Blue Ridge Early College welcomes new principal

BREC Class of 2020 Graduation scheduled for Aug. 7

Brandon Pendergast was officially approved as the new Blue Ridge Early College Principal last night at the Jackson County Public School Board meeting. JCPS Superintendent Dr. Kim Elliott said Pendergast was granted conditional approval to begin work July 1.

Pendergast replaces Tracie Metz, who has accepted a position as JCPS Student Success Coach.

Pendergast has been a part of JCPS for many years and through an Assistant Principal Internship at Fairview Elementary and high school Social Studies Teacher at JC Early College. He grew up in Cullowhee and said his parents taught at BREC in the 1980s.

“I’ve always heard about the support families give to this school, it acts as an anchor to the community,” said Pendergast. “Plus, I’m excited to see Blue Ridge versus Highlands games, I heard they were a lot of fun.”

Dr. Elliott said Pendergast has a history in the area and will make a great addition to BREC.

“Mr. Pendergast helped begin early college programs in Jackson County as a teacher,” said Dr. Elliott. “His work at JCEC, in the region, and with the state innovative high school project has been commendable.”

BREC Class of 2020 Graduation

Pendergast comes at a challenging time in regard to Class of 2020 activities like Graduation and Senior Prom.

A Graduation Ceremony has been scheduled by assigned times from 3-8 p.m. on Aug. 7 in BREC gym. Click HERE to schedule a time. Call BREC at 828.743.2646 for more info.

Dr. Elliott said the ceremony will honor each graduate one family at a time under guidance from Jackson County Department of Public Health.

“We are following CDC and local health department guidance with regard to numbers in attendance,” she said. “With the Governor’s order in place we are limited in numbers both inside and outside. Weather is always an issue this time of year with the afternoon storms.” 

Dr. Elliott added that another option discussed was a drive through situation. 

JCPS recently released the following statement on Facebook regarding graduation ceremonies:

Graduation is an important milestone in a student’s life that should be celebrated with family and friends. Unfortunately, gathering together for traditional spring commencements is unsafe due to the continuing coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. However, Jackson County Public Schools is committed to fulfilling the lifelong dream of our seniors and honoring the class of 2020 with graduation ceremonies.

Each high school and early college has developed an alternate schedule for graduation that is subject to change based on state and local guidelines and the status of regulations related to COVID-19. Assuming the events will be permitted, we look forward to seeing our outstanding seniors back together again to celebrate their achievements and wish them the best for the future.

Pendergast said that plans for Senior Prom had to be scrapped after Gov. Roy Cooper extended Phase 2 throughout the state, but they are looking at other options.

Pictured at the top of the article is new BREC Principal Brandon Pendergast.

Article and photos by Brian O’Shea
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