Lewiston Christian school closing in June

LEWISTON — In their SAT prep class Wednesday, students sat with heads down, focused on taking a test.

Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

Sophomores Jia Jun Lam, left, of Lisbon and James Morrill of Bowdoin prepare for the SAT at the Vineyard Christian School at 9 Foss Road in Lewiston on Wednesday. The prekindergarten through grade 12 school will close at the end of this school year.

Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

Sophomores and juniors in Susan Daggett's classroom prepare for the SAT at the Vineyard Christian School at 9 Foss Road in Lewiston on Wednesday. The school for prekindergarten through grade 12 will close at the end of this school year. Some students dressed up for spirit week this week.

Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

"Our real desire is to finish this year on a positive note," said executive pastor Allen Austin. He was a founder of Vineyard Christian School in 2000.

Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

The Vineyard Christian School on Foss Road in Lewiston will close at the end of the school year. The school auditorium is across the street at the Pathway Vineyard Church, which will remain open.

It's spirit week at the Vineyard Christian School on Foss Road and students were dressed as characters. Teacher Susan Daggett sat in the front of the room, overseeing her 15 students. The room was quiet.

It isn't always that way, Daggett said. “Normally, we do vocabulary games, spelling bees.”

“She squirts us with a squirt gun,” one boy joked.

Next year, the room will be completely quiet. The school is closing in June, the victim of a tough economy, said Allen Austin, executive pastor of the Pathway Vineyard Church, which runs the school. The economic climate has made it increasingly difficult for families to afford private education, he said.

Parents were informed of the school's closing Wednesday night. Details will be shared with the congregation in church Sunday.

The school opened in 2000. It has 12 teachers and an enrollment of 93 in prekindergarten through grade 12.

“We had a high enrollment of 145 a few years back. It's been a steady decline,” Austin said.

The cost to send a child to the school is about $3,400 a year. “That's not the true cost. It's grossly under market,” Austin said. “It needs to be double that "to make the school sustainable. But doubling the tuition to $7,000 per child is not a realistic cost parents could pay, he said.

One of the benefits of the school has been small class sizes. “But now it's at a point where the student-to-cost ratio is impossible for us to continue,” Austin said.

In the school hall are the typical lockers and murals, as well as frequent references to the Christian faith. One quote painted on a wall reads: “Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

In addition to traditional subjects, students study religion every day.

“The Bible is a course they all have," Austin said. "We have chapel days. The whole value of our Christian faith is woven into every classroom. Service to the community has been a part of their education.”

While the school's enrollment has decreased, Pathway Vineyard Church enjoys healthy attendance. On any given Sunday, 1,100 people attend services, Austin said.

“If everybody who calls the Pathway Vineyard their church came, (attendance) would be around 1,500," he said. "We've seen steady growth over the past few years."

Most of the Vineyard students are from the Lewiston-Auburn-Lisbon area. Some parents are looking into sending their children to Catholic schools next year; others, to public schools. “We'll help them however we can,” Austin said.

Knowing the school has to close is heartbreaking, the pastor said. “There's emotion tied to it. I helped found the school.”

The church's Sunday school will continue, with a morning session for students up to grade six. A youth service for teenagers is held Sunday night.

"We have over 200 kids on this campus every Sunday," Austin said. "Our commitment to ministering to kids does not change with the school closing. It's just a matter of a vehicle in which we deliver our ministry will look different."

After getting through this week's announcements, Austin said, “Our real desire is to finish this year on a positive note, celebrate everything that has been accomplished in the last 12 years.”


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 's picture

What a load of bull

It all boils down to the parents. There is a direct relation between kids performing well in school and parents putting in the effort with their kids.

Schools like St. Dom's, Vineyard, CMCA tend to have enrollment where folks have like-minded beliefs/goals. The test scores rate about the same as a good public school.

How much effort, as the parent, are you willing to put into your child's education? Are you willing to do flash cards, work on their reading, making sure homework is done properly, asking them about their school day, chatting up their teachers more often then a yearly conference to make sure they're on track for their grade level... if you are, your child will perform better in school.

KRIS KUCERA's picture

Humbug: Good teachers matter.

