On September 16, 1975, the Hope Christian School in Redlands opened its doors for its first classes. This was a moment of great joy, an answer to the prayers of many parents. Quite a few years had passed between the dissolution of the first Christian School in our Protestant Reformed circles in 1953 and the re-establishment of our own school here in Redlands. We, as parents and members of the School Society, were thankful that God in His mercy had blessed our endeavors.
Prior to the actual opening of our school, many hours of decision making, planning, and labor had taken place. The Hope Christian School Society labored year after year motivated by the calling of God to instruct His children in the fear of His Name. Various efforts were made to start a school. In 1972, arrangements were being made to rent our old school building from the Seventh Day Adventists in hopes of opening school that year. These plans had to be changed when the Adventists decided to rent the building to a community group. After this disappointment, various plans were made concerning constructing our own school building. Various pieces of land were considered before finally purchasing our present school site on Brockton Ave. in Redlands.
At this time, the Hope Christian School Board projected costs for our school and proposed plans for obtaining the finances necessary to attain our goal. Approximately half of the land, including a two-story house, was sold to the Church as a probable site for a church and parsonage in later years. The congregation was canvased for loans, pledges and gifts; and was able to produce the money necessary for the construction of a school building built by all volunteer labor.
To construct a school building is one quest, but to maintain the operating costs of a school is quite another. Parents with children in school indicated they were able to come up with approximately 75 percent of the projected year’s operating costs. Individuals and supporting families pledged the remaining amount so that the School Society had sufficient funds to pay the anticipated first year operating expenses of the school with two teachers. It was a result of the School Society meeting of February 18, 1975, that the School Board was able to announce by means of a Newsletter: “We would like to take this opportunity to thank the entire congregation for its prayers and assistance, but above all we thank our Covenant God who by His grace has opened the door so that we can proceed with the opening of our School.”
Work began almost immediately since there was a tight work schedule to follow in order to open the school by September. All the work, architectural plans, surveying, ground leveling, construction, electrical, plumbing and sewer, air conditioning and landscaping was done by volunteer labor of men in the congregation. Some of the building materials and use of construction equipment were also donated, and all the work was under the supervision and direction of our skilled resident Carpenter, Mr. George Joostens.
Many talents and skills showed themselves during construction, in fact, our minister at the time, Rev. Kamps, can be proud of the fact that he along with Mr. Joostens were the exclusive block layers of the building. The men of the School Society were very dedicated; almost every Saturday, some weekday evenings and some holidays were spent laboring on the project. The women were a tremendous support and help to the men. Coffee and refreshments were faithfully served every working day. Toward the end of the construction work, the women pitched in and helped with some of the finishing work, including climbing up on the scaffolding and doing the exterior painting.
Physical labor was not the only aspect of our endeavor. Much work was done by the School Board in order to obtain teachers for our school. Mr. and Mrs. Jon Huisken left their home in Michigan; Mr. Huisken taking a leave of absence from his job at Hope College in order to help us in opening our school that first year. Much organization and planning had to be done before the first day of school, and it was evident that the Lord had been with us and richly blessed us when we were able to witness the opening of our Hope Christian School on September 10, 1975.
All the work was not finished on opening day. The School Board had to confirm past pledges and seek new support in order to insure the solvency of the school. Our Ladies Society has been working right along raising money for the school by means of various projects. Some appliances and cabinet-work have been donated to the school by members of the congregation. Landscaping is a continuing project as money permits, and in order to help save money, we have a volunteer gardening detail of the members from the School Society. We have been building all our own playground equipment and we now have a very nice assortment: swings, tether ball, basketball court, and baseball diamond. Yes, the school grounds have changed considerably since the picture was taken for Rev. Kamps’ article of “Our School in Redlands” in the Standard Bearer in the early part of 1976.
Now, by God’s grace, we are approaching the end of another school year and the graduation of our second class of ninth graders. The Lord has supplied us with two very capable and loved teachers, Mr. John Kalsbeek and Miss Neva Doezema, who have also been a welcome addition to our Redlands congregation. In every aspect of our labor, God has richly blessed us. We have a building of which we are extremely proud. It was a cooperative effort that united us and brought us closer together as we labored in love in order to fulfill our covenant obligations. We pray that God in His goodness will continue to bless our efforts here in Redlands.