The start of the school year offers officials with Southwest Covenant lots of hope.
Headmaster Steve Lessman said Thursday that about 430 students are expected to be enrolled in the private pre-k through 12th grade school this year.
Classes start Aug. 17, the same as students in Yukon.
Lessman said the number of students enrolled this year is an increase of about 34 over last year.
The school, located on Yukon Parkway next to Covenant Church, was started in 1982 and had its first graduating class in 1996. There were three seniors that year, Lessman said. That number is expected to be around 25 this year.
The school is continuing to grow, he said.
Four years ago, Lessman said, there were 290 students enrolled.
“We’ve really been growing,” he said.
As a result, the school recently built a separate elementary and middle school, and this year is renovating parts of the high school to increase the lunchroom as well as the band room.
The school has 20 full-time teachers, as well as several part-time teachers.
This year’s major changes involve adding two teachers at the fifth-grade level. That means all grades between pre-k and fifth grade will have at least two teachers. Classroom sizes will be below 20 students.
“We’re trying to get our classroom sizes smaller by doubling the number of classrooms,” he said.
Lessman said most students come from Canadian County, though there are students from some Oklahoma City-area school districts, as well as two students from Verden, more than 49 miles away.
“They have bought into what we are offering,” he said.
And what they offer is a strong educational program.
“It is a great education in a great small school environment. The No. 1 reason why is families who want the same values that they are teaching in their church and homes to be integrated into their education,” he said.
“If they want their children impacted by Christian principles and they demonstrate that in their home and their church. It makes sense to have that integrated into their education. We call it a ‘biblical world view’ education,” he said.
Lessman said the education offered through the school is a strong, traditional, Christian-based education.
“We’re not teaching to tests, we don’t have to take the state tests. We are more traditional – reading, writing and arithmetic,” he said.
And Lessman points to the number of National Merit Scholars and the students’ ACT scores.
He said since 2013, the school has had nine National Merit Scholars, and could be in line for additional finalists this year.
“We’ve had the most National Merit Scholars of any school Canadian County,” he said.
In addition, the average ACT score is in the upper 20s.
While the school does focus on traditional teaching, it also is putting technology to use.
“We are moving forward by integrating technology,” he said.
Lessman said the school’s robotics program is one of the top programs in the nation.
The technology also includes some classes that are taught online through Colorado Christian University in Lakewood, Colo. Students have the opportunity to earn not only high school credit, but college credit, Lessman said.
Lessman said while classes start on Aug. 17, there will be a parent meeting on Aug. 14 at 7 p.m. in Covenant Church’s chapel. There will be a new parents meeting the same night at 6:30.