Christ the Savior Academy to open in fall at St. George Orthodox Christian Cathedral

UPDATED — It was 17 years ago that St. George Orthodox Christian Cathedral broke ground on an educational wing just west of 13th and Rock Road, but the timing wasn’t right to start a school.

It is now.

Christ the Savior Academy will open in the fall for the new school year.

“Now, everything has come together,” says Jennifer Sebits, president of the board. “This is a project of the entire Orthodox community in Wichita.”

That includes St. George, St. Michael the Archangel Orthodox Christian Church and St. Mary Orthodox Christian Church.

“We believe that it’s important to educate the whole child – so mind, body and soul,” Sebits says. “We think that children are spiritual beings and their soul needs to be nurtured as well.”

Sebits says Christ the Savior will offer a classical education, which emphasizes education in three parts.

Initially, there’s a grammar stage in which there’s a lot of memorization.

Next is a logic stage where children begin to learn and ask questions about a lot of the facts that they’ve earlier memorized.

Finally, there’s a rhetoric stage where children put what they’ve learned into spoken and written form.

Students will learn Greek and Latin starting in first grade. Sebits says classical schooling also means students often study from original sources instead of text books.

Initially, Christ the Savior will offer pre-K classes, kindergarten, first and second grades.

“Our goal is to grow a grade a year … until we reach fifth grade,” Sebits says.

At that point, the 17,240-square-foot building will be out of room. Sebits says there’s space to build to the west of the educational wing.

Paul O’Callaghan, dean of St. George, says there was a proposal to start a school in 1998 a couple of years after the educational wing was built. Parishioners voted, and a majority of them wanted it, but not a two-thirds majority.

“That would have been a very clear signal to go ahead,” he says.

They decided to wait.

“The vision remained for the school since the building was designed for that purpose in the first place,” O’Callaghan says.

He says when Sebits came forward with a renewed vision, the community pursued the idea in a new way.

“We did a much more thorough marketing job,” O’Callaghan says. Also, he says, “The way we structured it, I think, was very important.”

Originally it has been a parish project, and now it’s a more inclusive approach with the entire Orthodox community.

“That made people a lot more comfortable with the idea,” O’Callaghan says.

Tuition is $2,500 a year. Applications are available online.

The academy will accept students of all faiths. Sebits says there are 261 school-age Orthodox children in Wichita.

It may have been a long wait, she says, but “this is really a dream come true.”