Cary News: Opinion

Faith Filter: A new chapter for Cary Christian School

Calista Austin, 5, plays on the monkey bars at Cary Christian School, where her grandmother, Dale Mitchell, left, teaches fourth grade and her mother Catherine Austin, graduated from in 2008. Calista is the first legacy student at the school, which is celebrating its 20th year.
Calista Austin, 5, plays on the monkey bars at Cary Christian School, where her grandmother, Dale Mitchell, left, teaches fourth grade and her mother Catherine Austin, graduated from in 2008. Calista is the first legacy student at the school, which is celebrating its 20th year. Liza Weidle

There’s a lot riding on Calista Austin’s shoulders. On Aug. 4, she becomes the first legacy student at Cary Christian School.

When the school’s founding members gathered 20 years ago, they hoped the day would come when children of graduates would start attending the school.

I met Calista and her family at the school in July. Although Calista is just 5 years old, she knows her way around Cary Christian, especially the playground. Calista bounced from slide to slide, then demonstrated how she could travel across the monkey bars by herself. I can’t imagine a more adorable child to represent the legacy that Cary Christian has to offer.

Catherine Austin, Calista’s mother, graduated in 2008 from the school. Catherine didn’t start at Cary Christian until the 10th grade when her parents moved to the area just so their daughter could attend Cary Christian.

At first, Catherine was upset to be in a new school and away from her friends. But she grew to love Cary Christian and its traditions.

“My favorite memory is when the kindergarten students light the candles for the graduating class,” said Austin, who lives in Apex with her family.

Austin’s favorite teacher, Dell Cook, is now the headmaster of the school.

“It’s a really sweet time to watch a student grow into adulthood, passing along good things to her children,” said Cook, who spent more than 10 years teaching at Cary Christian before becoming the headmaster.

Even more touching is that Austin’s mother, Dale Mitchell, teaches fourth grade at Cary Christian.

“I love that the school is kindergarten through 12th grade, because the older ones can have a positive impact on the younger students,” said Mitchell, also known as Marme to Calista.

Calista likes the traditions too.

“Marme’s class will be my kinderbuddies, and the 4th graders will read to us,” Calista said.

Austin laughed when I asked if she would experience the typical tissues and tears moments when Calista starts school.

“I don’t need to cry,” she said. “I am excited for her to have Mom and other staff friends who will help her develop a love for Jesus.”

Calista’s first day should be a fun one.

“I am excited about making new friends and learning a lot,” Calista said.

About the school

Cary Christian is a non-denominational school that began 20 years ago when a group of men and women had a vision for education with a biblical worldview.

The early days focused on strong academics. That effort developed into an honors program that has all students matriculating to either a four-year university or a two-year college program.

The sports program now includes football, cross country, track, soccer, tennis, volleyball, basketball, baseball, golf, lacrosse and swimming.

Cary Christian was awarded the North Carolina Independent School Athletic Association Sportsman Award for representing overall excellence in Athletic Sportsmanship for the 2015-16 sports year.

There are 780 students enrolled this fall. Students have to apply and be evaluated to attend. Once admitted, there is an annual tuition that ranges as high as $7,131 for all grades, except kindergarten, which costs $5,000.

The vision for the school is to continue growing and provide leadership in the growth and development of classical and Christian education in the nation.

“We find ourselves well placed to help schools around the country grow and see more Calistas coming for their first day of school through the doors her mother or father came to grow in wisdom,” Cook said.

Liza@LizaWeidle.com

Learn more

Cary Christian School is at 1330 Old Apex Road in Cary. The 20th anniversary celebration of educational excellence is Aug. 6. Go to carychristianschool.org

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