Summit Charter holds grand opening of High School and Summit Center

Students lined the courtyard cheering as donors took their seats at the grand opening of Summit Charter High School and the Summit Center on Sept. 26.

Several founding families were present at the event, including Denice and Jim Dunn, Laurie and Gordon Strayhorn, and Becky McKee.

Summit students lined the courtyard and applauded as donors entered the grand opening event for Summit’s High School and Summit Center.

“Today we mark the opening of our high school as an affirmation and continuation of our original K-8 mission, one grounded in a commitment to our community and a belief in our children’s potential; in college and beyond,” said Head of School Kurt Pusch.

Head of School Kurt Pusch thanked the community for all its generous support.

The High School has five state-of-the-art classrooms with interactive projectors and a science lab. The building also includes a student lounge, two conference rooms, administrative workspace, and offices.

Summit student Chloe Stiwinter gives a tour at the grand opening of the High School.

The Summit Center, which in addition to the athletic facilities, houses music and art classrooms, performance capabilities, administrative offices, locker rooms, and a concession stand. The high school building is 6,600 sq/ft and the Summit Center is approx. 19,000 sq/ft.

The new Summit Charter High School building located towards the rear of the courtyard.

Students started classes in the high school building on Sept. 9 and in the Summit Center on Aug. 23.

Pusch said that continuing Summit’s mission to engage and inspire students would not be possible without the considerable support within the community.

“I want to thank our founders for the foresight, wisdom, and dream of our founding mission. You have provided our school the direction to remain true to our purpose as a school as we evolve and grow in serving the needs and interests of our students and this community,” said Pusch. “And, I want to thank our many supporters across our community, those present today and those present in spirit, for believing and investing in the promise of Summit as a cornerstone of our community.”

Summit’s choir lead by Maestro Jesse Lloyd performed for those in attendance at the grand opening.

Pusch mentioned his special gratitude to Chair of the Capital Campaign Linda Quick, whose leadership motivated hundreds across the community to give with generosity and great expectations in support of the High School and Summit Center expansion.

Cashiers Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Stephanie Edwards said a few words to mark the special occasion.

“This is an exciting day for Summit and indeed our community,” said Edwards. “It’s the culmination of great vision and extraordinary commitment so representative of our people in the Cashiers Area. Those who graduate from these doors are truly our future and from the looks of what I see today, I’m confident that it will be wonderful! On behalf of the Chamber, it’s a pleasure and an honor to celebrate with you today.”

From left are Summit high school students and student council members Abby Vanderwiele, Zach Russel, and Esme Perez who spoke at the grand opening.

High school student council members Esme Perez, Zach Russell, and Abby Vanderwiele said how appreciative they are to the community for giving them the opportunity to attend Summit High School and praised Summit’s LEAD Program. The Summit high school experience combines college preparatory academics with the dynamic LEAD (Learn, Engage, Analyze, Discover) Program, designed to foster students that are inspired, empowered and equipped to lead. Students earn elective credits as they participate in the following LEAD rotation: Community Engagement, Mentor 360, Outdoor Leadership, and Life Academy. 

“In addition to our core classes, all high school students participate in Summit’s unique LEAD program, which is when we focus on our greater community, learn more about our strengths and interests, and challenge our comfort zones,” said Russell.

From left are Summit High School students Abby Vanderwiele and Esme Perez giving tours of the new high school after their speeches at the grand opening.

Perez said participating in LEAD has taught her about herself and what she is capable of.

“The LEAD program helps me learn more about my strengths and interests,” she said. “For instance, I have learned that I have great executive functioning skills. I helped organize a blood drive and planned several of our trips, including two college tours. My high school experience has made me think more about my future and my strengths, but more importantly, I am discovering who I really am and what I am passionate about.”

Vanderwiele said she thinks of her time at Summit as a journey, full of new beginnings, challenges, and perseverance. Her journey did not begin at Summit, but another school where she had low self-esteem and few friends before she enrolled at Summit.

“My parents decided to send me here,” she said. “Ever since my first day, my teachers have been phenomenal mentors and advisors. I have learned how to take risks and be adventurous and I now know you have to be uncomfortable to make progress. I have also learned the importance of strong morals and the value of having strong mentors.”

Parents and students had the opportunity to check out the new high school at Summit’s grand opening.

Students said they were fans of the new high school building and think it is a great addition to Summit’s campus.

Student Riley Gordon impersonates Math Teacher Brad Hughes in Summits’s new high school building.

English Teacher James Stewart-Payne chats with parents in her new classroom at Summit High School.

Article and Photos by Brian O’Shea
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