Choosing an eagle as the school’s mascot symbolizes the foresight, belief and determination that have fostered expansion at Oakwood Christian Academy, a ministry of Oakwood Baptist Church in Chickamauga.
Next year five seniors at the school will don mortarboards and become the first class to receive a diploma.
The class has been nicknamed the “Semper Fi” class by Deana Jones, the school’s administrator.
The designation is for the “always faithful” student, Allison Hulsey, who has attended the school since 2000. All five students have forged ahead, sacrificing some traditions of larger schools to help establish the school they care about, Jones said.
“I told my mom in kindergarten that I would graduate from here,” Hulsey said.
Her mother, Laura, is the admissions director at the school, which was still in its infancy when Allison predicted her graduation plans.
Hulsey plans to attend Truett McConnell College and major in education, possibly one day returning as a teacher at Oakwood Christian Academy.
The private school’s enrollment has risen most years and even led to completing a new building last year.
A new 18,000-square-foot building was constructed to combine middle and high school students. It opened on Nov. 4, 2011, and has eight regular classrooms, three labs and a library.
The concept of having a school at the Oakwood Baptist Church campus began in 1992 with daycare and a pre-kindergarten class.
Seven years later the school began elementary classes, expanding each year as enrollment grew.
About 40 percent of students attend the church, due to the school’s open enrollment policy.
Nearly 90 percent of students are from Walker County, with 60 percent living in Chickamauga.
In 2010 the first freshmen and sophomores continued with the program prior to completion of the junior-senior high school building.
"We have only skimmed the surface for seeing the influence that Oakwood Christian Academy can have on this community, “principal Daniel Ray said. “Our goal is to be able to focus and lead students to be well-rounded individuals by concentrating on the mind, body and soul in all that we do."
The school is fully accredited by the Georgia Association of Christian Schools, an accreditation recognized by the Georgia Board of Regents.
Students’ standardized testing scores are near the 90th percentile.
A continued boom in enrollment expanded further to 270 students for the current school year.
The school maintains a rigorous Christian curriculum, helping children to develop a biblical world view.
High school students stayed at the school prior to Oakwood Christian Academy’s plans to start in 2011, prior to having a building or customary activities that other public and private schools offered.
The high school now offers elective courses in media, strength training, and home economics, drama video production and more.
A semi-formal gala held last year was popular with students, teaching various ballroom and group dances.
Oakwood Christian celebrated its first high school varsity athletic championship by winning the Southeastern Christian Athletic Association volleyball conference in fall 2011.
Dual-enrollment through Truett-McConnell College will be possible next year, allowing students the ability to complete 24 college-level hours before graduation.