Students at Dawson County High School soon will have Christian-based courses on religion available as an elective. Starting in January 2013, the Dawson County Christian Learning Center (CLC) will begin offering off-campus courses to students who choose to participate, with parental permission, during the before-school zero-hour period. The CLC is a non-profit, tax-exempt program accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools through a mentorship with the Walton County Christian Learning Center. The curriculum is based on biblical principles, and the CLC plans to offer classes in four subject areas: Family, Community and Careers; Comparative Religions; Life Skills, and Current Issues. Since 1952, the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of released-time, or zero-hour, programs. In 2002, the Georgia House of Representatives passed H.R. 910, which applauded schools with released-time education programs and recommended each local public school system to examine Released-Time Bible Education and determine its viability in its own community setting. No public tax dollars are used to support the program. Nationwide, more than 250,000 children in 32 states participate in released-time programs each year. The Dawson County CLC is located at 254 Hwy. 9 North, next to the Dawson County Middle School. Parents will be able to drop students off at the CLC, and the school system will provide transportation from the CLC to Dawson County High School. Home-schooled students also will be invited to participate in the program. There are CLCs in many other counties, including Walton, Gilmer and Habersham, said Dolores Colon, secretary-treasurer of the Dawson County CLC board of directors. They are a very positive impact in the lives of the students, as well as in the schools and the communities in which they exist. Brooke Anderson, chair of the Dawson County CLC, said he is optimistic about the positive influences and stability the CLC will provide to the countys youth. A lot of our youth look at everything in a relative way, Anderson said. Thats just not the way it really is. You cant ever have happiness when all you do is float from one thing to another. There has to be some stability, a real truth, a real way, and a real life. When you have a foundation, it makes all of the storms and trials bearable because you know you have something real to stand on. On Oct. 10, the CLC board of directors will begin receiving applications for teachers. Interested persons may obtain applications through the Dawson County CLC web site at dawsoncountyclc.org. Applications will be received until Nov. 1. The CLC has three board officers: Brooke Anderson, chair, Kevin Tanner, vice-chair, and Delores Colon, secretary-treasurer. Other board members are Shawn Dutcher, Dawson County Young Life area director; George Parson, Tod Keys, Mark Cown, and Russell Davis, pastor of Dawsonville Baptist Church.