Monday, August 23, 2010

Sharing Our Success

I would like to take a moment to brag about Gaston Day School. In Lower and Middle Schools, our ERB test scores place us among the top schools in the nation. Our 2009-2010 SAT scores averaged just under 1200 (critical reading and math), the highest in Gaston County. The Upper School pass rate on Advanced Placement Exams is over 90%.

The class of 2010 is attending schools such as UNC-Chapel Hill, the University of Virginia, the University of Michigan, Washington and Lee University, and Kenyon College. Gaston Day has produced a finalist for the Morehead-Cain Scholarship at Chapel Hill each of the past four years. For 2010, Crawford Rhyne was the only Morehead-Cain finalist from Gaston, Lincoln, and Cleveland counties. In 2009, Charlotte Lindemanis was our first Morehead-Cain Scholar winner. In all the 27 graduates of 2010 were offered over $2.7million in scholarship and financial aid awards from the colleges to which they were accepted.

• English: Our English Department has been recognized by the National Council of Teachers of English for “excellence in our English instructional program.” Blutopia, the school literary and art magazine, earned national recognition, including the Columbia Scholastic Press Association Gold Medal, the North Carolina Media Association Tar Heel Award for the best high school magazine in North Carolina, and the National Council of Teachers of English PRESLM Superior Award. GDS students have earned a remarkable 24 regional, state, and national English writing awards in 2009-2010 alone, including 15 prestigious Scholastic Writing Gold Key awards. Mary Louise Montgomery was one of 15 freshman selected as a finalist for the Thomas Wolfe Award at Chapel Hill.

• Foreign Language: Kassandra Leiva placed 9th in the state on the National French Exam. Eleven Upper School students received gold, silver or bronze awards for their performances on the National Spanish Exam.

• Science: In only its third year, the Gaston Day School Science Olympiad Team advanced for the first time to the State Championship. Mahroosha Hussain and Grace Russell placed 5th in their category.

• Math: Daniel Thompson scored in the 90% and Spencer Thompson scored just below the top third of all participants in the American Mathematics Society Contest, given to the nation’s top math students.

• Fine Arts: In visual and graphic arts, Gaston Day School won 27 Gold and Silver Keys in the Scholastic Arts Award. Gaston Day swept 1st, 2nd, and 3rd places for the Pinnix Prize for the top art work in all Gaston County schools. In band, we had two of the 160 students selected to the All-State band. And, as usual, Gaston Day’s drama productions are some of the best in the country. If you think that is an exaggeration, note that USA Today selected our spring musicals as the best in the state and one of the best in the country.

As important as academics are, good character is even more important. Gaston Day’s mission states that we “will instill a desire to make a positive difference in family, community, and world.” Every Upper School student must complete at least 25 hours of community service per year and many do much more. 30 Middle and Upper School students earned a Bronze President’s Volunteer Service Award, 5 students received Silver, and 12 students were recognized for 250 hours with the Gold designation. Each Middle School grade served one day in the Salvation Army Soup Kitchen. This year, the entire school raised $7,300 for Pennies for Peace to build schools in Afghanistan. Whenever Mr. W. Duke Kimbrell asks me about the school, he is interested in the moral character of our young people. If the commitment to help others through service is an indication, Gaston Day students are compassionate and caring.

The recession has created a challenging environment for the nation’s independent schools. Surprisingly, our opening enrollment for 2009-2010 was the largest in 30 years. Gaston Day has produced modest operating surpluses each of the last five years. We intend to eliminate all debt in the next year. Deferred maintenance, the cost of new technology, and raising faculty salaries are all important issues facing the school. We plan to have a capital campaign in the near future which will focus primarily on maintaining our campus and other capital improvements. We are so grateful for all the ways in which each of you supports the school and for your loyalty in these challenging and exciting times. I am particularly grateful to the Parents Association for helping us equip about one-third of our classrooms with SmartBoards, which replace blackboards as the most advanced, interactive, instructional tool. Thank you, PA.

As we look ahead, the administration, faculty, and staff are committed to building upon the future. We know that we exist solely to serve our students and their families and we are grateful for the privilege.