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GDS ANNUAL REPORT 2223

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2022<br />

2023<br />

<strong>ANNUAL</strong><br />

<strong>REPORT</strong>


Recent rankings of U.S. schools confirms that Gaston Day School<br />

is ranked one of the top private schools in the state.<br />

1<br />

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and families find and enroll in the right<br />

school for them.<br />

TOP 200<br />

NATIONAL<br />

PRIVATE SCHOOL<br />

# 3 # 2 # 1<br />

IN<br />

north carolina<br />

FOR BEST PRIVATE<br />

SCHOOLS K-12<br />

IN THE<br />

CHARLOTTE AREA<br />

FOR BEST PRIVATE<br />

SCHOOLS K-12<br />

IN<br />

GASTON COUNTY<br />

FOR BEST PRIVATE<br />

SCHOOLS K-12<br />

The beloved annual <strong>GDS</strong> tradition of Sunship Earth that forms friendships for years to come!


Head of School Message<br />

Dear Gaston Day School Community,<br />

I am honored to address you as<br />

Gaston Day’s Head of School;<br />

it is with great pride that I<br />

present to you the 2022-2023<br />

Annual Report for our beloved<br />

institution.<br />

First and foremost, I want to celebrate<br />

the heartbeat of Gaston Day School: our<br />

remarkable students. Their resilience,<br />

passion, and commitment continues to<br />

illuminate our hallways, making every<br />

day a testament to the excellence that<br />

has defined our institution for<br />

generations. As we move forward, our<br />

students will continue to be at the<br />

forefront of our efforts, and we remain<br />

dedicated to fostering an environment<br />

that nurtures their growth, curiosity, and<br />

creativity.<br />

Our distinguished faculty and staff also<br />

play an indispensable role in upholding<br />

the Gaston Day School legacy. They are<br />

committed to serving our students and<br />

supporting their development. It is their<br />

love for teaching and their tireless<br />

efforts that empower our students to<br />

thrive academically, athletically, and<br />

artistically.<br />

Our success also comes from your<br />

belief and support of our mission: “to<br />

educate students and prepare them for<br />

academic success and responsible,<br />

productive lives.” Without supporters<br />

like you, we would not be where we are<br />

today: one of the best independent<br />

schools in the Carolinas. Your time,<br />

talent, and treasures allow us to deliver<br />

an unparalleled educational experience.<br />

In closing, I want to express my<br />

gratitude to each member of the<br />

Gaston Day School community.<br />

Together, we are the stewards of this<br />

remarkable institution, and together,<br />

we will continue to build a future filled<br />

with excellence, growth, and<br />

achievement. Thank you for your<br />

unwavering support and dedication to<br />

Gaston Day School. I am excited to<br />

embark on this journey with all of you,<br />

and I am confident that the future holds<br />

great promise for our students and our<br />

school.<br />

dhobson@gastonday.org<br />

2


3<br />

Board of Trustees<br />

Morkor Newman, Chair - Board of Trustees 23-24<br />

As we reflect on the past<br />

year, I am reminded of the<br />

extraordinary journey our<br />

school has undertaken, and<br />

it fills me with great<br />

optimism for the future.<br />

One of the cornerstones of our school's<br />

success has been the unity and<br />

commitment of our Board of Trustees. With<br />

the dedication of each member, we have<br />

been able to capitalize on new<br />

opportunities and steer Gaston Day School<br />

towards new heights of excellence. Our<br />

shared vision for the school's future and the<br />

collective wisdom of our board have been<br />

vital in shaping our institution's identity.<br />

This past year marked a significant<br />

milestone as we bid farewell to Dr. Richard<br />

Rankin, who served as our Head of School<br />

for an impressive 22 years. His leadership,<br />

vision, and dedication have been cemented<br />

in the history of our school. As we transition<br />

to a new chapter in our school's history, I<br />

am delighted to report that the transition to<br />

our 8th Head of School, Davidson Hobson,<br />

has been remarkably smooth. Mr. Hobson<br />

brings a wealth of experience and fresh<br />

perspectives to our institution.<br />

Looking ahead, our school is poised for an<br />

exciting and bright future. In our strategic<br />

plan we are focused on four pillars to<br />

support student achievement at Gaston<br />

Day School: culture and community,<br />

academic investments and innovation,<br />

attracting and retaining talent, and<br />

the financial strength and<br />

sustainability of the school.<br />

In closing, I want to express my<br />

heartfelt gratitude to each member of<br />

our Gaston Day School community—<br />

