Current and incoming NCSSM-Durham students get to know each other at Welcome Day 2024.


Meet the NCSSM Class of 2026!

They’re from every corner of North Carolina: mountains, beaches, forests, and fields; towns, cities, suburbs, and back roads. Meet the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics incoming Residential Class of 2026.

The numbers are impressive. In what proved to be a record-breaking application period, nearly 2,000 rising juniors from throughout the state – the most ever – applied for admission to the Residential program, with 476 selected for admission school-wide. They represent some three-quarters of the state’s 100 counties and 198 local schools that prepared them for the opportunity.

The tremendous number of applicants is an indicator of the continued demand among North Carolina’s high school students for advanced courses in their junior and senior years of high school. This year, as for the past two, there are more available seats to help meet that demand. In 2022, NCSSM opened a second campus in Morganton, in the rolling foothills of western North Carolina; 150 of the incoming students will fill seats that will soon be vacated by that campus’s very first graduating class. The original campus in Durham will receive 326 new students as its 45th entering class. The numbers of boys and girls admitted is virtually equal by design, as the school provides equal numbers of dormitory spaces for each.

Though junior move-in at NCSSM is still months away, incoming students to both campuses recently got a head start on forming a sense of community thanks to Welcome Days in Durham (on April 20) and Morganton (on May 4) that were hosted by the NCSSM Admissions team. Rising juniors and their families spent the first half of a spring Saturday listening to presentations from – and asking questions of – a panel of NCSSM faculty, staff, and current students. Following the session, families explored their new campus, visiting in-classroom departmental sessions where faculty and staff detailed the opportunities and requirements within each discipline. Anchoring it all was a student club fair on each campus where, through the din of excited chatter, current and incoming students got to mingle and chat about the multitude of extra-curricular opportunities also available. (Any student can start a club, and they range the gamut from creative writing to spikeball to whistle choir.)

Families make their way to NCSSM-Morganton’s historic barn on Welcome Day 2024.

Sarabhaiah Veluguri, a rising Morganton junior from Jay M. Robinson High School in Concord, has wanted to be an NCSSM student since 7th grade.

“I had a lot of unanswered questions about what I wanted to do in life,” Sarabhaiah said during Morganton’s Welcome Day. “When I was researching the school and its research programs, I saw that the students here were doing amazing things, like research into cancer and stem cell research. I had so many questions about how they were getting into all this, and I thought, ‘This is the perfect place to answer, “What’s best for me?”’”

“It’s been an eye-opening experience,” said Sarah Lantner, another incoming Morganton junior who will be moving to Morganton from her home school of STEM Early College at North Carolina A&T. “I was really excited when I found out I had gotten in, but today, at Welcome Day, it’s actually finally setting in that this is where I’m going to be for the next two years. It’s been really interesting meeting the community and all the people I’m going to be with.” 

Two weeks earlier and two and a half hours away to the east, incoming Durham students on Welcome Day shared similar sentiments about their upcoming move to campus. Mary Elizabeth Heritage, from D.H. Conley High School in Greenville, could not believe she had even been accepted. “I was honestly in shock that I got in,” she said. “There are many talented people who applied for this opportunity, and so it feels really surreal that I’m going to get to experience all this. I’m just really grateful.”

Myles Pitts, a Cumberland Polytechnic High School student who will also be moving onto the Durham campus in August, was with his family at dinner when he found he had been accepted. “I was so excited I couldn’t even eat my food,” he says. “But being on campus today for Welcome Day, man, it’s ethereal. I’m so excited. I’m glad I got this opportunity, and I think it’s going to open a lot of pathways for me.”

Mattie Gaddy-Parks, NCSSM’s Director of Admissions, has helped lead NCSSM’s recruiting and admissions efforts for years. She was onsite for both Welcome Days to help shepherd the students through their initial onboarding.

“This is an opportunity to showcase the caliber of students the state of North Carolina produces, and now we get to have them here under our umbrella for the next two years,” she said. “It’s a very diverse class representing all 14 congressional districts and we’re excited to have them soon joining us. They’re going to be a great class.”