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Eight is enough at Valley Christian Academy
They start each day with a pledge to the United States flag, the Christian flag and the Bible — then sing a patriotic song and a religious one, read a passage from scripture and pray.
The eight students and two teachers at K-8 Valley Christian Academy in Yuba City sang "God Bless America" when the smallest school in Sutter County began Thursday at the Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church.
"It's a beautiful thing to see," Principal and teacher Sylvia Lamon said. "I thank God for the privilege of teaching here."
Teacher Suzanne Reed said Valley Christian, which started in 2007 and is surrounded by five acres of grasslands, could seem like a return to the one-room schoolhouse — but all students are assigned their own personal Apple computer.
"I talk to other teacher friends and they're a little bit jealous of my school," said Reed, who as a youth was homeschooled for 10 years and also attended nearby Faith Christian School and Yuba City High before beginning college.
Student Matthew DeWitt, 12, started at Valley Christian this school year.
"I've learned a lot more," said Matthew, citing the individual instruction from teachers. "They know when you need help and when you don't," he said.
Eighth-grader Kevin Hall, 14, also appreciates the one-on-one attention of instructors.
"It's better, I think," Kevin said.
Pastor Tom Baumgarten of the Valley Lutheran Church leads a chapel service Fridays and the school holds monthly field trips. Students went to Red Dog Ranch in Yuba City last month.
The smallest school in Sutter County may be the only one in the United States where half the student body are twins. Two sets of twins, including sixth-grader Matthew and sister Megan, are among the eight students.
Matthew, who is interested in an acting career, and his sister appeared as extras in the 2006 movie "The Pursuit of Happyness.""It was a really good experience," said Matthew, adding "they feed you really good food."
Students at Valley Christian take classes that include language arts, math, science, history, Bible, Spanish, penmanship and music.
"Our goal is to get everyone playing some kind of an instrument," Lamon said, "and have a Christian band."
She taught for 16 years at Nuestro Elementary School in Live Oak before coming out of retirement to return to education this year.
Lamon grew up on a ranch north of Yuba City and attended Encinal Elementary School as a youth. She was one of five students in the graduating class at the Live Oak school.
"I'm used to a small-school environment," Lamon said.
She noted how it's possible at Valley Christian to customize instruction for students — and spoke about the foundation youths will have all their lives because they attended the nondenominational Christian school.
"We keep our eyes on God here," Lamon said.
CONTACT Ryan McCarthy at 749-4707 or email@example.com.