High school is coming to Eastside Christian School.
Next year, the school, part of Eastside Baptist Church on Lower Roswell Road, will add a ninth grade offering to its program, which currently serves 249 students in K-8.
The school will stagger the addition of grades, adding a ninth grade class in fall 2023, a 10th grade class the next year, an 11th grade class in 2025 and a 12th grade class in 2026. The first class of seniors, then, will graduate spring 2027.
“That way we can be progressive in our staffing,” said Tiffany Stark, Eastside’s head of school, noting teachers for the middle school will teach ninth grade to start the “slow and steady” process, before the full staff for the high school grades is built out.
Plans for adding high school grades to Eastside began when Stark took over as the school’s leader.
“Two years ago when I came into Eastside as the head of school, we started thinking and praying about the idea of a high school,” Stark said.
There was buy-in from the parents when the plan began to circulate in 2020, and the church’s leadership governing the school approved of the move.
Stark said the goal is to one day have 600 students across grades K-12. She said offerings for the first ninth grade class will include core classes such as biology, algebra, geometry, geography and English language arts, with the school planning to expand existing theater and STEM programs to the high school.
Stark said Eastside also plans to offer a dance elective in partnership with the church’s ballet school, whose director will partner with the school to build out the elective.
Parents are excited, Stark said, about the prospect of expanding the statement that encompasses the school’s mission, “Academic excellence from a biblical worldview,” to the high school level, and developing a true college preparatory program.
“Parents are really energized about their students being able to be in one place all the way K-12,” Stark said. “Our parents love the idea of that carried through to 12th grade as well, to really just provide hopefully a solid foundation academically, but also spiritually, emotionally, all those things before they head off to college.”
The high school will be based in the school’s student center and Hutchinson Center, Stark explained. Last summer, five classrooms were built in the Hutchinson Center, nicknamed “The Hutch,” a gym space that has been mostly closed off from the public, save its weight room.
“We may look at expanding, getting a couple more classes” in the student center, Stark said, but current plans for expansion are limited to recreation spaces, with the school looking to add a football field, baseball field and tennis courts at some point.
Stark, who holds a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Georgia Tech, previously coordinated Wheeler High School’s magnet program and has a particular interest in STEM opportunities for students. The school already converted one of the racquetball courts in the Hutch to a STEM workshop with an array of power tools that allow for hands-on projects.
“I love the idea of being able to expand and provide some really neat STEM opportunities for our students, getting them passionate and excited about it, but also building that content foundation for hopefully pursuit of STEM careers later in life,” Stark said.
Stark, an alumna of Eastside, reflected on her time there while discussing excitement around the high school expansion.
“Knowing the incredible foundation it gave me here as a student and knowing that we have the opportunity for that to go into high school as well is pretty energizing.”