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School is family affair for Alleluia students

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Hundreds will gather Saturday to celebrate Alleluia Community School's 30th anniversary, which is being observed throughout the 2010-11 school year.

"We want to bring everybody together, celebrate God's goodness and celebrate the sacrifices parents made to make it work," said Dan Funsch, the high school's principal.

The Alleluia Community was started in 1973 when six families decided to buy homes next door to one another. As the years went by, more and more families bought homes next door to those families, creating a neighborhood network of Christians.

"It's a group of people who have gathered together to intentionally support each other in living out the gospel," he said. "It's not denomination. It's not a church. It's just Christians who have decided to move next door to each other to be supported and be supportive in trying to live a Christian life on a day-to-day basis."

The Alleluia community now has about 700 people, Funsch said. As the community grew, so did the desire to have a school for the children of the community.

In the late 1970s, there was a feasibility study and discussion among the members of the community. Finally, in 1981, the school was organized.

"The school is put together by the community -- by the parents -- for their kids," Funsch said. "The parents are in the school. The parents are working in the school. The parents are volunteering in the school.

''I think probably about 40 percent of what we do is done by volunteers, and the people who are doing it are the parents."

Its first location was at Camp Angehele, off of Hephzibah-McBean Road in Hephzibah, leased to the community for two years by Bible Deliverance Temple.

In 1983, the Fleming School at the corner of Peach Orchard Road and Lumpkin Road was up for sale by the Richmond County Board of Education. The community purchased the school that spring and moved in that September.

Over the years, the school has graduated nearly 500 students and is seeing its second, and in some cases, third generations of students from the community's families, Funsch said. He noted that some of the school's alumni are now are part of the faculty and staff.

"There's tradition here," he said. "There's family. There's longevity. People are coming back and teaching the next generation passing on the community's vision and the community's life."

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