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Biltmore's Cecil Family Inspires Student Leaders
Biltmore's Cecil Family Inspires Student Leaders
Posted on 05/02/2019
The Student Advisory Council welcomed the senior leadership of Biltmore Farms to BCS.George H.V. Cecil speaks to Buncombe County Schools students.Photos and Article By: Benjamin Rickert, Communications Dept.

George H.V. Cecil, former President of The Biltmore Company and grandson of the Biltmore Estate’s founder George Washington Vanderbilt, joined BCS students for an informal discussion of history, family values, and his work with Asheville’s iconic farms and estate.

Students in Assistant Superintendent Joseph Hough’s Student Advisory Council gathered on the morning of Friday, April 26, at the Buncombe County Schools Central Office for the opportunity to meet Mr. Cecil, his son Mr. John “Jack” F.A.V. Cecil, President of Biltmore Farms, and Mr. Bradley G. Galbraith, Biltmore Farms’ Vice President of Community Development.

Members of the BCS Student Advisory Council listen to members of Biltmore Farms' executive team.“Mr. Cecil spoke on family business, community involvement, and cultural development in the area,” explained Mr. Hough. “Most important, he shared with students about the standard family values he was brought up on that are still relevant to a young person’s success today.”

Hough formed the Student Advisory Council to provide additional opportunities and influence for student leaders. The Council provides a platform for students to share their concerns in the district, see the inner workings of their school system, and learn about BCS’ role within the Asheville-Buncombe community. The group also connects students with influential local leaders.

BCS Assistant Supt. Joseph Hough listens to George H.V. Cecil with the Student Advisory Council.During Friday’s gathering, the 94-year-old Mr. Cecil reminded students that some of the most important keys to success in life and business are within reach of all people.

“Mr. Cecil and his Vanderbilt family ancestors have accomplished so much, but it was a simple message of success that I think they will remember,” Hough said. “He told students that it is important to dress appropriately, always look people in the eye when speaking with them, give your word through a firm hand shake, and that the three most important letters in the alphabet are P, T and Y — as they remind us to always say: Please and Thank You.”

Students also had questions about what life was like growing up on the private estate decades ago. The group shared a hearty laugh when Cecil explained that some of the world's best games of hide-and-seek could be played in the Biltmore home.

Buncombe County Schools is grateful to the Cecil family and Biltmore Farms for providing this memorable learning opportunity to local student leaders.

According to
“George H. V. Cecil is former President of The Biltmore Company, and following reorganization, was President of Biltmore Dairy Farms, Inc., predecessor to Biltmore Farms, LLC. He is the grandson of George Washington Vanderbilt.

Mr. Cecil was born in Biltmore, North Carolina, educated in Europe, and attended the University of Glasgow. He served in the British Navy from 1942 to 1946 as an officer on “P.T.” Boats in the North Sea and West Africa. He was married to the late Nancy Owen Cecil for 61 years, and they have 6 children and 16 grandchildren.”

    Buncombe County Schools is in the process of reviewing its website to ensure compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Buncombe County Schools does not discriminate on the basis of sex in its education programs or activities and is required by Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 and federal regulations to not discriminate in such a manner. This requirement extends to admission and employment. Inquiries about the application of Title IX and its implementing federal regulations may be referred to the Title IX Coordinator and/or the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights in the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education. The Title IX Coordinator's contact information is: Shanon Martin,, 828-255-5918, 175 Bingham Road, Asheville, NC 28806.

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