By Debbie Adams
Lighthouse Christian Academy (LHCA) will be opening in August 2022 at Lighthouse Bible Church in Vinton. The church is located at 2500 East Washington Avenue near William Byrd High School.
The private Christian school will be serving students from Pre-K through fifth grade this year, with hopes of adding another grade level in each year of operation so that students who begin their education at the school will be able to continue through high school.
Kathy Barton is the School Administrator. She says the school is being established to provide Christian education and to fulfill the Great Commission by “educating students in a Biblical worldview to become disciples of Jesus Christ. We desire to meet the needs of all students by helping them reach their fullest potential spiritually, academically, personally, and socially through partnering with parents and families to help them become productive citizens in our community and our world.”
She says the mission of LHCA is JOY—Love Jesus; Serve Others; Shine Your Light to the world.
LHCA will be open to everyone. You need not be a member of Lighthouse Bible Church to attend.
Barton says the church housed a school several years ago and the desire to include a school in their ministry “never really went away.”
“I originally presented to our Elder Board back in September 2020 about restarting the school,” Barton said. “They voted on this and approved it, and then in April of 2021 our church voted to have the school; 98% voted in favor. I think people see a real need in our community to share the love of Christ with children, starting at an early age.”
A School Board was formed in the fall of 2021; they held their first meeting that December.
“I actually returned back to school to obtain my Master’s degree in 2020 to become endorsed in Administration and Supervision for PreK-12th grades,” Barton says. “It has been a blessing to see God work through our congregation and how people are excited to see and hear our hallways filled with the laughter of children throughout the day instead of sitting empty. We have been blessed with a beautiful facility and that is only going to grow as we expand on up the road.”
The school will be accredited through the Association of Christian Teachers and Schools (ACTS) and seek full accreditation within its first year of operation. ACTS establishes uniform standards among its member schools. To become accredited, schools complete a self-study evaluation and open their school to an on-site visit by a qualified team of educators who will examine its program to determine whether it is being operated within the published guidelines of the accrediting agency.
Teachers hired by LHCA must be ACTS certified. LHCA is currently accepting applications from prospective teachers.
The school’s capacity will be up to 100 students, although they expect to open with about 30. Class sizes will be small and intimate so that children get lots of attention. LHCA expects to employ a total of six to eight teachers to begin with, three of those at the preschool level to meet student/teacher ratio requirements. Barton anticipates the school will open with more students in the lower grade levels.
The school will be known as the Home of the Lighthouse Chariots, with the chariot wheel as their mascot. The inner workings of a lighthouse rely on a “chariot wheel” to rotate the lenses. This symbol will represent being the “light of the world.”
Barton says the benefits of a Christian education are that students focus on learning their purpose in life. She says that public schools do a great job academically, but a Christian education is able “to give peace and hope in a sometimes-chaotic world. A Christian education helps students know who they are in Christ.”
The school is considered an outreach ministry of the church. Students will be attending weekly chapel services with the church’s pastors and elders. LHCA has its own School Board—all nine are members of Lighthouse Bible who have a vested interest in Christian education.
The first day of school is planned for August 11. Hours will be 7:45 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. There will be no transportation provided in the first year. Parents/families will drop off and pick up. There will be an Afterschool program available from 2:45 to 6 p.m.
LHCA will be located in the two buildings that make up Lighthouse Bible Church. There is a gym, a playground, an outdoor pavilion, and a Chapel, in addition to classrooms. The kitchen area is limited at present so students will be packing lunches.
The school will be teaching a standard curriculum supplemented by materials from Christian publishers–BJU press and Purposeful Designs. These are PreK through 5th publications, rigorous academically, but supplemented with a Biblical foundation.
Through direct instruction or by small, cooperative learning groups and hands-on activities, students will learn to problem solve and think critically.
“It is important to me that all students are met right where they are, so they can get the individual attention they need to grow and succeed,” Barton said.
A typical school day at LHCA will include a mixture of academics (reading, writing, spelling, math, social studies, and science) paired with STEM and STEAM learning activities, a focus on the arts, time for socialization and physical education–all from a Christian perspective. There will be field trips and holiday celebrations.
“We stand for the pledge of allegiance to the Bible, the Christian flag and the American flag. We honor diversity because God created us all with a purpose and a plan in His image.”
Students in grades Kindergarten and up will be spending one to two hours a week completing Purpose Projects. Time will be devoted to working on projects they are interested in, in a structured process requiring research, in order to learn, “What is my purpose in life, what can I give back to my community?”
Students at LHCA will not be doing SOL testing, although they will be assessed to ensure they are progressing.
LHCA is hosting an Open House next Monday, March 21, from 6-8 p.m. Casual tours of the facilities will be available. There will be an opportunity to meet Barton and some of the School Board members and gain more information about the new school. Computers will be set up for parents who want to begin the application process.
Barton notes that Lighthouse Bible Church will be sponsoring the Kids Zone at the Dogwood Festival this year in the Vinton Farmers’ Market area on April 30. There will be inflatables, crafts (including making Dogwood petals), and other activities.
The church is holding a Craft Show on May 14 with benefits solely benefitting LHCA. There will be art, artisans, craft ware, concessions, and baked goods in the parking lot at Lighthouse Bible from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
There are also plans in the works for a murder mystery meal in September to raise funds for the school.
For more information on Lighthouse Christian Academy visit their website at https://lhcavinton.org/ or their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/lhcavinton/. Tuition rates and applications are available online. (LHCA tuition will be comparable to other Christian schools in the area.) You can also reach them by phone at 540-890-3304.