First Posted: 10/1/2014
Rock Solid Academy (RSA) is one big happy family, as evident from the comments and actions of the students. Mark DiPippa, the school’s president, heads the “family” of 70 students, ranging from K-12th grade.
The Christian school was initially located at the Twin Stacks Building, but the enrollment doubled in the first year, making a larger facility a necessity.
“God brought us here,” DiPippa said of the school’s new location in the former Westmoreland School at 106 S. Lehigh St., Shavertown where the school occupies the second and third floors of the building. “It has a gym and all of the classroom space we need.”
DiPippa was the head of Wyoming Valley West Montessori School for six years, then “I went to MMI for a year until God called me in 2011 to begin the process to open RSA. A group of parents and grandparents, who were concerned with education, started talking about the possibility of a new school. They prayed over the matter. That first year, I visited over 20 local churches to share the vision and mission of RSA. In August 2012, we opened the doors to Rock Solid Academy.”
While beginning the tour of the school, the family atmosphere of the facility was apparent, as kindergarten student Madison Evansky ran up to DiPippa to give him a hug, and DiPippa asked the child how her day was going.
First-grade student Lauren Walters, of Lehman, is in her second year at RSA. She is one of four siblings who attend the school.
“Next year, there will be five of us,” she said, explaining that another sibling will enter kindergarten. Lauren said she likes the fact that “you get to pray,” adding that she would like to become a teacher and teach at RSA. She also wants to do missionary work, like her grandparents. Lauren is a member of Grace Community Church.
McKyla Williams, of Harveys Lake, “loves everything about the school and mostly that it is a Christian school.” McKyla is in third grade and this is her first year at RSA. She enjoys tap dancing and Science and wants to become a sign language teacher in the future.
Alayna Miller, of Shavertown, is in her third year with RSA. The fifth-grader stated, “I love this school and that we get to pray and talk about God.” She enjoys field hockey and English and has a sister, Aly, who is in third grade at RSA. Alayna wants to become a teacher and stay at RSA.
Monroe Township residents eight-grader Ayden Hooke and his brother, Issac, a fourth-grader, are in their first year with the school. Aiden oves “how the teachers care for the students. It is like a family” and commented on how he “got yelled at” in a public school when he and his friend were told hey could not speak about God in school.
“We are able to talk about God here,” said Aiden, who has been involved with archery for the past four years. He recently placed first in the elementary division for the state of PA, in the national competition held in Kentucky. His mother, Brooke, is trying to get an archery program started at RSA. Aiden further stated that his future plans will be doing something in the field of math, explaining, “It is my God-given talent.”
Kevin Straka, of Wilkes Barre, is in his second year at RSA. The 12th-grader said that his sister, Noelle, is in eighth grade and is also in her second year at the school. Kevin stated that, “it feels more like a family than just a school. The teachers don’t want to just pass the students through; they genuinely care.” He continued, “you can feel God’s love and it is shown to others. It is one of the more cutting-edge schools.” Kevin enjoys basketball and will participate with RSA’s newly-formed boys basketball team. His future plans are to study electrical and bio engineering at Wilkes University.