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Columbiana’s Cornerstone School celebrates successcomment (0)

March 27, 2003

By Sondra Washington

From the time Allen Dennis became pastor of Bethel Baptist Church, Columbiana, in 1988, God began leading him to establish a Christian school in the area. Nine years later, Cornerstone Christian School was founded.

Although Bethel tried to open the school in 1994 with no success, there is no evidence of failure at this time.

During the years, the school has grown from 75 to 235 students and has expanded to include all grade levels. Last year, Cornerstone graduated its first senior class, a group of seven students.

Despite its small size, Cornerstone has more extracurricular activities than many larger public schools including football, boys and girls basketball, boys baseball, fast-pitch softball, volleyball, track and field, steppers and cheerleaders.

“God has blessed,” said Dennis. “It’s wonderful when you see 200 students here and you see teachers praying with their kids and sharing Christ. It’s probably the most satisfying thing that I have been a part of as a pastor to see some of these children come to know Christ and get some of their parents back in fellowship with Christ.”

As the school steadily improves, so do its students. Each year, Cornerstone’s students celebrate accomplishments that would be hard for students from any school to achieve:

In December 2002, the varsity cheerleading squad consisting of seventh- to 12th-graders placed third in a national competition in Orlando, Fla.

“December 2001 was their first year to go (to competition),” said John Blair, headmaster for the past four years. “They were excited. They had worked so hard during the summer going to camp and practicing during football season.”

Cornerstone senior Micah Whitson was named a National Merit Scholarship finalist in February 2003.

“He can go to school anywhere he wants to go with all kinds of scholarship offers,” said Blair. “It says a lot for our school. He was an excellent student.”

In Spring 2002, the school choral group competed against other schools in the Southeast at Toccoa Falls College, Toccoa Falls, Ga., and won superior ratings.

This past Christmas, the school donated more than 125 shoeboxes to the Samaritan’s Purse. Also, instead of exchanging gifts at Christmas, each child brought a toy to be given to Shelby Baptist Association for its Christmas Cottage.

“The children here are really good,” said Blair.  “We want to make sure that every child has the opportunity to make Christ their personal Savior ... and be an asset to society and to our world.”

Both Blair and Dennis attribute the success of Cornerstone and its students first to God and then to the school staff and Bethel church members who are committed to Christian education.

“Our objective is to decrease our tuition every year and yet pay our teachers what they deserve,” said Dennis. “Our desire is to pay them more than they could make in public school. We are just praying that God will send us the partners we need in Christian education.”

In the future, Dennis would like to open a Christian college.

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