By Kevin Aldridge
The Cincinnati Enquirer
EVENDALE - For 30 years, the congregation of Landmark Baptist Temple has supported a Christian school as part of its religious mission.
High school seniors (from left) Ryan Gregory, Amy Sabastian and Whitney Snell will be part of the last class to graduate from Landmark Trinity Christian Academy.
The Cincinnati Enquirer/STEVEN M. HERPPICH
But plummeting enrollment - about 200 students this year in grades K-12, down from 600 a decade ago - and competition from other Christian schools has forced the church to close Landmark Trinity Christian Academy at the end of the school year.
The decision has left about 35 teachers and staff looking for jobs and more than 200 students in search of a new school to attend next year.
Matthew Borchlewicz, a 15-year-old sophomore, said his parents are struggling to find a new school.
"I don't know where to go or what to do," he said.
Doug Hickey, dean of students, said the school, formerly known as Landmark Christian School, had been a financial drain on the church for the past decade. He said the church had spent roughly $1 million during that span subsidizing the school.
"It was a very difficult decision to make," said Hickey, who has taught at the school for four years.
"We've got kids who've been here since they were 6 months old and this school is all they've known. Obviously, they are devastated."
Hickey said other Christian schools, such as Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy, have sprung up in recent years and are luring students away. There are nearly 50 other Christian schools in Greater Cincinnati, he said, significantly more than when Landmark was started in 1973.
Church officials tried to beef up enrollment last year by merging with Trinity Christian School, a nearby elementary school.
"But even that wasn't enough," Hickey said. "There are so many schools that offer multiple classes and advanced preparatory classes that it's tough to stay competitive in the market and run a first-class Christian operation."
The school's demise had been rumored for years. "I'm upset, because I didn't want to leave my senior year," said Cassandra Steel, 17, a junior.
"It is going to be really hard to make new friends at another school."
Hickey said his son, who attends first grade at Landmark, will also be in search of a new school, but probably not a private one. Hickey said the only way he could afford the $3,900 yearly tuition for his son was because he was on staff.
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