O’Neal’s first brick and mortar facility was dedicated on January 5, 1975, only a few years after Wallace O’Neal Day School was established. The School was growing every year and the mobile units that comprised the School, were at their maximum capacity. But it was not a reactive decision to build, it was the plan all along. In fact, in 1972 the wheels started turning on a proposed school building. President Ted Taws Jr and his board seemingly had a plan that was well thought, from the fundraising to the building plan and the dedication. With James Van Camp as the building committee chair, a $828,000 capital campaign was launched.
In May of 1972 a Charette was conducted. French for two-wheeled cart, “Charette” has an interesting story on how an architectural brainstorming session was named as such. Read Here. Five days were dedicated to this brainstorming session where board members, parents, students, teachers and friends of the school discussed educational objectives and architectural design for the first stage of the building program. The Charette was conducted by the architectural firm of Laslett and Laslett of Fayetteville who formed a team of consultants from the Learning Institute of NC, The NC School of Design at NCSU, a child development consultant and a clinical and school psychologist. The founding Board of Trustees did their best to establish a school budget, as well as other processes and procedures with no previous knowledge of running an educational institution. They were fortunate to have the input from the fourteen teachers on staff at this time to understand what was needed in this new facility. The Charette was a way to have no stone left unturned and to involve as many participants as possible in its design and purpose.
The $828,000 project comprised a gymnasium/pool facility as well as an educational facility. With $414,000 in hand, ground was broken in January of 1974 to begin the build – gym/pool facility was first. Remaining capital campaign dollars was raised quickly and the educational building started shortly after. In fact, the educational building was occupied September 15th of 1974 with the dedication ceremony in January of 1975 for both Tate Gym and pool facility and the Edward Town Taws Educational Building.
A total student enrollment of 150 students and 14 teachers, a substantial increase from the 35 students and 4 teachers of 1971, occupied the campus. Classrooms for grades 3-6 were still in the mobile units, while classrooms for grades 7-10 were in new building. The new building had eight classrooms, a laboratory, a library and an administrative area. This readied the campus for adding grades 1, 2 and 11 in the fall of 1975. The plan was for the building to ultimately be The Upper School, housing grades 9-12. The father of Ted Taws Jr, Ted Town Taws Sr., gave a generous donation to the capital campaign for this building project, with the stipulation that his contribution be solely dedicated to the education building.
Though already named the Edward Town Taws Educational Building, as other brick and mortar buildings were erected on campus, it was formally recognized as Taws Hall in honor of the entire Taws Family and their unwavering dedication to the School on September 4, 2003 at its rededication ceremony after having undergone a major renovation.
Today, the 47-year-old building houses the Middle School with 174 students in grades 5-8.
Falcons Fly to 50
O’Neal is excited to share its history with readers as it quickly nears its 50th year in educating and cultivating youth in becoming successful, effective contributors to communities large and small. The official celebration starts school year 2021/2022. This weekly blog will focus on different aspects of the School as it grew through the years. With every entry, there is just as much more information to gather than what is already written. Readers who have been a part of the O’Neal community are encouraged to reach out and share their O’Neal memories. It is with great hope that the efforts of many in contributing information and photography can be published into a book for reflection and reference as the School continues to prosper for the next 50 years.
Please send your memoirs and photos to:
The O’Neal School
c/o Kathy Taylor, Director of Communications
P.O. Box 290
Southern Pines, NC 28388