aspirations of the students of Gates County, we are again pleased to support our scholars during their postsecondary journey. Congratulations Makayla and Emma!” stated Gates County Community Partnership director Sherley Jones, Jr.

The North Carolina Promise Tuition Plan is an initiative of the State of North Carolina established to increase access to a quality university education through the University of North Carolina system. Students who qualify receive reduced rate tuition with the remainder supplemented by the state.

"Initially we were offering only one scholarship this year, but we had two candidates who were most deserving. It would have been unconscionable to leave one out,” emphasized Gates County Community Partnership director Benjamin C. Saunders, Jr.

This is the third year of the GCCP North Carolina Promise Tuition Scholarship. Gates County Community Partnership chooses to support the beneficiaries of the program; Elizabeth City State University, The University of North Carolina at Pembroke and Western Carolina University, as they offer high value educational experiences.

“I am so blessed to receive the GCCP North Carolina Promise Tuition Scholarship. It will give me the opportunity to pursue my dreams of becoming a forensic anthropologist at Western Carolina University,” said Emma Taylor, one of the recipients. “I am so grateful that Gates County Community Partnership believes in me and is investing in my future. Thank you so much. I plan to make you proud.”

Gates County Community Partnership is a 501(c)(3) tax exempt public charity whose mission is to inspire and increase community engagement by the citizens of Gates County for the educational and social development of its youth. They believe that organized collaboration is paramount to improving circumstance. Some goals are to broaden horizons and provide hope.

“Makayla and Emma, keep rising to the top in your endeavors. You are off to a great start,” stressed Gates County Community Partnership director Brian Rountree. “Continue to develop your gifts while following your passions. Remember, the true measure of who you become is how you serve humanity.”


GSK Science in the Summer” is Coming to Students of Gates County

This summer, Morehead Planetarium and Science Center is presenting “GSK Science in the Summer” to the students of Gates County. Funded by GlaxoSmithKline, this program is a free science education initiative for rising grades 2 - 8 that helps school children “grow in science.” Goals are to increase engagement in science, math and reading, enhance K-12 science education and community engagement, create a well-trained pool of teachers and assistants and extend support during the school year.

The theme for 2021 is “Be an Engineer!” As stated by the program, “Bridges and spaceships don’t build themselves. They are created by problem solvers and creative thinkers – or in other words: engineers! From roller coasters we ride to the airplanes we fly in, campers will use their hands and minds to discover the world of engineering through investigations and design challenges. Who knows? Maybe this will inspire you to be an engineer!”

"We are so grateful in Gates County to have a strong and amazing collaborative partnership with Morehead that touches the lives of our students and offers them educational and cultural experiences that will support their growth and development," stated Tammy Boone, Assistant Superintendent of Gates County Schools.

The camp will take place at Gatesville Elementary School and Central Middle School on July 12 – July 14 and July 19 – July 21. Registration will be at the Gates County Community Center on Friday, May 14 from 3 pm – 6 pm and Saturday, May 15 from 10 am to 4 pm. For questions, contact Glenda Hairston at 919-445-6280 or [email protected].

“This is another opportunity that we applaud. We fully support this program, as it will develop our youth for their future,” said Brian Rountree, Vice President of Gates County Community Partnership.

GlaxoSmithKline is a science-led global healthcare company with a special purpose: to help people do more, feel better, live longer.

Gates County Community Partnership is a 501(c)(3) tax exempt public charity whose mission is to inspire and increase community engagement by the citizens of Gates County for the educational and social development of its youth.

Morehead Planetarium and Science Center serves North Carolina and beyond by bringing together the unique resources of UNC to engage the public for an improved public understanding of science, technology and health.  The Morehead Building houses the GSK Fulldome Theater, as well as the Science Stage, exhibits and Morehead classrooms.


UNC’s Morehead is Offering “Science Rising!” to County Youth

Morehead Planetarium and Science Center is bringing “Science RISING!” to Gates County this summer. Funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, this is a free aerospace science program for rising grades 6 – 8. Participants will investigate the exciting field through a variety of topics such as robotics, drones and rocketry.

“Science RISING! will create an informal science education relationship demonstrating equity in access to science resources. Morehead’s objective for this collaboration is to address the STEM gap in resources and opportunities for elementary and middle school students in rural communities,” communicated Crystal Harden, Director of Program and Inclusion Initiatives at Morehead. “This program will create high-quality science education opportunities tailored to the community’s needs. The goal is to make science education and STEM careers more relevant and reachable for children in Gates County.”

