ARLINGTON – Think back to yesteryear – the one-room schoolhouse in a farming community.
With 75 students, Arlington Christian School is much bigger than one room, but its new agriculture science class is going to be all about farming.
On the first day of school, Thursday, all of the students in grades pre-K to 12 went out into the field, picked a piece of corn and gave it to a neighbor as a blessing to the community.
Corn isn’t the only thing grown on the farm. There’s also a pumpkin patch.
“Some of the pumpkins are so big I can’t lift them,” Principal Wendy Tavener said Wednesday.
Five students are taking the new ag class, which, along with finance, is for students on a career rather than college path. They will learn how to operate the school tractor, along with how to run an organic farm, including everything from soil management to harvesting.
The school is located on 20 acres that used to be a dairy farm.
Tavener said a few years ago those involved in the school asked, “Lord, what do you want for us?”
“We have land,” she said was the answer.
Russ Nuss, who has four kids in the school, will teach the ag class. He also is pastor of the Crossroads Community Church, which uses the school’s chapel on Sundays. Nuss said about 80 kids planted the 3,000 corn and 250 pumpkin seeds last spring. Nuss, who has been a volunteer at the school for 10 years, said there also are about 50 fruit trees on the property.
At a morning gathering, the school talked about “first fruits” showing God provides for their daily needs.
The school, founded in 1975, has all the standard classes of a regular high school, the principal said. They also offer electives such as Spanish, choir, guitar, pottery, world cuisine and music.
“We have more-stringent graduation requirements,” she said, adding that the 26 credits include bible and Greek courses.
Tevener said science is one of the favorite classes at the school, taught by Debby Schultz. In her class she has a “stick bug,” tarantula and a bearded dragon lizard. She breeds roaches at home to feed the lizard. “Every day I bring in somebody new,” she said Thursday, explaining that science is all about observation. Tavener said there are many reasons why parents choose the school.
“We are able to include a biblical world view in all of our classes,” she said is the No. 1 reason.
Another is that 15 in the largest any class can be. “The relationship building and one on one ability,” she said. The school also is very open as it partners with families.
And frankly, Tavener said the school is cheaper than many other private ones. Teachers are certified both with the state and with the Association of Christian Schools International. But they don’t belong to a union.
“The teachers view this as a ministry, rather than a vocation,” she said. “They are passionate about what they do. When they have that mindset” they don’t seem to mind lower compensation. Many of the students have been home-schooled. “But the parents think they are no longer equipped to do that,” Tavener said.
Some students go to the private school in their younger years then transfer to public schools later.
Others do just the opposite, “because they are concerned about the messages and belief systems” in the older grades, Tavener said.
The school has a few Class 2B athletic teams. It offers girls volleyball, and basketball and cross country for both. It also offers coed flag football “to minimize injuries.” They used to have a tackle team, but ended it due to concussions and other injuries.
Tavener came to the school in 2011. One of the things she is most happy about was the reconciliation with Highland Christian School. Years ago they split apart because of some differences. But in 2013 the old Arlington High School, where Highland met, was condemned, leaving 100 students without a school. Arlington Christian had the school, but only 12 students.
“They put their old differences aside and came together,” she said.