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Valley Christian, Seton mark continuing growth in area

By: Georgia Rogers

March 3, 2007

As school choice continues to be an important issue for parents and students alike, here are profiles of two private high schools in the Kyrene Corridor that offer rigorous college preparatory academics along with an emphasis on service to others.

Valley Christian High School

Valley Christian is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year as “a place that instills the same Christian values that students are taught in their homes and churches,” explains development director Joel Andresen.

Over the next two years, plans call for a 20,000-square-foot worship and performing arts center to be built on the west Chandler campus.

In addition to challenging academics, community service is one of the hallmarks at Valley Christian.

For example, through required Bible classes every student must perform at least three hours of unpaid community service during each nine-week school session. Organizations that benefit from these service efforts include St. Mary’s Food Bank, the Salvation Army, schools in the town of Guadalupe, St. Vincent de Paul, the city of Tempe and various outreach facilities in downtown Phoenix.

“By giving of themselves through community service while they’re in high school, our students feel a responsibility as they get older to continue serving and giving back to those who are less fortunate,” Andresen said.

This summer, student groups from Valley Christian will travel to the Dominican Republic and Costa Rica to help build orphanages.

This non-denominational high school’s student body of nearly 400 is made up of students who belong to more than 80 Christian churches throughout the Valley. About 20 to 25 percent of Valley Christian’s students reside in Wrangler News’ Kyrene Corridor coverage area.

Valley Christian also has strong programs in athletics and music. The school is dominant in both boys and girls track, for example.

In fact, Valley Christian’s girls’ track team has earned an amazing 11 consecutive state championships at the AIA’s 2A level.

The boys’ basketball team just clinched another state championship on Feb. 24 and lost only one game in the regular season. That loss came during the finals of the Flagstaff High School Basketball Tournament, which was made up of mostly 4A teams.

On the music front, the school’s 60-member choir has been invited to perform at New York City’s Carnegie Hall in the spring of 2008.

Unusual for a private school is the fact that Valley Christian started offering a program for special education students in 2006; the program is already at capacity.

And while Kyrene Corridor families might think the school’s tuition would be costly, Andresen points out that, “thanks to our financial aid program, families from all walks of life are part of this school community.”

Information: or call (480) 705-8888.

Seton Catholic High School

In addition to their daily classes, Seton students are actively involved in service to their parishes, various local agencies and non-profit organizations like Paz de Cristo during every year of high school.

At spring break, Seton students annually embark on a mission trip to Agua Prieta, Mexico, where they build homes and help with other community projects.

Thanks to a recent partnership with the New Directions Institute of Phoenix, Seton is equipping its students with valuable knowledge about infant brain development that they can use in working with youngsters at Agua Prieta’s childcare center and later in life when the students become parents.

Each young person’s spiritual formation is a key component of Seton’s mission, and the school is named for the foundress of Catholic education in the United States, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. According to Paula Osterday, Seton’s director of institutional advancement, the Southeast Valley’s tremendous growth has created a “huge demand” for Catholic education at the high school level.

With more than 20 percent of the school’s applicants currently being turned away due to space limitations, Seton has launched a major expansion.

Over the next three to five years, a new campus will be built in phases adjacent to the current Seton campus on Dobson Road north of Ray Road in Chandler.

Plans call for a new chapel, 21 additional classrooms, physics/robotics and chemistry labs, a cafeteria and an arts center. When completed, the new campus will accommodate 1,000 students – twice Seton’s current capacity.

“While many of our students like attending high school in a smaller environment, many of our parents appreciate being able to build real relationships with their child’s teachers and the emphasis on discipline,” Osterday said.

“We also have a very welcoming parent community.”

One of the special academic offerings at Seton is its growing robotics program, which has won regional championships. Even students with no previous interest in computer science or engineering end up getting hooked on robotics, Osterday said.

Seton also has a strong athletic tradition, as evidenced by the new football field that is part of the school’s expansion efforts. In the past three years, the school’s various sports teams have won 14 state championships and 21 AIA region championships.

For the 2007-08 school year. Seton’s sports teams will move from the AIA’s 3A to 4A athletic division, which will allow the teams to compete with Arizona schools that are “closer to home.”

Information: or call (480) 963-1900.


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