North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics

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North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics
Current logo debuted April 2015.
1219 Broad Street


TypePublic boarding school
MottoMaius Opus Moveo
(Accept the Greater Challenge)
School districtUniversity of North Carolina system
ChancellorDr. Todd Roberts
Campus typeSuburban
Color(s)          Blue and gray
Athletics conferenceNCHSAA, Mid-State 2A
NicknameUnis, Narwhals (swim)
NewspaperThe Stentorian
Communities servedState of North Carolina
University of North Carolina
North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics is located in North Carolina
North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics
Location of NCSSM in North Carolina

North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics (NCSSM) is a two-year, public residential high school located in Durham, North Carolina, US, that focuses on the intensive study of science, mathematics and technology. The prestigious school accepts rising juniors from across North Carolina and enrolls them through senior year. Though NCSSM is a public school, enrollment is limited, and applicants undergo a highly competitive review process prior to admission. NCSSM is a founding member of the National Consortium for Specialized Secondary Schools of Mathematics, Science and Technology (NCSSSMST) and a constituent institution of the University of North Carolina system. While not officially branded as such, many residents of North Carolina consider NCSSM to be a counterpart to the University of North Carolina School of the Arts due to their shared status as specialty residential high schools, with NCSSM focusing on science and math and the School of the Arts offering extended study in the arts.


Watts building, which houses humanities classrooms and offices, business offices, and the math department

Since its inception in 1980, NCSSM has been fully funded by the state, meaning no student have been required to pay any tuition, room, board, or other student fees. This funding is supplemented by the NCSSM Foundation's private funding, which supports NCSSM's academic, residential, and outreach programs as well as providing funds for some capital improvements. In the past 25 years[when?], the Foundation has raised in excess of $25 million in private support from corporations, foundations, alumni, parents and friends of NCSSM. A tuition fee was considered for the 2002–03 school year in the midst of a state budgetary crisis, but it was never implemented. In 2003, the NC Legislature approved a bill granting tuition costs for any university in the University of North Carolina System to all graduates of NCSSM, starting with the class of 2004, as an incentive to encourage NCSSM's talented students to stay in North Carolina. That bill was amended in 2005 to allow students to use additional tuition monies awarded to cover "costs of attendance." However, the tuition waiver was phased out in the Appropriations Act of 2009 in the North Carolina Senate in order to balance the budget. The bill states that "No new recipients shall be funded after June 30, 2009." [2] NCSSM served as a model for 18 similar schools, many of which are now members of the National Consortium for Specialized Secondary Schools of Mathematics, Science and Technology (NCSSSMST).


Cupola atop the 1908 Watts building, used in the school's logo until 2015.

NCSSM students are not given a class rank and are encouraged to strive for their best rather than competing against other students. Although students previously were not given grade point averages (GPAs), the school currently provides GPAs on transcripts to simplify the college application process. The school consistently appears near the top of American high school rankings, most recently being ranked the 23rd best high school in the United States and the second best in North Carolina by Newsweek[3] and being listed among The Washington Post's 2014 "top-performing schools with elite students."[4] NCSSM students have consistently done extremely well in national academic competitions, and NCSSM's SAT scores are among the highest in the state of North Carolina. In 2013, it was 2034, second to the Early College at Guilford's 2051.[5] In 2016, music instructor Phillip Riggs was nominated for and won the GRAMMY Music Educator Award.[6]


During the 2013-2014 school year, NCSSM housed approximately 680 students. There were 346 seniors enrolled in the class of 2013. Currently, there are more females than males due to the larger number of female dormitory spaces. Approximately 56% of students are Caucasian, 26.6% are Asian American, 8.1% are African American, 5.5% are Hispanic, and 0.3% are Native American.[7] The student population of NCSSM is designed to be a demographic reflection of the population of North Carolina as a whole; additionally, a certain number of slots are reserved for each congressional district.

Notable alumni[edit]

External programs[edit]

NCSSM also offers a variety of external programs focused on educating teachers and students outside of the school across North Carolina. The school offers workshops for strengthening K-12 math and science education. The programs focus on "teaching the teacher."[12] These workshops focus particularly in science and mathematics education.

Extracurricular activities[edit]

NCSSM regularly does well in terms of academic events and certain sports.


The school is known to place upwards of ten students a year in the Siemens Competition in Math, Science, and Technology. In 2006, Nicholas Tang and Sagar Indurkhya became national finalists in that year's Siemens Competition. NCSSM also regularly produces semifinalists in the Intel Science Talent Search and Intel Science and Engineering Fair.

In 2008, the NCSSM team won first place in the WorldQuest geography competition at the national level.

In 2010, NCSSM won first place at the 2010 National DOE Science Bowl Competition,[13] and the students on the team got to meet Michelle Obama.

In 2015, the NCSSM Robotics Team, FIRST Robotics Team 900, The Zebracorns, came in 3rd place at the FIRST World Championship in Saint Louis. [14]

In 2019, Navami Jain was selected as a finalist in the Regeneron Science Talent Search competition


The North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics offers 21 varsity sports to its students, including baseball, volleyball, basketball, and wrestling. The athletic programs have experienced tremendous growth and are the home of not only academically hard-working high schoolers, but talented athletes.

