Selecting the right school is one of the most important decisions parents will have to make for their children. It’s a choice that will lay a foundation – a crucial first step towards forging their aptitude and success higher education, the workplace, and ultimately life.
There are many factors to consider: curriculums, location, examination results, college transition programmes, and list of alumni – to name a few. While these factors are crucial, some families are on the lookout for something extra: faith.
Faith-based schools provide a sense of stability many regular schools cannot. At these schools, students immerse themselves in a diverse community of friends, teachers and clergy with the same moral base – fostering an inspiring, educational experience that builds character. What’s more, formative and moralistic values are instilled in these environments.
The US is home to several boarding schools founded on religious principles. If you are looking for an experience that will not just build character through rigorous academics, but spiritual maturity as well, here are some top picks:
Sunshine Bible Academy
Located in the quaint town of Miller, South Dakota, Sunshine Bible Academy is a non-denominational, evangelical school where students are surrounded by love, care and concern for one another. Here, they get to cultivate relationships and grow spiritually.
Accredited by the South Dakota Department of Education and the Association of Christian Schools International, its small size enables individualised support, its rural location eliminates distractions, and its Christian worldview develops outstanding outcomes.
To ensure students progress to their next academic step with the right foundation, the academy offers a wide array of subjects in both core and elective areas – each of which are taught from an explicitly biblical worldview. Bible class is a requirement across grades, to go alongside courses in mathematics; the physical and life sciences; the humanities, as well as industrial arts and agriscience.
Outside the classroom, spiritual growth is further nurtured in a loving, welcoming community. Devotions are held in dorms every evening, chapel services are held every Wednesday, and all boarding students participate in fellowship groups that gather in staff homes every month. Bible studies and student-led worship services are also frequently held.
The academy believes every student is gifted by God with unique talents and interests. Here, opportunities to further develop these passions are aplenty. The academy offers a suite of co-curricular activities – from cross country, basketball, track and field, and club soccer to drama, music, robotics, student government and journalism – amongst many others. To learn more about how spiritual growth nurtures academic excellence at this vibrant school, click here.
Dakota Adventist Academy
Set on over 1,000 acres of rolling green hills, Dakota Adventist Academy (DAA) is located just outside of Bismarck, North Dakota. Here, students represent an array of backgrounds – coming from local towns across the US, and around the world. A Seventh-day Adventist school, with over 100 years of experience, the academy encourages the development of a Christ-centred life by providing a comprehensive academic and enriching vocational education.
At DAA, knowledge goes beyond academics – here, the Bible is given the highest place in education. To go alongside these teachings, mental discipline and physical training emphasises the development of a character marked by integrity, loyalty to God and society, self-discipline, tolerance, reverence, civil responsibility, and good work habits.
To lay a solid foundation that prepares students for success, DAA’s signature lineup of courses include comprehensive sessions in Bible studies, computer education, English, fine arts, foreign language classes, history, science, vocational technology, and physical education and health. There are also several dual credit courses available in areas such as animal science, college writing, nutrition and psychology.
San Marcos Academy
San Marcos Academy is a coeducational school for boarding students from grades six to 12 and day students from grades K to 12. Located in San Marcos, Texas, its 220-acre campus has blazed a tradition of excellence since 1907. This fully-accredited Christian school offers a college preparatory curriculum designed to engage and inspire students, preparing them to not just succeed in college, but in life.
This is done through the Teaching for Transformation curricular model which provides a framework for students to learn about God’s story while discovering their place within that story. It’s these authentic and transformational learning experiences that expose Christian students of all grades to discipleship concepts such as worship, truth, justice, service and community.
These principles are embedded across levels, such as SMA’s Upper School programme for grades nine through 12 which offers a rigorous curriculum that prepares students for college-level work, all while instilling character. The academy offers two boarding options, the first of which is a traditional seven-day boarding programme. The second, the five-day boarding programme, is designed for families residing within a 70-mile radius of the campus.
Located just 40 minutes north of Nashville, Highland Academy is a Seventh-day Adventist boarding school that offers a quality education to students in grades nine through 12. This facility-filled, rural campus is set on 400-acres of land – home to dedicated spaces for both physical and creative activities. Just next door is a church where students and faculty members join the rest of the community for religious services.
Here, education is viewed as an essential element in fostering the right relationship with God – a crucial aspect to the development of a whole person. To this end, Highland Academy focuses on each and every student’s spiritual, intellectual, occupational, social, and physical development.
To prepare for college, the school provides thorough guidance every step of the way – ensuring students meet the necessary requirements to get into the institutions of their dreams. Leading up to the ACT exam, students can sign up for the following academic courses: communication arts, fine arts, mathematics, modern language, physical education and health, practical arts, religion, remedial help, science, social studies, and technology.
*Some of the institutions featured in this article are commercial partners of Study International