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Christian schools unite
by Garrett Valenzuela
May 06, 2013 | 3766 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Outside the Excel Christian School hangs a banner welcoming the new students from Legacy Christian School. The merger will take effect this fall.
Outside the Excel Christian School hangs a banner welcoming the new students from Legacy Christian School. The merger will take effect this fall.
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SPARKS — Ten years ago, Legacy Christian School and Excel Christian School were heading down different paths of Christian education in Sparks and each was hoping to make its mark in the private school sector. Fast forward to 2013, the two schools have formed a united front under the Excel Christian name to bring an entirely new experience to the city.

Excel will boost its fall enrollment numbers to about 220 students after the merger with Legacy, according to Excel Vice Principal Kristopher Dahir who said Monday the school is excited to be joined with Legacy once again. Dahir said both schools have been trying to establish themselves in the community and he believes the strengths of both schools will only improve what Excel brings to students.

“We really are two schools that keep trying to make their way forward and taking steps forward and together we can get stronger and move forward,” Dahir said. “This facility is a pretty amazing place and us getting in here was a big step of that. Our sports and our high school are a big part of it as well.

“The one thing they have done really well is technology wise they are all using notebooks and things like that and our kids aren’t doing that yet. Bringing them together is just right. I think it honors the Lord, it is good for the students, good for the community and it will make this school stronger because we are together. One strong school is kind of our message and bringing the two of them together makes us stronger.”

Dahir said Legacy will be bringing over four teachers, one administrator and possibly a couple assistants for general duties in addition to about 50 students in the lower education levels. Dahir said the transition will be a bit of a challenge but he is already looking toward meeting with families and faculty during the summer in preparation for the new fall semester.

“Our very first thing we have to do is continue to work on our staff and make sure we are cohesive as one so when our new teachers come over we won’t be two schools, we will be one school and walk together and work together,” Dahir said. “Second thing we do is communicate to the parents who we are. We have a lot of new parents coming over here and they need to know who we are and what we do. We are a team with the parents.

“Another big thing is letting students see who we are. You want to be careful that you don’t grow so fast that you lose identity. We need to keep to our standards and morals of who we are and what we do. We will be open all summer long to help students and parents make that transition and get comfortable in the school.”

The announcement of the merger with Legacy comes on the heels of Excel receiving recommendation for a five-year accreditation from the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI), which certifies about 20,000 schools in the United States. Dahir said the process, though rigorous and extensive, helped boost the credibility and makeup of the school.

“They go through and hit every area,” he said. “They looked at our campus, the safety of what we do, the government of what we do and how our board works, the curriculum and all the maps for academics. It took months to get (the presentation) ready and give them a good picture of who we are and why.

“They sit down with every staff member and ask them all kinds of questions about our leadership, they also sit down with parents, students and ask them the same questions and making sure they are not getting fooled. They ask the board and our leaders about what our vision is, why do we do what we are doing.”

Dahir said a big focus of the accreditation process focused on academics and Excel’s ability to successfully prepare students for college. Dahir said his school focuses on the “whole student” and added that the approach was highly regarded by the ACSI reviewing process.

“We are here to teach the whole student,” Dahir said. “We want them to learn academics, be a part of community, know who they are in the Lord and be comfortable in their own skin and we want them to be socially and emotionally solid.

“I know a lot of kids who get to school with a 4.0 or 4.5 even, but if they are not comfortable with who they are emotionally they cannot make it. It is the balance of the whole student, and that was the stamp they gave us saying that is what we are trying to do.”

Dahir said the future looks bright for the east Sparks school with plans for a new football field and additional facilities are in the works, as well as new programs within the academic system. He said incorporating more technology in the classrooms, continually bringing in more exchange students and making classes available for those in other schools or homeschooling programs to gain credits on the classes available at Excel.

“One of things we always want to have is what we call the ‘global touch’ and that is where we have students come from other cultures to us,” he said. “This year we have South Koreans, Chinese, Vietnamese and we are trying to bring in Spanish from Spain. On that same note, part of the exchange program is allowing us to send students over there to get the experience and hopefully in the future we will do that.

“We are a global world and if we are not teaching our kids how to get past themselves and look at other cultures then we are not doing our job.”

Excel Christian School will have open registration for most classes throughout the summer and Dahir said the staff encourages anybody interested, or simply curious, in the school should not hesitate to tour the campus. He said making people aware of the school’s community presence has been a goal from the start.

“We are here to make a difference in the community,” he said, “And that might mean your student comes here, it might mean they do not come here but either way we would love for them to know what we are doing and know what we are about. We have great stuff going on and it is pretty exciting.”
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