Hope Christian Academy moving forward
Excitement is growing within the Hope Christian Academy family while construction is underway on the building expansion project.
The expansion project began as a dream about four years ago, building committee chairman Travis Toews said.
“Our school is growing and the church is growing at the same time,” he said. “We knew it would be a matter of time before we needed to build. We’ve made it through for the time-being with two portable units.”
When completed, the project will be approximately 27,000 square feet and connected to the church. It will include two wings of classrooms, a multi-purpose gymnasium and a kitchen. The cost is projected at $4 million and the general contractor is Whispering Pines Construction.
Construction is being done in phases, and the goal is to be debt-free when completed, Toews said.
“To date, we have raised about $2 million to cover the first phase, so we’re shy $2 million to finish the building,” he said. “We are building as funds become available. We’re trusting in God’s good timing.”
Groundbreaking was held in March 2013. After several additional months of planning, the footings were poured and excavation work was started.
This summer, contractors will pour the concrete floors and begin the framework for the outside walls. The goal is to have the shell finished by late fall.
“Ideally, we’d like to have the first floor completed by next year,” Toews said. “We’ve been having fundraisers at school, offerings at church, business and personal donations, so we’re hoping to accomplish our goal.”
Toews and his wife, Shanna, have one child enrolled at Hope.
“As a family, we really appreciate the biblically-centered education that Hope Christian provides,” he said.
The next fundraiser is the spring banquet and auction. It will be held at 6 p.m. Friday, April 25 at the Elks Lodge.
It will be an opportunity to support the construction efforts, Administrator Shane Bradley said.
“Proceeds from the banquet are sometimes used to help keep the cost of education low, but God has really blessed us this year, so we’re at the point that we’ve met our fundraising goal and all the money from the spring banquet will be going to the building expansion project,” he said.
Hope Christian Academy opened in 1981 with grades one through three. By 1984, the academy had grown to include grade 8.
In 2012, the decision was made to go forward with a high school — adding one grade per year. This fall, the academy will add grade 11.
While courses are taught at the academy, it cooperates with Dickinson Public Schools for the band and sports programs.
“We’re definitely not in competition with the public schools, but we are able to offer a Christian education that public education doesn’t allow,” Bradley said. “Our education is based on God’s word and Jesus Christ is preeminent in everything. All truth is taught from God’s truth and his perspective.”
The project is going forward through a huge commitment by the school board and church, Bradley said.
“We’re definitely grateful for the people who consider a partnership with us for a Christian education,” he said. “That’s a privilege we take seriously and obviously we feel we are serving the community.”
Bradley appreciates the support of the parents.
“That’s the fun part,” he said. “Our parents are very involved and very concerned about education.”
While the bricks and mortar provide the structure, it’s the staff that makes Hope Christian special.
“There’s a real concentrated effort to focus on Christian education,” he said. “It’s an incredible atmosphere. The staff gathers each morning for 15 minutes of prayer. We pray for the kids individually.”
It’s been a goal of the school board is to maintain a one-to-15 teacher-student ratio in the classrooms.
“There’s definitely an emphasis to stay small — kid’s don’t get lost in the shuffle,” Bradley said. “We know our kids very well and take the individual learner very important. We want to minister to the kids individually.”
With pre-registration completed, the academy plans to split the classes this fall. Traditionally, the grades have been combined — one-two, three-four, five-six. This fall, the grades will be separated, Bradley said. A fifth-grade teacher and English teacher also were hired.
As a ministry of the Evangelical Bible Church, the facilities also will be used by the congregation. The two pastors, Senior Pastor Tim Privratsky and Associate Pastor Ron Dazell were previous administrators at the academy.
“I always joke with my people the thing that will give me the greatest pleasure is to look out the window and see my kids playing on nice green grass,” Privratsky said. “It’s a small thing, but I can’t wait.”
School Board President Shane Kultzke appreciates the opportunity to work closely on the project.
“The thing I’m most excited about the project, is I get to see how God has worked through the details — that’s the most exciting part for me,” he said.
As work continues on the project, Bradley expects challenges.
“We have very specialized people who are working on the details,” he said. “On the other hand, it’s a step of faith. God has been with us step by step in the whole process. We have found people stepping up in a timely manner in God’s time through the whole situation,” he said. “If doors close, other doors open, and you see at the end of the day, it’s been a benefit for the whole building expansion project, the school and the church.”
For more information about fall enrollment or to purchase tickets for the spring banquet, call the office at 701-225-3919.