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  • Jamie Killian

School Days: Gaston County's Charter and Magnet School Offerings at a Glance

This article is a part of our School Days series where we will walk you through schools on a county-wide basis from tution-based, charter/magnet programs and neighborhood schools and school choice programs within the public school system.

As Gaston County grows, so does the need for school choice. Whether you are looking for private or tuiton-based, public or charters and magnet programs, Gaston County has quite the list to choose from.

Students and parents have a wide variety of social, emotional and logistical needs that can often be served in charter and magnet programs as these schools have the freedom and flexibility to choose and implement their own curriculum, allowing diversity in school choice. Charter schools are independent of the school system, while the five stand-along magnets operate within the Gaston County School system (with 21 school choice programs within traditional schools).

Below, we explore these options, all of which are tuition-free public schools requiring an application for admittance, often through a lottery system.

Charter Schools

Community Public Charter School

  • Address: 400 Ralph Handsel Blvd., Stanley

  • Bell Schedule: 7:55 a.m.-2:45 p.m.

  • Grades: K-7

  • Student population: 82+

  • Student/teacher ratio: 25:1 (lower in elementary)

  • Curriculum: Core Knowledge Sequence in a collaborative environment with teachers taking the role of facilitators in a hands-on, manipulatives-centric environment.

  • Lottery: applications begin in November (current applicants will be added to waitlist)

Mountain Island Charter School

Photo Courtesy of Mountain Island Charter School

Piedmont Community Charter

  • Student population: 1355 students

  • Student/teacher ratio: 17:1

  • Bell Schedule: 8:00 a.m. -2:45 p.m.

  • Lottery: applications begin in January

  • Note: Piedmont Community Charter has three distinct campuses for elementary, middle and high school students

Elementary School


High School

Photo Courtesy of Piedmont Charter School

Ridgeview Charter School

  • Address: 207 W. Bradley St., Gastonia

  • Bell Schedule: 8:00 a.m.-3:15 p.m.

  • Grades: K-6

  • Student population: 170 students

  • Curriculum: International Primary Curriculum which is adapted to children's interest with a thematic approach to specific learning goals

  • Lottery: applications run November 15-January 31 annually, with those enrolling after January 31 being placed on a wait list

Magnet Schools

Photo Courtesy of Gaston College

Looking to enroll in a Gaston County public magnet school? Be sure to go through the New Student Enrollment process for Gaston County Schools

Hawks Nest STEAM Academy

  • Address: 3430 Robinwood Rd., Gastonia

  • Bell Schedule: 8:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.

  • Grades: K-5

  • Student population: 332 students

  • Curriculum: specialized instruction focused on inquiry, research and investigation focusing on science, technology, engineering, art and math

  • Lottery: applications begin in November

Gaston Early College High School

  • Address: 201 Highway U.S. 321 S., Dallas

  • Bell Schedule: 9:00 a.m. - 3:45 p.m.

  • Grades: 9-12

  • Student population: 196 students

  • Curriculum: Dual enrollment in Gaston County Schools and Gaston College enables graduates to receive a high school diploma and an associates degree simultaneously, for free.

  • Lottery: applications begin in January

Gaston Virtual Academy

  • Address: #1 Learning Place, Gastonia

  • Bell Schedule: flexible

  • Grades: K-12

  • Student population: 71 students

  • Curriculum: Aligned with the North Carolina Standard Course of Study

  • Lottery: ongoing enrollment

Highland School of Technology

  • Address: 1600 N. Morris St., Gastonia

  • Bell Schedule: 8:40 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.

  • Grades: 9-12

  • Student population: 550 students

  • Curriculum: Students enroll in a chosen pathway (Health Sciences; Business, Legal, and Information Sciences; or Manufacturing/Engineering Technology and Graphics) and follow the associate curriculum to receive certifications or accreditations in that field.

  • Lottery: applications begin in January

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