History and Timeline


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The Covenant School of Charlottesville, Virginia, was founded in 1985 as a bold experiment in melding a rigorous academic environment with the guiding principles of a non-denominational Christian culture. Over the last 30 years, Covenant has grown from forty-five students in lower elementary grades to more than 575 students from Pre-K through Grade 12, on two campuses just four miles apart. It has remained true, without apology, to its Christian roots. Its graduates serve as caring citizens in leadership roles locally and around the world. The Covenant School is the first Christian school in Virginia to have been accredited by the Virginia Association of Independent Schools.


A seed is planted for a new, college-preparatory Christian day school in Charlottesville, led by founding Headmaster Stephen Yowell.


The Covenant School opens its doors with 46 students (Kindergarten through Grade 6) and eight teachers at the former McIntire School building.


Enrollment doubles to 90 students in Kindergarten through Grade 7.


Covenant offers a full Kindergarten through Grade 12 program; enrollment climbs to 224, and 12 seniors receive Covenant diplomas.


The Covenant School purchases the McIntire facility. John Collmus serves as Interim Headmaster.


The school year begins with 225 students with new Headmaster, William B. Copeland. Three students receive Covenant diplomas.


The school opens with a restructured program, offering Kindergarten through Grade 8.


The Covenant School applies for accreditation with VAIS (Virginia Association of Independent Schools) and begins the self-study requirements.


Covenant (now offering Kindergarten through Grade 9) is approved and accredited by VAIS for Kindergarten through Grade 6 and is praised for its excellent academic program.


Before the school year begins, extensive remodeling, renovations, and landscaping occur at the McIntire campus. The library is remodeled and a computerized catalog system is implemented.


Enrollment reaches 450 (Kindergarten through Grade 10). An enrichment program, multipurpose room, computer lab, and additional classrooms are added to the school’s campus.


Enrollment demands result in the need for a second campus: the Upper School (Grades 7 through 11) remains at the McIntire campus, and the Lower School (Kindergarten through Grade 6) moves to the Mountainwood facility on Old Lynchburg Road.


With full staff, faculty, and student body at two campuses, programs in academics, fine arts, athletics, clubs, and extracurricular activities expand and flourish. The annual Senior Class trip to England is established. Covenant graduates 43 students.


The Covenant School graduates 32 seniors and begins its capital campaign for a new facility. The Varsity Baseball team wins Covenant’s first-ever state championship.


Elizabeth “Betty” Edwards serves as Interim Head of School as a search begins for a new Headmaster. The school begins a partnership with the WILS Language School in Seoul, Korea, providing a total immersion experience for approximately 20 Korean students each January. Students, hosted by Covenant families, spend a month enrolled at the school. The Board votes unanimously to build the new Upper School campus. Thirty-seven students graduate from Covenant. The School receives its VAIS re-accreditation for Kindergarten through Grade 6 and Grades 7 through 12.


Dr. Ronald Sykes is called to be Headmaster. Forty-nine students graduate.


A ground-breaking ceremony for a new Upper School facility is held at the Hickory Street property, a 29.7 acre gift from a Covenant grandparent. Fifty-two students graduate.


Many miracles–including gracious contract terms by English Construction Company and a ‘year of sunshine’–allow for an unprecedented, on-time construction schedule for the new Upper School campus. Families, faculty, staff, and friends come together to write scripture verses and prayers on the sub-flooring throughout the new building so that the school would “stand on God’s promises.” The Covenant community also provides exceptional and energetic manpower for the two moves: Upper School to the new campus, Lower School to the McIntire Campus. A special Prayer Dedication for the Upper School building is held in May with more than 400 in attendance. Fifty-five students graduate from Covenant.


Covenant holds its first Alumni Reunion. Covenant adds a football team with 32 high school boys participating. Fifty-three students graduate from The Covenant School.


Accreditation is received from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. A $1.3 million gift results in the dedication of the Newton W. and Wilma C. Thomas Library at the Upper Campus. The school begins a Pre-Kindergarten program, and 59 students graduate.


