Growing at Hope Christian AcademyHope Christian Academy’s vision of expanding into a four-year high school became closer to reality when four students stepped forward as the first ninth grade class.
By: Linda Sailer, The Dickinson Press
Hope Christian Academy’s vision of expanding into a four-year high school became closer to reality when four students stepped forward as the first ninth grade class.
This fall, enrollment is 92 students from preschool through grade nine.
“We are definitely growing as a school,” Administrator Shane Bradley said.
The Academy is a ministry of the Evangelical Bible Church, where the classrooms are located.
“We have been outgrowing space in the current building and the portable has allowed us to be able to talk about having a high school in place this year,” Bradley said.
The portable classroom is separated into rooms for grade 9 and the other for grades five-six.
A typical day for the ninth graders begins with English and Algebra, followed by science and Hebrew history.
After lunch, students study Spanish, history, geography and physical education.
English and mathematics is taught by Leanna Backes. The other studies are taught by video presentations with Tori Irwin as classroom monitor.
A Taylor native, Backes graduated from Dickinson State University and taught at Watford City High School for a year. Then she and her husband, Stephen, attended a two-year Bible school in Wisconsin. Returning this summer, she accepted the position at Hope.
With a double major in English and mathematics, she said lessons at Hope are more one-on-one that compared to a larger classroom.
“We’re really busy in the morning — it’s a lot to management,” she said.
Backes uses the ABeka Christian curriculum to help with lesson plans.
“The multiple-subject curriculum is set up nicely,” she said.
Backes and Irwin share responsibilities of managing the other courses. A downside of the video presentations is a shortage of class interaction, she added.
Student Thomas Hovet, who has been with the Academy for five years, said, “I felt it was a better education than at the public system and you have more one-on-one at Hope.”
Student Alix Kelly felt Hope provided a better environment, while student Bryce Timmerman said the school has been very supportive.
Student Eric Schaper, a second-year Hope student, added, “I like the way they teach.”
Bradley praised the students and their parents for a pioneering spirit in becoming the first students in the advanced grade. Each year, an additional grade will be added.
“The parents are committed to a Biblical world view — we’ve said over and over again that we’re not in competition with any other school. When we teach, we teach from a Biblical perspective,” he said.
Bradley said the Academy works closely with the Department of Public Instruction and Dickinson High School.
“We have a great relationship with the Dickinson public schools — it’s something we appreciate and we value,” he said.
Hope students have the same opportunities to participate in extra-curricular activities. It’s simply a bus drive away, Bradley said.
“We actually have two kids out for football —whether it’s track or basketball, we’ve had some pretty amazing players come through Hope,” he added.
Bradley credits Hope’s success to a partnership between the church, parents and teachers.
“Our teachers are committed to a Biblical world view and teaching God’s word — that’s what we focus on,” he said.
The church is non-denominational and open to the community.
“A lot of these kids have been going to youth group or involved in church activities. Their families love the Lord and share the same vision for Christian education. God has really blessed us with families who are definitely very involved,” he said.
The academy keeps the tuition to a minimal cost through fundraisers and private donations. The school is supported by area businesses — mostly recently with the donation a Promethean white board for video presentations in ninth grade, he said.
As Hope evaluates the ninth-grade, Bradley said, “It’s been a smooth transition. Really, things are falling into place.”
Wendy Timmerman, who teaches second grade at Hope, said her son (Bryce) is thriving at the Academy.
“I can’t say enough about the school — the school does so much for him personally and academically, but mostly importantly, he’s come to know Jesus as his personal savior.”
With growth in Hope’s enrollment and increased youth activities at the church, the school board considered construction of a school four years ago, said EBC senior pastor Tim Privratsky.
“For whatever reason, God’s called our church to offer this alternative Christian education,” he said. “Our church has been growing and we didn’t have enough space for the ministry activities.”
He said the weekly ministries forced the board into considering a building project.
“It’s not just for the school, but for all the children’s ministries,” he said.
A fundraising appeal started some 18 months ago, and to date, $1.3 million has been raised.
“We need to raise $2.2 million before we break ground,” Privratsky said.
EBC associate pastor Ron Dazell takes a lead in coordinating construction.
When completed, the school will have 27,000 square feet on two levels. It will have 14 classrooms, each large enough for 15 to 20 children. It will have a nursery and kindergarten, lunchroom, office pod and multi-purpose room.
“We’re planning to prepare the site this fall, so we can break ground this spring,” Dazell said.
He estimates that students will attend classes in the building by the fall of 2014.
“Really, the issue has been the ministries have outgrown the facility,” he said. “The community sees the school, but it’s not just the school, but all the ministries.”
As construction goes forward, Dazell said, “The building project is bigger than us and I’m reminded of those who came before us and had the courage to build the original building.”