NHC school board mulls proposal turning Williston Middle School to a high school

NHC school board mulls proposal turning Williston Middle School to a high school

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - The future of historic Williston Middle School could be a return to the 1960s after the idea of morphing it back into a high school was floated during a New Hanover County Board of Education meeting Thursday night.

During a discussion of school redistricting, board member David Wortman brought up the “out of the box” proposal which would change Williston into an alternative high school, a performing arts school, or a technical school.

The proposal, which is in its initial stages and still needs input from families, would redistribute sixth and seventh grade students at Williston to Myrtle Grove, Holly Shelter and Roland-Grise Middle schools.

Only the eighth grade students would remain at Williston for the 2019-20 school year, and the school would later be turned back into a high school.

Wortman’s plan would involve moving 380 middle school students.

Former school board member Nick Rhodes said he’s in favor of the switch as long as Williston becomes a traditional high school.

“I think if they make this a high school, it should go back to where it was in 1968 and make it a traditional high school," Rhodes said. “This high school has a long legacy in the community and anyone who is thinking about changing that focus or changing the name or whatever in this community, either don’t understand, don’t care, or are totally insensitive to the legacy and importance of Williston High School in this community."

Wortman said before a decision is made, the board will gather input from the community, Williston Senior High School alumni, and those currently attending the middle school. School administration will continue to look at the various options of high schools across the state and most likely contact them in the near future.

The school board announced on Facebook Friday afternoon that it will conduct a four-question phone survey Monday evening for parents of 5th-10th grade students to gauge their interest in the Williston proposal.

“The New Hanover County Board of Education is considering creating a performing arts high school for students in grades 6-12,” the post read. “This concept is currently at the planning stage, however, the new school could include performing arts as well as technical arts such as graphic design, digital production, and video design and production.”

The questions will be as follows:

  • Would you be interested in having your child attend an arts magnet high school?
  • Do you have more than one student in your household who would be eligible to attend?
  • Do you think an arts high school would benefit your student(s) and their career interests?
  • Do you think an arts high school would benefit the community?

The school board will likely vote on the proposal during a meeting in February or March.

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