The more you know about Covenant School the better. Covenant emphasizes grammar, dialectic and rhetoric in all subjects. We make it a point to encourage every student to develop a love for learning and to achieve his maximum academic potential. Our team of teachers and administrators does that by providing an orderly and secure atmosphere conducive to attaining these goals.
Covenant School strives to graduate young men and women who think clearly and listen carefully with discernment and understanding, who reason persuasively and articulate precisely, who are capable of evaluating their entire range of experience in the light of the Scriptures, and who do so with eagerness in joyful submission to God.
Our goal is to teach students to diligently, skillfully, and joyfully pursue Truth (God’s Word), Beauty (the arts), and Goodness (Christian character) as defined by Scripture and Creation. We encourage every student to develop a love for learning and to achieve his maximum academic potential.
Our goal is that our students will be well versed in the history, literature, and the arts of Western civilization and will be proficient in mathematics and science. We desire them to recognize cultural influences as distinct from biblical ones, and to be unswayed toward evil by the former. We aim to find them well-prepared in all situations, equipped with the tools of learning, possessing both information and the knowledge of how to use it, desiring to grow in understanding, yet fully realizing the limitations and foolishness of the wisdom of this world.
Students should be able to distinguish real religion from religion in form only, possessing the former, knowing and loving the Lord Jesus Christ. We desire they have a heart for the lost and the compassion and courage to engage them with the gospel. We desire they be socially graceful and spiritually gracious. All these qualities we desire them to possess with humility and gratitude to God. We likewise aim to cultivate these same qualities in our staff. We desire them to be professional and diligent in their work, gifted in teaching, loving their students and their subjects. We desire they clearly understand classical education, how it is implemented in their classroom and how their work fits into the whole. They should possess a lifelong hunger to learn and grow. We desire to see them coach and nurture new staff and to serve as academic mentors to students. We look to see them mature in Christ, growing in the knowledge of God, and bringing their own children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Our goal is to see them adequately compensated, and to provide them with personal and professional development so that they have opportunity to be refreshed and renewed in order to do their work with joy.
We desire that our parents partner with us through recognizing their part in the educational process of their children and being well informed about the goals of our classical and Christ-centered approach. We desire them to grow with the school, involved in and excited about the journey. We aim to help them follow biblical principles in addressing concerns, to be inclined to hearing both sides of a story before rendering a verdict, and to embrace the Scripture injunctions to encourage and stir up one another to love and good works. Finally, in our relationship with our community, we aim to be above reproach in our business dealings and supportive of the local business community. We further seek to exemplify the unity of the body of Christ, to develop greater fellowship and understanding with the churches, and to bring honor to our Lord in all our endeavors.
1. We believe the Bible to be the only inerrant, authoritative Word of God.
2. We believe that there is one God, eternally existent in three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent.
3. We believe in the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ, in His virgin birth, in His sinless life, in His miracles, in His vicarious and atoning death through His shed blood, in His bodily resurrection, in His ascension to the right hand of the Father, and in His personal return in power and glory.
4. We believe that for the salvation of those created in God’s image and fallen in Adam, regeneration by the Holy Spirit is absolutely necessary.
5. We believe that salvation is by grace through faith alone.
6. We believe that faith without works is dead.
7. We believe in the present ministry of the Holy Spirit, by whose indwelling the Christian is enabled to live a Godly life.
8. We believe in the resurrection of both the saved and the lost and they that are saved to the resurrection of life; they that are lost to the resurrection of damnation.
9. We believe in the spiritual unity of all believers in our Lord Jesus Christ.
The Association of Classical and Christian Schools Statement of Faith
Of the Holy Scripture… The light of nature, and the works of creation and providence, clearly manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, so as to leave men inexcusable. Yet such manifestations are not sufficient to give that knowledge of God, and of His will, which is necessary for salvation. Therefore it pleased the Lord, at assorted times, and in various ways, to reveal Himself, and to declare His will to His Church. And afterwards, for the better preserving and propagating of the truth, and for the more certain establishment and comfort of the Church against the corruption of the flesh, and the malice of Satan and of the world, it pleased Him to commit this revealed will to writing. This makes the Holy Scripture to be most necessary, because the former ways of God’s revealing His will to His people are now ceased.
Under the name of Holy Scripture, or the Word of God in written form, are all the books of the Old and New Testaments, which are Genesis through Malachi and Matthew through Revelation respectively. All these books are given by inspiration of God, to be the rule of faith and life.
The books commonly called the Apocrypha, not being of divine inspiration, are no part of the canon of Scripture. Therefore they are of no authority in the Church of God, nor are they to be more approved, or made use of, than other human writings.
