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Gray Stone Day School starts work on new middle school building

MISENHEIMER — A new building for middle grades at Gray Stone Day School should be completed by October, said Helen Nance, the school’s chief administrative officer.

The building, which is being constructed behind the high school, will be about 18,000 square feet and have 15 classrooms, a common area and office space.

Grades six through eight will be housed in the new building. The contractor is Omega Construction of Pilot Mountain, the company that built the high school.

Nance said Omega is using tilt-up construction, which allows a structure to be built in a short amount of time while remaining efficient and durable. An auxiliary gym will be built as an addition to the current gym; construction will begin in a few months.

The cost of both projects is about $3.9 million.

Because the middle school won’t be completed until mid-October, the school administration is making plans for housing students at the beginning of the school year.

Since charter schools do not receive public money for facilities, Gray Stone is conducting a capital fundraising campaign.

Twenty-four new employees were hired for the middle grades, and the high school has a few vacant positions. Faculty teaching art, chorus, life skills and technology applications will teach at both facilities. Because the high school and middle school are close to each other, there will be many opportunities for the grade levels to support each other and create partnerships.

The school is enrolling 125 middle school students per grade level for sixth through eighth grade, bringing the total estimated middle school population to 375. All grades are full with a waiting list.

Ninth grade is enrolling 125 students who will be new to the school as well.

“This is an unusual situation as we have decided to add all three of the middle grades in one year,” said Nance. “With the ninth-graders coming, this makes a total of about 500 students that will be new to the school.”

“In most situations, a school will add one grade at a time; however, it is more economical to build the facility all at once. That being said, we needed to go ahead and open the three grades in the fall,” said Nance.

Gray Stone students come from many different education backgrounds.

“One of the reasons to add the middle grades was to help incoming ninth-graders adjust to the rigor and independence students will experience when they attend Gray Stone,” said Nance. “Because students come from over 27 different educational experiences when they enter as freshmen, there is a great deal of discrepancy in what each child has learned. Different systems have different requirements as to what a student needs to know. Because of Gray Stone’s mission to prepare students for a college education, many times the ninth-grade scores on the high school transcript are not a good indicator of the student’s college preparedness. We feel it is in the students’ best interest for us to teach them in middle school how to be prepared for the mission of the high school.”

Currently, 40 percent of middle school students are coming from Stanly County public schools; 18 percent from Stanly County private and home schools; 17 percent from Rowan County public schools; 7 percent from Rowan County private and home schools; and 18 percent from other counties.

These numbers do not include rising ninth-graders or high school students.

“This is a very exciting time for everyone associated with this project,” said Nance. “We are all looking forward with great anticipation of the educational opportunities these students will experience.”

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