As the Outer Banks has grown in population, so have Outer Banks schools grown in number. The 11 schools that make up the Dare County School system today — Dare County Alternative; Manteo elementary, middle and high; Nags Head Elementary; First Flight elementary, middle and high; Kitty Hawk Elementary; and Cape Hatteras elementary and high — have been built through the decades when need dictated. Early on, schools were situated on Roanoke Island, in Manns Harbor, Colington and in Kitty Hark Village. The Colington school was located where the present-day Fire and Rescue building is situated and contained grades 1-4. After, those kids went on to the Kitty Hawk Village school, in the building that is now OBX Hostel. That school contained grades 1-12 and began operating in the 1920s. Kitty Hawk Elementary was built in 1959 and initially contained grades K-8, later changing to K-5, as it remains today. There was also a one-room schoolhouse located in Manns Harbor that served all the students from that town.
New Dare County Schools Constructed in the Northern Outer Banks
In 2004, a new high school, First Flight High, was built in Kill Devil Hills, splitting the older students who had attended the only high school on the northern Outer Banks, Manteo High School, for years. Splitting the schools split the community for a while, with those who felt one larger high school should be built in a more central location versus those who believed that the best approach was to have two high schools more geographically oriented. A few years later, Nags Head Elementary opened to help carry the load of the youngest Dare County school students.
Dare County School Firsts
But before any of these Outer Banks schools was helping students learn and grow, a special school was built, the first of its kind in North Carolina. The Freedman's School opened its door on July 23, 1890, on Roanoke Island to help the children of freed slaves negotiate their new status. Other such schools opened across the state and country over the new few years, but once again, Dare County can claim a First status.
Another historic Outer Banks school first was the construction of the New Era gymnasium on Roanoke Island. This historic structure, which was finished in 1938, was one of only about 100 such gyms built in the country by Civilian Conservation Corps members. It stood next to the current Manteo Elementary and through the years served as a gym for Dare County youth sports and as a location of the Dare Alternative School. It was torn down in 2014.