O'Neal Holds Annual Fall Picnic
Over 500 people attended The O'Neal School Annual Fall Picnic on Thursday, Sept. 7, held on the school grounds. An annual event put on by the school's Parent Association, this year's program was extra special -- for three reasons.
Founded in 1971, the O'Neal School is celebrating its 35th birthday. Birthday cake was served to all who attended. Third-and fourth-grade students sang "Happy Birthday" and celebrated by throwing confetti in the air.
Starting out as a day school consisting of four mobile units and four teachers and a combination of 36 students from grades 4-6, the school has grown to serve over 470 students from pre-K through 12th grade. In 1995, The O'Neal School became a Core Knowledge School and was recognized as a National Core Knowledge Visitation Site in 2004. Core Knowledge is a unique curriculum used in the classroom and is considered a gifted program for all students in grades Pre-K through 8. The O'Neal School is a college preparatory school and is noted for having 100 percent of its graduates accepted by colleges and universities across the nation.
As part of the celebration, a groundbreaking ceremony was held for the construction of the new lower school. After a welcome from the headmaster, John Neiswender and a few words from Southern Pines Mayor Frank Quis, O'Neal Board Chairman Chip Hasty announced the launch of the "Complete the Vision" capital campaign. Shovel holders, in addition to Hasty, were John Neiswender, headmaster; Jim Miles, lower school director; and William Trexler, fourth grade O'Neal student and son of an O'Neal alumna.
"Of the 34 years I have been at O'Neal School, this is the most exciting time," says Jim Miles.
Thirty-five years ago, the founders of The O'Neal School developed a strategic plan. Modifications were made to the plan and a Master Plan was unveiled in 1996. Designed in phases, The O'Neal School has successfully completed Phase I and Phase II. The groundbreaking ceremony marks the beginning of Phase III whereby, in addition to the new lower school, a new theater and gymnasium will be constructed at a future date.
The official unveiling of the Timberlake Foundation Mobile also took place. Attendees were able to admire the mobile in the McMurray Library in Bradshaw Hall.
Three years ago, The O'Neal School was the recipient of a Bob Timberlake grant. Mr. and Mrs. Timberlake donated seed money and pieces of art from North Carolina artists to start a permanent collection of North Carolina art at the school. A student committee was assigned to work on the project. Enough funds have been accumulated for the first purchase of a copper wind mobile crafted by Holly Springs artist Paul Penney.
"The parents, students, faculty and staff of The O'Neal School have much to be proud of. Together with our Board of Directors and the community of which we are a part, all of us have contributed to the success of this school. I'm looking forward to its future growth, not only of its campus, but also of its student population and academic opportunities," says John Neiswender.
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