The camp will take place at Central Middle School on June 28 – July 2 and July 26 – July 30. Registration will be at the Gates County Community Center on Friday, May 14 from 3 pm – 6 pm and Saturday, May 15 from 10 am to 4 pm. Questions should be directed to Glenda Hairston at 919-445-6280 or [email protected]unc.edu. An additional “Science RISING!” summer opportunity is available at Elizabeth City State University for rising grades 3 – 5 on July 12 – July 16 and July 19 – July 23. The contact for that camp is Antonio Rook at 252-335-3409 or [email protected]

“This is great for our community and we are delighted to be involved in this initiative! As an organization, we support anything that advances the fortunes of our youth,” emphasized Benjamin C. Saunders, Jr, President of Gates County Community Partnership.

The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation makes grants primarily to support original research and education related to science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and economics. It believes that these fields, and the scholars and practitioners who work in them, are chief drivers of the nation's health and prosperity. The Foundation also accepts that a reasoned, systematic understanding of the forces of nature and society, when applied inventively and wisely, can lead to a better world for all.

Gates County Community Partnership is a 501(c)(3) tax exempt public charity whose mission is to inspire and increase community engagement by the citizens of Gates County for the educational and social development of its youth.

Morehead Planetarium and Science Center serves North Carolina and beyond by bringing together the unique resources of UNC to engage the public for an improved public understanding of science, technology and health.  The Morehead Building houses the GSK Fulldome Theater, as well as the Science Stage, exhibits and Morehead classrooms.


Gates County Community Partnership Gifts Computers to Middle and High School Students

Gates County Community Partnership (GCCP) recently donated Chromebooks to students at Central Middle School and Gates County High School as part of Phase 1 of “The Access Initiative.” The intent of the initiative is to boost access to modern technology that fosters educational advancement. Phase 1 of the program helps address the digital divide by presenting eligible families with video conference capable computers loaded with applications used by Gates County Schools to educate its students.

“This need is not a new one. Realization was amplified by the current state the world is in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. Everything is virtual and most feel that the new normal will stress remote access to learning,” stated Sherley Jones, Director, Gates County Community Partnership. “We are obligated to do what we can to make sure that our students have the tools needed to succeed in this environment. It was a blessing to be able to provide a brand-new computer to every family that applied.”

Per the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), the gap between those who have the latest technology and those who do not is referred to as the “digital divide.” It is distinguished by the lack of broadband internet access and reliable devices that supplement. Because of fewer resources, communities in Northeastern North Carolina are less likely to have dependable internet and computers than urban areas. Modern infrastructure and adequate devices are now required to improve the economic standing of a constituency.

GCCP recognizes how important technology is for equitable access in rural communities. Previously, the organization donated Chromebooks to the 30 core participants of the Saunders Science Scholars program and other children of Gates County Schools. “It’s all about receiving knowledge and providing opportunity. These level the playing field and inspire our students to achieve their potential,” emphasized Benjamin C. Saunders, Jr., President, Gates County Community Partnership.

“We sincerely appreciate Gates County Schools and the local community for helping us with this project. Without their assistance, none of this would have been possible,” stated Brian Rountree, Vice President, Gates County Community Partnership. “We would also like to thank our generous donors, who empower us to engage in these types of projects. Your faith in us to act responsibly for the betterment of Gates County matters more than words can express.”

“Saunders Science Scholars” is a unique partnership between Gates County Schools, Gates County Community Partnership and Morehead Planetarium and Science Center that helps students discover science in new and exciting ways through hands-on exploration.

Gates County Community Partnership is a 501(c)(3) tax exempt public charity whose mission is to inspire and increase community engagement by the citizens of Gates County for the educational and social development of its youth. For more information, see www.gatescountycp.org.

 


Gates County Community Partnership Donates Bikes to Local Youth

"Nothing provides like a bicycle to a young person. Our directors all have vivid memories of exciting rides throughout the county," exclaimed Sherley Jones, Jr. of Gates County Community Partnership!

With this in mind, the organization recently gave bicycles to two students at Central Middle School.

"We were fortunate to have the bikes donated specifically to gift our local youth. The least we could do was deliver them as soon as possible," stated Benjamin C. Saunders, Jr., President, Gates County Community Partnership. "We sincerely appreciate the support of our community in this endeavor, specifically Principal Kelly Eure and her staff at Central Middle School."

Gates County Community Partnership is a 501(c)(3) public charity whose mission is to inspire and increase community engagement by the citizens of Gates County for the educational and social development of its youth.