New Christian school near Yokosuka is proving popular
YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — The entire student body of the Christian Achievement Academy fits in a glorified cubicle.
That makes it easy to have all-school pep rallies every morning and to fit all eight grades on a single floor of an office building.
Christian Ministries Far East opened the school, just outside Yokosuka Naval Base’s Womble Gate, on Aug. 30 as a sister school to Tokyo’s Christian Academy in Japan. The church owns the four-story building, operates a sanctuary on the third floor and rents the fourth floor to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“Finding and buying this real estate was the first miracle,” said CAA principal and middle school teacher Deidre Hester.
The second miracle was the response from parents, Hester said.
Instead of putting their children in an on-base public school run by the Department of Defense Dependents Schools-Pacific system or in a Japanese school, several parents opted to place children in CAA. Tuition costs $4,250, and parents pay for students’ textbooks.
Seventeen students started the year at the school, which runs from first through eighth grade. Now CAA is up to 21 kids and is nudging capacity in the elementary school, said assistant principal Yolanda Bowie, who also teaches math, science and history.
Some parents are attracted by the school’s Christian bearing — CAA presents every subject from “God’s point of view,” according to promotional materials. CAA’s five teachers, “some certified and degreed” according to CAA literature, use the Ten Commandments to regulate behavior and Bible passages to illustrate academic points.
Other parents — about 30 percent — don’t belong to the church. They like CAA’s small classrooms.
“I didn’t have any problems with the base school, but my daughter needed work in math and I thought the smaller classroom and more individualized attention would help her,” said Yokosuka resident Marie Friddle. She placed her fourth-grade daughter and her sixth-grade son in CAA.
These “kinds of schools” graduate highly successful students who score well on PSAT, SAT and other tests and emerge well-rounded and disciplined, Hester said.
While CAA is independent of DODDS, administrators want their students eligible for DODDS activities. They also want their students to take the TerraNova test, Hester said. TerraNova is one of several major tools used by school districts to test their students’ aptitude in reading, language and mathematics.
According to DODDS Pacific spokesman Charles Steitz, DODDS is “very supportive” of homeschooling and non-Department of Defense Education Activity schools.
CAA needs to work with the installation commander for access to DODDS facilities and activities, he said. Standardized testing is a responsibility of the private school, he added.
Hester said the details of both issues are being worked out. Also in the works is CAA’s accreditation. It won’t complete the Association for Christian Schools International accreditation process for three to five years, Bowie said. By that time, the school may look a little different.
“We want to add kindergarten and high school, and music and standardized test practice,” she said. “I think we’re going to keep growing.”