Getting schooled is easy to do in Wilkes County, thanks to a good public school district, top private schools and Wilkes Community College.
Wilkes County Schools
Serving approximately 10,150 students in grades pre-K-12, Wilkes County Schools has 13 elementary, four middle and five high schools. In addition to teaching a STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) curriculum, the district has implemented Project ADMIT (Advanced Development in Manufacturing and Integrated Technology), an initiative that helps prepare students for careers in advanced engineering and technology and computer integration. WCS is also implementing The Leader in Me program in its four middle schools. Designed to help students develop leadership skills, the program is based on principles found in Stephen Covey’s popular book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, including personal responsibility, accountability, goal setting, time management, empathetic listening, conflict resolution, teamwork and respect.
The district also houses Wilkes Early College High School, where students who enter in their freshman year can complete their high school diploma as well as an associate of arts or associate of science college transfer degree. Students wishing to attend WECHS must transfer to a four-year university upon completion of high school to receive their two years of college credits.
Excellent private schools in Wilkes County include Gordon Baptist Christian School in North Wilkesboro, which serves grades pre-K-12, and Harvest Time Christian Academy in Wilkesboro, which also accommodates pre-K-12. Enrollment at Millers Creek Christian School in Millers Creek is over 100 students in grades 2-12. Each classroom is energized by a challenging and supportive environment.
Wilkes Community College
WCC, a two-year college in Wilkesboro with approximately 3,500 full-time students, serves Wilkes, Ashe and Alleghany counties. A varied curriculum includes accounting, automotive systems, criminal justice, culinary arts, engineering technology, horticulture, nursing and welding. The college is perhaps best known as the site of the annual MerleFest music festival.
Wilkes Community College completed a $6.2 million fundraising campaign for the WCC Health Sciences Center, which is located in the former Wells Fargo Complex on Oakwoods Road. The Golden LEAF Foundation also contributed a $1.25 million grant for the property and facility. The building allowed the college to consolidate all health science programs into a single facility as well as increase the number of programs and potential students. Programs at the new site include associate-degree nursing, dental assisting, emergency medical science, human services technology, phlebotomy, radiography and respiratory therapy.
In addition, WCC’s automotive systems technology program is so successful and innovative that it’s growing its presence overseas. The program, which prepares students to work as automotive service technicians, is collaborating with Erbil Polytechnic University to establish a similar program in Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan. The partnership began in 2015 after Dr. Adnan Shihab, an EPU professor, applied for and received an International Research and Exchanges Board grant to fund the establishment of an automotive technology program. Due to WCC’s strong reputation and commitment to raising global awareness, Dr. Lori Mason, project director of IREX’s Iraq University Linkage Program, felt collaboration between WCC and EPU would be successful.