It is on parents, yes, but good, inspiring teachers who are subject-matter experts in history, math, science, language, or music do greatly matter, and that's where Christian schools (and madrassas) most often fail. Besides, the last thing this world needs is more religious fundamentalists -- and joke colleges like Oral Roberts "University."

KRIS KUCERA's picture

Good Riddance

12 years of accomplishment? More like 12 years of Evangelical brainwashing and total denial of hard science.

Mike, why don't you elucidate your "there is a huge difference" between Catholic and Evangelical schools? A little backhanded Catholic bashing this morn? Catholicism as cult, perhaps? (This just in: All religions and sects are cults -- and Ponzi schemes.)

At least St. Doms is a reputable academic school, unlike the Vineyard and its bible-as-the-literal-word-of-god BS.

And maybe explain we have all the same problems (and then some) in the world after the Flood as we did before it? An ineffective wash cycle if there ever was one. (Maybe white vinegar would've gotten out those stubborn stains of sin?)

Mike Lachance's picture

Kris, from your post I'd

Kris, from your post I'd surmise you are an anti-Christian zealot. "Good riddance"???

Your post wreaks of biblical ignorance. Whethr you actually are is questionable, but your post says its so.

Not only are you attacking Christianity, you are throwing grenades at the Catholic church where no one has done so here yet.

"bible-as-the-literal-word-of-god BS" ????

The only BS here is that statement. Either you are NOT a Christian or you are. If you are NOT, (I think it's clear) than leave it at "disagree" and cut the BS. I am not a Muslim, but you wont see me calling their theology BS on these pages, even if i think it is a false theology. This subject is not on false religions or bad theology, or atheism or secular humanism.

If you are not a Bible-Believing Christian, than you are welcome to promote the public school system. If you have a "Problem" with Christians and Christian schools, then there is a deeper problem within your heart. You are entitled to your opinion, by all means, but your posts wreak of bigotry and intolerance.

KRIS KUCERA's picture

I take it Santorum has your vote.

My problem with the bible is I've read it, and even studied it in college. So I'm just an intolerant bigot, just like American hero and icon, Mark Twain. Here's his take on the Bible and religious teaching:

"It is full of interest. It has noble poetry in it; and some clever fables; and some blood-drenched history; and some good morals; and a wealth of obscenity; and upwards of a thousand lies." -"Letters from the Earth" (published posthumously, 1938)

"The Christian's Bible is a drug store. Its contents remain the same; but the medical practice changes. ... The world has corrected the Bible. The church never corrects it; and also never fails to drop in at the tail of the procession -- and take the credit of the correction. ... During many ages there were witches. The Bible said so. The Bible commanded that they should not be allowed to live. Therefore the Church, after eight hundred years, gathered up its halters, thumb-screws, and firebrands, and set about its holy work in earnest. She worked hard at it night and day during nine centuries and imprisoned, tortured, hanged, and burned whole hordes and armies of witches, and washed the Christian world clean with their foul blood. Then it was discovered that there was no such thing as witches, and never had been. One does not know whether to laugh or to cry. ... There are no witches. The witch text remains; only the practice has changed. Hell fire is gone, but the text remains. Infant damnation is gone, but the text remains. More than two hundred death penalties are gone from the law books, but the texts that authorized them remain." -excerpts from "Bible Teaching and Religious Practice" (1890)

I notice you don't address your meaning of "huge difference" as I and another requested. Pray tell?

Mike Lachance's picture

Go to each schools respective

Go to each schools respective websites and download/read their statements of faith

KRIS KUCERA's picture

A total cop out.

And I ain't buyin'. I know what you meant. And you know what you meant. It wasn't a comparison of mission statements, that's for sure. Nice try, though.

Mike Lachance's picture

Go to each schools respective

Go to each schools respective websites and download/read their statements of faith.
Disagree all you want. Its your battle.

KRIS KUCERA's picture

Oh, wait.

Santorum is Catholic, meaning you wouldn't vote for him. Oops, my bad.

You say Islam (and imply Catholism) as a false ideology. Translation: "Its believers will burn in hell for all eternity." How quaint. Now that is open mind, Mike, fo' shizzle. But hey, you're not saying it out loud, right? So it's all good.

At least I believe NOBODY burns in hell for their beliefs. Death is simply the end of the road, as defined by nature. Selah.

