Records continue to fall by the wayside at Western Carolina University, as total student enrollment has surpassed 11,000 for the first time in the institution’s history and as the GPA of the entering freshman class has hit an all-time high.

A summer of hard work is paying tasty dividends for some kids in Swain County 4-H — dividends paid in the form of tomatoes, corn, peppers, beans and zucchini.

This year was the first for a 4-H learning garden located at Southwestern Community College’s Swain Center, and according to Jennifer Hill — a 4-H extension agent with Swain County Cooperative Extension — it was a success.

Now in their senior and sophomore years of high school, Karen and José Ramos — ages 18 and 16, respectively — are just starting to imagine how they might make their mark on the world after graduation.

At 21, Teresa Luna holds two associate’s degrees, a freshly minted diploma in dental assisting from AB Tech and dreams of one day becoming a dentist. Add in the fact that she’s been full-time as both a student and an employee for the past two years, and it’s safe to say that Luna is the epitome of the self-motivated achiever.

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But Luna is also an immigrant, having made the dangerous illegal crossing from Mexico as a child and applied for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program when the Obama administration created it in 2012. Now, the program is on the chopping block, and Luna is worried about what that could mean for the future she’s worked so hard to build.

The bad news is that Haywood County Schools failed to improve upon last year’s school district performance ranking.

The tuition reduction program N.C. Promise won’t go into effect until 2018, but its impending implementation could already be affecting Western Carolina University’s enrollment numbers.

A controversial request to build a 388-bed student housing complex on South Painter Road in Cullowhee was denied this week following a three-hour hearing before the Cullowhee Community Planning Council, but the decision could be tested if the developer opts to challenge it in court. 

Designs for a new 600-bed residence hall at Western Carolina University met approval from the WCU Board of Trustees June 2, putting the project on track to house students starting in the fall 2019 semester. 

What was once a wildfire became an outdoor classroom for students in Western Carolina University’s Natural Resource Conservation and Management Program this spring. 

As part of a spring capstone course, 23 students studied four post-fire aspects of the forest ecosystem — forest composition, wildlife habitat, soil and water. Now, they’ve just finished compiling and analyzing the data they gleaned from the 728-acre burned area of the Dicks Creek drainage near Dillsboro.

As a writer, it’s easy to feel that one’s ability is never quite good enough; as a writer in the American South — long a befuddled region characterized by ugly stereotypes highlighting ignorance and violence — even more so.

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