More than 100 years after its original creation, Clermont’s Chattahoochee Christian School has become accredited.
Chattahoochee Christian was originally founded in 1901 as Chattahoochee High School, but closed in the 1950s.
The school was recreated as an elementary school in 2004 alongside Concord Baptist Church.
“The original Chattahoochee was an inspiration for them and they wanted to start a new school under the same auspices,” said Jane Gregson, head of the school. “It’s a private Christian school. We’re a discipleship school that’s an extension of the values in the home. They had talked about accreditation but felt there were too many obstacles in the way.”
It took some encouragement, but after about a month of dedication and paperwork, the school got the designation.
“If you’re an accredited school, it just gives you more credibility to the community and you’re eligible for some state funds,” Gregson said.
Chris Pittman, Board of Trustees member and Chattahoochee Christian parent, called the accreditation “a huge blessing.”
Though the school doesn’t have an astronomical tuition — it ranges from $3,700 to $4,250 a year — Gregson said the state funds will help more students attend as well as expand the school.
There are 38 students enrolled at Chattahoochee Christian for 2011. Gregson said there were no immediate plans to extend the school to include more grades, like the original Chattahoochee Christian School.
Chattahoochee High School was created by the Chattahoochee Baptist Association so “boys and girls might be trained beyond the mere limits of the common schools in Georgia and prepared for entering upon a regular and systematic college course,” according to a 1905 school catalog.
Back then, it cost $1 to attend the school, and boarding ranged from $5 to $6 a month.
In 1905, the school formed a partnership with Mercer University, where graduates were admitted into Mercer’s sophomore class with no further testing required, according to a news release.
That year, the school had 200 students, and the board of trustees anticipated so much additional growth they asked Hall County residents to open their homes to boarding students, according to documents from the school. Trustees also had other ideas in mind to house students.
“The school divided five acres of its land into lots of one-fourth acre each. These lots were given to anyone who would erect on it a cottage for pupils. The cottages could be constructed at a cost ranging from $75 to $125,” the documents said.
“Many students would bring their own furniture and occupy these temporary homes provided especially for them.”
Hardship hit the school in 1908, when the entire building, which also occupied Concord Academy Elementary School, was destroyed by fire. By 1910, construction was underway and enrollment had again increased to 350 students.
Pittman said the two schools were communities that took care of one another.
“It was the job of the older kids to go out and shovel coal to start a fire in the elementary school, to keep the younger kids warm,” he said.
The Mercer partnership expanded in 1919, when Chattahoochee High became an official secondary school of the Mercer University system, the documents state.
Hall County took ownership of Chattahoochee High in the 1930s, around the time the school boasted a state title-winning basketball team.
The last class graduated in 1957, when the high school was transferred to North Hall High School. By this time, Chattahoochee High had expanded to include other grades along with the Concord Academy, the documents state.
Seventh and eighth grades were transferred to North Hall in 1971. In 1976, kindergarten through sixth grades were transitioned into Wauka Mountain Elemenary.
“My grandfather actually graduated from the old Chattahoochee School,” Pittman said. “I had no idea of this rich history that is here.”
Gregson and Pittman want to continue to build on that history with the new school, which thrives on the Christian perspective of its predecessor.
“We average eight, maybe 10 students per class, which gives them more one-on-one attention with students,” Pittman said. “We believe that God is the author of all knowledge. A Biblical worldview is more and more important.”