Options in Choosing a Private School
Deciding on a school for your child can be one of the biggest decisions you’ll make as a parent. With so many alternatives to traditional public school, it can be a difficult one. Here are some schools in the area that strive for excellence and could potentially be the right fit for your child.
By Kristin Scott
Wil Lou Gray Opportunity School
3300 West Campus Road, West Columbia
Wil Lou Gray is a 14-week, military-structured, residential GED program. The program focuses on high-school-aged students who are at risk of not graduating. This includes students whose homes or community environments are negatively affecting their schooling. The school is a proud seven-time award winning Palmetto Gold School, which recognizes the excellence of the school’s programming.
Wil Lou Gray serves South Carolina residents ages 16-19 who are willing to participate in all aspects of the program. Students don’t pay tuition but do need a small budget for living expenses. The school runs on a trimester system and all students must apply to begin the admissions process. Trimesters begin in July, October and March.
The school provides structure and discipline, which could be an adjustment, but could also be well worthwhile in giving students the tools to succeed in adulthood. Wil Lou Gray emphasizes the importance of parents maintaining contact with their child roughout the program. The school provides opportunities for communication with once-a-week calls after the first two weeks of the trimester, letters, passes to visit home and parents’ days.
Class schedules consist of Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC), language arts, life skills, mathematics, science, social studies and pre-vocation training. When students aren’t in class, they can participate in activities such as the arts, sports, movies, cookouts, clubs, job training and more.
Stipulations for admission include students be drug-free, enter the program voluntarily and not be under indictment or have a felony conviction. If your child or one you know is at risk of not graduating due to scholastic or family-related issues, reach out to Wil Lou Gray Opportunity School.
Northside Christian Academy
4347 Sunset Blvd., Lexington
Northside Christian Academy opened its doors in September 2011 with a purpose to “provide Christ-like love, promote a Biblical worldview, pursue excellence in education and partner with our families.” The school serves families with children ages six weeks through high school. Its mission is to support the community and educate children with a Christian foundation.
Northside Christian Academy started because the people launching the school wanted a Christian school in the Lexington area that was different than the rest. The faculty and staff help students achieve academic and biblical excellence. They accomplish this through prayer, commitment to the school and students, and great leadership. The school also turns to the parents to support the students and be actively involved in their children’s education.
The school-aged children are broken up into four sections, each with different overall goals in mind, all based on the age of the students. In the lower school, which encompasses children in 4K through 5th grade, children experiment with how they learn. Teachers focus on active, hands-on learning to help expand students’ interests and help them learn.
Students in grades 6 through 8 are still encouraged to experiment, explore and try new things, and they are introduced to critical thinking, creativity and collaboration. High school children in grades 9 through 12 are encouraged to excel in their academics and grow spiritually so they may reach their full potential.
Through the faculty, staff and administration, students receive a rounded education that doesn’t stop at the books. Northside Christian Academy becomes home for the families that attend. Additionally, because of the more hands-on approach from faculty, students are better prepared and able to excel in classes, preparing them for adulthood.
Attendance can get competitive. Over half of the classes are filled to capacity each year, so the admissions team makes selections for classes not filled to capacity based on the applicant’s file and academic record. If there is a class with more applicants than there are vacancies, an anonymous admissions committee decides which applicants will be admitted.