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2 new kids on the block opening Monday

Faculty and grounds crews are putting the final touches on two new schools that will open Monday in the Charlotte region: Grand Oak Elementary in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and Stuart Cramer High in Gaston County.

Both are long-awaited efforts to relieve crowding in growing suburban areas, with bond money voters approved in 2007. The recession slowed school construction around the region.

Grand Oak in Huntersville, which will open with about 600 students and cost $15.3 million, is the only totally new CMS school. Three existing schools – McClintock Middle and Pineville and Bain elementaries – will move into new buildings.

Grand Oak, named for a towering tree on the southern edge of the campus, will ease crowding at Torrence Creek Elementary, which had almost 1,200 students last year in a school designed for 800.

On Monday, Principal Raymond Giovanelli showed off the new home of the Owls. Teachers got their first chance to enter the two-story building with a blue-and-green interior on Wednesday; by Monday, many had decorated the rooms that will house students in grades K-5.

While a rainy summer delayed work on sidewalks and entrance roads, Giovanelli said everything will be ready when students arrive Aug. 26.

“We’re enthusiastic about a successful start,” he said.

Hundreds of people visited Cramer High, a $65 million school sandwiched between the eastern Gaston towns of Cramerton and Belmont, at a Sunday open house. It’s the county’s first new high school since Forestview opened in 1998.

Cramer will open with about 600 ninth- and 10th-graders, growing to about 1,200 as it builds toward its first graduating class in 2016.

It will pull students mostly from nearby East Gaston and South Point, with a smaller number coming from Forestview. The new school got its founding principal, Audrey Devine, from Forestview as well.

The school’s teams will be known as The Storm, with colors of purple, black and silver. The school, on a 138-acre site that used to be a golf course, features such career-tech options as flexographic printing and welding shops and a culinary lab.

The auditorium, which seats 1,500, will be the largest in Gaston County, said district spokeswoman Bonnie Reidy. It’s named for Superintendent Reeves McGlohon, who will retire in December.

Both new schools are equipped for digital education. Grand Oak has Wi-Fi access throughout the building and incorporates Apple TV to let students and teachers display iPad work on projectors. Cramer High includes an Internet cafe, Reidy said.

Helms: 704-358-5033;Twitter: @anndosshelms
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