Horizon Prep in Rancho Santa Fe brings Christ-centered classical education to San Diego

By Kristina Houck

Lauren Bothe didn’t feel like she could freely express herself in public school. Now an eighth grader at Horizon Prep in Rancho Santa Fe, Lauren is able to share her faith with others.

“I wasn’t able to talk about my Christian faith. I wasn’t able to pray with the students or the teachers,” said Lauren, 13, who transferred to Horizon Prep when she was in fifth grade. “I can do that here.”

Founded in 2000, Horizon Prep is an extension of Horizon Christian Fellowship church in Rancho Santa Fe.

“All my super close friends go there,” said Lauren, whose family has attended Horizon Christian Fellowship since she was 2 years old. “We’ve just grown up in the church. Having the transition from the church to the school and doing both has been nice.”

The private Christian school serves nearly 500 preschool through high school students. Horizon Prep welcomed freshmen to its campus this fall and plans to add a grade level each year through 12th grade.

As a Christ-centered school, Horizon Prep integrates a Christian worldview into all subjects.

“It helps you not only with the concepts of what you’re learning, but being able to incorporate it with everything you do helps you realize that God is everywhere,” said Lauren, who is currently enrolled in English, algebra, science, history, logic, Bible, Spanish, Latin and drama courses. “God is in history and English — even math. He is everywhere and everything we do is with Him.”

In addition to offering a Christ-centered education, Horizon Prep follows a classical teaching model, focusing on grammar for elementary students, logic for middle school students and rhetoric for high school students.

By adhering to this model, first-year Horizon Prep teacher Chris Maiocca said the school is a Christ-centered school that strives for academic excellence.

“I have never seen a Christian school where love for Christ has been united with a true commitment to academic excellence like at Horizon Prep,” said Maiocca, who has worked as a teacher in classical Christian education for six years. “In a lot of Christian schools, it tends to be either or — a high focus on academics but the love for the Lord seems to wax cold, or a great love for the Lord but not really a commitment to academic excellence. This school, I think, is unique. I see both very, very explicitly.”

Maiocca, who teaches English, history and Bible classes, explained the differences between classical education and traditional education by comparing television shows “Iron Chef” to “Chopped.”

“If you watch the show “Chopped,” many chefs don’t know what to do with the food. They’re simply stumped. A lot of it is because they’ve never been classically trained. They’ve learned how to make dishes. In other words, they’ve learned the subject, but they’ve truly never learned the art of learning,” Maiocca said. “But if you watch ‘Iron Chef,’ it doesn’t matter what the secret ingredient is. They know immediately what to do with it. That’s because those chefs have been classically trained. They simply haven’t been taught how to make a dish, they’ve been taught the grammar, the logic and the rhetoric of the culinary world.

“We’re really trying to teach students the tools of learning, not simply just subjects.”

Located at 6365 El Apajo Road in Rancho Santa Fe, Horizon Prep is hosting Open House events at 5 p.m. on Feb. 6, and at 9 a.m. on March 6 and April 10. An Open House at 9 a.m. on May 8 will focus on early education.

For more information about Horizon Prep, call 858-756-5599 or visit

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