- W.A. Bess Elementary School
School Choice: What’s new for 2023
School Choice: What’s new for 2023
Performing Arts Academy and cybersecurity program added to lineup
There is still time to submit an application for Gaston County Schools’ 22 choice programs. The deadline to apply is March 3, and parents can submit an application online.
The school choice/magnet school programs offered by Gaston County Schools are designed to make options available for students and give parents peace of mind that their children are learning and growing today so they can achieve and thrive tomorrow.
This year, there are two additions to the district’s school choice options: the launch of the Gaston County Schools Performing Arts Academy @ Pinewood Elementary School and the introduction of a cybersecurity program to the Health Sciences Academy @ East Gaston High School.
Performing Arts Academy
The new program takes advantage of Pinewood Elementary’s designation as a North Carolina A+ School and the school’s commitment to integrating the arts across the curriculum. In everything that students learn and do (from reading books and exploring science and technology to solving math problems and making history come alive), the arts have a presence.
Research indicates that arts education is linked to positive academic and social outcomes, increased civic engagement, and higher academic achievement. Students who are engaged in the arts have higher degrees of empathy and creativity and demonstrate stronger critical thinking skills.
Students from outside the Pinewood attendance area who will be in kindergarten for the 2023-2024 school year may apply for the Performing Arts Academy. A lottery process will be used to determine the 50 kindergarten students who will attend (from outside the Pinewood attendance area). Please note that applications will be accepted from students who will be in grades 1-5; however, a limited number of seats are available in grades 1-5.
The addition of the cybersecurity program to the Health Sciences Academy is in partnership with Gaston College and provides foundational skills in the areas of information security, digital forensics, and network defense. It leads to an associate degree in cybersecurity that students can choose to complete at Gaston College in the year following their high school graduation.
Students gain experience in network protection and practice cybersecurity safely through Gaston College’s state-of-the-art cybersecurity lab. There also is the opportunity for students to earn Cisco certification in cybersecurity.
Students who will be in the ninth grade for the 2023-2024 school year may apply for this program. A lottery process will be used to determine the 150 ninth grade students who will attend (75 from inside the East Gaston attendance area and 75 from outside the East Gaston attendance area).
Our 22 Choice Programs
Below is a list of all school choice/magnet school programs that are offered in Gaston County Schools:
■ Elementary Schools
Gifted and Talented Academy @ Pleasant Ridge Elementary School
Hawks Nest STEAM Academy
Leadership Academy @ Costner Elementary School
Performing Arts Academy @ Pinewood Elementary School (new)
■ Middle Schools
Career Academy @ Southwest Middle School
Career Academy @ York Chester Middle School
Gifted and Talented Academy @ Cramerton Middle School
Leadership Academy @ W.C. Friday Middle School
Public Service Academy @ John Chavis Middle School
STEAM Academy @ Stanley Middle School
Technology and Industrial Engineering Academy @ Bessemer City Middle School
■ High Schools
Career Academy @ Hunter Huss High School
Collegiate Prep Academy @ Forestview High School
Gaston Early College High School
Gaston Early College of Medical Sciences
Health Sciences Academy @ East Gaston High School
Highland School of Technology
iAccelerate Academy @ Ashbrook High School
Leadership Academy @ North Gaston High School
Public Service Academy @ Cherryville High School
Technology and Industrial Engineering Academy @ Bessemer City High School
■ Online Learning
Gaston County Virtual Academy (grades K-12)
More Information and Apply Now
Typically, students enter a school choice program when they will be in kindergarten, sixth grade, or ninth grade; however, some programs have limited space available at other grade levels. Students in Gaston County Schools as well as students who currently attend a private school, charter school, home school, or virtual school may apply now for the 2023-2024 academic year.
For more information about each school choice option and to submit an online application, visit the School Choice webpage for Gaston County Schools: gaston.k12.nc.us/schoolchoice. The deadline to apply is Friday, March 3 at 5:00 p.m. The student placement lottery will be held in April.