High Desert Christian Academy spent more than a year navigating the accreditation process

PHOTO COURTESY OF MAGGIE HALE - High school students hit the books at High Desert Christian Academy, which became officially accredited late last month. The move is expected to make the school more accountable.

Without someone to hold you accountable, you can become complacent and begin to take things for granted.

Maggie Hale, principal at High Desert Christian Academy, offers this explanation as she explains why the private school chose to spend more than a year getting accredited.

"It makes us more accountable as a school and it helps the credits to be transferred into the high school levels easier," Hale continued, "and makes it easier for the students to get into college."

Seven years ago, the school then known as Crook County Christian School dropped its high school grades and in the process dropped its accreditation. Then in 2015, the school separated from First Assembly of God Church and formed its own leadership board comprised of parents, community members and local pastors. The transition also included a name change and the reintroduction of high school grades.

With high school grades back in the fold, the school turned to AdvancED about a year and a half ago to start the process of accreditation.

"They cover the nation and other countries worldwide," Hale said. "They serve 34,000 schools."

AdvancED set up a series of appointments with High Desert Christian Academy and the organization in return provided the school a roadmap that detailed what was necessary to get accredited.

"It's pretty grueling — intense," Hale said. "They give you a year to get everything prepared. You have to have evidence and artifacts of what you are actually doing in the school to show that you are doing it."

AdvancED then sends a review team to the school, and they visit the classrooms and observe them.

"They go through all of our artifacts to see if everything is in line," Hale stated.

The school became officially accredited on April 25, and staff celebrated the achievement with an announcement on the school's Facebook page.

"We are so happy to announce that we have been accredited through AdvancEd," the post reads. "We will continue to grow as a school academically and spiritually — and being a part of AdvancEd, we will be held accountable. We want to thank everyone who helped us through this process. We appreciate the amazing love that you have shown towards God's school. It's been hard work and there were times we experienced frustration, but with perseverance and many prayers we plowed through and succeeded. An accomplishment everyone should be proud of, but we give all the glory to God!"

But the work doesn't end for High Desert Christian Academy. To stay accredited, staff must continue the tasks that took the school to this point.

"You always have to keep everything documented, and you always have to have an improvement plan," Hale said. "So we have a five-year strategic plan of what we are going to improve. One of the things is technology. We know we need to implement new procedures to advance our technology department. They keep you accountable to make sure you are not staying in that rut when nobody is looking at you."

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