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App State Hickory Campus celebrates first day of classes

Ashlynn+Caudill%2C+a+first-year+App+State+Hickory+student%2C+speaks+to+the+crowd+at+the+opening+ceremony.+%28Courtesy+of+Chase+Reynolds%29
Ashlynn Caudill, a first-year App State Hickory student, speaks to the crowd at the opening ceremony. (Courtesy of Chase Reynolds)

In 1899, students at Watauga Academy – the precursor to App State – rang the founders bell in Boone for the first time to symbolize the beginning of their academic journey. 

Monday, App State students rang a new bell that sits just over 40 miles away from the original to celebrate a new beginning at the App State Hickory Campus. After almost two years of development, the new campus began holding classes for the fall semester Monday.

In 2021, App State purchased the Corning Optical Communications building and the 15.7 acres of land it was located on in Hickory, North Carolina and began renovating the building in stages. Hickory, along with the Lenoir and Morganton area, was the largest metropolitan area in North Carolina without a public university campus. 

“I often wonder what our founders would think if they could see the App State of today,” said Sheri Everts during her grand opening speech. “Today we honor their vision and continue our trajectory of excellence by opening the App State Hickory Campus, solidifying our commitment to the greater Hickory area.”

 Another attendee of the ceremony was the mayor of Hickory, Hank Guess, who said he “could not be more thrilled” with the “positive impact” that the App State community would bring to the Hickory area. 

The final speaker present at the celebration was the inaugural class representative, Ashlynn Caudill, who spoke of her admiration for the App State community and her simultaneous unwillingness to uproot herself from her home in Hickory. 

The new App State Hickory campus has allowed her to fulfill her dream of being “not a Boone mountaineer, but for me even better: a Hickory mountaineer.”

Chancellor Everts rings the new founders bell at App State Hickory to celebrate the first day of fall classes. (Courtesy of Chase Reynolds)

The ceremony concluded with Everts, Guess and Caudill each ringing the brand new Hickory founders bell, an homage to the founders of App State Boone who did the same 124 years prior in Boone. 

After taking celebratory pictures, Chancellor Everts cut the yellow ribbon leading into campus, allowing the first fall class of App State students on the Hickory campus to begin their new academic journey into uncharted territory. Additional celebration festivities included food trucks, serving all attendees and free App State Hickory merchandise given to the new students on campus.

According to a news release from News and Media Relations Director Anna Oakes, the official number of students undertaking their App State journey in Hickory will be certified on Sept. 1, and officially released within the first week of September. 

The news release says each of those students have the opportunity to enroll in over 100 undergraduate degree programs, and will also have access to numerous campus resources such as their own library, student gym, computer labs and more, all of which sits on a 225,000 square foot campus.

Additionally, each student attending the Hickory campus this semester will receive a “Hickory first” scholarship for $2,000 to mark their place in App State history, reducing the typical $8,000 attendance cost even further for students living in the Hickory area

“We are proud to welcome App State and its students with open arms, and in eager anticipation of the positive impact this campus will bring to our entire region,” said Guess. “I want to welcome each and every one of you to our Hickory family.”

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the App State Hickory Campus was constructed from the ground up and that construction was completed. This has been corrected in the story. 

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About the Contributor
Thomas Turner
Thomas Turner, Reporter
Thomas Turner (He/Him/His) is a 19 year old junior at App State, majoring in journalism with a minor in English. This is his second semester working with The Appalachian.
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