When the Oaks Classical Christian Academy was first founded, it had just 33 students in a church on the border of Spokane and Spokane Valley, which had not yet become a city. Twenty-three years and several moves later, it now has 332 students and will soon build its permanent home.
The school is in the Valley Fourth Church campus on South Bowdish Road in Spokane Valley, and the bulk of its classrooms and activities will be moved onto what is now a soccer field next door. In September, the school purchased the 8.2-acre field for almost a $1 million and hopes to move in by September 2022.
School board president Travis Harken, a 1995 graduate of Valley Christian Academy which was previously housed at the same church, said he remembers when the land was just river rock and sage brush. Harken was one of several high school students who helped haul rocks and clear out the field so it could be usable. He said his own son graduated from the Oaks Academy last year, and he hopes the new building, and the expanded capacity, will be able to continue and expand the school’s vision of working with parents, and providing a Christian education.
“We fully believe, if we continue to do that well, is that we’ll see young men and women who graduate from that school and really have a major impact in all aspects of their life,” he said.
The Oaks Classical Christian Academy was founded in 1996, and was housed in two previous churches. The school is still small, with 23 students set to graduate in 2020.
The land purchase and cost of the building are not expected to increase tuition prices. Almost all of the $995,000 needed to purchase the land was donated. He said the need for a classical Christian education in the Spokane and Coeur d’Alene area has only grown over the years, and the expansion will allow the school to serve about 150 more students.
Students are split between several buildings, walking between them for classes, and the school doesn’t have a cafeteria. Middle school and high school students have to eat in their classrooms. Teachers also have to switch classrooms every year, but school headmaster Charlie Dowers hopes the new building will provide more stability and a stronger community gathering space for everyone.
He said keeping the same location for the new building was important, because a community has grown up around them.
“What we’ve found is the longer we’ve been here, the more people move around the school,” he said. “The school acts as kind of the gravity well to encourage people to move into the Valley.”
He anticipates the new building will be built in more classical style. Beyond adding more space to make daily life easier for students and staff, the school also hopes to create space for parents to be involved in their children’s education.
“This is a home because it’s a family,” he said.
The new building will have an atrium, which students will use for music, more classrooms and a gathering space for parents. Harken said there will also be a playground.
“It’s pretty incredible to envision all of this,” he said. “It’s exciting to look forward and see what’s on the horizon.”
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