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Las Vegas trips are supposed to be all about fun, and what could be more fun than placing high at a national competition?

That’s exactly what second-year students in Southwestern Community College’s respiratory therapy program accomplished Dec. 9-12 by finishing fourth in the American Association for Respiratory Care’s annual “Sputum Bowl.” It was the highest finish ever for a team representing North Carolina at the quiz-style contest, which this year included 40 teams from across the country.

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More than 50 of the state's 115 local superintendents stood together today in a historic showing of unity to unveil the "North Carolina Guide to Strengthening Our Public Schools." The guide, created with participation and support from superintendents of all North Carolina's school districts, reflects priorities for enhancing pre-K-12 education in the state and specific strategies to achieve those goals.

"This guide is much more than a set of legislative priorities," said Dr. Mark Edwards, Superintendent of the Mooresville Graded Schools and president of the North Carolina School Superintendents Association. "This reflects a concerted effort by all North Carolina superintendents to outline a long-term vision of where our schools need to go and identify a path to get us there."

Edwards, flanked by a majority of the state's local superintendents at a press conference at the Raleigh Convention Center, said creation of this guide is historic for North Carolina because it reflects the shared vision and leadership of all 115 local superintendents.

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The Golden LEAF Scholarship Program will award up to 215 grants, each valued at $12,000 ($3,000 per year for up to four years) for the 2015-16 academic year.

These scholarships are made possible through a grant from the Golden LEAF Foundation.

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The Global Spotlight Series sponsored by Western Carolina University's Department of Political Science and Public Affairs begins this semester with a Monday, Feb. 2, panel, featuring four presentations involving the South China Sea.

Niall Michelsen, associate professor of political science, will discuss "China's Territorial Disputes and World Politics."

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