• 72°

Heritage Christian hoping to continue growth even with pandemic

Heritage Christian Academy started as a small program in the back of First Baptist Church of Picayune, but has now grown into a school providing education for students from kindergarten through eighth grade.

It’s been three years since HCA moved into its current location at 21 Richardson Road and the facility has continued to grow with each passing year.

The school started by offering education for grades K-6, but at its new location has added an additional grade each year. Next year will be the first time ninth grade is offered at HCA.

Head of School Jeremy Williams said the goal is to continue adding grade levels until HCA has a class of graduating seniors.

“(It’s) constantly looking at what is the best system, what is best for our students and what is the best avenue for the school to continue progressions,” Williams said.

HCA has shut down like the other schools in the county due to COVID-19 and the shutdown came at a time when the registration period for new students was opening up.

Over the past three years the school has increased its student population by nearly 100 children, and it looked like that would continue prior to the pandemic.

Now the stream of new applicants has dwindled as families deal with an uncertain future.

“We had a good number of applicants we expected, but since Coronavirus hit everything (ground) to a halt. We’ve gotten some interest, but it is a waiting period with everything going on in the world,” Williams said.

Williams said a variety of resources have been given to families to help keep the ball rolling for students.

Google classroom is a program used by teachers to keep in touch with families while also sending out assignments and tests that can be taken online to make sure students are still on track academically.

Documents are also emailed, scanned, or printed out for families with technological limitations.

Williams said there was a plan in place to start implementing online learning systems prior to the pandemic, but the closure of schools moved that timeline up.

“We setup classrooms with academic and enrichment (resources) because we understand people are in different places. It’s one thing to dabble (in online education), it’s another thing for it to be your entire platform,” Williams said.

The enrichment aspect of the resources is meant to serve as another way for children to stay entertained in meaningful ways during quarantine.

Things like art competitions, photography assignments and physical exercise recommendations are all shared with students along with their academic instructions to try and keep things lighthearted.

“Teachers have said these are the standards we want to reach, but here is a fun way to reach them. If this is in your interest you can apply your skill set. It can be a lot of fun and have educational application to it,” Williams said.

Williams said the purpose of HCA isn’t just to educate children but to also inspire them, even during these uncertain times caused by the pandemic.

They don’t want to just dump a bunch of information on a child, and instead want to teach them how to grow and adapt on their own.

“We want to prepare students for whatever the world is like when they walk across the stage. Prepare students to do whatever God calls them to do and use their potential to impact world for the better,” Williams said.