The authority of the Holy Scripture, on account of which it ought to be believed and obeyed, does not depend on the testimony of any man or church, but entirely upon God, who is Truth itself, and the author of truth. It is therefore to be received, because it is the Word of God.
We may be moved and induced by the testimony of the Church to a high and reverential esteem of the Holy Scripture. We may also be moved by the heavenliness of the matter, the efficacy of the doctrine, the majesty of the style, the consent of all its parts, the scope of the whole (which is to give all glory to God), the full revelation it makes of the only way of man’s salvation, its many other incomparable excellencies, and the entire perfection of it. All these are arguments whereby it abundantly evidences itself to be the Word of God. Yet, notwithstanding, our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth, and divine authority of the Word, is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit, bearing witness by and with the Word in our hearts.
The whole counsel of God, concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man’s salvation, faith, and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or it may by good and necessary consequence be deduced from Scripture. Nothing at any time is to be added to this, whether by “new revelations” of the Spirit, or by traditions of men. Nevertheless, we acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the Word. We also acknowledge that there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and the government of the Church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed.
All things in Scripture are not equally plain in themselves, nor equally clear to all. Yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed, for salvation, are so clearly propounded and set forth in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but also the unlearned, in a normal use of ordinary means, may come to a sufficient understanding of them.
The Old Testament in Hebrew and Aramaic (which were the native languages of the people of God of old,) and the New Testament in Greek, (which at the time of writing was most generally known to the nations,) were immediately inspired by God, and by His singular care and providence were kept pure in all ages, and are therefore authentic. Therefore, in all controversies of religion, the Church is finally to appeal to them alone. But these original tongues are not known to all the people of God, who have right to, and interest in, the Scriptures, and are commanded, in the fear of God, to read and search them. Therefore they are to be translated into the common language of every nation to which they come. Thus the Word of God will dwell plentifully with all, and they will worship Him in an acceptable manner, and, through patience and comfort of the Scriptures, they will have hope.
The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself. Therefore, when there is a question about the true and full sense of any passage of Scripture, it must be searched and known by other places that speak more clearly.
The supreme Judge, by which all controversies of religion are to be determined, and all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits, are to be examined, and under whose sentence we are to rest, can be none other than the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scripture.
Of God and of the Holy Trinity . . . There is only one living and true God, infinite in being and perfection, a most pure Spirit, and invisible. He is without body, parts, or passions, immutable, immense, eternal, incomprehensible, almighty, most wise, most holy, most free, and most absolute. He works all things according to the counsel of His own immutable and most righteous will, for His own glory. He is most loving, gracious, merciful, long-suffering, abundant in goodness and truth, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin. He is the rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. In all, He is most just and terrible in His judgments, hating all sin, and He will by no means clear the guilty.
God has all life, glory, goodness, blessedness, in and of Himself. He alone is in and unto Himself all sufficient, not standing in need of any creatures which He has made. He does not derive any glory from them, but only manifests His own glory, in, by, unto, and upon them. He is the only fountain of all being, of whom, through whom, and to whom, are all things. He has most sovereign dominion over them, to do by them, for them, or upon them, whatever He pleases. In His sight all things are open and manifest; His knowledge is infinite, infallible, and independent of the creature. Noting is to Him contingent or uncertain. He is most holy in all His counsels, in all His works, and in all His commands. To Him is due from angels and men, and every other creature, whatever worship, service, or obedience He is pleased to require of them.
In the unity of the Godhead there are three persons, of one substance, power, and eternity – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. The father is from none, neither begotten nor proceeding. The Son is eternally begotten by the Father; as the Word of God, He is eternally spoken by the Father. The Holy Spirit eternally proceeds from the Father and the Son.
Bradley Burck – Bradley is Vice President of the Cabell Huntington Hospital Foundation. Before coming to the Hospital Foundation, he started and ran the consulting agency Burck Communications, where his specialty was helping nonprofits craft strategic development plans to maximize their fundraising efforts. He is the author of two books, Conquering Nonprofit Chaos and You Can Ask. Bradley is the co-founder of Forever Changed International. He has taught in the District of Columbia public schools and served as a legislative and communications assistant in the United States House of Representatives. Bradley holds a B.S. in communication from Liberty University and a master’s in strategic communication from Seton Hall University. He and his wife, Dr. Cari Burck, have two children at Covenant.
