Parents chose parochial schools for faith, discipline and respect

December 11, 2013
Rich Ambrose works with students at Covenant Christian School.

Rich Ambrose works with students at Covenant Christian School.

(Editor’s Note: Mason County Press Correspondent D’Ann Rohrer continues her series on educational choices in Mason County. Her previous article (see here) discussed the choice of homeschooling. Today, D’Ann explores private parochial school choices in Mason County.)

By D’Ann Rohrer. MCP Corresondent.

Mason County offers three private educational choices for its residences, Ludington Area Catholic, Covenant Christian, and Lighthouse Baptist Academy.  Even though they may have been established during different decades or even centuries, they are all considered parochial schools since they are relating to a church parish.

Ludington Area Catholic School has been an option in our area since 1891, then referred to as St. Simons Catholic School.  Lori and Dean Nowaczyk say they are thankful for this option for their children.

Teacher Mary BUrden teaches math at LAC.

Teacher Mary BUrden teaches math at LAC.

“We chose LAC for all eight of our children because we wanted a school that incorporated our Catholic faith into our children’s education on a daily basis,” Lori says.  “My husband and I were blessed with a Catholic education from Kindergarten through 12th grade and it strengthened our faith. We wanted to provide our children with the same opportunity to strengthen their Catholic faith.”

During my visit to LAC students in the first grade classroom were praying aloud, as a group.  They ended each prayer with “Lord hear our prayer.” They were very excited to share with me that they had lead mass that morning and there were three things they had to remember: speak clearly, speak loudly, and speak slowly. At LAC students are active participants in their Catholic education.

According to Principal Collin Thompson, students lead mass once a month, every classroom participates in daily prayer and through this they learn about the Catholic faith.

Laura Ledesma shared her reasons for choosing LAC.

“We were new to the area and our daughter attended a parochial school where we previously lived so it was the comfortable choice.  The prayer time is wonderful and just having Christian values part of my daughter’s daily life is important.  The small class sizes are great too and we get to know all the families and teachers really well, they are part of our family.”

High school students at Lighthouse Baptist Academy.

High school students at Lighthouse Baptist Academy.

“With 145 students enrolled at LAC, kindergarten through eighth grade, the average class size is 15 students,” Thompson says.  It is not a requirement for families to be members of the church for their children to attend LAC, the only difference is the tuition rate.

All three of Shawn and Kim Markham’s children attended LAC and now they attend Ludington High School.  “LAC helps reinforce values that we try to instill at home.  It is like an old neighborhood elementary school where the older kids mentor the younger ones and it is a great sense of community.”

Like the Markham children, most former LAC students attend Ludington High School to complete their education.  The transition is smooth with the collaboration between the schools.  LAC collaborates with Ludington Area Schools by sharing music, art, and physical education teachers.  Also LAC’s, sixth through eighth grade students participate in Ludington band.

Covenant Christian School, located in Amber Township on U.S. 10 between Ludington and Scottville, is a non-denominational Christian-affiliated school serving nearly 15 churches in the area.

“Covenant Christian School reinforces the biblical principles we teach at home, the staff is focused on the academic and character development of each student and we also like the small class sizes,” says Amy Ruba, a parent of three, who have all attended the school.

Covenant Christian was established with only 14 students, K-6, on North Stiles Road in 1996.  Since 2010, it is located  in a new building on U.S. 10 where it has grown to about 100 students, kindergarten through eighth grade.

“We integrate Christian wisdom with knowledge,” says Rich Ambrose, teacher/adminstrator. “Students learn who they are in Christ and what matters the most to families is to receive an education in a community of believers.  We raise Christian disciples and send them out into the community to serve.”

First grade students pray in an LAC classroom

First grade students pray in an LAC classroom

A unique offering at CCS is learning Spanish from kindergarten through eighth grade.

“Spanish empowers the students to reach the Spanish speaking community and if they want to take a mission trip to Spanish speaking countries they will be familiar with the language,” says Lena Bluestein, Spanish and music teacher at CCS. Bluestein is also a mother of children who attend the school.

The Christian perspective is taught in all subjects but what is really rewarding, according to Ambrose, is when two students are having a disagreement and the teacher can pull them aside and discuss how Jesus would want them to act and solve their disagreement.

Mason County’s newest private school is Lighthouse Baptist Academy.  In 2004,  the school opened its doors at Lighthouse Baptist Church on North Jebavy Drive in Hamlin Township.  It was a vision of Senior Pastor Brian Blount and with the congregation’s blessing the school was created.

“My husband and I chose to move to this area because of the school here at Lighthouse Baptist Church,” says Karen Hammond. “I attended a similar school during my youth and wanted my children to have the same opportunity.”

The church ministry teaches through a video program called “A Beka Book”, originally from Pensacola, Florida. “There is heart behind our curriculum,” says Assistant Pastor Nathan Carpenter. Church members decided they wanted more control over what their young disciples for Christ were being taught.  The entire curriculum is biblically based.

“We want to give our students a good moral foundation,” Carpenter says.

“Currently, we have 25 students enrolled K-12, all students are from families whom are members of the church.”

During a tour of the classrooms I had a brief moment to speak with Julie Mainous, who has been at LBA since the beginning and has had children attend the school.  Julie is also middle school and high school teacher at the academy.

“It’s like a one-room schoolhouse with technology,” she says.

Even though the academy utilizes three rooms, there are several grades in each classroom.  Students wear uniforms, they are expected to sit properly in their seat to learn, and respect was observed when a child answered his teacher, “Yes, Ma’am.”

“Our heart beat is we want our kids to grow morally not just mentally,” Carpenter, who is responsible for several of the daily activities at the school, says.  The academy’s motto is “Teaching children how to live not just to make a living.”

A quote Pastor Carpenter believes in is: “Don’t just be satisfied to fit into a pre-conceived mold; think, grow, and blow the mold!”  That is what LBA is encouraging in its students.

Life is about choices and several families in our community have chosen private education for their children. Each family has to pay tuition for their child to attend but it is an investment in their child’s future.  Private education has a service component which is a benefit to our local community.  It is what works for those families and makes our community a brighter place to live.


For more information:

Ludington Area Catholic:

Covenant Christian School:

Lighthouse Baptist Academy:

Area Churches