Enrolling NOW for Immanuel Christian HIGH SCHOOL

Enrollment for the freshman and sophomore grades at Immanuel Christian High School opened Friday, October 12th. Below are highlights of an interview I had with Head of School Steve Danish and Upper School Principal Rachel Reno, as we anticipate what the launch of this high school means both for ICS and for the families who will enroll in the high school.

Tell me a little bit about the history of high school at Immanuel.

Steve Danish (SD): The impetus for a high school really goes back more than a decade. As long as I’ve been here, people have been asking, “Would we ever start a high school?” We were always content to be a good feeder school to other local secondary programs, both public and private. We felt there was strength in that.

But in the past 20 years the world began to change in so many ways, and increasingly there was greater focus on the direction and choices of Immanuel graduates after high school. We began to see the national statistics through organizations like the Barna Group which, in some surveys, have identified that as much as two thirds of young people from Christian homes will walk away from their faith by the time they reach the end of their college years.

That growing statistic nationally, and some of our own experience with seeing that among ICS graduates, intensified the sense that something has to be done at the stage when students are best prepared to develop their apologetic framework and commit to a worldview. I think they change so much intellectually going into their high school years, that that is the critical time to prepare them for the most vulnerable period of their lives – the college years – where the most critical view of Christianity resides.

Our [school] board became completely dissatisfied with being a feeder school for other high schools. The elder and school board are unified on their belief in the importance of beginning a Christian high school. Our thought is that our school needs to be preparing kids for life in college. High school is a no man’s land for ideas; it’s college where you’re going to begin to galvanize moral, theological, and philosophical stances. The school board hasn’t wavered from the point that they said, “Let’s do this.” The question from the get go has been, “How is God going to do it?”

What academic, social, and spiritual support will ICHS provide that public schools cannot?

Rachel Reno (RR): There are nine life habits indicated in our High School at ICS brochure that answer this question. The academics flow from these nine life habits: literacy, grit, social intelligence, gratitude, optimism, self-restraint, zeal, citizenship, and empathy. A fusion of academics, spiritual disciplines, and practical skills are what you need to be successful in life. And, like all good biblical integration, there should be a fusion.

SD: These life habits raise the profile of why a parent would consider this high school. Especially in its infancy. It will ultimately be the faculty hired who create the environment for imitation. They’re the people who will make those qualities tangible and imitation-worthy.

Will ICHS provide rigorous academics?

RR: Dual-enrollment is where education is headed, and that’s where ICHS is going. Dual enrollment provides an opportunity to fulfill high school required courses, while also receiving college credits. Persevering through the year will help a student excel in college, but the rigorous coursework will help produce successful students and prepare them for college.

I want to make sure we’re offering rigorous classes, causing students to think critically, and helping plant the seeds that they’ll later be able to reap to be successful in college and in life.

SD: If we’re working with you in the lower grades, we’re operating under the assumption that we will continue with you in high school. Students who have learning challenges and learning style differences are just as in need of a biblical worldview and Christian education as those who fit the category of a more typical learner.

RR: With creativity and the right resources, many students can be supported to be successful at an honors level. I taught high school at an AP level and worked with students who other teachers would not have given a chance. The world we live in, you will discount a huge part of the population if you dismiss students who don’t conform to the customary educational mold.

We align with and go above and beyond the standard and advanced diplomas, though AP (advanced placement) courses may be a possibility at ICHS for the future. We also looked at Virginia universities and were sensitive to in-state tuition.

What are your final thoughts about your overall vision for the high school?

SD: This vision is something we believe God is telling us to fulfill no matter what facilities we end up in. This program is not driven by facilities – it’s driven by the curriculum. For me, it has never been about facilities. It has been about the vision and resolve of Immanuel’s leadership to san, “This is where God is leading us and we’re ready to take some bold steps.” Our board is committing to a multi-million dollar campaign to establish this high school for generations. It’s not an experiment.

How has God prepared you for a future at ICHS?

RR: I feel like God wrote my resume and I didn’t realize the purpose for which He was writing it until early spring of 2017. In my early months at ICS, as I sat and did a lot of listening in meetings, I began to hear specific ways that God had gotten me ready, definitely not of my own planning. Seven years as an ICS eighth grade Language arts teacher, teaching AP classes in high school, teaching tenth through twelfth grade, being a school counselor, working at a behavior school and a special education school, and then having training as a middle school principal have prepared me for the path ahead.


For more information on the spiritual, social, and academic offerings of ICHS click here:  https://www.icsva.org/about-ics/ichs/

To sign up for a Take a Look Tuesday High School Admissions Preview Day, or to apply click here: https://www.icsva.org/openhouse