The following article appeared in yesterday’s Johnstown (PA) Tribune-Democrat. Michael Beam is pastor of the sponsoring Grace Brethren church, Davidsville Community Church.
Christianity comes first in curriculum
By COLLEEN FREYVOGEL
Scripture readings, chapel time and small class sizes are offered at Davidsville Christian School.
Mike Beam, pastor at the school chapel, said the school stresses the importance of Christianity while teaching core subjects.
The school is affiliated with the Grace Brethren church, but students from any denomination are welcome.
Tracey MacDonald, an administrative assistant at the school, said the only stipulation is that one of a student’s parents be a Christian.
The school, at 197 Pender Road in Conemaugh Township, Somerset County, has 35 students in preschool through 12th grade and four teachers.
“We enjoy being small,” Beam said.
“The reason for that is to help students out, one on one, and be able to focus on God and what he has to offer in each of our students’ lives.
“On top of that, we include the importance of doing what is right, respect and honor toward God, our country and toward our parents.”
Beam said students receive individual attention that is not possible in larger schools.
“By staying small, we add closer one-on-one attention for student needs, which is probably one of the biggest aspects of the school,” he said. “If (parents) are going to bring their child to our school, we are going to have a focus on Jesus Christ.”
Students in first through 12th grades have required daily Bible readings.
Another benefit of the school is celebrating religious holidays in class, Beam said.
“The children enjoy it, and to us that is the true meaning of Christmas,” he said.
Teacher Melissa Allison said she enjoys doing holiday crafts with her pupils.
Allison, who teaches first through third grades, said the pupils are able to talk about their beliefs and learn in-depth about their religion.
Susan Mostoller of Richland Township, a mother of two pupils, said she picked the school because of the environment.
“(The teachers) can hug students if they are having a bad day, which in public school they can’t really do anymore,” she said.
“It’s that small, loving environment that makes kids feel safe and secure.”
Mostoller, who is Roman Catholic, said she did not pick the school based on religion alone.
“There is an emphasis on religion because it is a Christian-based school,” she said. “I would be happy sending my children to public or Catholic school.”
The individual attention, she said, has helped both of her children succeed.
Both of Mostoller’s children are in Allison’s class.
Julia, 6 years old and a first-grader, looks up to 8-year-old Ben, who is in the same classroom.
“I think it gives my daughter a sense of security that my son is right there with her,” Mostoller said.
The students are divided throughout the school into small groups according to grade level.
Classrooms are divided by grade level. Preschoolers and kindergartners are together, as are first- through third-graders, fourth- through sixth-graders and seventh- through 12th-graders.
In the upper levels, one teacher works with all seventh- through 12th-graders, but they are further divided into smaller groups: Seventh and eighth grades, ninth and 10th grades and 11th and 12th grades.
“They can work at their own pace,” Mostoller said.
“Kids that may have trouble can get the help that they need, and kids that excel don’t get bored being stuck with the rest of the group.”