Oconee County’s three private schools have all expanded the classes and teaching facilities that they offer ahead of the 2019-2020 school year. Each school’s head of school discussed their institution’s recent changes and upcoming initiatives.
High school students attending this academy will see a significant change to their schedules for this school year.
Head of School Jared Clark explained that Westminster is transitioning its class schedule to include both block scheduling and more traditional scheduling. Clark emphasized that that will reduce the number of daily classes that students will have.
This would allow academy teachers to spend more time with their students and go deeper into content and content application with them.
“This will ultimately benefit students because it’s more like the schedules students would have for college,” Clark said.
In similar news, Westminster will offer dual enrollment courses for the first time. Specifically, the academy will offer upper-level social sciences courses in conjunction with Truett-McConnell University,
Additionally, students of all grades will be able to benefit from the renovated science laboratory at the academy. The lab, which will provide hands-on learning opportunities for students, was made possible with financial assistance from annual fund giving.
This academy, in particular, has reached some enrollment and anniversary milestones. According to Clark, the total student enrollment for this year, 360 students, represents the second year of enrollment breaking previous records.
As well, Westminster will be celebrating its 30th anniversary during this school year. Clark mentioned that the academy’s annual theme is “grateful”, based off of Psalm 79:13.
“It’s in the context of some generations seeing others being thankful,” Clark said. “It’s to see where the school came from and the people who are committed to the mission and the vision of the school...and the opportunity to minister in the community for 30 years.”
The school is also actively working on the creation of a student advisory program for high school students, so that students can have one-on-one academic, social, spiritual and career mentors.
Classes combining the arts and the sciences will take center stage at this academy’s preschool for the 2019-2020 school year. Faculty and administrators are developing an arts-science highlights focus to the preschool.
“It’s not going to be strictly art or strictly science [content], so they (teachers} will be making plans together and building things together,” said Head of School John Thorsen.
To that end, an arts teacher and science teacher have each been hired to the preschool.
As well, more AP classes, both in computer science, have been added at the academy.
Like Westminster, Athens Academy is growing its advisory program. It will serve similar purposes, minus the spiritual guidance aspect.
In other news, a new playground has been installed at the academy’s lower school, and there are two new hires. Kelsie Kannon, an Oconee County native, is the new cheerleading coach, and Katherine Evans is the new writing center
Prince Avenue Christian
Students who attend this academy will see several different building and class changes this year.
Prince Avenue’s head of school, Col. Seth Hathaway, explained some of those different things that students can expect.
For high school students, PACS has expanded its on-campus dual enrollment classes to include 12 classes. Subjects taught currently include math, history and social sciences.
Hathaway added that they would like to also offer dual-enrollment Spanish in the future.
Lower school facilities will now include six new preK through first grade classrooms, located within Prince Avenue Baptist Church. The lower school also has a new visual arts room, science laboratory and greenspaces, which the school created by removing two modular buildings.
PACS has also chosen the unified spiritual theme for this school year, which can be taught across all grade levels.
The theme is “Seek First” as based upon bible verse Matthew 6:33.
“Our desire is to unite the school around a common pursuit of Jesus above all else,” said Brandt Akin, the school’s director of spiritual life, in a press release.
Hathaway also elaborated on how field trips can tie in to the school’s spiritual learning programs and serve as discipleship opportunities for the students.
While PACS already has one-and-two-day, off-campus retreats for high school students, the academy has expanded its excursions for middle school students.
Eighth graders will be able to participate in either a Washington D.C. trip, moderated by a Christian tour service, seventh graders can participate in Kentucky’s “Art Encounter” experience and sixth graders can participate in a science-based trip to Savannah.