First high school in Rancho Santa Fe to open at Horizon Prep in the fall


By Karen Billing

Horizon Prep is growing up.

Starting in the fall, Horizon will welcome high school students to the campus, freshman and sophomore students at the only high school in Rancho Santa Fe.

Since its founding in 2000, the private, Christian school, which is an extension of Horizon Christian Fellowship North County church on El Apajo, has grown steadily in enrollment and will now be able to educate students pre-school through high school.

“It’s a really exciting place to be. We’re growing,” said Lani Curtis, development director. “We have a strong community of families committed to providing the very best Christian education right where we are.”

The school graduated from its charming green and white cottage portables of its old campus into the new campus of Santa Barbara-style buildings in 2011 after the completion of the first phase of construction. The new campus includes a 12,000-square-foot gym and two buildings with 18 classrooms, two state-of-the-art science labs and a large art studio with an outdoor kiln.

In March Horizon’s signature portables left the site for good as grading began on the next phase of the campus. The portables found new homes in spots such as Oasis, where they will serve as a church for migrant workers and in Thermal, where they will be used for a soccer and youth ministry that serves 120 kids.

Until the completion of the last two classroom buildings for the campus, the high school students will move in with the elementary and middle school students in the 18-room classroom buildings.

Once the front part of the campus off El Apajo is constructed, it will become the space for elementary school students and the administration office.

Grading work will continue on the site throughout the summer.

“Come the beginning of the school year we will begin building that half of the school,” Curtis said.

Currently, Horizon Prep has an enrollment of 537 students, pre-school through eighth grade. With high school this fall, they aim to add 24 students per grade.

Allisen Hemple, director of enrollment, said families have expressed interest in the school as it offers a top tier academic and character education in a Christian environment.

“Our high school students will know themselves and be known by their teachers and peers,” Hemple said. “When they leave here they will know who they are and their calling in life.”

The capacity for the high school will be set at 48 per grade and Hemple said they expect to grow in the next four years up to 192 high school students.

Overall, they expect to have 1,000 students pre-school through high school.

“We’re going to start small like any program in its first year but we expect to grow very quickly,” said Hemple. “Once people learn about the program, I think it will be in high demand and Horizon Prep will be the place to be.”

Two additional buildings and a competition-size swimming pool are also part of the future plans that will be fundraising-based.

“We have approval for the whole campus build out and we’re hoping to build each phase as quickly as we can,” Curtis said. “We have a plan in place to create a beautiful environment to serve our students all the way through high school.”

The high school will complete the Classically-based education program that begins in the first grade. In first through fifth grade, students go through the grammar stage where they focus on absorbing facts and laying the foundation for advanced study. Middle school is the logic stage of the Classical program, where students are taught formal logic and correct methods of reasoning.

At the high school level begins the rhetoric stage, bringing the knowledge and understanding together to be “expressed wisely and persuasively in word and deed.”

The high school program will offer low student-teacher ratios, AP and Honors courses, visual and performing arts, competitive athletics with an orthopedic surgeon as athletic trainer, and a daily “D-Block” for educational experiences and activities, such as debate, surf club, or Model United Nations.

A student lounge for high schoolers called The Hub will give them their own exclusive space, featuring a kitchenette with a microwave, vending machines, business center workstation and an outdoor deck to hang out on.

“We know they need to have their own experience,” Hemple said of the high school students.

Fundraising now is focused on enhancing the school’s educational experiences and other special projects. Funds raised at the recent Family Fun(d) Night for the Annual Impact Fund will go toward a variety of enhancements, such as a math intervention teacher, Apple TVs for classrooms and ipads for the technology lab. Another effort is in the athletics department — they plan to build a weight room over the summer and put funds toward designing athletic fields along the back of the campus.

“What we think about when we’re building is how we can provide great facilities to the community,” Curtis said. “We want to create an asset to the community and partner with Rancho Santa Fe.”

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