by Kathy Marson
Spokane, Wash., November 1, 2012-
At the end of last school year both Goldendale (Wash.) Adventist School and St. Maries (Idaho) Christian School were facing closures. Goldendale had three students and no funds, and St. Maries had one student in the lower grades and two set to graduate. Here’s what God did to help them reopen their doors.
St. Maries Christian School
"We voted to close our school," says Gail Resser, St. Maries Christian School treasurer, "because we had only one student." Their rented school building was sold by the owner, and the contents were moved to a storage shed. "Things looked pretty bleak," says Resser.
Because of this decision, Aleida Quick, the teacher, began to search for a new job. The school board met to brainstorm how to reverse their decision, recounting the miracles of when their school closed for nine years and how the Lord helped them reopen in 2001. The local newspaper, the Gazette Record, placed free ads for more students, to no avail.
Quick says, "I held on to Jer. 29:11, '"I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."' But the summer passed with no teaching jobs and no prospects for the school."
"I believed the school would remain open," says Sue Clark, teacher's aide, "until a week or two before the school should open. Then I began to realize the school was going to close. But I hung on to the promise, 'If we are faithful and true to the Lord, He will be faithful and true to us.'"
On Aug. 20, one week before the looming school opening date of Aug. 27, some things began to fall into place. "I received a phone call from a lady interested in putting her two daughters in our school," says Quick. "From that phone call until the late start of school on Sept. 4, we registered six students, found a suite in a mall to lease, and moved in our books and supplies."
The sudden turnaround was another miracle for Kim Schwanz, a member of the St. Maries community. His son, R.J., attended the school from kindergarten through eighth grade. He is thankful R.J. is able to stay and take ninth-grade classes online through the school. "The St. Maries Christian School has done everything they can for our son to keep him interested in school. Every child that goes to this school gets one-on-one attention," says Schwanz. "If it wasn't for these dedicated teachers, we would not have the son we have today."
Goldendale Adventist School
In Goldendale, even with the lack of funds and students, board members decided to spend time in study and planning for the future of their school. They began to read the book Education by Ellen G. White. Through this book, they realized what a priceless experience an Adventist education can be for children and the entire church family. Then they cast a vision and prayed about how the school would change if it were to open again.
"We made a vow that we would partner with God to provide a first-rate program for our Adventist young people," says Gary Garvin, school board chairman, "and trust that others not of our faith would recognize the excellence of what we do and want their children to experience it as well."
Goldendale stepped out in faith and hired Carrie Ferguson. She, along with the pastor and school board, recruited students. By the time school began, they had eight students in grades 1–9 and four in preschool. They also hired a kindergarten teacher, Chris Laulile.
"The Goldendale Adventist School experienced a new start this year," says Tim Gray, Goldendale Church pastor. "With the renewal of the school that has taken place, there is a new optimism, and we thank God for His blessing of our school."
"This has been such a faith-building experience to watch two schools reopen after the challenges they faced," says Becky Barts, Upper Columbia Conference (UCC) associate education superintendent. "We spent hours in prayer, agonizing over each situation."
For more information about either of these schools, contact the UCC education department at 509-838-2761.