School receives multi-million-dollar donation
EDWARDS, Colorado – The local Christian high school received a Christmas miracle when an anonymous donor handed them millions of dollars last week.
Vail Christian High School received $3.2 million from two major contributions, said VCHS principal Randy Lowe.
“Christians believe in a Christmas miracle in Christ, and this is another miracle,” Lowe said. “We received a great Christmas miracle.”
The word reached Lowe late in the afternoon of New Year’s Eve, during their Christmas vacation.
The parents of a former student said they were touched by the education their child received, and that they felt closer to VCHS than any school or graduate school they attended, Lowe said.
Vail Christian has struggled financially in the last year. The money puts Vail Christian High School on a solid financial foundation, Lowe said.
“It will allow us to provide some tuition assistance for students coming from our feeder schools, The Vail Academy and St. Clare’s. It will also empower some people in the community to consider Christian schools as they plan their families’ educational futures.”
The Vail Academy, a K-8 Christian elementary school in Eagle-Vail, will move onto the VCHS campus starting this fall.
Those two schools will create a K-12 Christian school with about 190 students, and that’s before counting St. Clare’s K-8 students right across Highway 6 in Edwards, and some international programs VCHS is creating.
Lowe and some others will travel to China next month to begin creating an international partnership by bringing some Chinese students to VCHS.
“They’ll study here and some of our students will have the opportunity for extended programs and immersion there,” Lowe said.
Vail Christian has two buildings on its Edwards campus. It has shared the one with the gym and theater with Calvary Chapel Vail Valley for most of last year, an arrangement Lowe says they’re happy to continue.
With last week’s $3.2 million donation, they’ll no longer need to sell that building, which Vail Christian had been trying to do for months. Calvary Chapel has been raising money to try to buy it themselves, but so far don’t have enough.
A sale would have forced Calvary Chapel to move out.
“This keeps the campus in tact. We don’t have to sell the auditorium. The donor stepped forward and that’s no longer an issue.” Lowe said. “They are welcome to stay.”
Earlier this year, Vail Christian High School was hanging by a thread before bondholders agreed to a buy-out offer for the school’s $12 million debt.
Lowe took a phrase from the Lord’s Prayer and asked the school’s bondholders, “Forgive us our debts.”
The bondholders are apparently decent people, but not as charitable as the Lord. They forgave around half, cutting the tab to around $6 million.
The school was about $12 million in debt, piled up mostly from borrowing to build the newer of the school’s two buildings on the east end of its Edwards campus.
Debt that size will pull you over the precipice like the biblical millstone it is, and Lowe was saddled with the unpleasant duty of announcing last summer that Vail Christian High School was closing.
Only it turns out, of course, they didn’t. Donations poured in ranging from seven dollars to seven figures, and they decided to take one more run at keeping the school’s doors open.
Powered by an infusion of cash, pledges and prayer, Lowe and some others from VCHS flew to New York City to meet with the bondholders, who agreed to reduce the debt.
Last week’s $3.2 million donation set the school on solid financial ground, Lowe said.
Lowe has been served in Christian education for every year of his 40-year career, as a teacher, principal, CEO, consultant and everything else. He said he has seen very little to match this ride.
“I feel blessed to be part of this, he said. “It’s been my life and passion. I’m humbled to be here.”