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School System

Whether students are aiming for tech-prep or college prep, they’ll find the instruction they need in the Gaston County school system, the sixth largest in North Carolina.

The county school system includes 54 schools (seven high schools, 12 junior highs, 34 elementary schools and one alternate school) and more than 29,000 students. A new junior high opened in the 1996-97 school year and land has been cleared for a new high school building, expected to be completed by 1998-99. The Gaston school system is governed by a board of nine elected members-seven chosen from the county’s six townships, the other two elected at large.

Technology receives major emphasis in Gaston County schools. The system offers computer classes and other high-tech learning as early as elementary school, Instruction in foreign language also begins in elementary school, and classes in music, art and drama are offered at all grade levels.

The system also offers an innovative high-school schedule – 90-minute classes that meet for one semester, rather than the usual 55-minute, two-semester classes. While students take fewer classes each semester, the new plan allows students to complete up to eight classes per year instead of six under the old plan. Taking more classes per year helps students meet the larger-unit graduation requirements that have been implemented by the NC Department of Public Instruction.

Classes designed to meet the needs of and challenge students at the highest academic level are offered at all of the county’s seven high schools. College-preparatory work in high school includes advanced-placement and honors classes.

Technical programs are designed to teach students practical applications of academic subjects and skills such as hairdressing, food preparation and catering, medical science, woodworking, and metalworking. Students who choose this educational plan are prepared to enter a community college or the work force.

The athletic programs at the high schools also are exemplary. In fact, many sports fans have heard of two famous Gaston grads, former NBA stars James Worthy and Eric “Sleepy” Floyd.

The school year is 180 days long and operates from August to June. Report cards are issued every six weeks. Summer school classes may be available for those who need to repeat a subject. Summer enrichment is offered for students in grades 2 through 8 who wish to supplement their regular school with art, computer, drama and sports programs.

Parents are encouraged to participate in their children’s education. In addition to parent-teacher organizations, many schools have booster clubs for bands, sports and academics. Days are set aside for parent conferences; students are dismissed from school early and parents are invited to visit the school and talk with teachers from noon to 7:30 p.m.

The school system also enjoys strong ties to the business community. Businesses all over the county have adopted schools and offer incentives for good grades and attendance as well as assistance with other projects. Many employees of these businesses join the Mentoring Program, in which more than 500 volunteers work with students who need special help.

After-school childcare is available at 26 elementary schools through the YMCA Prime Time Program, directed by the Central Branch in Gastonia and East Branch in Belmont. Questions on enrollment should be directed to the appropriate YMCA.

Students are assigned to a public school based on their place of residence. If parents prefer, they can enroll their child in one of the county’s private or parochial schools.

See the list of private and church affiliated schools for resources.

Entrance Requirements Gaston County Schools

  • A child entering kindergarten must be 5 years old on or before Oct. 16.
  • A valid birth certificate must be presented at the time of registration
  • NC law requires that each child entering kindergarten receive a heath assessment, including a physical examination, complete medical history, and vision and hearing screening. The assessment must be conducted by certified health-care professionals.
  • NC law requires every child entering school to have the following immunizations before he/she can enroll:
  • 5DPT (diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus) shots. If the fourth dose is after the fourth birthday, the fifth dose is not required.
  • 4 oral polio immunizations. If the third dose is after the fourth birthday, the fourth dose is not required.
  • 2 MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) shots, the first dose on or after the first birthday. Not required after age 5.
  • 1 HB (Hemophilus influenza B vaccine) on or after the first birthday and befor 5 years of age. (Not required after age 5).

Medical exemption must state in writing a specific reason why a certain vaccine should not be given to a child. Students who do not meet the state requirements for immunizations and a physical exam by mid-September will not be allowed to remain in school.

For school assignments or more information, contact Gaston County Schools, 943 Osceola St., Gastonia, phone 886-6100.

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