Many Northern Colorado families have been looking at religious schools when making choices about their children’s education. Religious schools have a number of benefits that make them an attractive option – even for families that do not practice the same religion.
In many cases, religious schools have rigorous academic standards paired with a quality education at a more reasonable price than many secular private schools. Like most schools, they offer sports and other extracurricular activities, engage in community service, and encourage high levels of parental involvement. In addition, religious schools often have favorable student-teacher ratios. They offer a sense of stability and opportunity for establishing long-term friendships as many schools serve children from the early grades to high school.
We reached out to some area schools to get their take on what your child can gain from receiving religious school education.
Holy Family High School
Founded in 1922, Holy Family High School is a Catholic college preparatory, co-educational high school that serves students in grades 9 through 12. They offer a Catholic learning environment that stresses academic excellence, fosters mutual respect, demands responsibility, and encourages self-growth.
Principal Matt Hauptly notes, “We draw students from 35 communities along the front range. On a 52-acre campus that has been beautifully enhanced over the past decade, we offer a full athletics program, a performing and visual arts curriculum, and a rigorous academic program – all steeped in the Catholic faith.
“An investment in Catholic School education supports a student’s complete development and personal success. A rigorous, time-tested curriculum taught by committed faculty in a faith-based and nurturing environment results in measurably accomplished academic achievement.
“While Holy Family is a school grounded in its Catholic heritage, we warmly welcome students of all faiths. Our student body is 89 percent Catholic, 11 percent non-Catholic. 99 percent of the graduating class of 2021 went on to a two- or four-year college or university, and they received over $14 million in scholarships and awards.”
Longmont Christian School
Teaching grades from pre-K through high school, Longmont Christian School is a college-prep institution where they believe literacy begins in preschool, with an academically rigorous curriculum continuing through high school. Amanda Mason, Marketing Director, alumna and mother of a student at LCS, shared this with us:
“I think parents would consider a Christian or religious education if they want more individualized attention from teachers and focus on their student’s development not only academically, but emotionally and spiritually, as well. At a religious school, character and integrity are often taught side-by-side with the curriculum, and students are expected to develop these traits alongside their academics. At a Christian school like Longmont Chrisitan, students are taught Biblical values and respect for one another, and I feel like the whole student body benefits.
“Growing up in Longmont, I attended a public, charter, and private religious school – and of the three I felt the most ’at home’ at Longmont Christian School, where I felt teachers were concerned not just about what I learned, but also about who I was as a person.”
Apple Tree Christian Preschool and Kindergarten
Some parents prefer to start with a younger-grade religious school and then decide on their children’s academic track a little later. Apple Tree Christian Preschool and Kindergarten (ATCPK) from Broomfield United Methodist Church is a non-profit Christian organization that offers early childhood programs for ages 2½ through Kindergarten. Their preschool program curriculum is developmentally age-appropriate and provides a balance of child-centered choices and teacher-guided experiences in a Christian environment.
Communications Coordinator Karen Smith of Broomfield United Methodist Church tells us:
“A religious education helps children grow up feeling valued, worthy, and supported by God and a loving community. Students are grounded in a faith connection to develop healthy self-esteem, social relationships, and a safe place for academic development. Apple Tree served 78 students for in-person school in the 20/21 school year. Each student is valued as they receive personal and individual attention.”
Understanding that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound effect on how young children socialize and experience school, Smith goes on to say, “In response to the pandemic, Apple Tree created a Parents Day Out (PDO) program to support families’ changing needs. PDO families can tailor design a program of flexible preschool with drop-in days allowing their student(s) to continue to receive social contact, academic and play activities, and exposure to a Christian program.”
Making the Right Choice For Your Family
As you think about what sort of school would be best for your child, It’s essential to consider what your priorities are for your child’s education. Are you looking for a small class size? Extracurricular activities? A broad selection of courses? What characteristics do you or your child value most?
Ask for tours of schools you’re interested in and talk to teachers, administrators, parents, and students to get a feel for the place. Don’t be afraid to ask questions should any arise. Each school will be different.
In the end, feel free to choose the institution that best represents your values and priorities.
By John Teehan, Raised in the Rockies