Atkinson’s historical roots go deep in NC


Staff Photo by Tristan Lempka

Atkinson has a reputation of providing his students with engaging history classes. Two classes he teaches this semester are AP Government and AP United States History.

Tristan Lempka, Staff Writer

Some teachers leave a big impact on their students and help lead them to accomplish their goals. Lance Atkinson, a history teacher at Wakefield High School, is no exception. He has experienced a unique life that gives him a perspective to help students in a way that other teachers may not.

“I worked for the fire department for quite a while,” Atkinson said. “Once I left the fire department, I started working for North Carolina Emergency Management.” 

With this job, Atkinson did a lot of important work.

“I had a fancy title as an information and communications specialist. During Hurricane Matthew, my office was responsible for sending all communication from the state to the news outlets and the general public about what was going on with hurricane recovery,” Atkinson said. “I was also in charge of allocating resources across the state and I got to work with Governors, Congresspersons and a presidential visit while I was working for emergency management.” 

Another facet of Atkinson’s unique life was a visit to the country of Belgium while getting his undergraduate degree, which he was lucky to get into.

“The college sent a form, [that said] you needed a 4.0 GPA, and [that] they only let sixteen people into the program,” Atkinson said. “The trip was for international relations in business, it was in Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium at UCL.”

While pursuing his undergraduate degree, his trip overseas was not the only eventful time Atkinson had. He also had some personal research inducted into the High Point History Museum in North Carolina.

“Having my research in a museum exhibit was one of my best experiences as an undergrad. I absolutely love history,” Atkinson said. “One of my favorite courses in undergrad was History of North Carolina.” 

My family has been in North Carolina since 1670, and my family came to the new world thirty years after the pilgrims.

— Atkinson

His passion for history was supported by long-rooted family history in his home state.

“My family has been in North Carolina since 1670, and my family came to the new world thirty years after the pilgrims. We’ve been in the colonies for a very long time,” Atkinson said. “My family lived in Bath, NC at the same time Blackbeard lived there and I had a relative who was a sea captain.” 

However, as a history teacher, he also has to look to the future, specifically, the future of his students and what he can do to help them succeed.

“When I started teaching, one of the questions I had to ask myself was ‘what is my goal with the students?’ I say that it depends on the student what the goal is,” Atkinson said. “But, at the end of the day, I want everyone to be prepared for what they want to do out of high school and it has to be specific to them.”

Atkinson has been able to help so many students who come through his classroom door and help them achieve their goals.

“If there’s a kid who wants to go straight [to] work or to the military or spend eight years in college like I did, I can connect with that student,” Atkinson said. “And my job is to make sure they are equipped to do whatever they want to do, the history will come with it. But, I really want them to be prepared for what comes after.”