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Christian high schools offer options

SCV residents will have more choices this fall.

Posted: April 14, 2008 2:09 a.m.
Updated: June 15, 2008 5:03 a.m.

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Parents seeking a Christian education for their high school-age children have two options in the Santa Clarita Valley: Santa Clarita Christian School, which has been around for 26 years, and Trinity High School, which is part of Trinity Classical Academy and will open next fall with only a freshman class.

Trinity is about to break ground on a new campus with NorthPark Community Church in Valencia and will offer a classical education, including the study of Latin, while Santa Clarita Christian in Canyon Country offers a more traditional curriculum, compatible with local public schools.

"We have an outstanding reputation and a proven track record for academic excellence," said Santa Clarita Christian Principal Derek Swales. "Students who typically struggle in other academic settings often thrive in our small classroom environment."

Most Santa Clarita Christian graduates go on to college, with students having been accepted at most California universities over the years and also at out-of-state and private universities.

"We also have a lot of students who go to The Master's College (in Newhall)," Swales said.

Students at Trinity High School will follow a humanities curriculum that takes them through the great books of literature. They will also learn Latin and will have strong math and science programs, according to Liz Caddow, head and founder of Trinity Classical Academy.

"We want to create the kind of graduate that can think well, read well and write well. One that is prepared for the college experience," Caddow said. "The main difference in our school is the classical model that we follow. I don't know of another high school in the area that is working out of the intense literature program we work out of."

Both schools offer sports and other co-curricular activities.

"We're committed to having the co-curriculars that are offered in a traditional high school like sports and drama," Caddow said. "To participate on a team or in performing arts allows students to explore who they can be and what they can accomplish."

Caddow plans to add athletic and performing arts facilities to the new high school as it grows. One grade will be added to the high school each year, with the school offering ninth through twelfth grades by fall 2011.

"As we move into our new campus and grow, we plan to have the facilities needed to offer these opportunities," Caddow said.

The junior high and elementary basketball teams at Trinity Classical Academy both won championships this year, she said.

Santa Clarita Christian offers a 12-sport athletic program and participates in the California Interscholastic Foundation. The school, which meets at Santa Clarita Baptist Church, has a gymnasium and uses practice fields in the Santa Clarita community.

The football team plays its home games at Canyon High School, and the baseball team plays at The Master's College, Swales said.

"We play our games on some of the nicest fields in the valley," he said.

Santa Clarita Christian has a strong arts department and offers drawing, sculpture, video editing and digital photography, Swales said. There is also a 60-member high school choir.

"We honestly offer a balanced education for students," Swales said.

"If you just focus on academics or sports, you miss out on developing all of the students' talents."

What both schools have in common is a focus on Christian values and beliefs.

"With our Christian focus, most of our students are believers who want to follow Christ's teachings from the Bible," Caddow said. Students at Trinity Classical Academy represent about 38 local churches, she said.

High school students entering Santa Clarita Christian would need to be Christians in order to be admitted, according to Swales.

"We're a Christian school. What that means is that we're trying to integrate our faith into every aspect of learning," he said. "We're looking for students from Christian families who are active in an evangelical Christian church."

Tuition at Santa Clarita Christian School is around $5,700 per year, while incoming freshmen at Trinity High School will pay about $9,360 per year. Both schools offer scholarships to families who have a financial need.

"A large percentage of our families take advantage of this option," Caddow said.

Parents who would like to find out more about these schools can attend an open house at Santa Clarita Christian School on April 17, or an information night for Trinity High School at NorthPark Community Church on April 28.

"We'll talk about what we mean by a classical Christian education, and we'll talk in detail about our new high school program, which we're very excited about," Caddow said.

Santa Clarita Christian's open house will feature a carnival with many of the booths manned by high school students. Those who can't make it to the open house should visit the school's Web site and view some of the more than 75 video clips showing choir performances, sporting events and other school activities.

"We have nothing to hide," Swales said. "We really want to showcase the programs we have here at Santa Clarita Christian School."

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