Kenai Peninsula families will have yet another choice for their children's education this fall as North Kenai Baptist Church prepares to open a new, private Christian school.
Lighthouse Christian School will serve students ages 3 through fourth grade at the church in Nikiski.
"We're very much into the public school system," said church pastor Denver Copeland. "This is not a competition. We just want to meet the needs."
Copeland explained that many families in the North Kenai-Nikiski area choose to home-school their children and the new school could provide an alternative option.
"They do a great job, but some can't continue to do it," he said. "They may have to go back to work."
He added that the church helps with a breakfast program at both Nikiski and North Star elementary schools and will continue to do so along with running its own school.
"People have mentioned this for years, and the church has talked about (opening a school) since the early '90s," Copeland said. "It was time."
Copeland said the school will offer a 3-year-old preschool class and a 4-year-old preschool class and will start with a one-room class for first- through fourth-graders. If the elementary class reaches more than eight or nine students, it will be split into another classroom.
"There will never be more than about 14 students in a class," Copeland said.
Classes will be taught by church members who have a background in education, he said.
"We have plenty of qualified people in our church," he said, explaining that the preschool teachers have years of experience, the elementary teachers have taught in the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District, and the administrator, Ginnie Handley, has a degree in elementary education.
"We're trying to use this as a ministry of the church," Copeland said.
Though staff members will be from North Kenai Baptist Church, students do not have to attend the church. The school will be open to all community members who meet the age requirements as long as space is available, Copeland said. He said he expects about 30 to 35 students by the end of the first year, and the maximum enrollment is limited to 49 by fire code.
"We're open to everybody and anybody who wants their kids to have a Christian education," he said.
The school will use the A Beka Book curriculum, a popular Christian education program based out of Pensacola Christian College in Florida. The curriculum teaches basics, such as math, social studies, science and English, through a distinctively Christian approach. The curriculum also includes narrative Bible study.
The school will follow the public school calendar for the most part, with classes beginning Aug. 27. Registration is open year-round, and tuition is $3,000 a year. A before-school and after-school program also will be available. Families interested in the school may call Handley or Copeland at the church at 776-8234.
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