Hood County News – May 15, 2002

Hood County’s oldest private school is closing its doors.

Oak Trail Christian Academy is quietly ending its 23-year history on Friday, May 24.

“It was the decision of the church (sponsor Oak Trail Baptist) to close the school,” pastor Mike Whisenant said. “We took various things under consideration in making our decision. The membership of the church decided that closing was just what we needed to do.”

Whisenant would not elaborate on the closing, but the school has seen a steady drop in enrollment over the years.

The school will end with about 35 students, down from the record high of about 90 in the mid-1980s.

The school was founded in 1979 under the leadership of principal James Thompson. Thompson is still active with the school and serves on the board of deacons at Oak Trail Baptist.

During the school’s early years football reigned. In 1983, under the leadership of coach Dale Moore, the Eagle team brought home the 8-man small-school football title from the National Association of Christian Athletes. The team was runner-up in 1984, finished fourth in 1985 and won a second national title in 1986.

Last fall, the school opted to end the football program after just three games. Whisenant says the decision was made because of a lack of participation.

Eighty students have received their diplomas from Oak Trail Christian including two students who attended the school from kindergarten through their graduation. Three students will graduate this year.

“We’ve got some very successful students who’ve graduated from here,” Whisenant said. “One alumni is a youth pastor in West Virginia, another is a missionary in Germany and another was named Policeman of the Year in Cleburne in 1996. The principal of the school, Terry Crosby, was the very first graduate from the school.”

Tuition for the school was about $2,000 a year and the church was responsible for offsetting any other costs.

Whisenant says the majority of the students at Oak Trail will transfer to another private school or be home-schooled. Hood County has two other private schools, but neither extends through all 12 grades.

“Closing the school was an extremely tough decision,” he said. “It took a lot of prayer and consideration by all of us to close the school.”

The school buildings will become a Family Life Center for Oak Trail Baptist Church.