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Christian Classical schools:
Planters give an update

Jan. 27, 2009

Two Charlotteans committed to planting a Christian "classical education" private school on Charlotte's west side gave the Forum an update on their work Tuesday.

The year since their last visit has not been kind to fund-raisers John Crawford and the Rev. Marty McCarthy. Their 2007 stories of eager donors has given way to projections of success with fund-raising "as soon as the economy starts moving north again." The 2007 partnership with Redeemer Lutheran for a school opening in August 2008 was no longer on the table.

What was left was a spirited assertion of the value of an education steeped in Christianity and the classics, and an assurance that the benefits would not be just for the rich. But it also became clear that a start-up school would not try to serve the highest-cost students at opposite ends of the spectrum: the brainy ones, and the slowest ones.

The touchstone and exemplar for Christian classical education in Charlotte is Trinity Episcopal School at 9th and McDowell Streets near Little Rock AME Zion Church. Crawford was on the school's first board, and Crawford credits McCarthy with being the person who brought the school from vision to reality. McCarthy also helped start Palisades Episcopal School in southwest Mecklenburg.

Trinity opened in 2000 and currently enrolls a bit more than 400 students. According to its website, Trinity charges $12,800 for K-5 tuition and $13,950 for its middle school. About 17% of students are on financial aid.

"Right now is a tough time for any benefactor to do anything," McCarthy said. "They're all stretching out their commitments. Their foundations are not as strong as they were a year ago. So they are stretching their commitments out. But the benefactors I'm talking with have said, 'As soon as the economy starts moving north again, we'll raise your money.' So we're laying the groundwork for a preschool, a K-to-8, and a high school, in west Charlotte."






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