Wade Christian Academy opened to non-church members four years ago, and the school has since seen a steady increase in attendance.
Located off Wickham Road in Melbourne just north of Post Road, the school is part of the First Baptist Church of South Brevard. Founded by pastor Dan Wade in the late 1970s, the school is open to students from kindergarten through 12th grade.
About 35 high school-aged students attendalong with about 80 younger children. But those numbers are on the rise.
“We’ve been going up. When I got here, we were 70s to 80s. We’re about 110 now, so we’ve been going up about 10 to 12 students every year,” said Ed Buchanan, school administrator and athletics director for the past four years.
Buchanan said he thinks the school’s collegial atmosphere has helped academically, where all but one of the students from last year’s graduating class is currently in college.
“You just build really great relationships with everyone and your teachers, and you get to know everyone, and you become like a family. Everyone here is like siblings, and you get really close to each other,” said high school junior Danielle Rhodes, who is in her 13th year at the school, including preschool and kindergarden.
It’s that closeness that has also helped the school’s athletic teams, nicknamed the Crusaders.
The school has played volleyball and basketball and has offered cheerleading since its inception, and has recently started fielding boys varsity soccer and co-ed junior varsity squads.
Wade plays in the Florida Christian Activities Association in which no school can have more than 125 high school students, but even in a group of schools with small enrollments, Wade is fighting something of an uphill battle.
“We have 12 girls on our volleyball team and 15 girls to choose from. So basically, if you come out for our volleyball team, you’re going to make our volleyball team. So we buy uniforms and we dress out the girls that come out to play,” Buchanan said. “Same thing with basketball. Boys come out to play basketball, we usually have only one or two boys in the entire high school that don’t play basketball for us, and that’s from 5th grade up.”
But yet, they thrive.
For evidence of that, look no further than the boys varsity basketball team. Last season, the team finished as the runner-up in its conference.
And it was considered somewhat of a disappointment.
“I’ve been here for the last three years and the first two years we won the conference title,” said senior Tyler James, who transferred in from Palm Bay.
There’s also a high level of competitiveness embedded in the school’s athletic program, which combined with its camaraderie, attracts an incredible percentage of its students to at least one athletic program.
“I don’t think we have any boys that don’t play sports. No matter what grade they are, what level they are, they’re all going to play sports. And we don’t make them. I don’t say ‘you will play sports,’ and they don’t come to the school to play sports, but they all do.”
And, like the students, the teachers and members of the church all help out with the coaching duties.
“The pastor’s son Webster coaches the basketball team, it’s strictly volunteer,” Buchanan said. “Our math teacher coaches our junior varsity volleyball team, my Bible teacher coaches the junior varsity basketball team, math teacher coaches the soccer team and they do that non-pay, that’s not part of their contractual obligation, they do that because they want to.”
It is something that helps both the adults and the students.
“It helps them out tremendously. They learn teamwork, they learn how to be there for their team — they have to be there every time — and it gives them physical exercise so I think it’s fantastic,” said Heather Strobel, grammar teacher at the school who also is a mother to two recent graduates and one current student.
Want to know more?
Those interested in learning more about Wade Christian Academy and its athletic programs can do so through the church and school’s website at fbscb.org.