Celebrating 50 Years

PMS 540 gds_crest_logo clean 50 ANNIV-01 copy

Fifty years ago, on September 6, 1967,
Gaston Day School opened its doors as the first independent school in Gaston County. Today, Gaston Day School is known as one of the finest college preparatory schools in the southeastern United States.

First Year Quick Facts

Opened September 6, 1967

Original location was in a building used by the First Presbyterian Church, Glenway Street, Belmont, NC

First class was 142 students, Kindergarten-9th grade

Founders:  J.S. Smith,  J. Landon Thompson & W. Duke Kimbrell

Tuition $700

First Head of School,  J.B. Davis


J.S. Smith, J. Landon Thompson, and W. Duke Kimbrell organized the school to provide relief from overcrowded public schools and to offer parents an alternative to ensure their children were prepared for success in the increasingly competitive college environment and beyond. The doors opened in in a red brick building formerly used by the First Presbyterian Church in Belmont with 142 students, grades kindergarten through 9th. First Head of School, J.B. Davis, said: “We are not interested in teaching only the excellent student. We are interested in teaching the youngster who can achieve.”

By the second year, enrollment soared to 220 students, and files bulged with applications. In 1969, Gaston Day School began plans to build a new school. Neely F. Dixon was chosen as general chairman and raised $600,000 to build a 42,000 square foot structure for 416 students, including all grades from pre-school through 12th. Dixon said at the time, “In order to develop as an independent secondary school, it is essential and urgent that adequate facilities be constructed.”  Gaston Day School opened at its new and current location on Airport Road in September 1970 and has remained at the forefront of education’s evolution.


richard gazette pic
jb davis 2
lydia goff
leeth davis

His first day at the new school left an imprint that has remained 50 years.

It was September 6, 1967, and Richard Rankin’s mother had dropped him and his sister, Kitty, off for the first-ever day of classes at Gaston Day School – which was then located at the former First Presbyterian Church building on Glenway Street in Belmont.  Richard remembered getting out of the car and being…

I did not know a soul.  Two of my classmates – and future lifelong friends – Gene Matthews and Pam Kimbrell suspected wrongly that…

GDS ’96 Alum and 2013 GDS Distinguished Alumni recipient, Wiley Cash, talks to The Charlotte Observer about his latest novel, “The Last Ballad.”

GDS ’17 Alum and current Duke University freshman, Lydia Goff, is a featured blogger for the Duke University Research Blog.  Lydia’s most recent post Freshman with a Passion for Science Communication talks about her exposure to scientific research and involvement with the iGEM team at GDS.

Artist, Pilot, Family Man…’03 Alum, Leeth Davis, featured in Gaston Alive Magazine!

Your Story

You are part of a 50 year history, so you have a story to tell!  Tell us your favorite Gaston Day moments, traditions, or stories that have special meaning to you.  What made a positive impact on your life or that of your child?  Share your story by e-mailing kpaxton-shaw@gastonday.org

You can take part in our yearlong celebration no matter where you are in the world or how you like to engage and communicate.  Tag your social posts #GastonDay50

We have created a 50 year tri-fold, “Telling Our Story.”  It goes through a brief history of GDS, plus includes thoughts from our distinguished faculty and what the next chapter will be for Gaston Day.  If you would like us to mail you a copy, please e-mail kpaxton-shaw@gastonday.org with your mailing address.

Next Steps

Get to Know Us.

Let us know you’re interested and we’ll send you everything you need to get started.

I’m Interested.

Schedule a Tour.

See the full campus, visit the classrooms, and meet the exceptional faculty and staff.

Show Me Around.

Apply for Admission.

Ready to enroll? Begin the admission process by submitting an online application form.

Let’s Do It.