Evangel experiences record enrollment

Evangel Classical Christian School will begin the 2010-2011 school year with more students than the school has ever had, bucking a trend plaguing many private schools across the nation.

The school, on Thompson Road in Alabaster, currently has about 315 students enrolled for the upcoming school year. The enrollment number is the highest the school has ever experienced, and marks a 120 percent increase since the 2008-2009 school year.

Because many private schools have taken a hit during the nation’s economic downturn, the high enrollment numbers surprised school officials, said school Development Director Mark Gainey.

“The surprise is that you would expect the economy to have a negative effect on our enrollment,” Gainey said. “Next year will be the fullest Grammar School we have ever had, which is our elementary level school.”

“We fully expected to maintain or even lose numbers because of the depressed economy, but that hasn’t been the case,” school Admissions Director Kristi Blackwell said.

In May 2010 the school graduated its first-ever senior class, and school officials were unsure how the graduation would affect Evangel’s enrollment.

“Last year was our first graduating class. That was the first time we ever had attrition due to graduation,” Gainey said. “We definitely didn’t expect our enrollment to be down this year, but we did plan for it.

“God has really blessed our school,” Gainey added.

Gainey said he believed more people have been considering sending their children to private schools recently because they offer smaller classrooms than many of the area’s public schools.

“I think a lot of it has to do with class sizes. We have smaller classrooms than other schools, and I think that is attractive to families,” Gainey said. “But more than anything, I think they discover the value of the education we have to offer.

“When people investigate it, they see that the tuition can be affordable,” Gainey added. “And we do offer many need-based scholarships.”

Evangel limits its classroom sizes to 16 students in kindergarten through second grade, and 18 students in third-12 grades.

“We also offer our students access to athletics, so they have the chance to compete as a team and learn important values like sportsmanship,” Gainey added. “I really think if more people knew about Evangel, we would have to turn people away.”