ELIDA — When the new Elida Elementary School opens this fall, students will also have the option for a faith-based education at the forthcoming LifeWise Academy, an interdenominational Christian school operating under Ohio’s released-time religious instruction exemption.
LifeWise Academy, which bills itself as a Christian character-building academy, offers public-school students the opportunity to attend religion classes during the school day in place of an elective like art, music or library.
The school is privately funded and is not affiliated with Elida schools, located a short distance from the new Elida Elementary in a former residence purchased by American Christian Television Services (ACTS) late last year following advocacy from local churches to open a LifeWise Academy in Elida.
Parental permission is required for students to attend, as the school’s lessons on gratitude, respect, obedience and other traits also incorporate lessons from the Bible.
Bob Placie, a project manager and ACTS board member, said LifeWise Academies working with students in other Ohio school districts have seen an improvement in student discipline, attendance and academic performance because of their focus on character development.
“They’re just learning things that they want to develop in their owns lives,” Placie said, “and things that they maybe want to exclude from their lives.”
LifeWise Academies are part of the Stand for Truth project, an Evangelical non-profit group formed to bring religious instruction to K-12 students in public schools.
One such academy already exists in Van Wert, with separate programs available for elementary and middle school students and a pilot program for high school students underway. There, elementary students meet for Bible lessons one day a week, while middle school students attend LifeWise for 12 weeks of daily New Testament and worldview classes.
The school’s website boasts that 92 percent of Van Wert Elementary students and at least 120 middle school students attend LifeWise Academy.
LifeWise Elida is expected to open by September.