In its 20th year, The Covenant School begins with 638 students and ends with 650 enrolled in Pre-Kindergarten through Grade 12. By the conclusion of the school year, students complete 12,000 hours of community service and participate in mission trips to Hungary, Liberia, Costa Rica, Mexico, and Ukraine. The school fields 36 sports teams. Twenty-three percent of Covenant’s students benefit from financial aid which reaches a first-time high of $645, 000. In May, 68 students receive Covenant diplomas.


We begin a year of celebration with a record enrollment of 675, highlighted by the Anniversary Breakfast on October 28. A substantial gift to the school results in the building and opening of the state-of-the-art baseball field. Another generous donor enables construction of the hillside bleachers.


Enrollment increases to 695 students. Technology updates in the Upper School include a wireless mobile computer unit equipped with laptops to serve classrooms. The Covenant Singers perform in San Marco Square in Venice. Construction begins on a Lower School athletic field (donated by Covenant parents). The year concludes with 66 graduates, including one National Merit Scholar, four National Merit Commended students, and two National Achievement Scholars.


An enrollment record is set: 710 students. The Lower School introduces a new program in the area of Fine Arts – Yamaha’s Music In Education curriculum and program which uses state-of-the-art keyboards. This year, 75 seniors graduate from The Covenant School.


Several generous donations provide special touches: new furnishings in the Middle and Upper School commons areas for students to enjoy in their respective wings; a new awning for Lower School walkway. Covenant wins three State Championship Titles in one day – Girls’ Soccer, Boys’ Tennis, and Boys’ Lacrosse. An addition to the athletic offerings: Junior High Football fielding 44 players from grades 7 through 9. Covenant graduates 67 seniors.


The Covenant School celebrates its 25th year of educating young people with “Academic Excellence under the Sovereignty of God.” Enrollment moves to 570 students. Fifty Covenant graduates have gone on to play sports at the college level. The Lower School annual book fair sells a record $11,000 worth of books. Commencement sees 60 seniors receive Covenant diplomas.


Dr. Ronald Sykes moves into a new position as Director of Advancement and Headmaster Emeritus with a focus on the next phase of Covenant’s building campaign. Mr. Spencer Burton serves as Interim Head of The Covenant School. In the Lower School, Mrs. Sue Fulton steps down as Head, and Ms. Carolyn Polson is appointed as Interim. A search committee is formed to seek a new Head of School. In May 2011, 64 seniors receive their diplomas.


New Headmaster, George Sanker, shares his vision for a New Era of Leadership at Covenant. Spencer Burton becomes Assistant Headmaster and Upper School Director, while Dr. Mo Gaffney brings energy and leadership as new Head of Lower School. The school year begins with 114 new students, and 49 seniors graduate.


Uniforms are introduced for Covenant students. Bill Zimmerman joins the staff as Head and Academic Dean of Upper School; Chris Hall is named Academic Dean of Lower School; Spencer Burton becomes Director of Student Life and Alumni Affairs. Frank Berry brings fiscal leadership as Covenant’s new CFO, and Mary Coleman becomes Covenant’s first Director of Institutional Advancement. In May, 70 seniors crossed the platform and received their diplomas.


The Covenant School celebrates another successful VAIS accreditation, affirming that the school is in step with academic guidelines set by the Virginia Association of Independent Schools. The school adopts Singapore Math into the Lower School curriculum. The student-led House system is created at the Upper School. The buzz created through a visible marketing strategy results in high mid-year enrollment and a marked increase in spring applications.


The Covenant School celebrates its 30th anniversary with a series of events meant to bridge the past and future. A new school logo is unveiled and a campus store opens to sell Covenant apparel. The House system flourishes at the Upper School and a Senior Thesis project is put in place. Landscaping at the Lower School is finally complete and the new 250-bypass opens giving the school maximum exposure in Charlottesville.