Lucas Phillips, a third grader, walks past a bear and honey painting in the lunchroom at Bee Log Elementary, in Yancey County. The school's motto is "If you believe it you can achieve it." Matt Rose/Carolina Public Press

With a new school year underway across North Carolina, Carolina Public Press wanted show what the first day of school can look like in Western North Carolina.

To do that, we decided to visit with the region’s smallest school to see what is going on at the beginning of another school year. There are several small schools across the region — Laurel Elementary, in Macon County, is just one example.

But the distinction of the region’s smallest public school can be awarded to a small school established in 1936 in Yancey County.

Bee Log Elementary School, located in the community of Egypt, which is near Burnsville, is the region’s smallest public school.

With about 60 Kindergartners through fifth graders enrolled at the school, it is also, it turns out, the smallest elementary school in the entire state, said Principal Andrea Allen.

Photographer Matt Rose spent Monday, Aug. 19 — the first day of school at Bee Log — photographing the teachers, students and administrators at this award-winning school. View that gallery below.

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Matt Rose is a contributing photographer for Carolina Public Press. Contact him at

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