John LaFear – One of the founders of Covenant School, John joined with several others in 1994 to brainstorm ideas for a Christian school, which became a reality 13 months later. A strong proponent of quality, classical, Christ-centered education, John has contributed considerable time and resources to Covenant’s success. A Certified Public Accountant, he spent 50 years in professional practice. He and his wife, Karen, moved their family to Huntington in 1972. At the end of 2015, he retired after years as the managing member and owner of Hayflich CPAs and of Independent Investment Advisors of Huntington. John and Karen have been married for more than 50 years and have four daughters and 22 grandchildren. They are members of Christ Presbyterian Church in Huntington.
Jamie Lawrence – The wife of Chuck Lawrence, senior pastor of Christ Temple Church, Jamie was an integral part of the leadership team that founded The Academy of Huntington. She later helped facilitate the merger of The Academy and Covenant. She is a graduate of Marshall University with a B.A. in legal studies. She also has a passion for fine arts and developed the St. Lawrence Designs interior design firm. Jamie has spearheaded the development of “ArKidz,” the children’s ministry at Christ Temple. She facilitates bi-annual missions trips to a children’s “English Camp” in Taiwan where children learn the gospel message.
David Nicholas –A past chairman, Dr. Nicholas has been a member of the Covenant School board of directors for 10 years. He is committed to educating children in the classical Christian model to help prepare them for a lifetime of leadership and service. He received his bachelor’s degree from Davis and Elkins College and medical degree from The West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine. Dr. Nicholas completed his internship at United Hospital Center, and residency at WVU-Charleston Area Medical Center. He practices emergency medicine, with a special interest in injuries involving children, and is a clinical professor of emergency medicine at WVU-Charleston. Dr. Nicholas loves spending time with his wife and two daughters at their farm in Milton, and leading the brass ensemble at Christ Presbyterian.
Wes Richardson – Wes has served on Covenant’s board since the fall of 2013. His introduction to the school came through his wife, Martha, who taught first and fifth grades here from 2004-2008. Wes believes strongly in children receiving a classical Christian education in an environment where they can openly express their faith around other Christians. He earned his B.S. degree in accountancy from Miami (Ohio) University in 2004, the same year he married Martha. In 2014 Wes became the managing partner of Northwestern Mutual West Virginia, headquartered in Charleston. Wes and Martha have three children: Audrey, Ella and Jack. The Richardsons attend Christ Presbyterian Church in Huntington.
Anne Yon – Born and raised in Huntington, Anne is a graduate of St. Joseph High School and Marshall University and has been a board member since May 2016. She supports Covenant because of her parental experience with our faculty, who teach children to love learning and become critical thinkers. Anne recently completed a six-year term as a Cabell County commissioner. She has worked as a realtor for 10 years and is employed by Realty Exchange. Anne resides in Huntington with her husband, Daniel, an attorney with Bailes, Craig & Yon. The Yons are active in their church and serve various community organizations. Anne is a board member of the Huntington YMCA. She and Daniel are on the board of The Toy Train of West Virginia. The Yons have three daughters: Elia, Luciana and Gia.
Dr. Craig Hefner, Head of School
Dr. Craig Hefner has a Ph.D. in systematic theology from Wheaton College, an M.Div. from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and a B.A. in pre-seminary with a minor in Greek from Cedarville University. Prior to coming to Covenant, Craig taught at the collegiate level and worked in church and campus ministries. He lives in Huntington with his wife, Rachel, who is an occupational therapist and a family/newborn photographer. In his free-time, Craig enjoys reading great books, CrossFit, playing piano, and walking his dog. Email Dr. Hefner: email@example.com
Rebekah Shaffer, Grammar School Principal
Rebekah Shaffer is a graduate of Pensacola Christian College with a Bachelor of Science in elementary education. Mrs. Shaffer taught school for four years before deciding to stay home with her two children, Grace and Luke. After her children enrolled in Covenant School, she began serving here as a substitute teacher, art teacher, and full time first grade aide at Covenant School. Mrs. Shaffer is now in her third year teaching the kindergarten class.
Mrs. McSweeney, Administrative Assistant
Melody McSweeney joined the staff of Covenant in 1998 and currently serves as the administrative assistant to the headmaster. Her greatest joy working here is the “family” atmosphere she has enjoyed with teachers and families over the years. She is the wife of Nazarene minister Danny McSweeney. Married for 45 years, they have raised three sons and ministered through preaching and singing throughout their time together.
Mrs. Wehmeier, Business Manager
A graduate of Memphis State University with a Bachelor of Business Administration in finance, in the past Susan Wehmeier owned a Baskin-Robbins franchise for 12 years. She then took 10 years off to be a stay-at-home mother, starting when her youngest child enrolled in kindergarten. She has been the school’s business manager since 2001. Mrs. Wehmeier and her husband, Lee, are the parents of three daughters, all alumni of Covenant.
