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School gets new name, life

When Gary Lamar Crum heard that Central Christian Academy’s low enrollment threatened to close the school, he decided to do something about it.

“We saw the school turning financially, and we said we need an angel, we need help,” said Carl Rawls, assistant principal. “[Crum] said I’m your angel.”

With funds from Ellwood Community Church, Crum, pastor and board chair, and the church purchased the pre-kindergarten through senior high school in March, changing the name to Ellwood Christian Church at the end of May.

The most noticeable change will be the school’s exterior and interior renovations, such as a new roof, new flooring and computer lab. Renovations will begin next week. The church also plans to move from its current location, 1705 Selma Ave., to the same lot as the school.

Once the school officially changed ownership, the first act of the board was to cut tuition cost.

“We wanted to make it as affordable as possible to give as many parents as possible an alternative and an opportunity to have their children exposed to a private, Christian setting,” Crum said.

Lowering cost from $241 a month to $225 a month, paid in a 12-month period, Crum intends to more than double enrollment from last year’s 71 students.

“So far, enrollment is heading in a positive direction,” Crum said. “But we’ve got to have students to support the services that we will be offering.”

Already, 85 students have enrolled for the 2010-2011 year. Crum has a goal of more than 200 children.

Families are eligible for half tuition for the third child enrolled, and the fourth child can attend the school at no additional cost.

All of Ellwood’s 17 teachers have a valid Alabama teaching certificate. The school has also added positions to the school: a state certified cafeteria manager to monitor food safety, full-time librarian and professional counselor. Administrators are still looking to hire more teachers.

Before school, the administration will offer child care starting at 6:30 a.m. each day. After school programs will last until 6 p.m. Participation in before or after school care will add at least $30 a month to tuition.

During school, class sizes will have no more than 18 students.

“We are going to have small classes because that is an advantage of private schools,” said principal Darrell Walker. “You have more one-on-one time for students and teachers.”

After school, students can participate on teams for eight-man football, basketball, baseball, softball, cheerleading and track and field. Except for football, which will compete in the Alabama Christian Education Association, all sports will compete in the Alabama Independent School Association.

But at the end of the day, the main focus of the school is to instill Christian morals in all students.

“We believe that in stressing the Christianity component of our program, that will lead to us providing a safe, conducive and orderly environment where students can learn and be exposed to their best, and the best can come out of them,” Crum said.

Students have at least three forms of religious exposure each week.

Each morning, Walker offers a prayer before homeroom. From 8 a.m. until 8:30 a.m. each Friday, students attend chapel services, led each week by different ministers from the community. Students are also required to take Bible classes.

All grades will follow A Beka Book curriculum.

Developed 30 years ago at Pensacola Christian Academy in Pensacola, Fla., the A Beka Book is a Christian-based curriculum for all school subjects, such as beginning reading books to science textbooks about the immune and nervous systems.

It offers textbooks, workbooks and distance learning through DVDs for studies such as science labs or music for Christian school or home schooled children.

High school curriculum also incorporates ACT preparation.