Po­tomac Heights ele­men­tary, mid­dle school­ers hold final play

Chris­tian acad­emy elim­i­nat­ing grades 1-8 for fi­nan­cial rea­sons

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By JAMIE ANFENSON-COMEAU jan­fen­son-comeau@somd­news.com

Par­ents, grand­par­ents and other fam­ily mem­bers filed into the au­di­to­rium for Po­tomac Heights Chris­tian Acad­emy’s spring mu­si­cal, but for many, it would be the last time.

As stu­dents from preschool through eighth grade took the stage for the mu­si­cal, “From the Be­gin­ning to To­day … God Has Al­ways Made a Way,” it marked the end of an era for the school. In April, the school’s

gov­ern­ing board from Po­tomac Heights Bap­tist Church voted to elim­i­nate first through eighth grade at the school, es­sen­tially trans­form­ing it into a nurs­ery school.

“It was mostly a church de­ci­sion. They wanted the fi­nances to be more sta­ble. There weren’t any dif­fi­cul­ties, but the fi­nances were un­sta­ble, and they wanted to stabilize it first be­fore we start build­ing back up again,” Prin­ci­pal Esther Wil­liams said.

Wil­liams said ap­prox­i­mately 40 chil­dren are be­ing dis­placed be­cause of the de­ci­sion.

“Of course, the par­ents are heart­bro­ken. They were re­ally look­ing forward to their child stay­ing here. A lot of them chose to come here be­cause we went up to eighth grade. But they’re look­ing into other schools now. We say that we’re spread­ing them out into the com­mu­nity so they can spread God’s word, but they are heart­bro­ken,” Wil­liams said.

She said some of the staff would be re­tained, but most are look­ing for new work.

“It means I’m look­ing for a new job,” said Bon­nie Sur­field, who teaches sec­ond grade at the school. “I’ve got a cou­ple of pos­si­bil­i­ties lined up.”

Becky West said she was sad­dened by the loss of the school. Her 8-yearold grand­son will now be at­tend­ing Grace Chris­tian Acad­emy in the fall.

“It’s up­set­ting, it’s very up­set­ting,” West said.

Diana Rivera, par­ent of a 3-year-old preschool stu­dent at the school, said the de­ci­sion to elim­i­nate the school grades and raise tu­ition has led her to look for an­other place­ment for her child next year.

Roy McDon­ald, whose first grade son at­tends the school, said he was an­gered at the way the board han­dled the fi­nan­cial sit­u­a­tion.

“I wish the church would have stood be­hind the school more. I’m very dis­ap­pointed in that, they knew they had a prob­lem at the be­gin­ning of the school year, but they didn’t tell par­ents un­til April,” McDon­ald said. “They didn’t give any­body any warn­ing.”

McDon­ald has al­ready found a new school for his son, at Vic­tory Bap­tist Acad­emy in Char­lotte Hall.

“We looked at all the schools in the area, and it’s a very nice school. They have a good cur­ricu­lum and they have grades 1 to 12 down there, and they’re pretty sta­ble,” McDon­ald said.

As stu­dents filed out of the In­dian Head school’s au­di­to­rium fol­low­ing the per­for­mance, Vir­ginia Dennis, mother of a fifth grader and a sev­enth grader at the school, re­flected on the stu­dents’ final school per­for­mance.

“This school has small class sizes, a nur­tur­ing en­vi­ron­ment, and you just can’t find that ev­ery­where, but un­for­tu­nately, they’re clos­ing,” Davis said.

Davis said her chil­dren will now be at­tend­ing South­ern Mary­land Chris­tian Acad­emy, and while she likes the school, she said she is sad­dened they won’t be able to con­tinue at­tend­ing PHCA.

“I’m so sad to see it go,” Davis said. “It’s a treasure; it’s an undis­cov­ered gem of Charles County,” Dennis said.

STAFF PHOTO BY JAMIE ANFENSON-COMEAU

Adam and Eve, played by Mikah Seger and Au­drey Krahling, are cast out of the Gar­den of Eden in Po­tomac Heights Chris­tian Acad­emy’s final spring mu­si­cal for ele­men­tary and mid­dle school stu­dents. The school has an­nounced it is elim­i­nat­ing grades 1 to 8.

STAFF PHO­TOS BY JAMIE ANFENSON-COMEAU

Po­tomac Heights Chris­tian Acad­emy grade school stu­dents rep­re­sent the seven days of Cre­ation from the Bi­ble in the school’s final spring mu­si­cal for ele­men­tary and mid­dle school stu­dents. The school has an­nounced it is elim­i­nat­ing grades 1 to 8.

Moses and his brother Aaron, played by Dono­val Ran­dall and An­drew Ramos, visit plagues upon the Egyp­tians in Po­tomac Heights Chris­tian Acad­emy’s final spring mu­si­cal for ele­men­tary and mid­dle school stu­dents.

Po­tomac Heights Chris­tian Acad­emy stu­dents per­form their clos­ing num­ber, “I Am a Prom­ise!” dur­ing the school’s final spring mu­si­cal for ele­men­tary and mid­dle school stu­dents.

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