Western Carolina University and the Jackson County Public School system will collaborate on the formation of a lab school designed to help students in grades six through eight successfully transition into high school through implementation of a “whole school, whole community, whole child” approach.

To be christened “the Catamount School” and located on the campus of Smoky Mountain High School, the school will have the capacity to serve 25 students in each of the eligible grade levels (six through eight). It is scheduled to be in operation when the new school year begins in August 2017.

The Catamount School will provide a learning community in which all students are valued and that promotes health and wellness and a commitment to learning through experience in a caring, collaborative and inclusive environment, said Dale Carpenter, dean of WCU’s College of Education and Allied Professions.

Announcement of plans for the school came Tuesday, Jan. 24, during a meeting of the Jackson County School Board.

WCU is one of eight University of North Carolina system institutions identified as candidates to establish and operate laboratory schools serving students in kindergarten through eighth grade, as required by a provision in the 2016-17 state budget enacted last July.

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