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story.lead_photo.caption Photo courtesy of Little LighthouseLittle Lighthouse students cut shapes out of Play-Doh.

Lighthouse Preparatory Academy in Jefferson City is adding elementary grades and expanding its preschool program for the 2021-22 school year.

Lighthouse Prep is a private Christian school that currently serves 130 students in grades 6-12. Its preschool program, Little Lighthouse Academy, began this school year. It currently has 37 students.

For the 2021-22 school year, the school will offer some elementary classes and more preschool classes.

Elementary plans

Many families asked for elementary grades, so school officials decided to start accepting elementary applications to determine how many families are committed to it, Lighthouse Preparatory Academy Administrator Karen Crawford said.

"Families that have their students starting in sixth grade really liked the university model, so they were really interested in their younger kids being a part of that," she said.

They will add the grades that enough students apply for. So far, there are enough applicants to add fifth grade, and there is interest in the other grades, Little Lighthouse Director Amanda Pennewell said. The elementary classes will be at Freshwater Church in Jefferson City, where the preschool program is moving next school year.

"We are encouraging anybody interested to give us a call, shoot us an email and find out more information," Pennewell said.

Some classes may be a mix of grades that are close to one another, such as a kindergarten and first-grade class.

"It just depends on how many students we have," Crawford said. "We may not add every grade this year."

Crawford said she would like to eventually add every grade if enough families are interested.

"We're really trying to find out what's best for the community and what the needs are," she said.

School leaders will determine how many teachers they need to hire after they know how many students and classes they will have.

Preschool may expand

Little Lighthouse Academy offers enrichment for children ages 1-3, preschool for children who will be 3 years old by August, pre-kindergarten for children who will be 4 by August, and a preschool/pre- kindergarten extension class.

"The program is going really well, even with COVID kind of throwing everything for a tailspin this year," Pennewell said. "Our program has just thrived and taken off, and we are so excited."

Little Lighthouse currently has 37 students, and 67 have already enrolled for the 2021-22 school year, Pennewell said.

The program is still accepting applications for its enrichment and preschool program. The enrichment program has some spots open, and although the preschool and pre-kindergarten programs are full, they can open another section to the preschool program if five or more students enroll, Pennewell said. Students can also apply and be put on a wait list.

Little Lighthouse currently has six teachers and one director. Pennewell said she will probably need to hire three or four more teachers for next school year.

"We're very excited to add to the team," she said.

Little Lighthouse is held at Living Hope Church in Jefferson City this school year. Next school year, it will move to Freshwater Church, a bigger location to accommodate more students.

"Living Hope has been the most gracious church to allow us to come during a time of uncertainty, and we are honestly so grateful for them," Pennewell said. "It's bittersweet to be leaving."

Although the teachers and students will miss Living Hope, they are excited to move to a bigger location.

"I'm really excited that they partnered with us, and it's very gracious of them to do that this year," Pennewell said.

For more information or to apply for preschool or elementary school, visit lpajc.com, call 573-301-2541 or email [email protected].

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