A Childs Heart

Block Number: 114

By Ginger Todd


On Friday, March 30th, Nebo Elementary School had a full day of festivities celebrating the arts. The students, kindergarten through the sixth grade, moved from station to station each manned by teachers, with pre-assigned numbers as assigned by the computer staff. The children were provided with a special bag lunch which they could enjoy in the spring outdoors and learned more about movement (physical education), dance, chorus, drama, the arts, music and more as they visited each site.

One special activity was dividing a blank canvas into 4 squares and going to different art stations to fill in each, as a Quilt Block. There were several mediums that they could choose from including crayons, markers, paper, chalk and other options , creating their own designs in each square of the block. Highlighting the Arts Day was the installation of McDowell Quilt Trail Block #114 entitled “A Child’s Heart”.

The history of Nebo Elementary School is interesting and unique beginning with the early settlers to the territory. It is believed that a community center and gathering place was first developed in the early 1800’s. The name Nebo was derived from Mount Nebo, an elevated ridge in Jordan, mentioned in the Bible, where Moses first viewed the Promised Land. The original Nebo Meeting House is now an area known as Cemetery Road off Highway 70 East. It was in this general building that the first school was held and the Nebo area was included in the eastern part of the McDowell Country boundaries in 1842.

In 1904 the first high school building was erected, the only accredited high school in McDowell County at that time. As smaller schools consolidated, students were transported by wagon from throughout the county, often staying in a dormitory built for that purpose during the week. The letters in Nebo were represented by: N-new friends found here; E-efforts glowing; B-bonds that bind; O-onward going.

By the early 20’s wagons were replaced by busses and the dormitory was torn down in 1940. The humble beginnings boosted by community involvement to make the school more successful, resulted in Mr. Jack Kirstein becoming principal in 1969. Mr. Kirsten was primary in transitioning the school in the Fall of 1972 to an elementary school after a fire destroyed the older part of the building. This was during a period of time when North Carolina was undergoing educational awakening and taking on more school matters and aid students in fulfilling the best of education and many renovations and additions took place at the school. Mr. Kirsten remained principal for 27 years, continually upholding the traditions of strong academics as well as good citizenship, courtesy and respect of others.

Today, Nebo Elementary School has a preschool class, a Head Start class and grades K-6 with an average student population of 545. Programs exist for both advanced students and those who may need additional help or special needs. Principal for eleven years, Joyce Poplin states the mission goal is ”to provide a safe and caring place where all children acquire the skills necessary to become responsible and productive citizens in a global society” believing that there is a strategy or method of instruction that works with each child. The end objective is for the community and parents to work together and the school is greatly indebted to the support of the local churches and businesses as well as the Nebo PTO, Alumni Association, Fire Department, Post office, and other organizations vital to the success of a productive school.

The curriculum includes involvement in service projects, after school groups such as 4-H, track, clogging, choral and science club and tutoring and visiting artists and programs such as MACA during the year. Each year the student is given a blank note book wherein they write their individual thoughts, stories or pictures throughout the term. This is a keepsake to parents and a chart of the child’s progress each year he brings another book home.

“A Child’s Heart”, a 6 x 6’ McDowell Trail Quilt block was placed on the northwestern wall of the school over the offices around 12:30 P.M. by volunteers Mike Lucas and Jack Raker. Recently, several school staff members had voiced an interest in placing a quilt block, wanting to participate in the Quilt Trail along with other schools. The School Improvement Team desired something special, involving class support. They discussed a pattern and colors with Mike Lucas, who designed and painted the block that represents whole child compassion and support of each other.

The design consists of 12 children in various postures all holding hands and dressed in bright colors. The background is comprised of squares in 5 shades of blue and white, the school colors of the Bears (school mascot). The center of the Block is a heart shape, the children crisscrossing it, bringing together the compassion that supporting each other can accomplish for each individual child. Jill Lucas presented the Certificate of Authenticity to a representative group of the school population as they all held hands together showing their support of each other. Principal Poplin says that the students themselves had a great part in funding the block and are very proud of their building and deserved much of the credit.

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