parents, students, faculty, staff, and<br />

alumni. Your support and commitment<br />

to our mission has been pivotal in our<br />

success. Together, we are writing a<br />

story of excellence, innovation, and<br />

inspiration that will continue to<br />

resonate for generations to come.<br />

Thank you for your trust in Gaston<br />

Day School and for your dedication to<br />

the betterment of our community.<br />

Warm regards,<br />

Morkor Newman


Our Board of Trustees<br />

23-24<br />

(not all Board members pictured)<br />

Morkor Newman, Chair<br />

LeeAnn Harris, Vice Chair<br />

Ernest Sumner, Treasurer<br />

Pamela Warlick, Secretary<br />

Tamara Burrell<br />

Jeff Colyer<br />

John Connor<br />

Ben Hinton<br />

Betsy Hurst<br />

Lauren Lebioda<br />

Jeff Simpson<br />

Jeff Vanacore<br />

Ex-Officio<br />

Liz Sisk, Parents’ Association President<br />

Davidson Hobson, Head of School<br />

4


Gaston Day School Fund<br />

AT A GLANCE<br />

TOTAL RAISED 2022-2023<br />

$360, 596.30<br />

We love our school family! When<br />

we were considering enrolling, an<br />

alumni told us Gaston Day was<br />

“life changing”. We had no idea<br />

how accurate that comment would<br />

come to be!<br />

I give for our students and our<br />

mission: “to educate our students<br />

and prepare them for academic<br />

success and responsible,<br />

productive lives.”<br />

We are thankful for Gaston Day!<br />

We are fortunate to have widespread support<br />

for the school's top giving priority, the Gaston<br />

Day School Fund, which includes restricted<br />

and unrestricted gifts to the annual fund, gifts<br />

to the Spartan Athletic Club, and gifts to the<br />

Theater Guild each year.<br />

The Gaston Day School Fund is critical in<br />

supporting the growth and development of<br />

our school. While tuition at Gaston Day<br />

covers the essentials, philanthropic gifts to<br />

the Gaston Day School Fund ensure that we<br />

have the very best resources available for our<br />

students, faculty, and staff and the flexibility<br />

to respond to emerging opportunities and<br />

needs throughout the school year.<br />

We are grateful for the generous support<br />

from parents, alumni, faculty, staff, parents of<br />

alumni, grandparents, and friends of the<br />

school in support of this important annual<br />

fundraising effort!<br />

www.gastonday.org<br />

5


6<br />

The Richard E. Rankin Jr.,<br />

‘75 Strategic Priority Fund<br />

In honor of Dr. Rankin’s years of service and<br />

his retirement, Gaston Day School established<br />

The Richard E. Rankin, Jr. ‘75 Strategic<br />

Priority Fund. This fund will allow the School<br />

to pursue strategic opportunities as needed<br />

and with maximum flexibility as<br />

circumstances change over time.<br />

Spending from the fund will be determined<br />

based on strength of connection to highpriority<br />

areas, impact on members of the<br />

community served, return on investment,<br />

leveraging of external funding, and<br />

congruence with Gaston Day School’s<br />

missions and vision.<br />

TOTAL RAISED<br />

$55,586.00<br />

PHOTOS FROM DR. RANKIN’S RETIREMENT CELEBRATION - APRIL 2023


Alumni Spotlight<br />

Lulu Brase: A Spartan's Journey from Court to Director<br />

It's not often you come across someone with as much heart,<br />

dedication, and passion for her alma mater as Lulu Brase,<br />

Gaston Day's current Athletic Director<br />

and proud alum from the class of 2009.<br />

With an athletic and academic journey<br />

that has been nothing short of<br />

spectacular, Brase is the epitome of<br />

what it means to bleed Spartan blue.<br />

"I'm the Athletic Director here at Gaston Day, and<br />

I'm a proud alum of the class of 2009," Brase<br />

begins, a glint of nostalgia in her eyes. Having<br />

spent her entire middle and upper school years at<br />

Gaston Day, Brase was deeply influenced by the<br />

exceptional teachers and coaches she<br />

encountered. They changed her trajectory, leading<br />

her to pursue college basketball at Colgate<br />

University in upstate New York. After exploring<br />

the world through sports and receiving a topnotch<br />

education, Brase was drawn back to the<br />

classroom as an English teacher. Her love for both<br />

sports and education seamlessly blended into her<br />

role as the athletic director.<br />

The foundation laid by her teachers sparked a<br />

profound curiosity within Brase. She recalls,<br />

"teachers invested in me, they changed my<br />

trajectory, and I always wanted to give back."<br />

Now, as the athletic director, she's doing just that,<br />

giving the next generation opportunities to<br />

discover their passions, whether it's sports or<br />

academics.<br />

Gaston Day's philosophy resonates deeply with<br />

Brase. "Everything we do is genuine," she<br />

emphasizes. This authenticity drives the<br />

