Banner Christian School, which started in 2003 in Chesterfield County, will start serving Culpeper-area students on Aug. 16 in the classrooms of Open Door Baptist Church.
“We are the only accredited Christian school in Culpeper,” Thomas Burkett, Banner’s head of school, said last Friday to about 30 parents during an open house at the church. “We just completed our most recent review just before the pandemic hit, in early 2020.”
Banner underwent several days of review by the Association of Christian Schools International, during which the private school hosted the reviewers in Chesterfield while they analyzed the school’s records, teaching methods, instruction plans and other rigorous measurements, Burkett said.
“Re-accreditation must be done every five years,” he said. “They come in and review every document, observe in classrooms—it’s very intense.”
The parents gathered a week ago to learn more about Banner’s third campus. Open Door Baptist Church is located at 754 Germanna Highway.
Another open house will be held on July 30 at the same location. Last Friday, parents listened to Burkett as he showed slides to introduce himself and his founding of Banner, as well as discuss the school’s values and focus.
“We really try to have a three-pronged focus, with the family, church and Banner Christian working together in unity to provide a Christ-focused education,” he said. “Banner is dedicated to developing and educating the whole person for the glory of God.”
Culpeper resident Jeff Meier and his wife, Crystal, said they are excited to have their oldest daughter, Haley, attending the school.
“We were looking for a greater academic challenge for her,” Jeff Meier said, explaining she was previously attending Culpeper Christian School.
Banner’s rigorous accreditation process and reputation drew the couple to the new school.
“We appreciate that they will focus on the needs of the child and cater to her ability to learn,” Meier said.
He and his wife also have two younger children, 3-year-old Jacob and 2-year-old Hanna, they hope will be educated by Banner.
Meier said they are jumping into the commitment despite being uncertain if they’ll be able to pay the tuition.
“When we make the sacrifice, we know one way or another, the money will come,” he said.
The businessman—who owns Battlefield Country Store, a grocery, deli and specialty shop on State Route 3 in Spotsylvania County near Fredericksburg—has donated $25,000 from it to help start Banner in Culpeper.
“We’re all in,” Meier said. “We’re very excited about this opportunity.”
Last Friday, Burkett introduced the Culpeper school’s new principal, Travis Moore, who will commute from Chesterfield daily. Previously an assistant head of school under Burkett, Moore was a middle-school principal for many years. He earned degrees at Virginia Commonwealth University and Liberty University.
The new Culpeper school invites students from kindergarten through 10th grade to attend.
In Hanover County, Banner will also open a campus this fall for kindergarten through fifth grade.
Banner’s original Chesterfield location has about 230 kindergarten through 12th-grade students. Its Hanover campus is projected to have 45 to 50 students.
Burkett said he expects between 80 and 100 students at the Culpeper location for the upcoming school year.
“We have already processed around 30 applications,” he said via email Thursday. The maximum number of students the Open Door Baptist location can handle is 196, Burkett said.
Although a couple of Culpeper teachers have been hired, Burkett said Banner is searching for a number of teachers for the new school.
“The entire staff will consist of 10 teachers or so, depending on the student population,” he said. “We still have a number of spots to fill—several K-5 teachers as well as several subject-based teachers for the middle school.”
A mission for the Culpeper school, Burkett announced, is to serve the community by helping the local food bank and encouraging students to learn to give back and help people in need.
“We also have a mission-trip program, sending students to serve in other parts of the United States and internationally,” he said.
Tuition for the school year costs $7,650 for kindergarten through fifth grade and $7,950 for students in sixth to 10th grades, with an enrollment fee of $300 and an application fee of $50.
Scholarship assistance is available for families who meet requirements, which could lower those numbers significantly, Burkett said.
“A separate review board analyzes all the data and make those decisions,” he said.