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March 28, 2017

Christian school finds bigger home at Vint Hill

Photo/Don Del Rosso
Assistant Principal Amanda Bryson, Head of School Amber Sabia and Dean of Academics Andrea Sponsler in the Vint Hill space undergoing renovation for Covenant Christian Academy.
It’s a huge milestone in the growth of the school. It’s the culmination of a lot of dreaming and long nights and long summers.
— Amanda Bryson, assistant principal
Covenant Christian Academy
• What: Nondenominational Christian school

• Where: School leases space from Monterey Church and Community Christian Fellowship Church along Vint Hill Road near New Baltimore

• Grades: K to 10; will add 11th and 12th grades in next two years.

• Students: 144 students

• Projected enrollment: 202 students by Sept. 1

• Next: School will move to larger and modern space at Vint Hill in August.

• Website:
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Staff Journalist
The New Baltimore independent school’s enrollment has grown tenfold in just seven years.

Between 2009 and 2016, Covenant Christian Academy’s student population soared from 14 to 144.

The academy expects to have 202 students by Sept. 1, the start of the new school year.

During the next two years, the school will add 11th and 12 grades.

Under cramped conditions, the kindergarten through 10th-grade school occupies a combined 12,000 square feet at Monterey Church and Christian Community Fellowship Church along Vint Hill Road.

To handle the expected enrollment spike, Covenant Christian in August will move to larger and more modern quarters at Vint Hill near New Baltimore.

The school will occupy 16,569 square feet at 4177 Bludau Drive. That 67,940-square-foot building includes a church, catering company, fitness center, storage and office uses.

The academy has signed a 10-year lease with building owner Ike Broaddus.

School officials and Mr. Broaddus, whose family owns Old Bust Head Brewing Co. at Vint Hill, declined to discuss the terms of the agreement.

The landlord will spend $1.5 million to remodel the academy space, which will include:

• 17 classrooms.

• A multipurpose room with a stage and professional sound booth.

• A STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) lab.

• A science lab.

• A cafeteria and kitchen.

• Six restrooms.

Mr. Broaddus also will construct a 50-by-100-foot playground area for the school.

Anticipating that enrollment would climb steadily, the academy began “looking in earnest” for more space in 2014, Assistant Principal Amanda Bryson said.

“It wasn’t a matter of if, but where,” said Mrs. Bryson, a Prince William resident with three children in the school. “We knew it needed to happen this year.”

The Vint Hill space can accommodate up to 252 students.

“We expect within three years of being in this building to be at 252 students, if past growth is predictive,” Mrs. Bryson said.

As enrollment approaches that number, Covenant Christian could lease more space from Mr. Broaddus, school officials said.

Or, they might establish new independent school elsewhere, using the same model.

“Our long-term goal is to set up another,” Head of School Amber Sabia said. “Maybe in Chantilly. Who knows?”

Explaining the school’s rapid growth, school officials cite several reasons, including:

• A “faith-based” curriculum.

• Relatively low tuition. The school charges $3,800 for kindergarten through fifth grade; $5,000 for sixth through eighth grade and; $6,000 for high school. Parents typically pay an additional $300 to $400 per student for uniforms, textbooks and curriculum resources, according to Mrs. Bryson.

• A top-notch STEM program.

• A “non-traditional” schedule that combines classroom and home instruction.

• A “college-simulated” experience that stresses “individual accountability.”

The Vint Hill move will double Covenant Christian’s annual operating budget to about $1 million, Head of School Amber Sabia said.

Tuition will cover about 80 percent of that budget and donations the balance, according to the school.

“We have very generous parents who love to be a part of this,” said Mrs. Sabia, a Warrenton resident with four children at the school.

“We just had a grandparent sponsor (furnishings for) the fourth-grade classroom,” Mrs. Bryson added.

The school has 33 instructors and seven administrative staffers – all paid, part-timers. Classes range from 10 to 16 students and never will exceed 18, according to Christian Covenant.

With fall’s larger enrollment, three to five instructors could be hired, school officials said.

The school’s team sports include co-ed cross country, boys basketball, girls volleyball, and cheerleading.

The school hopes to add boys and girls soccer and girls basketball squads.

Besides Fauquier, the nondenominational school draws students from Loudoun, Prince William, Fairfax, Culpeper and Stafford counties. About half the students live in this county, Mrs. Bryson said.

Covenant Christian got started at Vint Hill in 2009 — operating for a year at 4270 Aiken Road, across from the dog park. Triumph Baptist Church occupies that building.

“It’s a huge milestone in the growth of the school,” Mrs. Bryson said of the academy’s return to Vint Hill. “It’s the culmination of a lot of dreaming and long nights and long summers.

“We dreamed of a K-through-12 school. And, the dream is almost here.”

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