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Augusta Christian to mark 55th birthday

Posted: May 15, 2013 - 12:02am
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Special Photo   Emily Berry Willing (seated) attended Augusta Christian where she was taught by Jennie Palacz when she was in first grade. Now Jennie Berry Willing teaches second grade with Palacz.  Special Photo   Emily Berry Willing (seated) attended Augusta Christian where she was taught by Jennie Palacz when she was in first grade. Now Jennie Berry Willing teaches second grade with Palacz.
Special Photo Emily Berry Willing (seated) attended Augusta Christian where she was taught by Jennie Palacz when she was in first grade. Now Jennie Berry Willing teaches second grade with Palacz.
Special Photo Emily Berry Willing (seated) attended Augusta Christian where she was taught by Jennie Palacz when she was in first grade. Now Jennie Berry Willing teaches second grade with Palacz.

Fifty-five years ago, Augusta Christian Schools opened its doors with one kindergarten class of eight students and one teacher.

Today, enrollment exceeds 600 students from grades K3 through 12th.

“You never know how small beginnings will end,” said Lynn Wilkerson, the director of school activities.

“We have continued to be Christ-centered in everything we do,” said Headmaster Dr. David Piccalo. “It’s a blessing to know that we’re doing that and impacting the lives of children for the Kingdom.”

It’s an impact that crosses generations.

Wilkerson’s youngest daughter started Augusta Christian as a K3 student and now teaches music there.

“It has come full circle,” Wilkerson said.

Third grade teacher Bonny Baxley believes it’s a great testament when Augusta Christian graduates want to come back to serve.
“It’s a great place to work,” Baxley said.

Second-grade teacher Jennie Palacz echoes Baxley’s sentiment. Palacz is a 1984 graduate of Augusta Christian who, after graduating from college, returned to her alma mater to teach.

“It’s like family here,” Palacz said. “It is such a privilege to teach here.”

Alumnus Brad Merry, the owner of Merry’s Trash and Treasures, said the foundation of a Christ-centered education greatly shaped his family, both growing up and today.

“When I attended Augusta Christian, my brother and I were one grade apart. We were involved in everything possible, and if we weren’t at home, we were at church or at school,” Merry said.

“My mother was room mom, and my dad was president of the booster club,” he said. “Our whole family was involved with the school.”

Today Merry and his wife continue that tradition.

Brad served on the school’s board of directors until his wife, Casey, returned to teaching and now serves as part of the middle school math team.

The Merrys’ children are students at the school, as are his brother’s children.

“For 38 years, we have been in love with this school,” he said.

Head football coach Keith Walton recalls his start-and-stop beginning as a student at Augusta Christian. Walton began as an elementary student but jokes that the school was not quite ready for him. He came back in middle school but didn’t commit until he started high school.

“Being here prepared me for more than a career; it prepared me for life,” Walton said.

Once students themselves, now teachers to a new generation, Walton and Palacz say being a part of the Augusta Christian Schools is “ministry.”

“You are called to be here,” Walton said. “The cycle is amazing. There’s a legacy child in every grade from K4 through 12.”

One of those is Walton’s own daughter.

Augusta Christian Schools will commemorate its 55th anniversary with a reunion and celebration from 5 to 7 p.m. Saturday, May 18, in the school gym.

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