Pilot story and photos
by Marjorie Woodfin
The Brookings Harbor Christian School, begun nine years ago by two young mothers as a preschool, currently offers classes for preschoolers through the 10th grade.
Started by Kelly Watterson and Robin LaThorpe at the Brookings-Harbor Christian Church in 1996 because they wanted their children to have a preschool experience, the school has added a grade every year and has outgrown its first two locations.
When additional classrooms were needed, the school moved to the Brookings Church of the Nazarene and when it outgrew those classrooms, the fifth grade through 10th grade classes were moved to the Calvary Assembly of God church.
The school is currently almost at capacity with 122 students. With class sizes limited to 15 students, School Administrator Chris Hudson said the students have more individual attention with more one-on-one access to the teachers.
The curriculum used is A Beka, which is advanced, Hudson said, adding that when you raise the bar for students they rise to the challenge. She said that the majority of the students earn straight As.
She also said that the students are monitored very closely, there is no bullying or unkind treatment allowed, and there is a strictly enforced dress code.
The school is non-denominational, but is based on Biblical principles. The school's mission statement stresses a desire to guide students into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and instill Christian values and morals.
Parents are required to read the school student handbook and sign a statement agreeing with the academic and administrative program of the school.
Hudson said that all of the teachers are dedicated to providing the best possible education for the students in an environment that encourages learning moral and social values, as well as high academic achievement. She added that their dedication is proven by the fact that they work for smaller salaries than teachers in the public schools, even though they are qualified to teach in the public school system.
Many of the staff wear more than one hat. Hudson, for example serves as elementary principal as well as school administrator and Vicki Moore, who is the high school principal, also teaches in the seventh and eighth grade classroom.
Other teachers are Kelly Watterson, preschool; Kari Schultz, kindergarten; Peggyann Barrier, first grade; Amanda Aldrich, second grade; Katie Kraynak, third grade; Jeni Campbell-White, fourth grade; Pam Lynn and Cathy Longo, fifth and sixth grade; DeeDee Dornback, seventh and eighth grade; John Johnson, Sue Dodgen, and Melody Bruggeman, ninth and 10th grade.
Members of the school board include President Scott Sanders, Vice President Dave Homes, Secretary Kelly Watterson, Robin LaThorpe and Mark Williams.
Hudson said that the school is looking for a permanent home. "The two churches have been so gracious, but we need a facility with larger classroom sizes for all grades. We are not federally funded and we are looking for help in grant-writing."
Although the school is not yet accredited and is working on accreditation, Hudson said it is not a problem for students who are college bound. "Many colleges are looking for students from small schools and those who are home schooled," she said.
In each classroom students were working diligently, some participating in group efforts and some working independently, as in the language classroom where each student worked on a computer, studying Spanish, French, or German under the tutelage of a retired junior college instructor.
Hudson said that when instructor John Johnson joined the faculty this year he asked about what latitude he had for dealing with behavior problems in the classroom. She said she told him she didn't think he would have any problems, and he has since admitted that she was correct.
The school is a member of the Oregon School Activities Association, which allows students to participate in extracurricular activities within the Brookings-Harbor School District. Several students play on teams at the high school and participate in other extracurricular activities. Three eighth-grade boys playing football, Joe LaThorpe as the team's quarterback, and 10th-grader Steven Sanders is a contender in high school cross country.
The Christian school also provides opportunities for outside activities. "This school does a lot of wonderful things," Hudson said. "Last year we went to the nursing homes to sing and we gave gift jars to all of the workers. They were so appreciative and said they had never been given gifts before."
Students are currently collecting Bibles and earning money to donate to victims of Hurricane Katrina.
Plans for the school include adding the last two grades of high school in the next two years. "The school is really growing," Hudson said. "Enrollment has doubled in the last three years and we believe it's the Lord's plan for us to take as many students as we can."
There is a waiting list for some classes, but others have a few openings.
Anyone interested in learning more about the school can phone Hudson, (541) 469-6478.