HUNTERSVILLE – Applications are now being accepted for a new charter school scheduled to open on the east side of Huntersville by the start of the 2019-20 school year.

Representatives of the Challenge Foundation Academy, an organization that currently operates 13 schools in North Carolina and others in Arizona and Indiana, said plans have been finalized to establish Bonnie Cone Classical Academy (BCCA) on a 23-acre site at the intersection of Eastfield Road and Asbury Chapel Road just north of I-485.

The Rev. Marty McCarthy, a member of the BCCA Board of Directors who has been involved in opening and operating schools in the region for more than 20 years, said acquisition of the property is nearly complete. And McCarthy and Joan Roman, a veteran education administrator who will serve as BCCA's head of school, said construction of a 55,000-square-foot school building is expected to begin early next year.

The open-enrollment, tuition-free public charter school has received state approval and plans are for BCCA to open as a K-6 school serving 400 to 450 students starting next fall. The school will eventually expand to be a K-8 facility.

“We will add a grade each year for two years after opening,” Roman said, “and expand enrollment in the lower grades.”

Information about the school and application details are available at

Classic plans

Roman, who previously worked for the organization that opened Langtree Charter Academy in Mooresville and Union Prep Academy in Union County, said BCCA will emphasize a “classical education” approach designed to encourage students to develop reasoning and thinking skills.

“The objective of a classical approach is to teach students how to learn, to teach them how to think, not tell them what to think,” Roman said.

She and McCarthy said the early-grade education at BCCA will instill the basics – “The younger students will have the chance to stock up on facts, they love that and are eager to learn,” Roman said. But in the middle grades – “When the students get to the point where they want to argue with you,” McCarthy said – the classroom approach will adjust and encourage students to broaden their base of knowledge while building reasoning and communication skills.

“There are many layers of a classical education,” McCarthy said. “Having facts is important, but learning how to apply them in various situations and how to communicate effectively with others are vital skills to develop to be part of a civil society.”

Roman added that the mission for the Bonnie Cone academy, named in honor of a woman remembered as a dedicated educator and community leader instrumental in establishing UNC-Charlotte, is to help students embrace learning and develop a life-long interest in improving themselves.

“Classical education was what was taught in the early days of this country,” Roman said. “It includes language learning and a broad foundation of knowledge, but also encourage students to develop the ability to keep learning.”


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