It was an afternoon of family fun Saturday as Waxahachie Family Faith Academy, a charter school, hosted March Madness at Getzendaner Park to introduce itself to the community.

There was plenty of family fun – and activities including bounce houses, airbrush tattoos, school club exhibits, food and live music by The Sun Downers featuring math teacher Keith Goldberg on bass.

“This is our first annual event and we hope it becomes a tradition,” said Shara Backus, principal. “This is to introduce us to the community and let them meet some of our students and wonderful teachers and an opportunity for our families to have a fun event.”

Waxahachie Faith Academy, which has been in the area for 15 years, is a small charter school that started out as a private school, Backus said. The school offers pre-kindergarten through 12th grade with a focus on the arts, she said. All teachers are state-certified.

“We realized a lot of people don’t know we are here and as a charter school we are tuition-free,” Backus said. “We are an open-enrollment charter school serving Ellis County and surrounding cities.”

Family Faith Academy has an enrollment of 230 students with a student-teacher ratio of about 16-1. The 1A school participates in UIL competitions and athletics including baseball, softball and basketball. In the fall it will offer football and soccer, as well.

“We hope to reach an enrollment of about 400. Since we are so small, we have room for growth,” said Goldberg, who has two sons attending the academy. “We have a family environment. Everybody knows everybody. That’s something kids don’t get at the ISD.”

High school students have the opportunity to participate in dual credit classes free of charge through Navarro College or Texas Virtual School Network with classes through University of Texas at Arlington.

“The state funds that so there is no cost and a teacher supervises that program,” Backus said.

The students on hand were enjoying the activities and enthusiastic about sharing their school experiences.

Joseph Mann of Venus is in his first year at the school. The freshman was home schooled prior to going to the academy.

“I like it a lot because it’s not a big school,” he said, saying he is involved in baseball and martial arts and will participate in football next year. “I would recommend it because kids can get one-on-one attention if they are having trouble and better teachers.”

Senior Kaylee Cornuaud has been a student since eighth grade. She is the vice president of the senior class and participates the Interact Club, Beta Club and sports. She plans to go to community college after graduation and then transfer to a four-year university.

“The whole senior class is a big family – there are no cliques or drama,” she said, saying she is looking forward to her June 4 graduation. “Our school is a very good school with lots of teacher attention. Teachers invite you to come in for help. Everybody is friends and there is a good social life with a lot of activities.”

Second-grade teacher Janine Wilson organized the food for the event, anticipating 500-600 attendees.

“I hope we have a lot of families come out but the most important thing is to attract people to the school. We have awesome teachers. We are all certified teachers,” Wilson said.

Ann Butsch of Italy has three children attending in fifth, seventh and 11th grades.

“We transferred from Italy and they are doing so much better. I like the personal interest in the kids,” Butsch said. “They are actually interested in homework and turning work in and there is an athletic program. Everybody (from the school) has been very helpful.”

Shelina Costlow is the parent of a sixth-grader who has been at the school for about a year and a half.

“We came because there was classroom disruption that was affecting her. We came for the smaller classes and we love it,” Costlow said. “The kids are not just a number. It’s a family environment. The teachers have a genuine love for the kids.”

Between the food and fun, parents had an opportunity to interact with faculty and students as well as submit an application for enrollment. Parents can also enroll at the campus from 7:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday. Family Faith Academy is located at 701 Ovilla Road in Waxahachie.

For additional information, call 972-937-3704.

Contact Rebecca at rebecca.hertz@wninews.com or call 469-517-1451.