On the last weekend of May, NCSSM will be hosting three end-of-year ceremonies for the first time ever. (photo credit: Brian Faircloth)


NCSSM prepares for historic end to academic year

The last weekend in May is going to be a busy – and historic – time for the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, with three ceremonies in three days recognizing seniors from throughout North Carolina who have completed the school’s Residential and Online programs.

Opening the weekend will be the first-ever graduation held for the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics – Morganton, which opened in August of 2022 after years of planning when the first 150 juniors began their historic journey together by celebrating Convocation. On Friday, May 24, at 9 a.m., those trailblazing students will gather for the last time, on the lawn outside the school’s iconic Barn, to receive their diplomas. In recognition of the milestone, UNC System President Peter Hans will deliver the keynote address.

“I’ve been in education for 25 years and while it’s special for any class to graduate from any program anywhere, nothing will eclipse the pride and joy I feel for this senior class,” says Kevin Baxter, Vice Chancellor & Chief Campus Officer for NCSSM-Morganton. “They, along with their families, took a real chance on joining an unfinished campus because of the power of NCSSM’s legacy in our state. We’re going to be rewarding that faith with a beautiful, hard-earned diploma on campus this Friday. These students are the most free-spirited, pioneering group of all-stars you will ever meet, and my colleagues and I are blessed to have shared this journey with them.”

The iconic barn served as the backdrop for the first-ever official senior portrait at NCSSM-Morganton. (photo credit: John S. Payne Photography)

At 9 a.m. the following day, nearly 320 seniors will celebrate NCSSM-Durham’s 43rd Commencement Ceremony beneath the school’s century-old oaks on Watts Lawn. At its opening in 1980, NCSSM-Durham became the nation’s first residential, STEM public high school. In the years that followed, the school became the model not only for its sister campus in Morganton, but for at least 18 similar schools throughout the United States and the world. NCSSM-Durham’s graduates will join more than 12,000 alumni who have called the Durham campus home. Adam Falk, President of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Vice Chair of the NCSSM Board of Trustees, and a member of NCSSM-Durham’s Residential class of 1985, will address the graduates.

As had 42 classes before it, NCSSM-Durham’s Class of 2024 gathered in front of the schools’s traditional front door for their class portrait. (photo credit: Jim Shaw Photography)

On hand for the ceremony will be Dr. Terry Lynch, NCSSM’s Vice Chancellor for Student and Chief Campus Officer for NCSSM-Durham.

“This is an exciting time of the year highlighted by a very special day for our graduates, their families, and our entire community,” Lynch says. “We have an amazing senior class and we are all proud of their accomplishments. I know that the class of 2024 will go on to do amazing things after NCSSM and I look forward to hearing of their future successes.” 

NCSSM Online students look on during last year’s ceremony in the NCSSM-Durham gym. (photo credit: NCSSM Communications)

Closing out the weekend on Sunday, May 26, at 10 a.m. will be the ceremony for NCSSM Online. Some 230 students will assemble, again on Watts Lawn, in the colors of their home high schools to receive certificates indicating their successful participation in the NCSSM Online program, a two-year program of supplemental NCSSM honors courses that students complete online while remaining enrolled in their local schools and living in their home communities. By wearing their local school’s graduation regalia, the assembled students will compose what is always the most visually compelling portrait of NCSSM’s service to the state. Dr. Todd Roberts, NCSSM’s chancellor, will be the speaker for the event.