GLENMOOR - "Uh-Oh ... This Thursday School Begins" reads the marquee in front of American Spirit Academy.
Just like that, summer vacation is over, and, starting Thursday, 140 students will once again fill the halls of East Liverpool's Christian school.
Headmaster Susan Mackall said the nondenominational school offers an alternative to public education through smaller class sizes, individualized attention and instruction informed by a Christian worldview.
(Above) Parent volunteer Liz St. George, of Ohioville, Pa., puts a fresh coat of paint on first-grade teacher Katie Pierce’s blackboard at American Spirit Academy on Tuesday. She has a child in the second grade at the school. Students in grades 1-12 return to the private Christian school on Thursday. Kindergarteners start on Monday. (Below) A plaque with a Scripture verse highlights the philosophy of American Spirit Academy. (Photos by Stephen Huba)
"Jesus and God is woven into everything we do," Mackall said. "We teach from the biblical standpoint. We're teaching the same subjects as public schools, but we're teaching them through a biblical filter."
While Bible and religion classes are part of the curriculum in all grades, "that isn't the only place they're going to hear about Jesus," she said.
American Spirit Academy, 46682 Florence St., was founded in 1974 as East Liverpool Christian School and is a charter member of the Association of Christian Schools International. It is chartered by the Ohio Department of Education for grades K-12.
This year's senior class comprises nine students. Grades 1-12 start on Thursday, kindergarten starts on Monday, and preschool starts on Aug. 27, Mackall said.
High school students at the Academy begin their year with a bang by going on a short-term missions trip in October, she said. In the past, students have done service work in urban areas in New Jersey and Columbus, Ohio.
Mackall said such projects are part of the school's philosophy of "teaching the whole child - the emotional, the social and the spiritual aspect. ... Hopefully, they'll grow in learning to serve others."
Mackall said the school sees itself as an extension of the family. "Our goal is to ... aid the parents in raising their children," she said.
Parents send their children to the Academy for different reasons. Students from a public school background may be looking for smaller class sizes, while students who have been home-schooled may be looking for a more social experience, Mackall said.
While students come from more than 40 areas churches, the school does not limit its enrollment to churchgoing families, she said. "Families are welcome to come here, provided they agree to support our tenets of faith," she said.
This year, students will meet three new teachers in kindergarten, first grade and technology, Mackall said. Two of the new teachers are American Spirit Academy alumni.
"They know us from the inside out," she said.