Celebrating its seventh year in existence, Waxahachie Preparatory Academy begins the 2007-08 school year today with 168 kindergarten through 12th-grade students.

A mock school day was held Friday for students and their parents to give them an opportunity to meet their teachers, locate their classrooms and to familiarize and prepare themselves for the first day of school.

Waxahachie Preparatory Academy is a small Christian school and is one of about 35 university-model schools in the United States.

“University-model schools have been around for 15 years and are a growing option for education,” administrator John Cullen said.

Formerly known as parent-based education, the purpose of university-model education is to involve parents in the education process.

“University-model schools are for families who want to be more intricately involved in their children’s education,” Cullen said.

Olga Davenport teaches first- through sixth-grade Spanish at the school. She is also the mother of a WPA student.

“I think this model is awesome. As a parent, I will be able to spend more time with my child making decisions, academically and spiritually,” she said. “My goal as a Spanish teacher is to show the students that learning a second language can be fun and at the same time a learning experience.”

“Waxahachie Preparatory Academy has a full curriculum, including calculus, physics, biology II and an emerging athletics program that includes cross country, basketball, track, tennis, golf and swimming,” Cullen said.

Last year, the girls cross country team won first place in state; the boys cross country team won second place in state; and the girls basketball team went to district in Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools 1A Division.

Students in kindergarten through sixth grade attend school on the main campus Tuesdays and Thursdays and study at home or their satellite classroom Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Students in seventh grade through 12th grade attend school on the main campus Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and spend the other two days each week studying at their home or satellite classroom.

For the past six school years, the main campus for all students was located at Waxahachie Bible Church on Solon Road. The academy has expanded this year to include classrooms for students in ninth grade through 12th grade at University Assemblies of God Church on Solon Road.

“The reason I like this school so much is because of the size and the friendliness,” said Brianna Iverson, a junior, who became a student about three years ago.

“These have been my best friends for the past three years,” she said, pointing to her girlfriends standing close by.

WPA junior Brittany McNeely agreed, saying, “These are my best friends. I’ve been blessed because they keep me accountable.”

“I like the school because it has great Christian values, like praying before each class,” said junior Sarah Williams, with fellow junior Hilari Middleton adding, “And we have the best teachers ever.”

School secretary and parent Lynlee McNeely said of the school, “I love WPA, the students, the parents. I want us to have a wonderful year and I think we got off to a wonderful start.”