By Tim Priebe
September 20, 2022

Students become great neighbors at Oklahoma Christian Academy

OCA focuses on providing education and opportunities for students, while encouraging them to be outstanding community members.
Students at OCA learn standard skills, along with lessons on faith and fostering community. (Photo: Brent Fuchs)

Edmond-based Oklahoma Christian Academy (OCA) partners with families and churches to raise the next generations of neighbors. Teachers and administrators mentor, teach, and navigate life with over 550 young people–from age three to nineteen–helping them think deeply, cultivate empathy for others, exercise their creativity, and develop their God-given gifts to bring light with them wherever they go.

Founding of OCA

In 1987, several families from churches of Christ across the OKC metro came together to launch Oklahoma Christian Academy. Due to the challenging Oklahoma economy of the late 1980s, another special Christian school, Living Word Academy (LWA), was closing its doors that same spring. 

OCA’s first families, including LWA alums, sought to meet this new need through incredible cross-congregational collaboration. OCA opened in the fall of 1987 across four churches: the Edmond Church of Christ, the Oakcrest Church of Christ, the Northwest Church of Christ, and Memorial Road Church of Christ. Fourteen years later, in 2001, the collaborative dream took physical root as OCA opened its current campus on 9th Street in Edmond.

OCA first served small classes in kindergarten through seventh grade, utilizing available classroom space across multiple church buildings in the metro. 

“We were a resilient little school, but limited students, limited resources, and no ‘home base’ meant that curricular and co-curricular experiences were few, and OCA’s sense of identity as The Eagles wasn’t near what it is today,” said Laura Akins, director of communications. “In 2022, those realities have changed dramatically. We serve over 550 students from Pre-K to 12th grade.” 

Serving students

OCA is a Christian school but serves many families beyond its faith tradition. Children will learn Biblical lessons, but OCA welcomes families from all backgrounds looking for a loving, difference-making educational environment for their children.

“Our Eagles come to us from across the metro and are engaged leaders in our community on multiple fronts–whether that’s our State Champion Academic Team, our superior state musicians, our champion cross-country runners, our up-and-coming e-Sports Team, or our special philanthropy team that has raised tens of thousands for area non-profits,” said Akins. 

OCA serves students in Pre-K through 12th grade from across the metro area. (Photo: Brent Fuchs)

There are incredible opportunities for engagement and leadership at OCA. Smaller schools sometimes mean fewer co-curriculars and a shallower bench for competition, but this means students can challenge themselves to almost anything (sport, discipline, leadership team, etc.) and connect with anyone, which often leads to even richer and broader experiences than some of their peers at other schools.

“We believe in teaching young people to leverage their skills and to master their disciplines—from art to math to history and more—for the purpose of serving others, telling the redemptive story of Jesus, and making our communities better,” said Akins.

Akins joined OCA in the spring of 2020, so she began serving teachers and families at the start of the pandemic. She described it as a time that revealed the school culture as resilient, hopeful, and different.

“The one thing I love most about OCA is that, in the middle of all that complexity and challenge, we know why we’re here,” said Akins. “We believe in loving our neighbors and loving our God.” 

Community building

OCA partners in mission and service work with multiple churches across the metro area. The school has a partnership with UShine in developing and administering mental health and resiliency training for young people. The student philanthropy team has also raised thousands of dollars for Keaton’s Kindness Foundation, the HALO Project, and many other local and national non-profits.

“We are blessed by a highly communicative and collaborative education community, including local private and public schools,” said Akins. “We also work with the Edmond Chamber and help facilitate both Leadership Edmond and Youth Leadership Edmond.”

Not only does OCA join forces with local organizations, they specifically work to create good citizens of the community in their students. 

OCA monitors several metrics yearly, including student retention, ACT/SAT scores, competition records, service hours, graduate placements, and more. Teachers and administrators aim to meet or exceed research-informed benchmarks for quality for accreditation and student momentum every cycle. However, the school ultimately defines success by the missional spirit and actions of its students and their families. 

“If our seniors all graduate with honors but are self-oriented, unloving, or destructive, we have failed,” said Akins. “We want to produce graduates who see their neighbors and who leverage their lessons and skills to love those neighbors well.”

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About Tim Priebe

Tim is a public speaker, author, publisher of Edmond Business, and the owner of Backslash Creative. He helps businesses that are worried they don’t have the expertise or time required to invest in doing their own digital marketing. He helps them plan where and how much to invest and often helps execute the plan.

Tim started the Edmond Business online magazine in May 2020 to fill a need in the community when The Edmond Sun shut down and stopped publishing their monthly magazine, The Business Times.