Officially founded in 1971 by a group of parents, the 1971-72 school year saw the Wallace O’Neal Day School open with 3 teachers and 35 students in grades 4-6.
Mary Elaine Meyer O’Neal donated 20 acres of land along Airport Road to the School with the request to name the School after her recently deceased husband, Wallace O’Neal. The School was incorporated as Sandhills Independent Day School doing business as Wallace O’Neal Day School. In 1984, O’Neal acquired another 20 acres from Mary Elaine’s daughter, Heidi Hall Jones allowing for a 40-acre campus.
More grades were added in succeeding years, until students were enrolled in 1st through 12th grades in 1976. The faculty had grown to 23 teachers by the next year, when the first advanced placement courses were instituted. Kindergarten was added in 1980 and pre-kindergarten was introduced in 1987.
Athletic programs complemented the academic curriculum; soccer and volleyball were early emphases. O’Neal’s golf team won its first of three consecutive State Championships in 1979, and the School soon developed a reputation in swimming.
In 1982, O’Neal initiated what is now called the Academic Enrichment Center for students with learning differences. In 1985, the school name was changed to “The O’Neal School”.
Phase II of O’Neal’s Campus Master Plan included the 1999 construction of a new Upper School building, Meyer Hall. Students and teachers moved into their new home in the spring of 2000. The building accommodates individual classrooms for every teacher, two well-appointed science labs and student center.
With increasing enrollment and a solid financial base, O’Neal was able to initiate the next phase of its campus plan earlier than expected, and Bradshaw Hall was completed in the summer of 2002. This multipurpose facility houses administration (head of school, admissions, institutional advancement, finance and communications), a dining commons, a library with adjacent computer lab, and two art studios. A renovation of the Middle School, Taws Hall, took place in 2003 with gym renovations completed in 2005.
In 2006, Phase III of the Campus Master Plan began to take shape and included the building of a new Lower School and an Activities Center. Ground was broken for the new Lower School in December 2006 and McMurray Hall became operational in January of 2008. The Activities Center was completed in August of 2009 and includes a second gymnasium, a theater, classrooms, and conditioning facilities for students and staff. In May of 2011, the facility was named the Hannah Marie Bradshaw Activities Center.
Also in 2006, O’Neal hired a transportation services director and bus drivers and purchased activity buses. Routes from Laurinburg/Rockingham and Sanford run everyday for student pick-up and drop-off.
A three year old pre-kindergarten class was introduced in 2010 and the three and four year old pre-kindergarten program was restructured to allow more scheduling options for parents.
In September 2014, the Landmark Society was created to identify 22 individuals and foundations who eliminated the School’s campus debt. The Landmark garden was designed in honor of this group of donors.
In October 2014, a greenhouse was built adjacent to the McMurray Hall Lower School as a part of the science initiative launched at the annual Auction. The objective for the greenhouse was to accentuate the Lower School science class.
Today, in its 45th year, The O’Neal School employs over 75 faculty and staff members. It has a student enrollment of approximately 432.
The O’Neal School continues a proud tradition of educating the whole child and is committed to providing the faculty with the resources and facilities necessary to make this a reality.