relationships the teachers forge with students.<br />

Whether it's a pat on the back or a gentle nudge<br />

towards improvement, the experiences and<br />

interactions at Gaston Day are rooted in sincerity.<br />

Brase's vision for Gaston Day extends far beyond<br />

the school's boundaries. She sees the institution<br />

playing a pivotal role in the global community. In<br />

today's fast-paced world, inundated with<br />

information, Gaston Day equips students with<br />

critical thinking skills, enabling them to navigate<br />

the complex web of information and formulate<br />

educated opinions. Moreover, through sports,<br />

students learn the importance of teamwork,<br />

understanding roles, and supporting one another,<br />

vital life skills in today's ever-changing world.<br />

When it comes to success, Gaston Day offers a<br />

unique perspective. Brase believes that success<br />

here is subjective, ranging from excelling in<br />

academics or sports to achieving personal<br />

milestones. The school's ethos encourages<br />

students to surpass their own expectations and<br />

discover their passions.<br />

"We don't do things just because we've always<br />

done it that way. We're intentional about it,"<br />

Brase highlights, underscoring Gaston Day's<br />

culture of continuous improvement. This<br />

collaborative and inclusive environment<br />

empowers both students and staff to reach their<br />

utmost potential.<br />

Reflecting on her own journey, Brase shares her<br />

fond memories of both playing the trombone in<br />

band class and shining on the basketball court.<br />

This duality embodies Gaston Day's philosophy—<br />

embracing and excelling in multiple realms.<br />

She leaves with an inspiring message for<br />

prospective students: "Come to Gaston Day, and<br />

be open-minded. Opportunities you never<br />

thought possible suddenly become achievable."<br />

Brase's fervor for Gaston Day is contagious. As<br />

she enthusiastically reiterates, "It's a great day to<br />

be a Spartan," her optimism and vision for the<br />

school's future shine through. With leaders like<br />

Lulu Brase at the helm, Gaston Day's legacy of<br />

molding high-performing individuals in an<br />

inclusive environment is bound to continue for<br />

generations to come.<br />

7


Open Doors<br />

Gaston Day School's unwavering<br />

commitment to providing an<br />

exceptional education for all students<br />

is exemplified by the Open Doors<br />

Scholarship, generously sponsored by<br />

current <strong>GDS</strong> parents, Jeff and Jennifer<br />

Simpson. Their passion for equality in<br />

education drives this need-based<br />

financial aid program, designed to<br />

make the Gaston Day School<br />

experience accessible to a broader<br />

spectrum of students and families.<br />

A Bridge to Opportunity<br />

The Open Doors Scholarship serves as a<br />

bridge to education's boundless<br />

possibilities. Recognizing that financial<br />

constraints should never stand in the<br />

way of a high-quality education, this<br />

scholarship embodies the Simpson's<br />

belief in equal access to excellence.<br />

Investing in Potential<br />

At Gaston Day School, the holistic<br />

educational experience extends beyond<br />

the classroom, nurturing academic<br />

excellence, personal growth, leadership<br />

skills, and a strong sense of community.<br />

The Open Doors Scholarship invests in<br />

the potential of students from diverse<br />

backgrounds, ensuring they can partake<br />

fully in these transformative experiences.<br />

Inclusive Excellence<br />

This scholarship aligns seamlessly with<br />

Gaston Day School's vision of<br />

inclusivity and equity in education. By<br />

eliminating financial barriers, this<br />

scholarship empowers students from<br />

all walks of life to engage fully in the<br />

rich educational tapestry offered by<br />

the school.<br />

A Brighter Future for All<br />

More than just financial aid, the Open<br />

Doors Scholarship is an investment in<br />

the future. It empowers deserving<br />

students to unlock their potential,<br />

pursue their aspirations, and emerge as<br />

the leaders of tomorrow, regardless of<br />

their financial circumstances.<br />

Jeff and Jennifer Simpson's<br />

commitment to this scholarship is a<br />

testament to their dedication to<br />

ensuring all students have access to<br />

the same world-class education that<br />

their own children have the privilege of<br />

experiencing. The Open Doors<br />

Scholarship stands as a beacon of<br />

hope and opportunity, embodying the<br />

values of equality and inclusivity that<br />

define Gaston Day School.<br />

8


9<br />

Empowering Students<br />

At Gaston Day School, education is not just about academics; it's about<br />

nurturing a strong sense of community and empowering students to reach their<br />

