Gray Collegiate Academy Principal Dr. Brian Newsome was treated to a pep rally of sorts Wednesday, as the student body celebrated the West Columbia charter school's South Carolina report card 'excellent' rating. 

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Gray is in the 2A classification and it's one of only five high schools in the Midlands to receive an excellent rating. It boasts a 99.2% graduation rate.

The Charter Institute at Erskine, is the school district that governs Gray Collegiate, and 17 charter schools in the state. Its board hosted a surprise celebration for Newsome. He was given a plaque and a banner honoring the excellent rating was hung to go along with Gray's three athletic state championships.

"I'm shocked," said Newsome. The school opened in 2014 and he said when he came in as principal in 2016, he found students and staff that needed to be cultivated.

"You did this," Newsome said of the excellent rating, as he addressed the assembly. He also said he expects the progress to continue at the grades 9-through-12 school.

Cameron Runyan, CEO and Superintendent of the Charter Institute at Erskine said Gray is fulfilling the promise of charter schools and they do it with only half the funding of conventional public schools.

Gray enrollment is open to public school students but it receives only state and federal funding. Gray does not receive local funding.

Gray's student body is about 500. The students participate in dual (college course) enrollment and athletics.

Gray's basketball team has won two state championship since it opened.  Jensen Castles won a state title in girls golf. 

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