Engage. Inspire. Empower.

Welcome to Challenger High School!

About Us
6 girls from Challenger High School working during lunch on Chromebooks
Challenger students at graduation

Challenger Early College High Schools opened its doors in 2005.  The school is an initiative of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in partnership with the NC General Assembly.  Early colleges are designed to spark economic development in their county by graduating seniors with high school diplomas and career and college-readiness degrees.   We serve 400 students from Alexander and Catawba Counties in partnership with the four school districts, CVCC, NC New Schools, and the NC Department of Public Instruction.  

The early college supports problem-based and investigative learning while promising each student exposure to life-ready skills, infusion of the Habits of Mind and 21st Century Skills, adherence to the early college model, access to the Future Ready Core Diploma with the required university admissions courses, and access to earning an associate's degree.  The school is the only early college in the state that offers a comprehensive performing arts program and interscholastic athletics program.

In terms of economic impact, the school has created more than 100 additional local jobs, due to higher graduation rates and greater earning potential for our graduates that earn Associate's Degrees.  Our graduates have contributed so far in excess of a net half-million dollars to local government revenue, an outstanding return on investment, with our total 419 graduates in our ten years according to the Regional Economic Analysis Laboratory at Clemson University.  

For over 10 years running, the Firebirds top the state and county in academics, attendance, and graduation rate.  Designed around research, the school follows the national early college model offering students a personalized environment, powerful teaching and learning in classrooms, and a pervasive ready-for-college culture that creates pathways and opportunities for life in the 21st Century.

We are Happily Making Education Better by:
  • Ensuring a safe and healthy environment for students and staff
  • Helping our students graduate career- and college-ready
  • Teaching soft skills like character education, teamwork, and collaboration that make our students attractive in the workforce
  • Providing workforce development courses like engineering, animal science, health care, coding, drone technology, welding, auto mechanics, and more
  • Personalizing our students’ education by getting to know each student’s unique academic, social, and emotional needs
  • Providing students with technology as a tool for personalized learning including Chromebooks for each student, and more
  • Offering a well-rounded curriculum that includes foreign language offerings, , visual and performing arts like drama, concert and marching band, chorus, and more 

Accountability is Important

We strive for academic excellence, which is why we take the grade we receive on our NC School Report Card (an annual statewide measure of school performance) seriously. In addition, we submit our School Improvement Plan for review and approval as required by state regulations, and our team revises that plan’s goals and strategies regularly. Feel free to explore the links below.


Dr. Rene Spry


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The Health & Safety of our Staff & Students is a Top Priority

We take proactive steps to ensure the safety of every student, teacher and administrator, relying on both state-of-the-art and common-sense solutions to protect our schools.  

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See Something, Say Something

"See Something, Say Something" Anonymous Reporting System

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This service is designed to help you anonymously and securely report anything that's scaring or endangering you, your friends or your family. You don't need to be afraid to contact us. You never have to give us your name if you don't want to.

We take your security seriously at Catawba County Schools, and we will do everything we can to resolve your concern as quickly and as safely as possible.

  • In the event of an Emergency Dial 9-1-1
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline - 1-800-273-8255
  • The Anonymous Tip Line is monitored Monday through Friday from 7:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

Click here to send your Anonymous Tip