Gray Stone students in new building

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 6, 2011

By Sarah Campbell
MISENHEIMER — It took about 200 volunteers nearly five hours to move desks, computers, filing cabinets, textbooks, athletic gear and other supplies from Gray Stone Day School inside Pfeiffer University’s Harris Building to its new home across the street.
“This is an event in Gray Stone’s history no one will forget,” Helen Nance, chief administrative officer, said.
The $7 million project has been in the works since 2005.
Pfeiffer donated 18 acres of land, with an estimated value of $400,000, behind Merner Gym and the Knapp Tennis Center for the new building early last year and the school broke ground in April.
Since Gray Stone is a charter school, it does not receive state-issued funding to purchase land or facilities, which means the school had to rely on donations from private sectors, school savings and a loan to build the 53,000 square-foot facility.
Nance said the school plans to continue its capital campaign to pay down some of the debt it has incurred.
“We’ll have to work very efficiently to be able to make the payments,” she said.
As students settled into the new building Tuesday, many were pleased to find things students at traditional public high schools consider commonplace.
“It’s nice having a full locker to ourselves finally and adequate work space,” sophomore Ethan Mancil said.
Students had been sharing lockers in the Harris Building.
Freshman Savannah Jordan said one of the highlights for her was the plethora of bathrooms.
“The old building only had about two stalls,” she said.
Jordan said she also likes the seclusion that the building provides, nestled away from the main campus.
“I like that we’re still on Pfeiffer’s campus, but we’re not around all the college students,” she said.
Sophomore Amber Watkins had the opposite reaction. She said the school’s philosophy of “what better way to prepare for college than on a college campus” has been stripped now that students aren’t interacting on campus.
Watkins said moving into the new building also means more rules, including no gum chewing or eating during class and that bookbags should be left in lockers throughout the day.
“We’re trying to set a standard for how things are going to be,” Nance said. “It’s their place too and the students have to help.”
Nance said since the community has invested in the school, she feels it’s important to keep it in tip-top shape.
“Too many people have had to work too hard to make this happen to have children carelessly destroy it,” she said.
Sophomore Adam Cartagena said the new rules mean less freedom.
“The other facility was less structured, but it gave us more responsibility,” he said.
Despite the changes, many students are excited about the benefits associated with the new building.
Sophomore Quentin Carsons said he’s happy to be in a building that has a reliable heating and air conditioning system.
“In the old building, the air conditioning comes on when it was cold out and the heat comes on when it was 90 degrees out,” he said.
Sophomore Lauren Marino said she’s happy the facility doesn’t have any stairs.
“It feels more like a high school,” she said.
Math teacher Allison Stroud is excited about the new opportunities the facility will provide.
“The biggest advantage is that we’re all here in one building instead of being spread out on campus and the technology has greatly improved as well.”
Nance said the school now has interactive smart boards and a number of 60-inch LCD flat-screen televisions.
“The TVs will allow teachers to plug in their laptops to show PowerPoint presentations on a larger screen,” she said.
The school is also in the process of hooking up an interactive distance learning center that will allow students to take classes with instructors off campus.
The learning center can also be used for short prenotations.
“You could get a professor at North Carolina State to do a short-term seminar for our students here at our site,” Nance said.
Nance said having a large facility also means that curriculum can be expanded in the future.
“Hopefully, we’ll be able to get into offering more arts such as visual arts and music,” she said.
The facility also includes two computer labs, gymnasium, concession stand and student store.
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.