Craig Flick, a rising junior at Hope Christian School in Martinez, has to work hard this school year. He wants to keep his grades high enough to enter a technical school after he graduates. Flick, 16, hopes to become a mechanic.
Before he entered Hope Christian in Evans as an eighth-grader, Craig's life was marked by wrong choices. He had little hope of attaining a high-school diploma.
"My child wasn't bad. He just couldn't sit in a desk and focus," said his mother, Cindy. Since Craig's first year at Hope Christian, Mrs. Flick has been the school's assistant administrator.
Hope Christian, whose school year starts Wednesday, specializes in helping pupils who, like Craig, have somehow slipped through the cracks of public education. Hope's learning program targets pupils who have been expelled from other schools, who have learning disabilities such as attention-deficit disorder, who have dropped out of school because of pregnancy, or who are the victims of abuse.
"The kids here have just made wrong choices. Hope leads them to a maturity level so that they don't want to make those choices anymore," Mrs. Flick said.
The school first opened in the spring 1997. Each year, it enrolls about 25 pupils in grades 7 through 12. It shares a campus building with Riverwatch Community Church on Old Petersburg Road.
Although pupils must pay tuition to attend Hope, most of the school's funds come from private donors. Hope Christian is nonprofit.
Hope usually employs four full-time teachers, two part-time teachers and three additional faculty members. Ron Burton is the school's director and principal.
Some new developments will begin at Hope Christian this fall. The National Association of Street Schools, with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, has awarded Hope a $26,667 grant. The school will receive the money over the next three years.
School officials plan to use much of the grant to train and pay personnel. Another part will furnish a student computer lab with Internet access.
Hope officials say they plan to have a 40-member student body by the end of the upcoming school year.
Besides grants and private donations, the school gets money through fund-raisers such as a fall golf tournament, planned for Sept. 15. People interested in participating can contact the school at 863-8322.
Hope Christian School focuses on giving its pupils a strong education. However, Hope staff members said they feel the school's objective is twofold. Teachers want to develop relationships with the pupils and help them gain confidence and ambition, as well as a personal commitment to Christ.
"It's rewarding to see the kids change," Mrs. Flick said.
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