"Go to heaven for the climate, Hell for the company." -Mark Twain.

Mike Lachance's picture

The only person "saying", is

The only person "saying", is you.
Not biting.

As far as Santorum... huh?? Your comment is clueless whichever way you slice it.

Kris, you are entitled to believe or not believe the Bible as the unerring word of God. Your choice, my choice. If you cant accept my choice, then youre only accusing and convicting yourself, not I. Your choice.

KRIS KUCERA's picture

Your "inerrant" Bible says it for you.

Might as well hear from the Son himself: "If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned." -John 15:6

Can you feel the love? . . .

I close with a sermon by John the Beatle:

Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people living for today

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people living life in peace

You, you may say
I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one
I hope some day you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Mike Lachance's picture

Thus say the wisdom of man.

Thus say the wisdom of man.

KRIS KUCERA's picture

Pax vobiscum

For realz.

Mike Lachance's picture

Pride Cometh before the fall..

1 Corinthians 1:22-27

Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.

Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.

Proverbs 16:18
Pride goes before destruction,
a haughty spirit before a fall.

I will make it a point to pray for you Kris; that's a heart-felt promise from one man to another.

JOANNE MOORE's picture

Maybe the difference is....

.....that most of us understand that the Flintstones is a cartoon. Evangelicals call it Reality TV.

KRIS KUCERA's picture

"I love the Stones . . .

. . . Fred and Barney." -Stephen Wright


Mike Lachance

What would that "huge difference" be?

Mike Lachance's picture

Go to each schools respective

Go to each schools respective websites and download/read their statements of faith.

Mike Lachance's picture

I'm saddened that Vineyard is

I'm saddened that Vineyard is closing. Christian Schools are often a very (surprisingly) affordable alternative to the Public School system and they teach the four basic subjects in addition to a solid Christian worldview.

Central Maine Christian Academy at 390 Main Street in Lewiston, is an excellent school and should be seriously considered by those parents and students who attended Vineyard. Don't let what happened to Vineyard happen to CMCA and keep Christian education alive here in L.A. (And by no means should St. Doms be confused with Christian schools. There is a huge difference.)

Please consider CMCA for your students.
or call them at 777.0007

 's picture

poor taste

Kinda tacky and poor taste to use such sad news as an advertisement.

Mike Lachance's picture

Garry. A great Christian

Garry. A great Christian School has closed due to low enrollment. We dont want another great school to follow suit. Whats deplorable is that CMCA isnt even mentioned in the article above. It is the most direct replacement for Vineyard students. St. Doms is not the best alternative... its too expensive and the mission statement and statement of faith is very very different.

While I understand some may think its tacky or in poor taste to recommend a great shoool for Christians, it is in service to those Christian families who are now faced with the task to finding another school for their kids. It's about keeping Christian Schools alive in L.A. I stand by my "advertisement" 100%.

FYI: Taxpayer funded charter schools get "free" advertisement, but Christian Schools do not. Public schools get millions and millions of $$ to waste on the latest gadget whiloe their buildings fall apart aroiund them. Christian schools do not. Tacky advertisement? No.

Additionally, I dont work for CMCA nor do I recieve money from them.. My post is a Christian PSA if anything. If you're not Christian you shouldnt care.

 's picture

St. Doms isn't a Christian

St. Doms isn't a Christian institution? That's news to me. When did they stop believing in Christ?

Mike Lachance's picture

Michael, I stated that St.

Michael, I stated that St. Doms isnt the same as a "Christian School"... St. Dom's is a "Catholic School". Catholic is a DENOMINATION. CMCA is non-denominational and adpots the Christian Statement of Faith. Reda the respective pages at both websites. They are not the same.

Do Catholics believe in Jesus Christ? By all means. But the fact of the matter is, an independent, privately owned non-denominational Christian School is NOT the same as an institutional Catholic prep school. This is a no brainer. They are two entirely different entities.

For (non-Catholic) Christian families who are struggling to pay bills, let alone tuition for their kids, St. Doms is not the best choice. Moreover, St. Doms is a High School. CMCA is Pre-K through 12.

The choice here is clear. The article omitted the most viable option for these families.

Mike Lachance's picture

(apologies for the typos..

(apologies for the typos.. typing at light-speed in low-light has its problems)


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