There are 22 students signed up for the new private high school for the 2023-24 academic year, and administrators expect strong growth when today’s K-8 students move on to the high school
CAMAS — The K-8 school system has been growing for years at a private school in Camas. So much so that it will soon be a K-through-high school.
Agape Christian Academy is expanding, opening a new high school beginning in the 2023-24 school year, a first for east Clark County — the Camas, Washougal and east Vancouver area.
It will be a very small high school to start. But one with a lot of potential.
As of March, 22 students had registered for the new high school, according to Cindie Boyles, the head of school and founder of Agape Christian Academy. Of those, 11 will be freshman, and the other 11 will be sophomores through seniors.
“We’re praying for 10 or 15 more,” Boyles said.
Based on surveys of families with students currently enrolled in K-8, Boyles said administrators know the high school will grow soon enough.
“Ninety percent of the K-8 families say they want their children to attend the new high school,” Boyles said.
In all, there are more than 350 students enrolled at Agape Christian Academy, currently located on three campuses — all within walking distance of each other — in Camas. The middle school, which will also house the high school, is on Everett Drive.
Agape Christian Academy has been around for years. Formerly known as Camas Christian Academy, the school had a name change more than a year ago. Boyles said part of the name change was to promote the idea that the school system was so much more than just for the Camas area. Boyles said students represent 40 churches throughout the region, and some students come from Hockinson, Battle Ground, La Center, Ridgefield and Vancouver, to name a few.
Then there is the term Agape, which means the love of God for humans and the reciprocal love of humans for God.
For years, students would graduate eighth grade and move on to new experiences. Some went to public high schools, others went to private high schools, while some were home-schooled.
“There has been a lot of push from parents in keeping the community together,” Boyles said. “As we graduated eighth graders, they were all going in different directions. The feedback over time is they lost that connection with their community.”
Now, the Agape community wants to provide an opportunity for those students to stick together through high school.
“I think we’ll have a slightly different twist on high school,” Boyles said.
She noted, of course, Christianity as the base of the private school. Students will serve. They will go on missions. In fact, one is planned for high school students to serve in Kenya next year. Students will also serve locally.
As far as academics, the small school will allow for strong relationships between students and staff. Teachers and administrators will really get to know the students.
“We’ll be helping them over the four years figure out what their gifts and talents and abilities are,” Boyles said.
She noted that it was not too long ago when “everybody” seemed to be pushing for college.
At Agape Christian Academy, Boyles promised that teachers will be guiding each student in an effort to make the best decisions for each student. That could be college. Or a trade school. Or an internship.
“We’ll be intentional in working with which track is the right choice for them,” Boyles said, adding that she is proud to be offering a new opportunity for schooling.
Boyles also noted that nearby Camas High School is bigger than some college campuses. That works for many, but not all.
“There are a lot of students who thrive in a smaller school setting,” Boyles said.
High schools also are known for their extracurricular activities. Sports will be offered at Agape Christian Academy.
Nick Mancillas, the former football coach at King’s Way Christian, is a teacher at Agape and will be the high school’s athletic director.
The plan is for the Lions to offer volleyball in the fall, boys and girls basketball in the winter, and track and field in the spring.
Football is a goal, as well. It depends on the number of athletes at Agape as well as Cornerstone Christian Academy, an academy in Vancouver that opened a high school last year. The two schools could combine their athletic programs.
The teams will play sub-varsity schedules in the early years of the athletic department, Mancillas said.
Mancillas was instrumental in restarting the King’s Way Christian football program a couple of years ago. Mancillas was a teacher at Agape but commuted to King’s Way for the coaching job.
Now, he is preparing to help his own school start sports from the very beginning.
“I’m looking forward to it here because there is so much support,” Mancillas said. “So much support from the staff and administration and also from the families who want to see this come together.”For more information on Agape Christian Academy, go to its website at: https://goacalions.org/
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