In 2011, for the first time in the school's history, all of the NCSSM varsity sports in the fall season won regional championships. Men's cross-country and men's soccer were state champions, while women's tennis and women's volleyball were state runners-up and a member of the women's diving team placed second at the 1A/2A state meet. Two girls from the women's golf team were also sent to the state championships match. The NCSSM men's cross-country team has won three straight state championships, and has boasted two straight individual state champions, Nicholas Walker and William Francis Kenny.

In the 2018-2019 season, NCSSM teams gathered nine Mid-State 2A conference titles. The quality of the athletic department has led to 98 All-Conference titles awarded to NCSSM athletes in the 2018-2019 season, at least one in every sport offered by the school. [15]


NCSSM has a FIRST Robotics team, Team 900, The Zebracorns. This team has consistently performed at a high level, winning many prestigious awards. Awards won by this team include[16] (* = received blue banner):

  • 2005 Palmetto Regional Imagery Award
  • 2009 Peachtree Regional Imagery Award
  • 2012 North Carolina Regional Gracious Professionalism Award
  • 2014 North Carolina Regional Winners*
  • 2014 North Carolina Regional Excellence in Engineering Award
  • 2014 FIRST Championship Archimedes Division Creativity Award
  • 2015 Palmetto Regional Creativity Award
  • 2015 North Carolina Regional Winners*
  • 2015 North Carolina Regional Gracious Professionalism Award
  • 2015 FIRST Championship Curie Division Winners*
  • 2016 North Carolina District - Wake County Event Innovation in Control Award
  • 2016 North Carolina District - Campbell University/Johnston Community College Event Excellence in Engineering Award
  • 2016 North Carolina FIRST Robotics State Championship Excellence in Engineering Award
  • 2017 Chesapeake District - Southwest Virginia Event Excellence in Engineering Award
  • 2017 North Carolina District - Greensboro Event Innovation in Control Award
  • 2017 North Carolina District - Greensboro Event Safety Award
  • 2017 North Carolina District - Raleigh Event District Chairman's Award*
  • 2017 FIRST North Carolina State Championship Excellence in Engineering Award
  • 2017 FIRST North Carolina State Championship Winners*
  • 2018 Palmetto Regional Judges' Award
  • 2018 North Carolina District - UNC Pembroke Event Creativity Award
  • 2018 North Carolina District - Forsyth County Event District Chairman's Award*
  • 2018 FIRST North Carolina State Championship Industrial Design Award
  • 2019 North Carolina District - Wake County Event Innovation in Control Award
  • 2019 North Carolina District - UNC Asheville Event Team Spirit Award
  • 2019 FIRST North Carolina State Championship Innovation in Control Award

The team has garnered national attention for their numerous published whitepapers to help other teams and their community outreach across North Carolina[17]. [18][19] They also recently garnered international attention, presenting at ROSCon 2018 in Madrid, Spain.[20]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Institution Summary, AdvancED, Retrieved 2012-07-11
  2. ^ "Appropriations Bill of 2009, 2009" (PDF).
  3. ^ "America's Top High Schools 2014". Newsweek. Newsweek Company LLC. Retrieved March 3, 2016.
  4. ^ Mathews, Jay. "Top-performing schools with elite students". The Washington Post. The Washington Post. Retrieved January 29, 2015.
  5. ^ "Page Not Found" (PDF).
  6. ^ "Phillip Riggs To Receive Music Educator Award". February 10, 2016.
  7. ^ " -NCSSM Residential Program Profile, 2013-2014" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on February 9, 2014.
  8. ^ "Adam Falk '83 named president of Williams". July 14, 2011. Retrieved May 4, 2018.
  9. ^ Office of the President. (2013-06-20). Retrieved on 2013-07-29.
  10. ^ A Modern Take On A Traditional Sound. Carolina Chocolate Drops. Retrieved on 2013-07-29.
  11. ^ "NASA announces eight new astronauts, half are women". May 11, 2013. Retrieved August 24, 2014.
  12. ^ "NCSSM External Programs – Workshops & Special Programs". Archived from the original on February 20, 2007. Retrieved January 18, 2007.
  13. ^ DOE National Science Bowl Archived May 6, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ "Einstein Field 2015".
  15. ^ "2019 NCSSM Spring and Winter All Conference Awards". May 17, 2019. Retrieved August 21, 2019.
  16. ^ "Team 900 - The Zebracorns".
  17. ^ Marshall Massengill. "Zebracorns, TIGER, and Addressing Sustainability in FRC..." Chief Delphi. Retrieved May 24, 2018.
  18. ^ "As Competition Season Begins, Robotics Team Aims High". NCSSM News. Retrieved May 24, 2018.
  19. ^ Hall, Ted. "Robotics Week: The New, Small Manufacturing is About Production Robotics". Medium. Retrieved May 24, 2018.
  20. ^ OSRF (October 4, 2018), ROSCon 2018 Madrid: Bringing ROS to the Largest High School Robotics Competition, retrieved May 16, 2019

External links[edit]