In 1995, the Lord gave the vision to a family to begin a Christian school in the Hershey area. Not knowing the details, they stepped out in faith to pursue this God-given vision. The necessary documents were filed with the state, several key families volunteered their leadership, and Hershey Christian School (HCS) opened its doors in 1995. Space in an area church was rented to house the first class of ten students. Parents volunteered their time, finances and energy to create a place where students would be taught by faculty demonstrating their faith in God. The Lord chose to bless HCS and just five short years later, the school had grown to a full K-6 elementary program. A permanent home for the school was needed.
Several attempts were made to find a “home” for HCS. Communication was initiated with an area church, asking to partner with the school in ministry, but progress was slow and did not seem promising. Properties that were for sale in the Hershey area were explored. An offer was made on an old school building, but the Lord closed the doors to this opportunity. Through obedience and faith, the school board pursued various options without success. Then a 35-acre tract of land offered for sale by a farmer in Hershey was brought to the board’s attention.
After much prayer and discussion, the Lord led the school to approach the land owner about purchasing it. By faith, they met with the owner and explained the vision of the school and how this piece of land would help to fulfill that vision in a very practical way. Without the school’s knowledge, the couple desired their land to be used for something other than another housing development. The Lord opened the hearts of the owners, and the school was able to purchase 35 acres in the Hershey area that was already zoned for commercial use on the front acreage and agriculture on the back acreage for athletic fields and playgrounds. What previously seemed unobtainable became a reality because the school board had faith to pursue something that only the Lord could provide.
A capital campaign was started in the fall of 2005 to raise the necessary funds to pay the debt on the land and to begin construction of a new facility that would house an entire K-12 program. By faith, the board set a goal of $3 million to be raised before construction would begin. The board prayed diligently through this time; and in the summer of 2006, the $3 million goal of pledged support was reached. After celebrating the Lord’s blessing with a land dedication, construction began that summer. As the months passed and the building began to take shape, the excitement among the parents and students grew. The building seemed to be a tangible example of the Lord’s blessing and the school’s faith in following a God-given vision.
In January 2007, the construction began to hit major obstacles. Change orders, increased costs in building materials, architectural design issues, and financing problems all contributed to a halt in construction. Each individual factor might not have been destructive, but as a whole these events created “the perfect storm.” The board continued in faith to come up with a solution of how to get back on track to complete the construction of the building. As their faith was stretched, the board continued to prayerfully consider solutions to these problems. Their belief in God’s provision for the needs of the school never wavered.
A portion of the new Hershey Christian School building opened in September 2007. The building shell was finished, but, at the time, only the basement level was completed and was utilized by the third through twelfth grades. We continued to rent classroom space from a local church to accommodate Kindergarten through second grades.
The two upper floors of the new building were not complete. However, major efforts fueled by several school parents and skilled community volunteers allowed us to resume construction on eleven additional rooms for the 2010-2011 school year. Parent and student volunteers provided many hours of labor using donated materials. What was once an empty shell, with some framing, wiring, and plumbing, now looks like a school. The unfinished cafeteria and secondary library serve as a visible reminder that much more work is needed for the school to become a facility that can fully serve the educational needs of our students.
Our students are now together under one roof. This unique environment allows our students to see themselves as important members of a larger group. All aspects of our school from open lockers to weekly chapel have been put in place to create a warm environment of mutual trust and responsibility. Positive peer influences and high expectations help our students learn important life lessons that they carry well beyond the classroom.
As a testament to God’s faithfulness to our school’s vision, plans call for construction of the gymnasium to be finished at the beginning of the 2012/2013 school year.
God’s provisions for Hershey Christian School have truly been abundant. The founders of HCS had the faith to follow a vision. That vision has unfolded into a Christ-centered institution where students are encouraged to see how faith in the Lord’s provision can impact all aspects of their lives.