You can call them the Lanier Lightning.
The newly formed Lanier Christian Academy, soon to become one of the largest Christian K-12 college preparatory schools in the area with more than 350 students, recently announced a new student-selected mascot, as well as new administration.
The school is the product of the unified North Georgia Christian School in Flowery Branch and Heritage Academy in Braselton. The unification becomes official Jan. 1, though the students won’t all be on one campus until the fall of 2016.
To solidify the identity of the new school, students were asked for input into the new mascot.
“We started about a month ago asking students to submit some possible mascots or team names,” said Carol Cox, current head of school at North Georgia Christian and soon-to-be lower school principal for Lanier Christian. “We asked them to think about, for our school, what kind of character qualities those mascots might represent that we would be proud to say at Lanier Christian Academy this is what we stand for.”
The students submitted nearly two pages of possible mascots, Cox said, and the administration narrowed it to two team names: Lanier Lakers and Lanier Lightning.
A Heritage Academy parent, who is a professional artist, then drew renderings of the mascots for students to see and consider.
“All the students on both campuses, from kindergarten through 12th grade, got to look at the artist renderings, think about the character qualities and vote,” Cox said.
Cox said the Lanier Lightning rendering included a bird of prey, similar to a redtail hawk, that would be a physical mascot, and his name will likely be Bolt.
Along with the new mascot, the new school’s administration has been selected.
Al Gainey, current board chair for North Georgia Christian School, was named president and chief executive officer of Lanier Christian Academy, according to a release from the school. Heritage Academy Board Chair Fran Hasson will serve as board chair of Lanier Christian Academy.
“I am honored to be chosen to lead the new Lanier Christian Academy as president,” Gainey said. “We are combining two well-established and respected Christian schools to create a win-win for students, families and our community.”
Along with Cox’s new appointment is David Douglas, current head of school at Heritage, who will become vice president for operations and program development. Dwayne Daniels, current upper school principal at North Georgia Christian, will serve in the same role at the new school, and former Atlanta Falcons player Todd Weiner, athletic director at Heritage, will serve as Lanier Christian’s athletic director.
The new school will combine and offer the two teaching models previously offered at the other schools. North Georgia Christian’s traditional five-day model and Heritage’s three-day university model will be available to students.
The three-day model allows two days of independent home schooling. The school plans for a third online learning option as well.
“Our goal is to ground and equip students for long-term success in college, their careers, church and life,” Gainey said.
A new site for Lanier Christian Academy has been secured on Poplar Springs Road in South Hall. A capital campaign to fund the construction will kick off with the official unification in January.
In the meantime, students previously at Heritage will begin the next school year at the current North Georgia Christian School, at Chestnut Mountain Church on Ga. 53.
Cox said students on the current campus are looking forward to having more classmates and growing their student body.
“We’re definitely thinking of all the many ways we can have these groups of different models combine and come together,” she said. “One of the biggest ways that student body will come together as one is through the athletics, the mascot and all of that. That’s a really unifying piece.”