Our Affiliated Site: Valle Crucis Elementary School in North Carolina
Nestled in North Carolina’s western mountains, Watauga County draws thousands of tourists each year due to its spectacular scenery. It is not a new attraction. In 1842, a visiting Episcopal bishop found himself looking down from the Appalachian highlands to a valley where three streams converged to form the shape of a St. Andrew’s cross. He called the place Valle Crucis – Vale of the Cross.
Today, the area’s wealth of breathtaking beauty belies the tragic poverty that plagues its residents. Due to the remoteness of this region, industry development is limited, and most families are forced to either make a meager living on subsistence farming or commute up to 60 miles to and from jobs elsewhere. The income levels and standards of living for the majority of Watauga County residents are some of the lowest in the nation. Unemployment is on the rise, and children also feel the debilitating effects of poverty, as many parents struggle to afford such basics as clothing and food. For this reason, Valle Crucis Elementary School serves as a beacon of hope for the surrounding community. Its faculty strives to provide each child with a quality education — the key to breaking the cycle of poverty — and the opportunity for students to rise above the difficult circumstances from which they come.