Merchants Millpond State Park – On October 24, 2020, Morehead Planetarium and Science Center and Gates County Schools welcomed the 15 seventh graders who were selected for Cohort 2 of the Saunders Science Scholars program. They are Hunter Ambrose, London Barber, Timberlyn Chappell, Dusty Gallop, Michael Parks, Jayla Porter, J’Yanah Powell, Logan Roman, Benjamin Ross, Semiyah Saunders, Deshaun Sherman, Shala’Jah Stallings, Courtney Unger, Noah Wilkins and Ayden Wright. The scholars will participate in various activities and events that traverse science. Examples include science meetings, summer camps, field trips, experiments and other exploratory learning activities.

“The Saunders Science Scholars event was an exciting day of hands-on activities for students and their parents to enjoy the magic of science. Our partnership with Morehead Planetarium and Science Center and Gates County Community Partnership provides students and families with STEM based events, materials and devices that stimulate their interest in careers based in science. I am very appreciative of these two organizations who sponsor the Saunders Science Scholars program which is so beneficial to our students and community,” said Dr. Barry Williams, Superintendent, Gates County Schools.

The Saunders Science Scholars program was named after Benjamin Saunders, Sr., a beloved former science teacher and principal at T.S. Cooper Elementary School in Sunbury. It provides numerous resources and events to the Gates County Schools community that explore science. The initiative was modeled after Morehead Planetarium and Science Center’s family science enrichment program.

“We are proud that the Saunders Science Scholars now intimately serves a core group of 29 students from Gates County Schools,” exclaimed Crystal Harden, Director of Program and Inclusion Initiatives, Morehead Planetarium and Science Center. “We welcome our new cohort! Their future is bright and we will use science as the foundation of their development.”

“Excitement for the new group of scholars is high. The experience will be invaluable as we will encourage them towards unfathomable destinies,” said Benjamin C. Saunders, Jr., President, Gates County Community Partnership. “To assist, our organization donated Chromebooks to each member of the new cohort that will be used to optimize their educational journey.”

Morehead Planetarium and Science Center is a unit of the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. The Morehead Building houses the GSK Fulldome Theater, Science Stage, exhibits and Morehead classrooms. Nearly 160,000 people visit the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center annually, including 85,000 schoolchildren.