Peace Lutheran’s Bobcat Buddies lead the pack

Ariel Johns, 13, reads to Caroline Derito, 4, as part of Peace Lutheran’s Bobcat Buddies reading program that gets older kids involved in the lives of their younger counterparts. - Steven DeDual/staff photo
Ariel Johns, 13, reads to Caroline Derito, 4, as part of Peace Lutheran’s Bobcat Buddies reading program that gets older kids involved in the lives of their younger counterparts.
— image credit: Steven DeDual/staff photo

Hidden behind the trees on Riddell Road, there’s a small piece of property owned by Peace Lutheran Ministries adorned with a church, a day care facility and a private school described as “just a bit different” by principal Doug Eisele.

“In a lot of ways, we are similar to other schools of Christian faith,” he said. “But, we’re also different in a lot of ways.”

In the common area of the school sits what could be brothers and sisters reading to one another, but in fact they are students involved in the school’s Bobcat Buddies program. Older students at the preschool to eighth-grade learning center read to their younger counterparts.

Ellen Laurion, admissions counselor, said the school is big on family, and the reading program fits right into that philosophy.

“Every student, from the youngest to the oldest, is involved in Bobcat Buddies,” she said. “It is a great way to get students involved with each other.”

Like many other schools, Peace Lutheran has sports programs, band, choir, physical education and other school and after-school activities.

And like many private Christian schools, Peace Lutheran has religion classes where teachers can share information from the Bible.

What sets the school apart from many other private institutions is its willingness to accept students regardless of faith and the fact they offer financial aid to incoming students.

“The congregation of the church made the school their top priority,” Eisele said. “All of the financial assistance comes from their generosity.”

The first program, called Partners in Ministry Tuition Reduction Program, offers a 50 percent discount on tuition for local Christian pastors, regardless of faith. Each school year Peace Lutheran offers five of these tuition reduction grants.

The school also has a financial aid application for those who may not be able to afford the cost of yearly tuition. Successful applicants can receive up to a 20 percent decrease in their tuition fees.

“It’s all about helping,” Eisele said. “Whatever we can do.”

The curriculum is designed to get students ready to leave Peace Lutheran after eighth grade and includes the typical math, science, computer and social studies classes found at most schools, but students get exposed to even more technology than usual in seventh grade.

“They are each issued a laptop which interacts with the teacher’s smart board,” Laurion said.

Ultimately, the school’s mission is to prepare students for the world both intellectually and spiritually, and individual instruction is the means by which it is done.

“We teach at individual learning levels, not grade levels,” Eisele said. “We base our curriculum on what works for us, the students and their parents.”

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