Our Christian school of Redlands was first organized in 1934. For seven years, the First Reformed Christian School, as it was then called, was housed in the basement of the original Protestant Reformed Church at the intersection of Lugonia Avenue and Clay Street in north Redlands. The late Rev. G. Vos was very instrumental in the formation of this first Christian grade school established by parents of Protestant Reformed persuasion. The first principal and teacher was Mr. P. R. Zuidema.
In 1941, a new two-room school was constructed adjacent to the church. There we instructed our covenant youth until the loss of our property in 1954. Teachers during those years were Mr. A.C. Boerkoel, Miss Alice Reitsma, Mrs. Harriet (Schipper) Engelhart, Mrs. Alice Sawyer, Mrs. Marian (Vander Werff) Karsemeyer, Mrs. Florence (Hoekstra) Brunsting, Mr. Edwin Gritters, Mrs. Ruth (Vermeer) Stuursma, Miss Beth De Boer, Miss Florence Terpstra, and Miss Ruth Brunsting.
It was not again until 1975 that we were privileged to have our own school. Under the able direction of Mr. George Joostens, our new three-room school was constructed, consisting of two classrooms and kitchen-utility rooms. For the better part of eight months, the people of Redlands, men and women, young and old, spent their Saturdays (and many evenings) in the construction task. We were happy to obtain the volunteer services of an experienced block layer (who also served as our pastor)—the Rev. Marvin Kamps. The result is a beautiful concrete block building with tile roof. As befits our California climate, the school is complete with refrigerated air conditioning and a picturesque cactus “garden.”
Our school is located at 1309 E. Brockton Ave. in northeast Redlands. It is situated on a 5-acre parcel underlooking the beautiful San Bernardino mountain range to the north and east. We have sold the westerly half of our property to the Hope Protestant Reformed Church of Redlands who, the Lord willing, will soon be our “next-door” neighbor. The church’s parcel includes a house which may be used as a future parsonage but is presently occupied by our principal, Mr. John Kalsbeek, wife Judy, and their seven children.
When our school re-opened in 1975, Mr. Jon Huisken took a year’s leave from his labors at Hope College, Holland, Michigan, and with his wife, Joanne, guided our school through its first year. Our present principal, Mr. Kalsbeek, has been assisted by Mrs. Neva (Doezema) Feenstra and, at present, by Miss Laurie Buiter.
The Lord has been truly good to us during our first years of operation. With a budget of approximately $40,000, two-thirds of which is funded by the ten families with children in school, our financial burden is not easy. We are heavily reliant upon, and grateful for, the help of our fellow supporters, young and old, who contribute financially and physically to the operation of the school. Our school was constructed in its entirety by volunteer labor. Today, all able-bodied members take their weekly turns in landscaping and grounds maintenance.
We are also grateful to our fellow churches who so graciously responded during a particular time of need this past school year. It is always our prayer and endeavor that we may be self-supporting.
Although we have a present enrollment of only seventeen children, we look forward to continued growth. The Lord has blessed Redlands with many young families and we have a large number of preschool age children. We thank God for His continuing covenant faithfulness. It is our prayer that he will continue to provide dedicated parents and teachers to labor in the blessed privilege of instructing those whom He has so graciously entrusted to our care.
“Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord, and the fruit of the womb is His reward.” Psalm 127:3
Edwin Gritters, Board Secretary