• Outdoor learning center is the latest project for the Cherryville High School Education Foundation

    Thanks to the Cherryville High School Education Foundation, Cherryville High School has a new and inviting space that allows teaching and learning to extend beyond the classroom.

    Recently, the school held a dedication and grand opening ceremony for the Howard Homesley Outdoor Learning Center.  It is a handsome shelter with a large concrete pad that offers plenty of space for gatherings, activities, and fellowship.  Several features that make the shelter a stately, eye-catching structure are the decorative rock, a vibrant blue paint scheme, and an atmosphere that is conducive for academic engagement, enrichment, and collaboration.  Beam Construction built the outdoor learning center.

    Principal Shawn Hubers said the area adjacent to the main building previously featured a small gazebo, but it was not an ideal outdoor classroom.  Now, the school has one of the best outdoor spaces around.

    “All of our staff and students have been anxiously waiting for this space to be completed.  We have been watching the construction, and now, to see it finished, it is amazing,” said Hubers.  “There is something special about being able to learn outside and not being bound by the four classroom walls.  There is no question that students are going to benefit from this outdoor learning space for many years to come.”

    The outdoor classroom is named in memory of Dr. Howard David Homesley, a 1959 graduate of Cherryville High School who founded the Cherryville High School Education Foundation in 2010.  Homesley was a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill and earned a degree from UNC School of Medicine.  He completed training in obstetrics and gynecology at Vanderbilt University Hospital and a fellowship in gynecologic oncology at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York.  His career in the medical profession included work in private practice and at Wake Forest University School of Medicine and East Carolina University Brody School of Medicine.

    “Dr. Homesley had a vision for enriching the educational experience for students,” said Nan Davis, a retired Cherryville High School teacher who serves as executive director of the Cherryville High School Education Foundation.  “He was proud of Cherryville High School, and he wanted to give back while helping to create a better future for students.  He inspired alumni, community leaders, and others to join together in building and growing the Foundation so that teachers and students can have the programs and resources they need and deserve.  Above all else, he wanted the Ironmen spirit and tradition to remain as strong as ever.”

    The outdoor learning center is the latest project of the Cherryville High School Education Foundation.  Over the past 13 years, the Foundation has directed more than $400,000 to the high school for a variety of projects, programs, resources, and equipment. The Foundation has made the following possible:

    • Providing grants for teachers to support student mentoring programs, learning enrichment tools, classroom supplies, and other academic resources;
    • Establishing the Bob Barker Career Development Hallway that features a variety of Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs, including the Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) program in partnership with Gaston College;
    • Funding the one-to-one initiative to provide a Chromebook computer for every student (Cherryville was the first public high school in Gaston County to provide a computer for every student); the Foundation also purchased computers and software for students with an interest in film and videography to produce videos for the school.
    • Supporting the Just Girls program, which focuses on building self-esteem and teaching conflict resolution and other life skills; the program has significantly reduced the dropout rate among female students;
    • Transforming the learning environment by supporting the 21st century classroom and flipped classroom concepts; the 21st century concept involves students using rolling, stand-up desks to work in teams and collaborate in math classes, and the flipped classroom concept involves students completing independent study and lesson prep at home and then bringing the knowledge into the classroom to enhance class activities and complete homework and other assignments with teacher support.
    • Providing new books and resources for the school library so students have the means to conduct relevant and current research; and
    • Making it possible for eleventh-grade students to participate in a day-long tour of a state university campus so they can learn about attending college classes, have an opportunity to dine with college students, receive information about scholarships and the application process, and take in what it is like to be on a college campus.

    Davis added, “We know schools are confronted with funding challenges and budget constraints – that is why the Cherryville High School Foundation is so important.  We know that it takes money and support from the community to make our schools the best they can be, and we are grateful for the opportunity to enhance Cherryville High School and ensure that our students have what they need to learn, grow, and excel and be Ironmen strong.”

    In addition to Davis and Hubers, the Foundation’s Board of Directors includes chairman Susie Lewis, Jon Abernethy, Natasha Alexander, Bobbi Ballard, Ben Blackburn, M’Shel Bowen, Alice Dellinger, Pam Harris, Heather Holt, Sheila Houser, Emily Hurst, Jamie McSwain, Stephanie Mulvey, Lacey Spangler, Luke Upchurch, Mary West, and Emily Winter.  For more information, visit https://www.chsefnc.org/.