Perquimans County August 2023


County Seat

Median Income

Population Density Designation

Blue Cross NC’s Extra Miles Tour visited the Northeastern region of the state, with a stop at Perquimans County High School (PCHS). As the county’s only high school, PCHS plays a significant role in the daily life of the community.

But the school faces challenges that will probably sound familiar: Mental health needs that have been magnified since the COVID-19 pandemic, reliance on community donations to fund campus improvements and financial hardships of students’ families. While federal, state and local investment would help, school officials and teachers aren’t sitting by the mailbox waiting for a check to arrive. They’re working to manifest their community’s destiny as a healthy, prosperous place to live.

There are obstacles along the way, of course. Students’ mental health needs are one example, with rates of depression and anxiety rising in recent years; the school system has hired a full-time school psychologist to help on this front. There are students whose families are homeless, exponentially multiplying the typical pressures that all high school students feel; a grant-funded position for a homelessness liaison is a crucial part of the solution to this problem.

Nutrition among students is an ongoing concern, with around six in 10 students receiving free or reduced-cost meals from the school system. These meals are essential to the physical, emotional and intellectual development of students. During the pandemic, free meals at school were the primary source of food for many students, with both breakfast and lunch being served. With federal pandemic funding coming to an end, the district is working to find the money to continue offering meals to students in need. Since the school won’t deny a child a meal if they can’t pay, some families end up owing the district for their kids’ food. For teachers and administrators, this results in a constant search for public and private dollars to erase these debts.

The challenges are considerable, but they are no match for the dedication and compassion of the school system’s employees. Unlike many school districts, Perquimans County sees very low turnover among teachers. Last year, K-2 students finished the school year above the state average in literacy. PCHS boasts an 89% graduation rate; nearly 90% of the school’s 500 students who applied for college last year were accepted. Clearly, the Perquimans County school system is doing things right.

It has long been true that success in high school is a launch pad for a fulfilling and rewarding career, regardless of the line of work. Perquimans County is strengthening that launch pad and investing in the promise of its students.

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U39702, 9/23