Rejoice Christian Schools announced Friday the completion of its new Owasso campus that houses its high school and middle school.
The campus sits on more than 60 acres of land and will accommodate about 1,500 students in 100 classrooms. Officials say the additional space and facilities will allow the school to increase enrollment from 965 to 1,500 students.
The new campus, located at 13407 East 106th Street North, features multiple science labs, libraries and art and music centers, numerous athletic facilities include gymnasiums, a baseball field, track and field complex and a 2,000-seat football stadium.
Gymnasiums at both the middle school and high school and elementary double as storm shelters that are built to withstand an EF-5 tornado, or wind speeds of up to 250 m.p.h.
With Friday’s ribbon cutting, Rejoice moves from cramped scattered buildings to a 65-acre campus with room to grow; but Rejoice is taking on new students slowly.
Superintendent Dr. Craig Shaw, said, “We're not full, but every grade in this building was on a wait list.”
The school decided to limit growth to 12 percent this year and stick to a class size limit of about 18 students.
Shaw said, "We would be completely full at 18 students per class at 1,350 students, and we're right about 1,000 now, so we have a little bit of room for growth."
Rejoice is one of the largest private schools in the state, with one of the lowest tuition costs; and the rising enrollment is bucking the trend.
In the last two years, private school enrollment has dropped in Oklahoma while tuition is on the rise.
Just over 28,000 students were in private schools last year - down substantially from the year before - while average tuition rose to almost $7,000 per year.
Rejoice was able to finish their $50 million expansion while public education struggles through a financial crisis and shortage of teachers.
Rejoice doesn't have that problem, and the superintendent believes it's mainly the Christian focus that brings in students and their parents, willing to pay their $6,000 average tuition.
The superintendent said he rarely has parents come in critical of the surrounding Owasso district, but when he hears complaints, it's about large class sizes that are growing in public schools.
The school opened its new elementary school campus in October 2015, and the completion of the middle and high school campus and athletic facilities completes the construction project. Construction began in early 2014.
The project was funded by a $50-million gift from the Eddy Gibbs Family Trust. Tulsa-based architecture firm Cyntergy AEC designed the campus and Fleming Building Company, Inc. was the project's builder.
Founded in 1992 by First Free Will Baptist Church of Owasso, Rejoice Christian Schools is accredited by the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI).