According to a press release, “An AISA Blue Ribbon School exemplifies excellence in teaching, student performance, school life and school and community interaction.”
The award is valid only for one calendar year; however, this is not the first time the school has received such a prestigious honor.
Principal Cheryl Capps has 30-plus years in education, and she has been the principal at the Christian school since 2008. Capps said the school has received 11 Blue Ribbon awards since 2000.
“It is affirmation for our students and parents and staff that we are achieving the standard that we feel like God has placed before us to provide a quality Christian education for our students,” Capps said. “Our focus is God, but we have not lowered our academic standards for our students in trying to meet their academic needs, their spiritual needs, their social needs and their athletic needs as well.”
To become an AISA Blue Ribbon school, there are a number of certain criteria a school must meet, including a lengthy application process.
Criteria includes: being accredited by the AISA; all professional staff meeting or exceeding the AISA professional criteria; SAT performance meeting or exceeding the AISA Complete Battery average (60 percent) in second, fourth, sixth and eighth grades, and/or AISA Complete Battery overall average is higher than the school’s national ability overall average score; having extra-curricular opportunities in the areas of academic, athletic and arts competition, clubs and organizations, community service and participation in Spring Convention 2013 & Fall Workshop 2013 and membership in the AISA State SGA 2013-2014; having excellent physical appearance of school (buildings and grounds); applied for President’s Award and nominated top student(s) for All State AISA Academic Awards in May 2013; having no existing priorities from the accreditation visit; on-going process of school improvement (school improvement plan is required); and having a school-wide technology plan that must be developed and implemented.
Other minimum criteria includes Internet access to faculty and students; all students with Alabama Virtual Library cards; designated (not shared) school website; media center with Internet access; a computer curriculum for all grades (K5-12).
When asked what sets her school apart from others, Capps said, “Our focus on God, obviously, being a Christian school with our focus on scriptures [and] trying to teach our students about Jesus, who, in our opinion, was the only perfect person ever born. We’re not perfect, but He was, and so in everything that we do focusing on Him.
“How does He want us to act? How does He want us to treat one another? ... It’s the whole picture and not leaving any piece of it out.”
Last year, Sumiton Christian had 30 seniors to graduate, and those 30 received $1.2 million in scholarship offers. Capps acknowledged that it was a “testament to the academic standards” thanks to the faculty, staff, parents and students of the school.
Not only does Capps applaud the efforts of the school, but students also praised faculty, staff and peers for making the school what it is today.
Senior and president of the SGA Christian Graham loves the fact that the school is more like a “family” rather than an educational student body.
“My No. 1 thing I really like about it is how tight-knit it is. I hold a lot of really good relationships talking to the teachers. If I had a problem or anything, I could walk up to them, and I feel perfectly fine,” Graham said. “They’re like my second family. That’s probably my favorite part about it.”
“Everyone is so welcoming, and it’s not hard to become a part of this family,” added senior SGA Vice President Emma Latham. “[It’s a] safe environment and it offers learning and growing in a Christian environment. I mean, I have friends that go to surrounding schools here, and they’re always talking about fights that’s happening, and you don’t get that here. It’s all loving, and everyone loves each other.”
Students agree that between being a Christian, family-oriented and educational facility, Sumiton Christian School “can’t be beat.”
Seniors Kevin Gu and Kristen Williams — treasurer and representative of the SGA, respectively — also explained how they have made some lasting relationships with friends and teachers that will last a lifetime.
“I came here last year and I didn’t feel like I was a stranger; I felt like I was welcomed by everyone,” Gu said. “We didn’t grow up together like some of the kids who have gone here since K4, but it feels like they’re my long-time friends. It’s more like family.”
Gu and Williams bragged on individual teachers and coaches as well, saying how they not only want to see a student succeed in school but also as an individual in life.
“He’s done a really good job of that this year, of actually being involved with the players and their grades,” Williams added regarding a coach. “I really appreciate the effort the teachers put in, especially in fine arts. ... The teachers are really good about being encouraging and helping the people who are involved to be better.”
Sumiton Christian School will start accepting applications for new students March 1, 2014. Applications are available on the school’s website at www.sumitonchristian.org.
If you would like a tour of Sumiton Christian School and its campus, you may contact the school at (205) 648-6643.