Not only has Westminster Christian School adopted the name North Georgia Christian School as it cuts ties with Westminster Presbyterian Church on Thompson Bridge Road, it also has a new school mascot, a new president and big plans for a brand-new building for its upper school.
Scott Smith, president of North Georgia Christian School, assumed the job in July and will oversee all classes from kindergarten to 12th grade.
Smith said the construction of two new upper schools would provide North Georgia Christian the opportunity to grow from a school of about 200 students total to a school of 500 students, allowing the high school to compete in the A sports category.
Carol Cox, principal of North Georgia Christian's lower school, said the school plans to build middle and high school buildings, as well as a gym facility, on a 100-acre site at the intersection of Poplar Springs and Candler roads. Pending approval from the Hall County Board of Commissioners at a late July meeting, construction could begin late this summer, Cox said.
Jackie and Dale Nabb donated the 100-acre property to the school in February 2007, Cox said. She said plans for the new schools have been in the works since then.
Cox said the new school buildings could be open in time for the 2009-2010 school year. She said North Georgia Christian elementary school students will likely stay at the Thompson Bridge school location for some time.
Cox said the larger middle and high school buildings could accommodate area Christian schools to potentially feed them into North Georgia Christian.
"There are at least six Christian elementary schools in (Hall) County that would be interested in continuing students' education in a Christian worldview," she said. "We definitely want to grow."
Smith came to North Georgia Christian from Hebron Christian Academy in Dacula, where he oversaw the school as it expanded from 200 to 1,000 students in a nine-year period. He said a larger private high school with about 150 students offers not only more sports opportunities, but more academic opportunities, as well.
"A school of at least 500 students allows you to offer all the different levels of subjects," Smith said. "It would provide you with all the different levels of courses students would need, including (Advanced Placement) classes, joint enrollment and regular classes. We're doing all that now, we would just like to increase that."
Cox said the school has also adopted a new logo to accompany its new name.
She said in the spring, students voted to change the school colors and mascot from the burgundy and gold Westminster Wildcats to the royal blue, silver and white North Georgia Christian School Chargers. The logo has now been changed from a burgundy paw print to a white horse.
"Students overwhelmingly selected the school colors and mascot," Cox said. "It was nice that it was a schoolwide decision."