Mrs. Barnett, Welcome Center Receptionist
The 2017-18 school year will mark Carolyn Barnett’s fourth year at Covenant. As the Welcome Center receptionist, she enjoys getting to meet new families and offer encouragement and support to returning students. She looks forward to serving Covenant’s families far into the future. Mrs. Barnett has been married for 20 years to her high school sweetheart, Tim Barnett. They have four children and love music and serving in their church.
When a small group of parents, teachers, and concerned citizens met at Bruce Churton’s home in July of 1994 to discuss the formation of a Christian school, they had no idea what their dreams would produce.
Fast-forward two dozen years, and Covenant School in Huntington, West Virginia has produced more than 50 high school graduates, 10 National Merit Scholar finalists, and a quality education for hundreds of students.
Two graduates now work for one of the nation’s largest, privately-held software companies. Another is studying for a doctorate at Rice University, while one excelled at the U.S. Air Force Academy and serves our country as an Air Force pilot.
Although the school started small, a large vision and good organization helped Covenant succeed, says Karen LaFear, wife of John LaFear. A retired CPA and original board member, John is still a director.
Both acknowledge there have been struggles over the years, mostly because of a lack of major benefactors.
After the 1995 launch, the staff did everything, says Kim Wilson, an early board member and CPA who later taught sixth grade for two years. Mrs. Wilson recalls juggling janitorial duties with accounting—and once filling in part-time for a teacher who quit halfway through the academic year.
One of the first faculty members, Mindy Stanley, called her stipends “pray checks” instead of “pay checks” after Covenant opened its doors. She credits God’s help and parental involvement with bringing the impossible to pass. After two or three years, Mrs. Stanley—who remains the first-grade teacher—and other staff members saw parents buying into the vision and the Lord working to make things happen.
Even today, Mrs. Stanley says the staff is constantly evaluating how to do things better, while asking what differentiates Covenant from the school down the block. One answer is the classical education model that stems from several authors, most notably Doug Wilson—who was inspired by Dorothy Sayers, a contemporary of literary legend C.S. Lewis. Wilson’s book, Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning, encouraged several parents who met at Churton’s home.
After two brainstorming sessions, original board members gathered every Tuesday night for the next year at the LaFears’ home.
In October of 1994, the group sponsored a public informational meeting at a large church in Huntington. There, the founders explained the classical education described in Wilson’s book as a three-part pattern of training the mind.
The three elements correspond to stages of a student’s life. Elementary students learn how to read and memorize factual information, laying the foundation for advanced study. Middle schoolers learn to think through arguments, while high school pupils learn to express their thoughts.
In the following months, first Headmaster Don Post and others visited area congregations to share Covenant’s vision and mission.
History shows the kind of groundswell of interest that existed in the community. Initially meeting at a Huntington church that had been the temporary home of another Christian school, Covenant welcomed 36 students to the 1995-96 class (kindergarten through fourth grade). By the spring of that first year, enrollment had mushroomed to 57.
Third grade teacher Susan Jimison, who started her Covenant career as the kindergarten instructor, says that first year was exciting. Not only was classical education new to the area, teachers had to write some of their own curriculum.
It was a leap of faith but also a lot of hard work, Mrs. Jimison says. Yet the more the staff did, the more they felt they had missed out themselves, since teaching and learning in the classical education model was so effective.
The school gradually grew to a K-12 institution by adding one grade per academic year. Enrollment eventually peaked at close to 300 before settling back to just over half that size for 2017-18.
The growth necessitated several moves, with the final one coming in the summer of 2009. That’s when it merged operations with another classical Christian school operated by Christ Temple, the facility that currently houses Covenant’s classrooms.
Christ Temple has always been very supportive, John LaFear says. Despite some initial misgivings about the appearance of a church affiliation, LaFear says the merger has been very successful.
Those involved in developing the school see the combination of an emphasis on academic achievement with a family environment as keys to its success. Mrs. Wilson, who retired from teaching after her son graduated in 2007, was motivated to help start this experiment so he would have the kind of educational opportunities she never enjoyed.
Teachers taught a love for learning as well as demanding excellence in their students’ work, Mrs. Wilson says. There were times her son expressed the desire to go to a larger school with fewer challenges, but she thinks he would now say he’s glad he didn’t.
It has also become a second-generation success story, with pupils enrolled today who are children of students from early graduating classes. Such relationships are the other special thing about Covenant, Mrs. Jimison says: “It’s a different environment.”