Weather Forecast


Construction complete, Hope Christian unites all grades in one building

Tara and Tim Chase walk into the fifth-grade classroom with their daughters, Taelynn and Tamrynn Chase on Tuesday, the first day of school at Hope Christian Academy in Dickinson. (Linda Sailer / The Dickinson Press)1 / 3
Second-grader Elizabeth Bernhardt puts her backpack into her locker at Hope Christian Academy on Tuesday, the first day of classes for the new year. She is assisted by her mother, Sandra Bernhardt, who teaches fifth-grade at the academy. (Linda Sailer / The Dickinson Press)2 / 3
Hope Christian Academy fourth-grade teacher, Peggy Stroh, right, welcomes a student, Tirzah and her parents, Sharon and Loren Johnson to her new classroom on Tuesday, the first day of classes. (Linda Sailer / The Dickinson Press)3 / 3

Tim and Tara Chase helped their four children find their desks at Hope Christian Academy on Tuesday.

The surroundings were relatively new to the four Chase children and their parents as the school held its first day of classes following the completion of a building project to include all grades under one roof.

"It's exciting," Tara Chase said. "The two older girls have been coming since kindergarten, and at that time, we were told the high school was going to be built, and now it is. All four kids are here now."

The Chase students are among the enrollment of 125 from grades preschool through 12th grade. Construction began in March 2013 and now all Hope Christian students are now housed in the 27,000-square-foot building.

Hope Christian is a ministry of the Evangelical Bible Church. Kindergarten through third-grade students are on the main floor, along with the kitchen and gymnasium. The upstairs has classrooms for grades 4-12.

"A lot of churches are pretty quiet during the week—ours sure isn't," EBC senior pastor Tim Privratsky said. "We stayed the course of long obedience to be able to do this without borrowing money, and we're seeing the fruit of a $4 million project, debt-free. We believe we have great public schools in the community, but we are able to provide an alternative Christian education."

Privratsky was Hope Christian's administrator for 11 years, starting in 1996.

"I always had the vision of wanting a high school, but I knew I wasn't the one to take us there," he said.

Ron Dazell, a EBC associate pastor and former administrator, started the building process and administrator Shane Bradley built upon Dazell's vision.

"Many schools do capital campaigns, but this has been a situation where the leadership from the church said we had to be patient, and made the commitment of not going into debt," Bradley said. "It's been a long process, but we haven't stopped working and the date is finally here. It's the first time the junior high and high school get into classrooms. We have new lockers. We have new everything."

Along with classrooms, students have access to the computer library, gymnasium, kitchen and hot lunch room.

“We’re also super excited about a full high school staff,” Bradley said Hope Christian has a new high school science teacher and no longer offers video instruction.

Bradley credits Hope Christian's success to prayer, support of the families and building partners.

"There's so many people who contributed in so many different ways," he said. "It was definitely a community effort. But ultimately, we are thankful that God is growing us as a people and a school."

Benjamin and Ashley Armstrong came to school on the first day with their daughter, Priscilla, and son, Wylie.

"We are so thankful for this school—it's a great education," Ashley Armstrong said.

Loren and Sharon Johnson helped their daughter, Tirzah, find her desk and met her teacher, Peggy Stroh.

"It's wonderful," Loren Johnson said. "We didn't have to take a loan out to build the school—God provided for all of it."

Sandra Bernhardt had double reasons for looking forward to the first day of classes. She is the fifth-grade teacher and her daughter, Elizabeth, is enrolled in the second grade.

"It's a very exciting day," she said. "The Lord has blessed us twice—with our teachers and our children."