Enka Intermediate Building Success By: Benjamin Rickert, MA, Communications Specialist “You don’t know the feeling,” says student Aiden Gephart, full of hopes as he starts fifth grade. “It means a lot to be in a new school with everything new! I get to be with kids who are my age, and I’m looking forward to new friends. I also love the idea of switching classes because I’ve never done it before!” Lockers clanging. Shoes scuffing. Students laughing as the bell rings. These are the familiar sounds of a well- rehearsed first day of school, but for Enka Intermediate- a new 112,000 square foot, 54 classroom educational facility set on nearly 23 acres- it all begins this year! In fact, this is the very first time students have stepped through the large double doors beneath the school’s prominent clock face, which Enka-Candler residents immediately recognize as reminiscent of the iconic clock tower in the historical American Enka factory that employed thousands from the 1920s through 1970s. It is the first time students will use rows of brand new shiny lockers set among more than 20,000 bricks salvaged from the former rayon and nylon textile manufacturing facility. On this first day of school for 660 fifth and sixth graders, expectations are high that Enka Intermediate- like the American Enka plant- will bring enrichment, memories, and opportunity to generations. Principal Carleene Finger welcomes new students. 8 The new school fills a much-needed role in the Enka District of Buncombe County Schools by providing a dedicated learning environment for students like Aiden. As the seventh and eighth graders continue on to Enka Middle, the result is a more personalized learning experience for all students- with increased one-on-one instruction and access to resources carefully prepared for young scholars. For example, all students will receive a special Lenovo laptop for classwork, and in the Media Center, students can now work in small group exploration areas, maker spaces for hands-on projects, and even a TV production studio with a green screen- all the while enjoying framed views of the beautiful Hominy Valley through the picture windows. “This is truly a school that has been designed to represent the historical values and traditions of the school community it will serve,” says Dr. Tony Baldwin, Superintendent of Buncombe County Schools. Max Queen grew up in Enka-Candler and now serves as the district’s school board representative. Over many years, he has witnessed first-hand how the district’s success has led to growth and, in some cases, crowded classrooms. He sees the new intermediate school as a key solution for relieving crowding in the middle school and four elementary schools while creating room for future growth. Music students enjoy an exciting learning environment.