An effort is under way to create a regional Christian high school in southern Maine.

The project is a joint undertaking of Ossipee Valley Christian School in Cornish, Windham Christian Academy and Greater Portland Christian School in South Portland.

The plans call for the schools to maintain their own high school programs in the next school year and merge in the 2011-2012 school year.

The new school — which has not been named — is expected to have an initial enrollment of at least 100. Organizers hope a stand-alone high school will enjoy a higher profile and better help students make the transition to college. The pooled resources and greater number of students are also expected to lead to a wider range of classes and extracurricular offerings.

“It broadens the choices they have while still achieving what the Christian schools offer,” said Scott Weirick, principal of Ossipee Valley Christian School, which has six high school students.

The location of the school still needs to be determined, but the focus has been on Gorham, Weirick said.

Many of the details still need to be worked out, including transportation and tuition. Weirick said carpools — and potentially a bus system — could address the first issue and that tuition should not be way out of line with current rates. Tuition is about $3,600 at Ossipee Valley and $4,100 at Greater Portland Christian.

Organizers are optimistic about how the project will unfold.

“In Christian circles, the first thing we really need to do is commit it to prayer,” said Frank Marston, development director at Greater Portland Christian. “That’s the biggest thing. The rest is going to be supplied as God sees fit.”

The effort is led by a steering committee comprised of three representatives from each school. But organizers hope the new high school will have its own identity and will also draw students who didn’t necessarily attend one of the three schools.

Additional sports teams, more foreign languages and a larger chorus are some of the expanded offerings that Marston foresees at the new high school. With 35 students, Greater Portland Christian has the largest number of high schoolers of the three.

Families have been supportive of the concept, Marston and Weirick said.

“I’ve personally called every family from eighth grade to future seniors. All of them said they’re interested and on board with this,” Weirick said.

The schools have already collaborated in other areas. They have started a combined baseball team, and an Ossipee Valley teacher and some students go to Windham twice a week. The students take computer and geometry classes and the teacher leads a literature class for Windham students.

The steering committee is accepting suggestions for the new school’s name. The new school will be incorporated after a name has been chosen.

 

Staff Writer Ann S. Kim can be contacted at 791-6383 or at:

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