The start of the school year brings many new programs and initiatives at private schools, from the search for a football coach to the beginning of a conservatory music program.
The area's private schools are posting record enrollment figures, and school officials are enthusiastic about what lies ahead.
Augusta Christian Schools students will be housed on one central campus for the first time in two years.
The Furys Ferry Road location is for sale, and construction on the Baston Road campus has included relocation of classroom modules and redecoration of the interior of many of the buildings.
"It has really been a great year," said Dr. John Bartlett, the interim headmaster of the school. "We've had numerous celebrations during the past year for our 50th anniversary, and we are now concentrating on our goals for the next 50 years."
Bartlett said the school will be conducting a search for a new headmaster, whom they hope to have in place by the beginning of next school year.
At Augusta Preparatory Day School on Flowing Wells Road, administrators are gearing up for some big changes. Headmaster Jack Hall said the school will begin a search this fall for a football coach.
"We are going to be starting football informally this year and doing a search for the school's first football coach," he said. "We hope to start playing football the following year."
Additionally, Augusta Prep boasts the new Knox Conservatory Music Suite. To honor the new suite, the school will begin a conservatory music program, which will include individual lessons during and after school. An instrumental music program has also been added to the middle school.
"We have our school's largest enrollment ever -- 570 -- in pre-K through 12th grade," Hall said. "Things continue to be going very well here. In light of the economy, we were anticipating some major shrinkage, but instead we've had a nice growth for the coming year and we're excited about that."
Growth is the impetus for the addition of a second first-grade class at New Hope Christian School in Grovetown. The K-4 through eighth-grade school has one class for each grade level, but has added a second first-grade class.
"We also added seventh grade last year and are adding eighth grade this year," said Lisa Hall, office administrator. "We are also going to be adding some student-led clubs."
Another Columbia County-based private school that is seeing growth is Evans Christian Academy.
Before this year, the sixth- through 12th-grade school was based in Columbia County, but the school has temporarily moved to Crossbridge Baptist Church on Skinner Mill Road in Augusta while a new campus is being built in Grovetown.
Groundbreaking for the new campus is tentatively scheduled to take place by year's end. The new campus is on Chamblin Road across from Columbia County's new high school, which is slated for completion next July.
Joy Licht, of Augusta Seventh-day Adventist School on Wheeler Road, said the "small but good school" is embarking on new adventures this year as an online computer keyboarding program will be offered in grades kindergarten through eighth.
"It looks like our enrollment will increase again this year, just like it has in the past three years," said Licht. Last year's enrollment topped out at 32 students.
"We have a really full program for such a small school," she said.
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