A new private school called Candies Creek Academy has started its very first semester with an enrollment its headmaster characterized as being “very positive.”
The Christian school that was started by Candies Creek Baptist Church currently has 47 students.
“We didn’t know what to expect,” Headmaster Josh Brown said. “That was a very healthy start.”
As the school’s board began the process of starting it, he said conversations with those who had started other private schools in the area indicated that they could expect about 25 students the first semester.
The first day of classes was Aug. 11, and he said it has been “a good, smooth first two weeks” as the students have gotten used to the school’s unusual structure.
Located on the church’s Charleston property, Candies Creek Academy teaches students using the Classical Christian Education model. That model, among other things, requires all students to learn the Latin language starting in kindergarten.
As a member of the Association of Classical Christian Schools, the school teaches classes with activities that vary based on the developmental stages children experience at different ages.
Students in kindergarten through second grade are said to be in the “pre-grammar stage,” and classes include activities like singing and reciting as they learn the “grammar” of everything from the English language to math.
Third through sixth-grade students are in the “grammar stage,” and their classes are set to include more hands-on projects and more of an emphasis on memorization.
Seventh and eighth-grade students are said to be in the “logic stage” and take part in activities like debates, persuasive writing assignments and class presentations.
Ninth through 12th-grade students find themselves in the “rhetoric stage” with activities that urge them to have more rigorous debates and discussions, give more speeches and write more papers.
All of these methods are taught with a Christian emphasis, as well as a focus on classical literature and the Latin language.
The idea of children learning Latin gave some parents pause at first, but Brown said students have already begun picking up the language.
“Some parents looked at me frightened. They would ask, ‘They’re going to learn Latin at this age?’” Brown said. “Things have actually been going pretty well.”
The stage-appropriate activities are already being used to teach Latin. On a recent school day, Carrie Trew’s class of kindergarten through second-grade class sang a song where the “discipuli,” the students, arrive to school and said hello, “salve,” to their “magistera,” their teacher.
“This isn’t your typical classroom,” Trew said, noting that she was “excited” about the opportunity to teach students using the Classical method.
Meanwhile, high school students upstairs were engaged in an American government class debate on issues like privacy rights, picking up on the Latin terms sometimes used in legal documents in addition to their regular Latin studies.
While Latin is new to most of the students, Brown said he has not heard of any students struggling with it. In fact, some students who have taken languages like Spanish in the past have noted the similarities between the two.
“The biggest reaction I have seen ... is excitement,” Brown said.
For the first year, the school has not settled on a set of curriculum, but is using different texts for different subjects.
The Omnibus curriculum published by Veritas Press is being used for the “upper school” students in the subjects of Bible, history and literature and in “lower school” Latin.
“Upper school” Latin is being taught with the book “Wheelock’s Latin,” published by Collins Reference.
The Saxon Math curriculum, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, is being used for math in all grades.
The Shurley English curriculum, published by Shurley Instructional Materials, is being used for “lower school” English, while the “upper school” will utilize works of literature and other sources for English assignments.
Science for all grades is being taught using the Apologia curriculum published by Apologia Educational Ministries. Right now, the school is offering physical science and chemistry for the upper grades, while the younger students are currently studying astronomy.
“We’re taking from a variety of established curriculums,” Brown said. “But all of them fit the Classical Christian model.”
The headmaster explained that the school’s eight teachers spent a lot of time over the summer planning how classes would work this year and are meeting weekly to discuss what works well and what might not.
While it is too soon to tell how the school will continue to do over the course of its first year, he expressed hope that the school would continue to see an increase in enrollment.
The school is currently housed in the Candies Creek Baptist’s education building, which Brown said boasts enough classroom space for 200 students. If the school grew beyond that number, he said the school might look into getting its own facility.
Future plans for the school as it grows also include adding extracurricular activities, though he stressed that the focus this year is on making sure the academic side of things has “excellence.”
For more information about the school, visit www.candiescreekacademy.com.