A torch was passed to Liberty Christian Academy when friends, family, staff, parents and students gathered on May 20 at the school to say goodbye to school principal LaVonne McIlrath, who is taking his retirement after 37 years of building and managing the school.
LCA was started in 1982 by the McIlraths in a building on the east side of Columbus. By 2006, the school had grown so much that it needed a new building.
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This building, located at 10447 Refugee Road, was dedicated and officially named after McIllrath during the ceremony on May 20. A plaque at the front door now indicates that the building will now be officially known as the âMcIlrath Education Centerâ.
She will remain as President Emeritas, with her old role shared between new school principal Amanda Cecil and Jeremy Blythe, director of operations.
Dr. Wade B. Mumm, chairman of the board of directors of ACV, said: âThirty-nine years ago, Yvonne responded to a call from God to start a Christian school dedicated to excellence in educationâ¦ My way the dream came true. School started in rented premisesâ¦ Some years have been more difficult than others.
In 2007, Mumm said, with the land on which the building now sits secure, âThe school began to grow exponentially. We were also able to secure a property for a nursery school. LCA experienced explosive growth under his leadership. “
Mumm said next semester’s ACV will accommodate around 600 kindergarten to grade 12 students.
Between its main campus and kindergarten, ACV is now valued, Mumm said, at around $ 10 million and it all started “from a dream placed by God.”
Visibly moved by the dedication and tribute paid to her, McIlrath said, “This week has been an incredible week.”
She said the previous two days had been particularly emotional: âWhen I felt the outpouring of love from our students, our faculty and our staffâ¦ I received letters from students who said that ‘they had come to know Jesus through this place. I’ve heard them sing old hymns because they know I love hymns. We don’t often see the fruits of our labor, and I got to see it this week.
McIlrath said the success was not his own, but rather that of all the people over the years who have helped create and grow the school.
âI want to encourage you to keep going, to keep going,â she said. “To God be the glory … God is doing amazing things here, and you are all a part of it.”