SPRINGFIELD — This school year brought many new faces for The Summit Prep and New Covenant Academy (NCA).

The Summit Prep has 142 students, with 15 students per class. It can have up to 18 students per class.

“We’re still enrolling students for the 2021 – 2022 school year,” Head of The Summit Prep Dr. Katie Heet said. “We can continue to enroll students until we reach that cap size of 18.”

NCA has 721 students, a 14 percent jump from last year. It’s nearly at capacity.

“Our high school has over 200 students,” NCA Chief Academic Officer Matt Searson said.  “Right now where our high school is housed we maybe have a classroom or 2 of cushion. Our elementary, currently we have several of our grade levels that have 3 sections and then we have some with 2 sections.”

Several parents said their reason behind sending their kids to private school was for its principles. Gerald Zamora has a daughter in fourth grade at The Summit Prep.

“At an early age, parents always have a checklist for requirements, demands, and wants in choosing a school for their kid,” Zamora said. “This school presented experiences and opportunities that were above what I anticipated.”

He said he feels very safe when she’s at school.

“We’ve got a big focus right now on health and wellness here at the Summit,” Heet said. “We’ve been lucky to be seated for 5 days so I think families are looking for a place where they feel it’s safe for their children.”

The Summit Prep said one reason parents were wanting their kids to attend school was because of its mask requirement. Zamora said his daughter is used to wearing a mask.

“I feel for her because I know it’s uncomfortable,” Zamora said. “That process of wearing a mask and challenges of wearing one those conversations stopped 3 months after the fact. It became as custom as bringing a number 2 pencil to school.”

NCA does not have a mask requirement. Parents took a survey in the summer where they said they wanted masks to be optional. NCA does not want this to be the deciding factor for new families applying.

“When folks come to the new covenant, we want to make sure it’s not a knee-jerk reaction to something that maybe isn’t in alignment with what we’re going to be teaching from a biblical worldview from a Christian perspective,” Searson said.

Brendon Cummings’ son Landon is a junior at New Covenant. Cummings’ wanted Landon’s learning environment to be guided by faith.

“New covenant offered opportunities for sports and socialization as well as what their motto is which is build Christ like character and academic excellence,” Cummings’ said, “We wanted both of those things.”

Searson said this is something most families are looking for when they apply to NCA.

“As families come and check us out, they want to know what we stand for.” Searson said. “What we’re going to focus on is what does it mean as a Christian in today’s culture to live out your faith. More and more parents want choice and when they think about having something else partner with them in the spiritual information of their kids, I think that’s just about where your kids are going to be for 8 hours of their day outside of your home in that influence. There are parents that want that for their kids.”

Both schools are looking for ways to expand to continue accommodating more students.