Smith Mountain Lake Christian Academy opens new high school … – Smith Mountain Eagle

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Updated: September 10, 2023 @ 4:49 am
A covered walkway leads from the parking lot to the entrance of the new high school.

A covered walkway leads from the parking lot to the entrance of the new high school.
Smith Mountain Lake Christian Academy (SMLCA) recently welcomed its high school students to the 2023-2024 school year with a new 26,000 square-foot facility, featuring 13 classrooms and a 300-seat cafeteria/conference room.

The new $5 million-plus high school campus, located at 1203 Timberwood Lane in Moneta, is connected to the main church facility of EastLake Community Church (ELCC). The new facility will also serve as an educational and conference center for the church, which took over leadership of SMLCA in 2015. The school has its own entrance to the building.

The school began the year with 550 students, up from last year’s enrollment of just over 500, and the opening of the new three-story facility will allow SMLCA to expand to at least 800 students in the future. The new classrooms are equipped with state-of-the-art technology and there are also science and computer labs. The building also has eight offices.

In addition to the new high school campus, SMLCA now has three other campuses including: an elementary campus located in the old Sunset Cay property it purchased and remodeled in 2019 located at 1449 Hendricks Store Rd.; a junior high campus located at 1118 Hendricks Store Rd. in what previously had been the main sanctuary for ELCC; and the Lil Ospreys campus at 1126 Hendricks Store Rd. located next to the junior high.

“It’s been a whirlwind,” stated ELCC Senior Pastor Troy Keaton about the development that has taken place at the church and school. In 2018, EastLake began developing the 162-acre property by building a new church facility, which opened in 2020. In all, the church has built or repurposed some 134,000 square feet of facilities for the church and school. In addition, it has developed a football field and baseball and softball fields.

“It’s an enormous benefit to the school,” Keaton said of the new high school campus. “More and more families are moving towards private Christian education. The events of COVID and a lot of the cultural stuff that is happening has caused parents to rethink the education of their children.”

Keaton added the new facility “really is a miracle in the world in which we live because it was built in incredible time and came in under budget.”

The final piece of the current development is a building that will include a concession stand with restrooms, a maintenance building, a vocational trade center and a weight room
“We feel like God’s hand has been upon it,” Keaton said of all of the development. “God has blessed us with this land and it’s our goal to develop it so that it blesses this community and the entire world. The development that we’ve done so far is just the beginning of what God wants to do here over the next several years.”

SMLCA Administrator Lincoln Bryan said he hopes the new facility will cause the high school students to want to raise their own personal goals in academics and their walks with God.

The school has a total of 75 staff members this year and the theme of the year for the staff and students is “A New Love,” based on a verse from the Gospel of John, chapter 13 verse 34, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.”

“Education is never neutral. We’re Christian intentionally,” Bryan said. He said the school seeks to work with each child individually to help develop the gifts God has given them. That can include academics, fine arts, sports, trades skills and other areas. The goal is to make education fun and to help the students see its real-life purpose. “We want to let them enjoy their journey and be part of a family atmosphere that truly supports them in and out of the classroom,” he said.

This year, SMLCA had added the opportunity for students to receive an associate’s degree in conjunction with Colorado Christian University. Thirty-six hours of the 60-hour degree can be taken at SMLCA with the other 24 hours of study taken online. 

The school also has its own chapter of FFA which includes competing against public schools on a regular basis in various events. The hope is that vocational classes can begin second semester with working towards developing those into a four-year program to include trades like HVAC, electrical, plumbing and mechanics. 

SMLCA is also adding band classes this year.
“We have great teachers, great educators,” Bryan said. That includes three who hold doctorate degrees and 12 with master’s degrees.

“We never want to plateau,” Bryan said of SMLCA, but rather to assess regularly and “aim for a higher plateau.”
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