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FEATURE - AUGUST, 1999 - JEFFERSON, GEORGIA

A tradition in education
Jackson Trail Christian School begins its 25th year, continues emphasis on patriotism, religion
By Jana Adams
In the early 1970s, the Rev. Wayne and Mrs. Bobbie Jackson opened a school off the Jefferson-Winder Hwy. with the intention of providing children an education in a loving Christian atmosphere. Monday morning, Jackson Trail Christian School opened its doors for the start of its 25th year, with the mission of offering education with a Christian emphasis still firmly in place.
Book bags of all colors, shapes and sizes lining the short hallway between the office, two classrooms, lunchroom and chapel Monday signalled that school was in session. For those new to the school, wooden signs hanging above the doors identify the different rooms - apples for the classrooms, a church for the chapel and a loaf of bread for the lunchroom.



JTCS traditions
Among the traditions the Rev. Wayne and Mrs. Bobbie Jackson started 25 years ago when they opened Jackson Trail Christian School are the pledge to the American flag.



In the classrooms, children ranging from 3-year-olds to sixth graders settled into their desks. The school's two teachers, Bobbie Jackson and the Jacksons' daughter-in-law, Kelly Jackson, welcomed the students in their respective classrooms to a new school year and took roll, sorting out the older children from the younger. In a sort of one-room schoolhouse approach, the two classes mix the different age groups together. B. Jackson teaches 3-, 4- and 5-year-olds, first graders and third graders, while K. Jackson teaches second, fourth, fifth and sixth graders.
After a head count, the teachers shepherded the children together into the chapel, where a bulletin board covered with shiny blue paper and tiny cutout fish proclaims that "God's Love is Deeper Than the Sea."
The school's 18 students - 20 are actually on roll for the 1999-2000 school year - listened as B. Jackson explained some of the school's rules - the usual no running in the hall or talking out of turn mixed with some unique to the school, such as "no screaming when singing." For singing is a regular part of the JTCS school day, beginning with a verse of "America the Beautiful" every morning. Bible stories, the pledge to the American flag and prayer are also among the morning chapel rituals.
Following the pledge and song, B. Jackson stood behind a podium and raised a Bible high.
"Does anyone know what this is?" she asked and got an immediate response. "Yes, this is the Bible. Some of you know it, but the word of God never gets old."
Another day had begun, a new school year was underway.

HOW THE SCHOOL WORKS
An independent, non-profit Christian organization not affiliated with any particular denomination or group, JTCS operates under a board of directors, with the Rev. Jackson serving as administrator. The school receives no state or federal funds and is financed largely through tuition. The school carries a 501(c)(3) federal rating for tax purposes of donations.
The school serves students from Jackson, Barrow and Hall counties and has used the A Beka curriculum and Christian textbooks since its beginning 25 years ago, B. Jackson said. Emphasis is placed on American patriotism and Christianity, and character development is considered among the most important work of the school.



Bible Stories Read
Mrs. Jackson is shown with her Bible during the first chapel meeting of the year.



According to B. Jackson, JTCS students consistently rank above the national average in academic achievement, a fact she attributes to "dedicated teachers, low teacher-pupil ratio, good attendance and respect for others."
Beginning in kindergarten, students participate in an extensive phonics program, intended to give each child confidence in reading so "reading becomes a joy," B. Jackson said. Along with the usual academic subjects, students also take art and poetry, and each classroom has computers with Internet access.
Through the assistance of the Piedmont Regional Library, the school keeps a collection of books available for students to check out each week.

PARENT INVOLVEMENT
Each year, the students participate in educational field trips, and they also enter a float in the local Christmas parades, with students and parents working together to make the events successful, B. Jackson said.
Fund-raising efforts of the Parent-Teacher Fellowship (PTF) through the years are visible in the school's gym, established debt-free last year. The gym houses a kitchen, stage and restrooms. Last year, two student plays, honors night and kindergarten 5 graduation were held in the gym for the first time, instead of in local churches as in previous years.
Other efforts of the PTF include an annual family wiener roast, which is one of the year's highlights, along with Kite Day held each March.

AFTER JTCS
After leaving JTCS, students enter other Christian schools or public schools, B. Jackson said.
"It's always good to see the names of students we taught at JTCS who have made the honor roll time after time (at other schools)," she said. "A further joy is when a student completes the 12th grade as an honor grad."
Jackson Trail Christian School, home of the 5-Star Generals with colors of blue and gold, "continues to march forward with its original goal - training boys and girls in the knowledge of Christ and the Christian way of life while providing an excellent academic education," B. Jackson said.
The motto of the school is "Helping Mold Tomorrow Today," an idea that, according to B. Jackson, is further illustrated by the quote of Charles Hadden Spurgeon: "One of God's chief methods for preserving His fields from tares is to sow them early with wheat."