West Alabama Christian opens new doors

Published 12:41 am Saturday, March 13, 2010

West Alabama Christian School principal Roni Long does not want her school to compete with existing schools in Demopolis. Rather, her school offers an alternative to the public school system by offering Bible study courses.

“I’ve got two kids who are in the public school system, and I’m glad that they are there,” she said. “What we are trying to offer is a Christian-based curriculum like Briarwood and Cottage Hill — that type of system for those parents who want that.

“Our students here have Bible class that they actually get a grade for, like English, reading or math. They have Bible, where they have to memorize scripture and verses.

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“The first 30 minutes, they have the Pledge and they sing ‘America the Beautiful’ and ‘The Star-Spangled Banner.’ They have to know all of that. I think the first verse they have to learn is John 13:14-18, and they get a grade for it. Our third-graders are having to memorize Hebrews Chapter 13. Next year, they will start going to Bible competitions.”

The school is currently having an open enrollment for all of its classes, from K4 — its “Fantasic 4’s” program — through fourth grade. The enrollment period will last through May 3, but there are limited spots in the K4 program.

The school opened at Fairhaven Baptist Church in Demopolis two years ago with kindergarten through second grade, and has added a third grade and will add a fourth-grade class next year.

“We are more than coloring,” she said. “We are not a day care. We are a school. For our bed babies and 1-year-olds, it is a day care, but for our 2-year-olds, 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds, it is a preschool. They have a curriculum that they have to follow every day. They are learning their colors, how to cut and paste and how to write their name — that kind of stuff — in the 2- and 3-year-olds’ classroom, so that by the time they get K4, those who have been downstairs already have an ante up.

“Our 2-year-olds and 3-year-olds already know how to sound out their letters. We’re kind of excited about what we’re doing here.”

Long said she and the teachers always get questions like “Do you go to school all day?” and “Do you teach a real curriculum?” A former teacher herself, she is anxious to show people that WACS is a real 100-percent school.

“Our teachers are certified,” she said. “We have a lunchroom. We have all of the things that we need. The city worked really well with us on getting fire codes and everything together.

“We are working on getting accredited for our elementary school. A lot of exciting things are happening, and we are looking forward to building a school here. We are growing that fast.

“We are on Spring Break this week, too,” she said. “We try to make it as friendly to parents as we can. We try to make sure our school calendar coincides with the public school calendar simply because we want to make sure that if someone has a first-grader they want to put here and has a 12th-grader at another school, that they are all off at the same time.”

Long taught at Alabama Southern Community College for four years before coming to West Alabama Christian School. She also taught at Southern Academy and Demopolis Academy as well as at Uniontown Elementary. She has a master’s degree in elementary education and a certification in administration. She is currently working on her specialist in education degree.

The school is located at Fairhaven Baptist Church and is considered a ministry of the church.

WACS has grown to 62 students this year, and the board of the school plans to build a building for the school soon.

“The church has given us the option of adding a grade or two every year,” Long said. “We don’t want to overextend ourselves because we want to make sure that we are comfortable with our addition and that we’ve got it down pat before we add another grade.

“God is providing. I’m not having to hunt. It’s been almost overwhelming. When you’re adding two or three students a week, it’s overwhelming.

“This is not a ‘private’ school. We are a Christian school,” she said. “We are going to try to walk the walk we talk, both in school and in the community, and the community can h old us accountable for it. We talk about that a lot. If we say we’re going to be Christian, then we’re going to do ‘Christian.’”

For more information about the school, call (334) 289-0902.