Christian school celebrates new building, new name |

Christian school celebrates new building, new name

Scott N. Miller
Shane Macomber/Vail DailyLily Byrnes, 5, lets out a short yawn Tuesday during a prayer at the Eagle Valley Christian Academy grand opening in Eagle Vail.

EAGLE-VAIL – A lot has changed at the Eagle Valley Christian Academy: the school’s name, the facilities and the principal’s favorite Bible verse.As the school’s fund-raising campaign for a new building kicked off two years ago, principal Sandra Burner liked to quote Nehemiah 2:18: “Let us rise up and build.”Today, with a $2.6 million expansion complete, Burner likes to quote Jeremiah 29: 11-13: “For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you a future and a hope.”There’s plenty to celebrate at the school these days, and plenty of optimism and hope for the future. The school recently held a grand opening celebration for a gym and brand-new classrooms at the Vail Bible Church in Eagle-Vail. At the celebration, the school unveiled its new name: The Vail Academy.

“We heard we haven’t yet established an identity with the old name,” Burner said. So, working with a local marketing company, the school’s board decided on “The Vail Academy.”Part of the long-running confusion may stem from the fact the Eagle County Charter Academy spent its first year at the Vail Bible Church, with the Christian school opening the next year.Despite the identity problem, holding classes in trailers with no plumbing and using the parking lot as a playground, the Vail Academy has grown steadily over the last nine years. When the building drive started, a few more than 90 kids were enrolled. Today, there are around 125 kids who attend, and admissions director Becki Vancuren said the school may hit its capacity of 200 students in the next couple of years.That growth is due largely to three things, Burner said.

“The No. 1 thing I hear is that parents want their kids in a safe, nurturing environment,” Burner said. “The second thing is a combination of a Christian world view and academic excellence, and the third is the perception that this is the best choice of schools for families.”The academics are distinctly old school. Kids are drilled in phonics, grammar and spelling. They learn Latin and logic.”It’s a misnomer that new is better,” Vancuren said. “Except for technology, the tried and true ways really last.”The results are promising. The school’s first fifth graders are now juniors at a couple of Christian colleges, and “doing very well,” Burner said.With the school’s first middle are almost ready to head for college, Burner said, and their progress will provide a more valid test of their early instruction.

The combination of faith and traditional educational methods has created a lot of loyalty. “We have a 98 percent return rate with our students,” Burner said.But loyalty doesn’t come easy, especially when it can involve writing some pretty big checks. “Raising the money was challenging,” board president Rick Chastain said. “But we’ve had a high level of participation from parents, faculty and the Vail Bible Church.”There’s also a big dose of faith involved. “It required a lot of optimism and faith to start,” Chastain said. “It required us to feel like our enrollment would increase.”With the new addition just open, Chastain said the school’s directors aren’t spending a lot of time resting on their accomplishments. “We’re still planning,” Chastain said. And the next challenge might be bigger.

“Our architects say we’d be hard-pressed to expand this site,” Chastain said. “But we’re very excited about what God is doing here.”Staff Writer Scott N. Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 613, or Colorado

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