CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) — This will be the last graduating class for Hamilton Heights Christian Academy in Chattanooga.
The school will be closing after this semester, due to years of financial struggles.
“There were tears shed, and students were clearly upset. I mean, we’re kind of like a family here so it’s upsetting when you have to break it up,” history teacher Erin Jones said.
After 22 years, Hamilton Heights Christian Academy off Hickory Valley Road is closing its doors due to financial reasons.
“The reality of it had been seen for several weeks,” boys basketball coach Zach Ferrell said. “Just the final decision came and was given on Wednesday. It was a challenging day for sure, one that we tried to navigate the kids through as much as possible. But there was definitely a lot of heartache.”
Hamilton Heights currently has 65 students, many of whom are international and play for the highly successful boys and girls basketball teams.
“This being such a small school, it’s very family oriented, so a lot of the kids get really close. They come, they leave their families and they’re with us a lot. Just the knowledge that that won’t be able to happen again was tough,” Ferrell said.
The boys basketball program has won 3 NACA national championship and produced numerous Division I basketball talent. Most notably is Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who was a first round draft pick for the Charlotte Hornets after playing at Kentucky.
While the Hawks mourn the news, they’re also focusing on moving forward and getting the students into new schools.
“We’re trying our best to find the next opportunity for them. They’ll find a new school and it will be very difficult. And you’re a teenager. You feel like it’s very gut-wrenching. But they’re going to be okay. They’re resilient. They’ll find a new school and a new group of friends to call family. But this will always be their first home,” Jones said.
Jones says she’s written several recommendation letters to help these students find new schools in the U.S.