COVID-19 kept Piedmont Community Charter School from formally marking the completion of its new high school campus in Gastonia, but all of the school’s students are finally enjoying it together. 

“It’s an absolute dream come true,” said Jennifer Killen, Piedmont Charter’s head of school who began working at the school 19 years ago as a teacher’s assistant. She never imagined she would have a hand in building a new high school campus. “My heart is just full of gratefulness.” 

Here are several key takeaways from the new campus: 

Charter school’s largest investment 

A look at the gymnasium at Piedmont Community Charter's new high school campus along Robinwood Road in Gastonia. The campus opened to students during the 2020-21 school year.

Piedmont Charter’s new campus cost the school $20 million and features a 70,000-square-foot school building with 32 classrooms on two floors, a full-sized gymnasium for basketball and volleyball games, as well as physical education, a fine arts auditorium with more than 300 seats and an outdoor soccer field. 

A look at the band room at Piedmont Community Charter's new high school campus along Robinwood Road in Gastonia. The campus opened to students during the 2020-21 school year.

To put that in perspective, the school’s South New Hope Road campus, which now serves grades five through eight, cost the school just more than $5 million by the time it opened in 2010, according to Piedmont Charter.  

A look at one of the science labs at Piedmont Community Charter's new high school campus along Robinwood Road in Gastonia. The campus opened to students during the 2020-21 school year.

Classrooms at the new school, which are fitted with Apple TVs and sound bars, include two science labs, a guitar classroom, a dance classroom, fine arts classrooms and a health sciences classroom. 

A look at the lunch area at Piedmont Community Charter's new high school campus along Robinwood Road in Gastonia. The campus opened to students during the 2020-21 school year.

Many of the school’s features, such as a large commons area to be used for lunch and smaller student commons on each floor, have yet to be fully used by students due to the pandemic. The student commons have floor-to-ceiling dry erase walls meant for collaboration among students.  

A look at one of the student commons at Piedmont Community Charter's new high school campus along Robinwood Road in Gastonia. The campus opened to students during the 2020-21 school year.

Piedmont Charter no longer needs to borrow facilities 

Some of the most notable perks of the new campus include facilities made specifically for school use, said High School Director Ernie Bridges. 

A look at the auditorium at Piedmont Community Charter's new high school campus along Robinwood Road in Gastonia. The campus opened to students during the 2020-21 school year.

Prior to the pandemic and the new school, theater arts didn’t have a home stage to perform on, nor did the school’s sports team have home fields. The school’s theater arts department used the Little Theater of Gastonia to perform, and the school’s sports teams used other venues across the county to play on. 

“Theater arts has a better facility to put on performances,” he said. “We’re able to have home basketball games, home volleyball games, home soccer games for boys and girls instead of going to somebody else’s site.”