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Historic Joliet Christian Church will become Yellowstone Classical Christian Academy

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Posted at 11:32 PM, May 24, 2024

A new school has made its way to Joliet and it's housed in a familiar spot, a historic community church built in 1909.

The balcony at Joliet Christian Church is an add-on and some of the original pews are still used.

Membership has gone down through the years, so it was decided to give the church building over to the Yellowstone Classical Christian Academy.

Virginia Stene Raines, the academy's fouder, has been a music teacher for almost 50 years and music will be a key part of the curriculum at the new school set to open on Sept. 3

“We will be singing every day,” Stene Raines said. “Music is a big part of a classical education.”

The Christian school will operate under a classical curriculum model, used by many faith-based schools across the country.

Stene Raines has been looked at the Herzog Foundation and the Baldwin Christian School in Wisconsin.

Joliet students will learn Latin and study classic literature with a focus on developing skills with a approach using grammar, logic and rhetoric.

“We believe everyone has the potential to be able to think and to discern on their own,” Stene Raines said. “We're not just raising workers. We're raising people that can think and be great members of their community.”

The building itself is a fitting setting. The Victorian style church is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Stene Raines and her school board recently received the deed and the keys to the church.

“Over 100 years worth of people coming to this church,” said Rick Bischoff, the church’s board chair. “The current congregation, which is seven or eight people, wanted to honor that history and that memory already.”

Families in Carbon County are showing interest in the school is expecting around 30 students initially for kindergarten through fourth grade.

“The Christian aspect is probably the main focus for our family along with the classical,” said Danielle Hall.

Hall currently homeschools her second-grade daughter but plans to enroll her here.

“The rhetorical side of things that teaches these kids more of how to think and problem solve rather than what to think and problem solve,” Hall said about what she likes about classical education.

And it's stories like that, that excite music teacher Virginia Stene Rain who is already giving her first lessons on the piano, which has been at the church first started.

“With the acoustics in the room as beautiful as they are, oh, it all goes together,” Stene Raines said.

The church is now set to be a school but one still connected to its roots.

“Wednesday is chapel day,” Stene Raines said.

And it begins its next chapter as a place for both prayer and now Christian education.

“My wife and myself, we've been here for over 40 years,” Bischoff said. “We raised our kids in this church"

Bischoff says many other families also have a long connection with Joliet church.

He says it was difficult decision and sad to have to close it, but the school is they're happy the school will use the building.

"It's kind of like the Phoenix from the ashes to see the possibility of the ministries that started in this church to continue," Bischoff said.