full potential. The Ralph S. Robinson, Jr. and Sally M. Robinson Family<br />

Scholarship exemplifies this commitment by making a Gaston Day School<br />

education accessible to more students and families.<br />

Mission-Driven Commitment<br />

Ralph S. Robinson, Jr. and Sally M.<br />

Robinson are proud alumni parents<br />

who hold Gaston Day School's<br />

mission close to their hearts. Their<br />

dedication to the institution has<br />

inspired them to create this<br />

scholarship, ensuring that the school's<br />

values and opportunities continue to<br />

impact future generations.<br />

Need-Based Financial Aid<br />

The Robinson Family Scholarship is a<br />

need-based financial aid program<br />

designed to bridge the gap between<br />

aspiration and access. It recognizes<br />

that financial constraints should not<br />

limit a student's ability to benefit from<br />

the unparalleled education and<br />

experience offered at Gaston Day<br />

School.<br />

By providing crucial financial support, the Robinson Family Scholarship empowers<br />

deserving students to pursue their dreams, embrace a culture of excellence, and<br />

contribute positively to their communities.<br />

Through the Ralph S. Robinson, Jr. and Sally M. Robinson Family Scholarship, the<br />

Gaston Day School community extends its reach and strengthens its commitment to<br />

fostering future leaders, scholars, and citizens who will carry forward the values and<br />

traditions of this esteemed institution.<br />

Aspiring students and families are encouraged to explore this scholarship<br />

opportunity and embark on a journey that not only enriches their lives but also<br />

perpetuates the enduring legacy of Gaston Day School. Together, with the support of<br />

scholarships like these, the Gaston Day School community continues to shine brightly<br />

as a beacon of educational excellence.


LEADING IN EDUCATION<br />

Move Over<br />

Warhol<br />

Gaston Day's Fine Arts program<br />

consistently is recognized and awarded<br />

in areas of drama, art, and music.<br />

Blutopia is Gaston Day School's literary<br />

and art magazine entirely developed,<br />

created, and published by the students<br />

themselves.<br />

Blutopia has been recognized<br />

repeatedly on the state and national<br />

levels; including numerous Scholastic<br />

Art and Writing Awards and in the North<br />

Carolina Scholastic Media Association's<br />

Literary Magazine Contest.<br />

Robotics and Research -<br />

More Than R2D2 and C3PO<br />

After years of operating a joint-school<br />

robotics team competing in FIRST<br />

Robotics where they placed 4th in state<br />

level competition, Gaston Day launched<br />

its own VEX Robotics Club and qualified<br />

for Technology Student Association VEX<br />

Nationals in 2023, the first year of joining<br />

the competition.<br />

Gaston Day students commit to<br />

collaborative and independent research.<br />

Recent collaborative projects include<br />

biological research where Gaston Day was<br />

the only high school that presented at the<br />

Annual NKH Conference in Boston.<br />

Gaston Day research teams previously<br />

competed in the iGEM competition for<br />

over a decade and won various Silver,<br />

Gold and Bronze awards.<br />

10


2001 Gaston Day School Road<br />

Gastonia, North Carolina 28056<br />

gastonday.org<br />

It's A Great Day To Be A Spartan!<br />

Roughly 70% of <strong>GDS</strong> students in 6th-12th grades participate in one or more sports. Gaston Day<br />

has a proud athletic tradition. We have been home to state champions, athletic award recipients,<br />

and individuals receiving college athletic scholarships. We have also been home to studentsathletes<br />

who gave their best to their team on a daily basis without much public recognition. We<br />

take great pride in everyone who has worn a Spartan uniform through the years.<br />

9<br />

College<br />

Athletes<br />

five in 21-22<br />

four in 22-23<br />

7<br />

State<br />

Championships<br />

five in 21-22<br />

two in 22-23<br />

21-22<br />

Wells Fargo<br />

Cup<br />

Champions<br />

OUR MISSION<br />

TO EDUCATE OUR STUDENTS AND PREPARE THEM FOR<br />

ACADEMIC SUCCESS AND RESPONSIBLE, PRODUCTIVE LIVES.

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