The Eldest Mountain Sun Alumni Continue Their Journey

Kayla C. Leed | Brevard, NC

In 2014 Mountain Sun Community School graduated its first eighth-grade class. Four students completed their education with Mountain Sun that year and went on to Brevard High School. Four years later, these students are moving into the next phase of life as the launch into the wider world.

Stro Hastings, of Pisgah Forest, NC, graduated with Brevard High School’s class of 2017. He attended Mountain Sun Community School from 2009-2014. Stro decided to embark on an adventure before choosing to go off to college. He plans on spending the next several months with the National Outdoor Leadership Schools (NOLS) in Northern India where he, two instructors, and more than 30 other students will trek through the Himalayan Mountains, explore rivers, and immerse themselves in the culture.

“I’ve always wanted to go to the Himalayas,” Stro explained, “and so that’s why I choose this particular trip with NOLS. I wanted to spend time gaining more leadership skills while having an amazing experience that I can put on my college applications when I get back. I wanted to do something that would give me more life experience.”

Stro attended The Outdoor Academy for a semester during his sophomore year of high school. “Both Mountain Sun and The Outdoor Academy gave me a lot of tools to deal with difficult situations. Mountain Sun taught me a lot about leadership and peaceful conflict resolution. Those skills set me up well, especially when dealing with people who are different than I am. The experiential education was also really important for me. Being outside and learning by doing was really conducive to my learning and knowing that has helped me choose where to go in my future.”

Stro hopes to attend a small college once he returns from his NOLS adventures. “I want to know my professors, and I want them to know me,” he said.

Theo Holshouser, of Brevard, NC, graduated with Brevard High School’s class of 2017. He attended Mountain Sun Community School from 2009-2014. Theo is now attending NC State as a first-year student.

Hannah Fox, of Brevard, NC, attended Mountain Sun Community School from 2010-2014. Hannah has dreamed of becoming a writer since her 7th-grade year at MSCS. Her love of writing has brought her to her goal of going to college/university to study English with a minor in Spanish.

“I started journaling on a daily basis while in 7th grade at Mountain Sun. I still write every day. I haven’t stopped,” Hannah explained. “There was a writing assignment that year, too. It was to write a short story, and I remember getting so invested and being so dedicated to that story. I couldn’t let it go, I was constantly changing it, making it better. I got so caught up in it, that I had to end it at a strange place because the assignment was due. 13 year old me wanted to turn that story into a novel. That’s when I knew that I wanted to be a writer.”

Hannah now works at Bill’s Boiler House on Brevard College campus. She plans on staying in the Brevard area for some time and then go on to further her education.

“Mountain Sun helped me in being able to work with people. Between the multi-age classrooms and peaceful conflict resolution, I learned how to deal with people. I remember using the tools I learned at Mountain Sun to navigate a situation at work,” Hannah said. “I use those skills all the time.”

Dominique Karesh, of Pisgah Forest, NC, also graduated with Brevard High School’s class of 2017. She attended Mountain Sun Community School from 2012-2014. Dominique applied to 12 colleges/universities and was accepted to all 12. Duke University was one of her ambitious targets, and she committed to Duke upon acceptance. As a first year, all students remain as undecided majors until sophomore year. Dominique hopes to major in Public Policy on the pre-law track eventually.

“My class, the freshman class, was announced as the most qualified class Duke has ever accepted. Their acceptance rate went down, and their requirements went up,” Dominique explained. Duke University’s acceptance rate for 2017 was 11%.

“I remember the science fair feeling like it was the most important thing I could ever do,” Dominique said as she reflected on her time at Mountain Sun. “I’ve grown up a lot since I was at Mountain Sun. I had so many good experiences while I was there.”

For her college common application essay, Dominique reflected on her time at Mountain Sun through Plato’s famous theory, “The Allegory of the Cave.”

“If I could give advice to anyone considering going to college, I would recommend exploring all of the paths you can take before you make a choice. There are so many options, and if you do decide to go to college, I suggest going about the application process very strategically.” She explained, “I chose to take an SAT prep class so that I could do well and get in [to college]. Then I had to figure out how to pay for it, and I am very fortunate that my family has figured out a way to make it happen. Paying for it, getting in, these are all things to seriously consider.”

Dominique will be the first on her father’s side of the family to attend college and among a few college students on her mother’s side.

“These students were the trailblazers for our school,” said lead Upper Elementary teacher, Becky Langerman, “They have become the embodiment of our mission as a school and we are all so proud of their growth! We are pleased to have been instrumental in their educational journey.”

Mountain Sun Community School is an independent, nonprofit school serving Preschool through Middle School and utilizes Montessori and other methods to provide a unique, inspired education for each child. Mountain Sun Community School is currently enrolling students for the 2018-19 Academic Year. Mountain Sun is a United Way partner agency. For more information, please visit or call 828.885.2555.

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