School offers clean slates

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The best students at Hope Christian School of Augusta tend to be the ones society has deemed most incorrigible.

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The Rev. Ron Burton, headmaster of Hope Christian School of Augusta, peers into a classroom of third-, fourth- and fifth-grade students on Tuesday.  Kendrick Brinson/Staff
Kendrick Brinson/Staff
The Rev. Ron Burton, headmaster of Hope Christian School of Augusta, peers into a classroom of third-, fourth- and fifth-grade students on Tuesday.

And that's exactly why the school was founded, Headmaster Ron Burton said.

"It's our desire to see change," he said.

The school was formed to address the needs of students who have been expelled and can't attend another public school or afford to go to a private one.

In the past three school years, 234 students have been expelled from Richmond County public schools, according to records compiled by The Augusta Chronicle . Of those, seven were expelled permanently and aren't allowed to return.

Once expelled, they aren't accepted by other local school systems. Richmond, Columbia and Aiken counties have policies that prohibit students who have been expelled from enrolling until the term of the expulsion is complete.

Without Hope Christian, students who are expelled would be left to the mischief they find in the streets, Juvenile Court Judge Bill Sams said. He applauded the school of about 80 students for giving them a second chance.

In its 10 years, its mission has evolved, but it remains committed to serving students who have discipline problems.

Intimate class settings enable teachers to develop personal relationships with their students, the Rev. Burton said.

Its 2008 graduating class of 18 students is the largest in the school's short history.

Senior Bryan Sivers, 18, attended Cross Creek High School, which has 1,400 students.

"I didn't like it," he said. "You get lost in all the kids."

He was given the opportunity to go back to Cross Creek, but he turned it down.

The structure of school keeps Brittany Joshua, 15, in line.

When she was in public school, she attended Sego and Spirit Creek middle schools. She acted up in class and got in trouble.

At Hope Christian, she's no longer a disruption, she said.

The Rev. Burton applies his background in the military and youth ministry to how he manages the school, offering the youths a firm, regimented atmosphere.

Judge Sams recalled meeting the headmaster a few months ago and discovered the work he is doing.

"I think I might have hugged him," Judge Sams said . "The only hope is to educate our children so they become productive citizens. If they have no skills, then they turn to other means of supporting themselves."

Often, children don't realize the value of an education, he said.

"There are two ways to earn a living," Judge Sams said. "One is the right way. One is the wrong way."

Reach Greg Gelpi at (706) 828-3851 or greg.gelpi@augustachronicle.com.

HOPE CHRISTIAN


The school, nearly homeless a year ago, has found refuge inside the offices of Marvin United Methodist Church, where it teaches students who struggle academically and don't fit in socially.


Most of the school's students have learning disabilities, and State Senate Bill 10 infused 19 students into Hope Christian this year on special needs scholarships. The school is heavily dependent on donations. Parents pay according to their ability.

Comments (14) Add comment
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vicktotheend
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vicktotheend 03/19/08 - 04:54 am
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Thank God for Rev. Burton....

Thank God for Rev. Burton....

jackfruitpaper833
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jackfruitpaper833 03/19/08 - 07:47 am
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I am so proud of Rev Burton,

I am so proud of Rev Burton, it's HARD to call him Rev, we were in the band together at T. W. Josey back in 80-81, he use to play the Mellophone and boy was he good. It's a blessing to know that former students like him end up being ministers in the Gospel of Christ. Keep up the good work.

devharris46
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devharris46 03/19/08 - 08:02 am
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Hope Christian is a

Hope Christian is a SOLUTION!!! It is not a PROGRAM!! It is about a RELATIONSHIP with real PEOPLE and CHRIST! THANKS Rev. Ron and Hope Christian for many kids you'll have help get on the right TRACK!
Devon Harris, Director of FCR Ministries

double_standard
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double_standard 03/19/08 - 08:13 am
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A good story in the paper for

A good story in the paper for a change.

sumerdaz53
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sumerdaz53 03/19/08 - 08:31 am
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What a wonderful article. It

What a wonderful article. It is about something positive going on in our community for our children who no longer have the option of attending public school and whose family can not afford to send their child to private school. Rev Burton you are a godsend. And Marvin United Methodist Church a loud resounding Thank You for being such a positive influence in this community. More churches should open their doors to just such an effort. Truly the Christian spirit is at work in this church and school.

InChristLove
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InChristLove 03/19/08 - 10:54 am
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What an uplifting story! May

What an uplifting story! May God bless your ministry!!

toppergem
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toppergem 03/19/08 - 12:39 pm
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I just left several of the

I just left several of the other story sites and the posting of comments is at an all time high...but that is because they are not talking about anything positive and uplifting. This story should have received many more comments from readers by now. But, once again anything something or someone is shown in a positive light...not much is said. Why is that so?

ljc
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ljc 03/19/08 - 05:05 pm
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What a difference you will

What a difference you will make in their lives!

MartinezWest Augusta
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MartinezWest Augusta 03/25/08 - 08:53 pm
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Great job augusta i wish the

Great job augusta i wish the people in augusta. Could hear of more postive things being done in the community like this. Instead of the negative garbage.

stillamazed
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stillamazed 03/26/08 - 09:15 am
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If the public schools had

If the public schools had administrators like him maybe less kids would be dropping out of school. I find that in the Columbia County school system many of the teachers have bad attiudes and would rather see a child fail as opposed to taking the time to help them. Way to go Hope Christian.

lovingthesouth72
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lovingthesouth72 03/26/08 - 12:29 pm
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What a blessing for these

What a blessing for these children to be offered a second chance. God does not give up on anyone, why should we. The challenge is to raise the bar and hold these kids accountable for their behavior. Only then will they know right from wrong and good from bad. Now they have a chance to make a difference. Wonderful. This school is exactly what they need.

tab0467
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tab0467 03/27/08 - 11:52 am
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Great Job! Now if Columbia

Great Job! Now if Columbia County will raise the bar and make major improvements Harlem High would have a higher graduation rate then 68.8% for 07 and the county rate is 81% neither rates should be acceptable. We are losing our children and they are the future!

Chuchi
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Chuchi 03/29/08 - 12:10 pm
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This is a good article and

This is a good article and I'm glad that this school is available to kids who have messed up. I hope they are able to keep it going. But I thought that students who are expelled have to go to alternative school. Am I wrong? I don't know much about what happens to kids once they get kicked out of a public school. Where is the alternative school, anyway? Can anyone educate me?

crazyoldman
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crazyoldman 04/04/08 - 09:40 am
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Man yeah, we need more

Man yeah, we need more schools like this. HMMMMM, how many Churches are there in the CSRA? Unfortunately, the alternative school is in South Augusta @ 2216 Bungalow Rd. 30906.

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