The Lighthouse Christian Academy will start the school year as an accredited A Beka Academy for the first time.
The K-12 private school housed and run by the Lighthouse Baptist Church on Colorado 145 has been using the Christian-based A Beka curriculum for many years. But they’re making the change to an accredited program so that students will be better able to transfer schools and be reviewed by colleges, said assistant administrator Cindy Tucker. Tucker’s role is similar to that of a principal and registrar in a public school.
As part of the shift to accreditation, grades six through 12 will have their tests sent to A Beka for grading. A Beka programs are accredited through the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.
In general, A Beka classes are about a year ahead of public school curriculum, Tucker said.
The school has an enrollment of about 30 students and will employ six teachers this year. Over the years, the enrollment has stayed fairly stable.
Tucker said the small classes at the Christian Academy allow students to learn much faster. For example, the two girls in her kindergarten class last year were able to read three-syllable words by the end of the year, and the two boys had mastered sight words.
Because of the school’s small size, grades are mixed, which functions to give younger children a taste of the material they will cover the next year, Tucker said.
The school is private and not subject to state testing requirements. Instead, students take the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills tests each year, which are aligned with national education standards.
Parents also choose the school as an alternative to public education because its church ministry the church and character training.
“It does focus on a relationship with Jesus,” Tucker said.
For example, students in grades seven through 12 take a Bible class and receive a grade for it.
As a ministry, the church works to keep tuition low. Tuition is $250 a month, and there is a $255 book fee.
Heather Tarr, the church secretary, said she chose to send her daughter, Kyla, to the school because it insulates her as she develops.
Kyla will be a senior this year. She attended public school for three months as a high school freshman but chose to return to the academy because she found the academics unchallenging and the drama of high school distracting.
“There was too much drama, not enough structure,” she said.
Her mother agreed.
“They can deal with that when they are older. They shouldn’t have to deal with it at a really tender age,” Tarr said.
Kyla, 16, is graduating a year ahead of time and plans to attend West Coast Baptist College for a year before applying to a secular college to pursue a nursing degree.
Kyla has supplemented her academy classes with M-CHS electives and sports not available at the school.
In addition to core classes, academy high school electives include Spanish, home economics, physical education, and speech and debate. Some academy classes are delivered via video streaming through A Beka.
As long as the classes don’t interfere with academy schedule students are encouraged to take extra classes at any of the area high schools.