Bentonville's Ambassadors for Christ school closing

Posted: June 10, 2017 at 1:06 a.m.

NWA Democrat-Gazette Ambassadors for Christ Academy in Bentonville is closing after 21 years. The property at property at 8579 W. Ford Springs Road is listed for sale at $3.9 million.

BENTONVILLE -- A private Christian school for kindergarten through 12th grade is closing after 21 years.

The Ambassadors for Christ Academy property at 8579 W. Ford Springs Road is listed for sale at $3.9 million, according to a sales brochure produced by the real estate firm Newmark Knight Frank.

About the school

A section of Ambassadors for Christ Academy’s Facebook page states the school “exists to glorify our Lord and Savior by bringing our students into a closer relationship with God our Father, while instilling high academic aspirations.”

Source: Staff report

David Welshenbaugh, the school's administrator, didn't return two messages seeking comment this week, but his wife confirmed the school is closing. The school's website is no longer active.

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The school had an enrollment of 95 students in kindergarten through 12th grade as of December. Enrollment exceeded 200 in previous years.

Ambassadors for Christ Academy opened in Bentonville in 1996. The school moved into its current facility in 2001. The building is about 52,000 square feet and has more than 20 classrooms. The property is about 30 acres, according to the brochure.

The brochure markets the site as a "great location with easy access from most Northwest Arkansas locations. Beautiful property with remote feel. Approximately 5 miles to Downtown Bentonville."

Ed Belto, a senior associate with Newmark Knight Frank, said the property went up for sale three to four months ago.

"There have been some interested parties. I haven't gotten a firm offer," Belto said.

The Bentonville School District recently agreed to purchase 107 acres near the Bentonville-Bella Vista border, just east and south of the Ambassadors for Christ property. The district is aware the Ambassadors for Christ property is for sale, but isn't involved in any property negotiation, according to Leslee Wright, district director of communications.

It wasn't long ago the school seemed to be signaling it would remain open. A notice posted on the school's Facebook page on March 27 urged families to re-enroll soon in order to qualify for reduced tuition. The same notice called on families interested in enrolling their students to call and make an appointment to tour the school.

The Facebook page was still active as of Friday. It didn't give any indication the school is closing.

Lisa Blackketter attended the school from eighth through 12th grade, graduating in 2016. She will start her sophomore year at John Brown University this fall.

Ambassadors for Christ Academy did a "wonderful" job preparing her for college, she wrote in an email.

"The academic transition to college was very easy for me thanks to the class work and teachers I had at ACA," she wrote. "They also did a wonderful job preparing me spiritually to stand up for my faith and be an example of Christ, especially in terms of service, loving others, and working hard."

She said she also appreciated the school's effort to reach out to international students and spread awareness of different beliefs and cultures throughout history.

"Some of my best friends were international students" at the school, she wrote.

Blackketter, reacting to the school's closing, explained she's sad because she loves the school and is sorry others won't be able to attend.

"Yet, my second reaction is that for everything there is a season," she wrote. "Ambassadors for Christ Academy had 21 challenging, fun, wonderful years, and it was a blessing to be a part of it, but God has a plan for those who worked there and those who went to school there."

Luke Bowers, head administrator at Life Way Christian School in Centerton, said he heard a few weeks ago Ambassadors for Christ Academy was closing. The two schools are about 9 miles apart.

"Always hate to hear of schools closing down," Bowers said.

Life Way, which has an enrollment of about 550 students in preschool through grade 12, has fielded interest from some Ambassadors for Christ students, he said.

"We've had some come over and tour and register," Bowers said. "They haven't come in swarms. I'm sure we have enrolled some."

NW News on 06/10/2017