By Andria Barrios

New and exciting programs and outreaches have taken place at Grace Christian School within the past year, including an on-campus dual enrollment program, a customized education program for special needs students, the added sports competition of ice hockey and even some renovations. President and Vice President Barry and Rebecca McKeen couldn’t be more enthused about the progress.

“Our Student Outreach And Resources program, also called SOAR, is a pull out program for students who have an IEP or 504 plan for special needs accommodations,” explained Barry. Each school day, qualified children participate in regular class sessions and later spend set aside time to work on individual needs.

“The program launched in August and has given us an incredibly successful year,” he continued. The outreach was part of the school’s goal to turn away as few students as possible, and provide as many as possible with well-rounded, Christian educations.

“I had a strong burden to start a program for kids with special needs for two years and ignored it,” Rebecca said. “Finally, the Lord sent a boy who desperately wanted to be at our school, but we couldn’t accommodate him. It was so sad and that moment I felt we needed to start this program.”

Hockey is another exciting program now being offered as a competitive sport on campus. Experienced Coach Michael Capiello conducts practices for students in grades three to eight in the school gym’s synthetic hockey rink, as well as at the Ice forum in Brandon.

“We will play as a club for about three years and then hope to compete in the high school hockey league,” said Barry. The growing popularity of the sport in the area will no doubt ensure its success at Grace.

“We have tried to observe what programs and sports are mostly absent in Christian Schools,” he concluded. Because of these new undertakings, the school anticipates the greatest enrollment numbers in history next year in its 41st annual year. It is located at 1425 N. Valrico Rd. Visit or GraceChristianSchoolValricoFlorida/.

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