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The private Christian school has conducted in-person classes all school year, and recently graduated two seniors

PHOTO CONTRIBUTED BY HIGH DESERT CHRISTIAN ACADEMY
 - Kanden Lang, left, and Leanna Van Cleef walked for their graduation ceremony on May 22. The school currently has 145 students enrolled.Whether private or public school, the last two school years have been a challenge for staff, parents—and especially students.

At the High Desert Christian Academy, the goal for their graduates is to possess a deep understanding of their world, the ability to discern truth, beauty and goodness, and the tools to influence every situation for God's glory.

The High Desert Christian Academy, The Warriors, is a private Christian school in Prineville with a current enrollment of 145 students. According to their website, they are "committed to educating students with sound wisdom, knowledge and understanding. The realization of Jesus Christ is the cornerstone upon which all other learning will be built. Our guidance and teaching will be based on Biblical truths in order to give students an eternal perspective."

High Desert Academy uses A Beka Book curriculum, which is a thoroughly Christian, traditional program that emphasizes biblical character building in pre-K through grade 12 textbooks. Their educational philosophy is to "provide a high level, quality education that nurtures not only a student's mind, but their heart and soul as well."

Maggie Hale, principal for the High Desert Christian School, indicated that their students have attended classes in-person all school year. They have had to turn away new students, however, because of Oregon Department of Education guidelines.

"That has also been kind of disappointing, even though we could have grown, we couldn't grow," she said of the effects of the requirements in limiting class sizes.

The Academy discontinued their online option they had offered in the past, as there was not enough intertest.

"Most of the people did not want to go online," continued Hale. "They had enough of it after the springtime of 2020."

For the 2021 graduating year, there were two graduates—Kanden Lang and Leanna Van Cleef. The two graduates had a traditional graduation ceremony on May 22, despite missing out on many of the experiences other school graduates have also had to forego.

"They haven't been able to do their senior trips, which is unfortunate, or do the normal things that seniors do," added Hale.

She commented that during this past year, the most difficult challenge overall has been keeping masks on the students.

"That has been the hardest, I believe," commented Hale. "It is so hard, too, constantly to remind them to put up their masks or to wear a mask."

She added that there are several students every day who forget their mask and must come to the office and get one.

"Which I am sure that happens in every school. That has been our biggest headache."

She added that despite the challenges, the students are just happy to be back in school, and the parents are also happy to have them in school.

"But they have missed out on a lot this year—field trips, doing things like the pumpkin patch and going to group movies or going to the coast. We always have a trip for the middle school and the high school for the coast. The science camp—all that stuff, the kids have lost on, which is very sad," Hale said of the things that students have missed both this school year, as well as last school year.

She emphasized that they are hoping that things get back to normal for the fall next school year, but she remains optimistic regardless of the outcome.

"If it doesn't, its OK, too, we can work it out," she said. "I guess the best that has come out of this—it came to our thinking outside of the box."

She indicated that when you are challenged to do things different, it forces you to be resourceful.

"Sometimes it is good to be challenged to figure all that out. God has blessed us tremendously through this. We got to see the blessings in every valley we go through—and we have seen a lot of blessings," Hale concluded enthusiastically.


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