LOUISVILLE — A new Christian-based school, Full Armor Christian Academy, will open in Louisville for classes this fall as an alternative to public schooling and homeschooling.

“Full Armor Christian Academy opened to provide a Christ-centered education for families seeking an alternative to government-driven education,” said Penny Arnold, a teacher and director with the academy.

So far, about 50 students from multiple counties have already registered for the Pre-K through 12th Grade school, located at 600 Erwin Street. When classes begin Aug. 17, the teachers will use a curriculum similar to public schools, but the first part of each day will involve a Bible study.

“I think it will be different than most other schools,” Drew Barbee said, a junior at Full Armor. “We’ll get to talk about religion freely. That’s pretty cool.”

Arnold, along with the school’s founders, Cindy and Darren Bailey, say that educators and administrators at nearby public schools have been doing a great job, but they don’t like restrictions that the government places on public school staff.

Many of those who have registered with the academy believe the same thing. Arnold said she’s heard complaints from parents about the government doing too much to push moral issues and social agendas.

“As our focus is to minimize government input and to maximize Biblical standards, we will remain an independent private school,” Arnold said.

From 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Aug. 5, the public is invited to tour the academy and enjoy ice cream at its Hilltop Hootenanny. Live music and a bonfire will also be held on the school’s grounds.

Enrollment for high school students is $1,500 per year, and for K-8, the cost is $1,200. School will be held five days a week from 8:15 a.m. to 3 p.m. With nine teachers on staff, small class sizes will offer more individualized attention for students, Arnold said.

Full Armor Christian Academy got its start, Cindy Bailey said, after her son, Mason, wanted to be home-schooled so he could work on the family farm. As the years passed, more and more students joined Mason in his private schooling held at The Potter’s Shed in Louisville.

But the shop was too small for all the students. That led two private donors to pitch in to buy the 13-acre ground at 600 Erwin Street. That property had formerly been the location of the Epworth Camp.

Volunteers are still working on remodeling the school, but Arnold said that it will be ready soon.

“We’re getting there,” she said. “It will be ready.”

Darren Bailey said the school wasn’t started to compete with nearby public schools — it started to provide an alternative to secular education.

“We want to work together to make our community, our state, our nation, and our world a better place,” he said. “Investing in young people is the way we see that happening.”

Anyone interested in donating or registering a student in the academy can call 618-665-4441.

Stan Polanski can be reached at stan.polanski@effinghamdailynews.com or 217-347-7151 ext. 131.