Augusta Christian Schools pupils are starting school a week earlier this year, and they soon may be able to tell you how their day was in Spanish.
A new school calendar and the addition of an elementary foreign-language program are two of the many changes Augusta Christian's 700 pupils will see when they start school Aug. 11.
The theme for the new school year is A Changed Life, Changing Lives, based on Romans 12:2.
"It's about getting these kids to think," headmaster Joel Woodcock said. "We want to give them the best education we can give them, but one based on Christian principles."
Among the many new faces at Augusta Christian is elementary-school principal Darrell Wells, who retired as principal of Dearing Elementary School last year.
"We're very excited to have him on board," Woodcock said.
Darrell Wells (left) has been named the new principal of Augusta Christian Schools elementary school by
headmaster Joel Woodcock.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Wells, a 30-year-education veteran, spent the past 26 years as principal of Dearing Elementary.
"Being a Christian, I felt like it was a call from God. It was time to retire from public education and do something significant for the Lord," said Wells, 52..
Wells will oversee the elementary school's 300 pupils and 30 staff members. Dearing Elementary had 450 pupils.
"It's a very freeing experience," Wells said of the move out of the public-education arena. "One of the beauties of a Christian school is you have the freedom to express your faith."
Augusta Christian is nondenominational and has 100 area churches represented by its student body, Woodcock said.
Wells said one of his primary goals will be to beef up technology in the classroom.
"We want to get it on par with the rest of the school," he said.
All of the school's computers were networked together this summer.
Woodcock said the elementary foreign-language program is something the board wanted to offer to enhance educational opportunities at the school.
"We all know that if children are introduced to foreign language early on, it is easier for them to grasp and not be afraid of it," said Woodcock.
The course will be offered to pupils each week for a half-hour and will be centered around teaching conversational Spanish and culture.
Also, school will start a week earlier this year as Augusta Christian aligns its schedule with the public school calendar.
Just as in public schools, the calendar includes 180 days for pupils, with first semester ending before Christmas break.
"We realize we have some families who have other children in public schools, so we wanted to make it more convenient for them," Woodcock said.
The school also plans to break ground this year on a building to house grades 1-8 in the Talent Development Program.
The programs serves pupils with learning disabilities and attention deficit disorder, and others who likely would struggle in a regular classroom.
"This is to help children who could not otherwise be in a Christian school," Woodcock said.
The Talent Development Program last year served 140 pupils in grades 1-12. The program now is housed in portable buildings and in the old headmaster's house.
Leighanne Hines is principal of the Talent Development Program, which has about 40 to 50 staff members - teachers and aides - giving the program a low teacher-to-pupil ratio.
In sports, the Georgia Independent School Association-sanctioned school is planning to add volleyball to its lineup of offerings. New coach Marty Griffin, formerly of Americus, Ga., will coach basketball and teach elementary physical education.
Also, the school has a new band director, Paul Roberts. Last year, the band had 25 members, but Woodcock said the school wants to place more emphasis on its fine-arts program. The school also has a drama department and a choral program.
Roberts, Woodcock said, plans to involve parents in forming a pep band to play at football games and pep rallys.
"Paul's enthusiasm is just contagious. It just flows off him," Woodcock said.
Augusta Christian Schools 2003-2004 Calendar
Aug. 4-8: Teacher pre-planning
Aug. 8: Orientation
Aug. 11: First day of school
Sept. 1: Holiday/Labor Day
Sept. 10: Progress reports go home
Oct. 10: End of first quarter
Oct. 17: Student holiday; parent-teacher conference day for report cards
Nov. 12: Progress reports go home
Nov. 26-28: Thanksgiving holidays
Dec. 19: Early dismissal/end of first semester
Dec. 22-Jan. 4: Christmas holidays
Jan. 5: Classes resume
Jan. 13: Report cards go home
Jan. 19: Holiday/Martin Luther King Jr.
Jan. 29: Half day/teacher in-service
Jan. 30: Student holiday/teacher in-service
Feb. 6: Progress reports go home
Feb. 13-16: School holidays/mid-winter break
March 11: End of third quarter
March 12: Student holiday/teacher in-service
March 19: Report cards go home
April 5-9: Spring break/Masters Week
April 21: Progress reports go home
May 21: End of second semester/end of school
May 22: Senior graduation
May 24-25: Teacher post-planning
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