With numerous higher education options, it is only natural that the area has excellent preparatory education as well. New Hanover County Schools serves almost 25,000 pre-kindergarten through 12th grade students in 41 schools in the city of Wilmington and the county, including the beach communities of Figure Eight Island, Wrightsville Beach, Carolina Beach and Kure Beach. The county student population is approximately 36 percent minority enrollment.
The district's SAT scores average 507 for critical reading, 524 for math and 484 for writing. The national average is 497 for critical reading, 514 for math and 489 for writing.
The system has had the benefit of tremendous support from the business community and community volunteers who contribute in many different ways including tutoring, working to lower the dropout rate and offering opportunities for students to gain exposure to the corporate realm beyond the classroom. In 2010-2011, 8100 volunteers logged more than 240,000,000 volunteer hours assisting the county's school system.
New Hanover County Schools' operating budget for the 2010-11 school year is approximately $219 million. Per-pupil expenditure is $8,371.
The district consists of elementary schools serving kindergarten through grade 5, middle schools serving grades 6 through 8, and high schools serving grades 9 through 12. The school year runs from August until early June, although year-round schooling is now available at Codington Elementary and Eaton Elementary schools. After considerable investigation, the Board of Education found that the advantages of year-round schooling include increased learning, a reduction in stress levels for both students and teachers, greater opportunity for effective enrichment and remediation, and higher motivation.
New Hanover County Schools offer two early college high schools, Isaac Bear Early College High School in partnership with the University of North Carolina Wilmington and Wilmington Early College High School in partnership with Cape Fear Community College. While attending the early college high schools, students have the opportunity to gain college credit hours or work toward completing an associate's degree in art or science.
Three elementary magnet schools - Gregory School of Science, Mathematics and Technology; Rachel Freeman School of Engineering; and Snipes Academy of Art and Design - offer curriculum with specific areas of study integrated throughout all grade levels and subject areas.
There are four traditional high schools in New Hanover County and seven middle schools that feed into these according to district lines. Mary S. Mosley Performance Learning Center is an academic alternative/school-of-choice for students in grades 10 through 12 who qualify for admittance. More than 250 courses are available to high school students, including social studies, mathematics, computer science, English, foreign languages and the full range of sciences. Students can participate in Army, Navy and Air Force JROTC Honor units as well as a broad range of extracurricular activities and programs. There are approximately 62 challenging, competency-based, Career Technical Education courses, including marine sciences and oceanography. A cultural arts curriculum includes band, orchestra, chorus, drama, art and dance. Middle schools offer a similar, though more limited, curriculum to that of the senior high schools.
Elementary schools emphasize hands-on experience in all disciplines. Elementary school students participate in a curriculum based on the use of manipulatives and inquiry to build a foundation that will support the learning of concepts in the middle grades and high school. A comprehensive program has been designed for exceptional children at all grade levels.
Basketball and football figure largely in interscholastic athletic programs. Other available sport programs are volleyball, baseball, soccer, wrestling, golf, tennis, lacrosse and track. What else would you expect from the sports-minded city that produced such athletes as Michael Jordan, Meadowlark Lemon, Sonny Jurgensen and Roman Gabriel on its public school courts and fields?
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