BOONE, N.C. — On Nov. 16, in-person instruction resumed as part of a hybrid model at Appalachian State University Academy at Middle Fork in Walkertown. A company co-owned by two App State alumni donated more than 2,000 face coverings to the school to help make the return safer for students, teachers and staff during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Alumni Robert Roach ’08 and Tom Webb ’73 ’75, along with Webb’s son, Ben Webb, and Brad Valentine — all co-owners of United Sewing Automation Inc. — donated the adult and pediatric disposable face coverings to the academy, a UNC System laboratory school operated by App State.
“Our academy leadership team is deeply moved by the generosity displayed with the large donation of face coverings for our academy students and staff,” said Tasha Hall-Powell ’01 ’09, principal of the academy. “This donation will not only provide an extra layer of safety, but it will also help to offset costs for supplying and replenishing required face coverings for in-person learning.”
Located in Mount Airy, United Sewing Automation manufactures face coverings for health care providers, bus drivers, grocery store workers and public sector employees.
Upon learning of the academy’s return to in-person instruction, the co-owners wanted to give back to the university and community. “Helping everyone stay safe is very important to our company,” Roach said.
Doing business for good and giving back to the community were values instilled when he was a student in App State’s Walker College of Business, Roach said. “We have to take care of one another,” he added.
About the new face coverings, academy first grader Samuel Ithehua-Hernandez said, “They help keep us safe and help keep our friends safe, too!”
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About the Academy at Middle Fork
The Appalachian State University Academy at Middle Fork, located in Walkertown, North Carolina, serves approximately 300 K–5 students. The academy provides a balanced education through the implementation of research-based practices, state-of-the-art literacy instruction, and exemplary classroom instruction and administration. Learn more at https://middlefork.appstate.edu.
About Appalachian State University
As the premier public undergraduate institution in the Southeast, Appalachian State University prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The Appalachian Experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and to embrace diversity and difference. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Appalachian is one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina System. Appalachian enrolls nearly 21,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.