WINONA LAKE – This will be the first school year that Lakeland Christian Academy and Warsaw Christian School will be merged under the LCA banner.

Warsaw Christian and LCA signed paperwork at the end of June to merge the two schools, effective July 1. The merger has been worked on for over a year.

First day back for students is planned for Aug. 17.

“We plan it to be a traditional school day,” LCA Superintendent Joe Elrod said.

He said Lakeland is trying to keep things as close to what parents are used to as possible in regards to how the schools work.

As of now, prekindergarten through sixth grade will stay at the Grace Community Brethren Church’s facility and the secondary students will remain at the campus in Winona Lake, Elrod said.

There are hopes to expand the Winona Lake facility to later include the elementary school. Elrod said LCA will be having a meeting in late August or early September to figure everything out in regards of how they want to proceed with the campus expansion.

LCA is renting the space from Community Grace Brethren Church for the elementary grades, said Elrod.

As far as administration changes, Elrod said he is the Lakeland superintendent. As of July 1, Julie Andrew is the elementary school principal. Rebecca Monsma will be secondary principal. Doug Buller, who was the administrator for Warsaw Christian School,  will not be returning.

Elrod said school administration is still working on some procedural things. The school calendar has been released, but the starting times have not. Lakeland is hoping to release that information next week.

“We’re still tweaking out our re-entry plan and we want to release all that information at one time,” he said.

Elrod did say Lakeland is expecting things to go smoothly with the transition.

“We don’t expect a lot of upheavals,” he said. As with any school year, there will be hiccups, “but we expect hiccups.”

Parents will be able to register their students for both schools at www.lcacougars.com until Aug. 17. On the website, parents will fill out an application. Once the LCA office gets the application, the admissions officer will walk parents through the process, which includes the history of LCA and going over opportunities for students in athletics and clubs.

Elrod said there are benefits to combining the two schools.

One of the benefits is a consistency of culture. LCA will have classes small enough where there will be a family connection, whether people know each other through church or other aspects of the community.

LCA also wants their students to learn to think critically starting at a young age.

“I think parents like that,” he said. “Parents enjoy that, especially since the Bible fits right into that.”