Christian school prepares to educate high schoolers as well as K-8 students

Beginning with the 2015-2016 school year, United Christian School in Camp Verde will expand to K-12, offering the first classical Christian curriculum in the Verde Valley. UCS Principal Kathy Becker said that everything came together “at the right time. It is very exciting to be able to offer this curriculum to students all throughout the Verde Valley.” VVN photo by Greg Macafee

Beginning with the 2015-2016 school year, United Christian School in Camp Verde will expand to K-12, offering the first classical Christian curriculum in the Verde Valley. UCS Principal Kathy Becker said that everything came together “at the right time. It is very exciting to be able to offer this curriculum to students all throughout the Verde Valley.” VVN photo by Greg Macafee

CAMP VERDE - After 20 years of bringing a classical Christian curriculum to students in grades kindergarten through eighth grade, United Christian School has decided to expand their school to K-12. With this expansion, UCS will become the only classical Christian School in the Verde Valley, according to UCS Principal Kathy Becker.

"Everything came together at the same time," said Becker, who has been considering the expansion for the past two years. "We wanted to be able to offer a classical Christian curriculum for high school students all over the Verde Valley."

With close to 30 kids registered for UCS's new high school classes, Becker said UCS will have students coming in from all over the Verde Valley. Each of the school's high school classes will have its own teacher - and no more than 15 students. "We will never sacrifice good teaching to grow our school," Becker said. "We believe that quality is much greater than quantity."

With the growing student body, UCS has doubled its teaching staff going from 10 teachers last year to 20 for the new school year.

"We want to fulfill the obligations that we promised to the parents of our students," Becker said. "We want to teach students how to talk and write more intelligently so we can help them make a difference in the future."

Becker said that high school students will be taught the basic classes, but they will also have opportunities for non-traditional classes such as rhetoric, debate and French.

Bridget Bullard, 13, is one of those students who chose to continue her education at UCS rather than Camp Verde or Mingus high schools. Becker said if it wasn't for the 13-year-old Bullard, UCS may have not have had an expansion. The-soon-to-be-freshman said she knew that something was in the works for the expansion and didn't want to give into temptation from friends to further her education elsewhere.

"I had a feeling that something was going to happen," Bullard said. "Everyone was tempting me to go to a different school, but I knew UCS was the right choice for me. When I saw that sign outside the school I knew that God was with me and he was looking out for my life."

Bullard, who wants to be a nurse when she grows up, said UCS is like a family - but it is something that you can't really see.

"They're re not trying to change you into a Christian, but the school is like a family, the relationships you gain here and how they grow is amazing, it is something that you'd understand from being here." Bullard said.

Along with the spiritual education, Bullard said it was learning about her faith and wisdom that contributed to her wanting to come back to UCS.

"I believe in the world today you have to have those two things in your life, so you don't go down a different path." Bullard said.

Along with the expansion, UCS is adapting to the technological change of a new generation. For the first year, UCS will teach its math classes through an Idaho-based online program called Logos Press.

"We really wanted a qualified math teacher to teach our students," Becker said. "Students in the high school will be taught through a satellite broadcast. Each student will have their own laptop and headset and will have the teacher right in front of them along with a math proctor in the classroom during these sessions to help any student in need."

With this program, UCS hopes to expand this technology in the future and be able to broadcast to students anywhere in the Verde Valley and offer classes without students having to come into school.

"With the broadcasting technology, it would allow us to offer classes to students who may only want to take one or two courses," Becker said. "They would be able to attend classes online, and then bring their work in once a week."

Though this technological expansion is still a few years away for UCS, the school also needed to expand its campus. So there will also be a new modular building that will house two new classrooms. According to Becker, the high school students will be based out of the new building, as well as one of the preexisting units.

In its fifth year of a four-day school week, UCS will now offer opportunities for students on Fridays as well. Becker said that UCS has always had child care on Fridays, but now will also offer programs such as drama class for students in fifth through twelfth grades, as well as a chess club and math tutoring.

Being the first classical Christian school in the Verde Valley, Becker said that she is "very excited" to provide this opportunity to kids across the Verde Valley.

-- Follow Greg Macafee on Twitter @greg_macafee and Instagram @VerdeValleyNews

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