At Blue Ridge Christian Academy, nestled at the foot of Glassy Mountain in northern Greenville County, there's no denying a foundation of faith. The school's Godly mission is written everywhere from the mission on the wall, to the student artwork proudly displayed in the halls. "We're not ashamed to say that we are first and foremost about promoting the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ," says administrator Diana Baker. Baker says that belief is "infused" in everything they do, including all subjects taught to students in kindergarten through 12th grade. "In everything we do, we try to make it about the gospel."
The school's beliefs were recently called into question, though, after a science quiz was administered to Blue Ridge's 4th graders. "It followed the viewing of a video," explains Baker. That video, entitled "Dinosaurs, Genesis, and the Gospel", is a lesson on creationism: the view that God created the world in 6 days, as according to the book of Genesis in the Bible. Someone got a copy of the test and posted it online. It immediately went viral. People from all over the country and world started calling and emailing the school, criticizing the biblically based lesson. "It was somewhat unexpected," admits Baker. Parent, and president of the board of directors, Joy Hartsell, says the criticism was frustrating. "We're not hurting them, we're not damaging them, we're teaching our children, and giving them an education."
Baker says the school is dually accredited by the Association of Christian Schools International and the Southeran Association of Colleges and Schools, or S.A.C.S. The latter organization requires that the school also teach students based on secular, state standards, which Baker says they "more than exceed." She says those 4th graders learn about evolution as well, just not in this particular lesson. "Our students are well versed in world views, not just in science, but in every subject area," she says. "We want them to be thinkers."
The controversy has also brought something the school didn't expect: an outpouring of love and support from the community, and all over the world. Baker has received cash donations as well, some as big as $3000, supporting the school's missions and Christian beliefs. "People who have never stepped foot on our campus, who do not know the entirety of who we are and yet see the faithfulness to God's world and want to be a part of it. That is encouraging," she says.
The support could not come at a better time. Blue Ridge is set to shut its doors May 31 for financial reasons. Baker says she's not sure if this monetary support will make the difference, but it has reaffirmed her faith. "We don't know what the world is planning to do with this place, but we're still working, we are still praying, and we are still hoping."