Schools are back in session

“This year enrollment in Stanly County Schools is over 8,000 which 126 more than last year’s enrollment.”

school bus on rural road picking up children

ALBEMARLE — Students, teachers, parents and county staff are all settling back into the school routine as schools across Stanly County reopened over the last two weeks. Stanly County Schools opened for students on Monday, two weeks after Gray Stone Day School opened Aug. 13.

Stanly County Schools operates 21 schools, including 11 elementary, four middle and four traditional high schools, and Stanly Early College and the Stanly Academy Learning Center. Enrollment in Stanly County Schools is 8,214 this year, which 126 more than last year’s first-day enrollment. The county will operate 91 school buses to bring children to and from the schools this year, and approximately 550 classroom teachers are currently employed by the school system.

Elementary schools begin classes at 8 a.m. and release at 2:45 p.m. Middle schools operate 7:45 a.m. to 2:55 p.m., and the high school day is 7:55 a.m. to 3:05 p.m. and varies slightly school-to-school based on the school bus schedules. The Stanly County Early College day is 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

High school and middle school athletics are also underway. Fall sports include women’s golf, volleyball, women’s tennis, cross country, men’s soccer, cheerleading and football. The high school sports season officially began July 30, and the county’s high school football, volleyball, men’s soccer, women’s tennis and cheerleading teams saw action prior to the first day of classes.

West Stanly High School Athletic Director Daniel Smith said he was looking forward to a successful fall sports season. West Stanly is not fielding a women’s golf team, but has more than 185 of the 750 students at the school participating in a fall sport. Smith says about 60 total players are on the rosters for varsity and junior varsity football, along with 20 volleyball players, 15 women’s tennis players, 15 varsity men’s soccer players and 25 cheerleaders (Varsity and JV), and 50 cross country athletes.

“We are excited about the number of students who are playing this year,” said Smith. “Fall and spring have a few more sports to participate in, so those have a higher percentage than the winter sports.”

Smith said the West Stanly squads are all “off to a strong start.” The Colts are members of the Rocky River 2A Conference, and the conference season starts next week for most teams. With only six football teams in the conference, the football conference schedule does not begin until October. In women’s sports, Smith said the volleyball teams is off to a 5-2 start with wins over two 3A teams and an in-county win over a strong Gray Stone team. Girls tennis is off to a 4-0 start.

At South Stanly, Athletic Director Shawn Whitley says the Rowdy Rebel Bulls will have varsity teams in every available fall sport and over a quarter of his school will participate in a fall sport. Between varsity and junior varsity, more than 150 students are on fall sports teams. South Stanly will field junior varsity teams in football and volleyball, and the men’s soccer team will have a partial JV schedule.

“I am excited about the new opportunities for our sports teams. We have around 60 players in football across varsity and JV,” said Whitley. “We have a lot of senior leadership in volleyball and football. We hope to be very competitive in the Yadkin Valley 1A Conference.”

Gray Stone Day School opened its doors on Aug. 13 with 835 students in grades 6-12.

“We are excited about another great year at Gray Stone,” said high school principal Jeff Morris.

Gray Stone anticipates having its largest graduating class this school year after graduating 106 seniors last year. According to data provided by the school, more than 98 percent of the students who graduated from Gray Stone enrolled in college.

On the athletic fields, 60 percent of Gray Stone students are participating in at least one sport. Gray Stone does not field a football team, but it competes in all other NCHSAA fall sports. The Knights are members of the Yadkin Valley 1A Conference along with intra-county rivals Albemarle High, North Stanly and South Stanly.