Vail Christian celebrates 10 years
Vail CO, Colorado
EDWARDS ” There were 32 students when Vail Christian High School opened 10 years ago.
They were cozied up in modular trailers next to Gracious Savior Lutheran Church. The dance team practiced routines in the church atrium while athletes did stretches and warm-ups before practice. The trailers had no plumbing, and a big part of chemistry class was filling up buckets of water for experiments.
Pastor Dan Rohlwing says that living with high schoolers can be hectic, but the church loved the energy of having so many teens calling the church a second home. The tiny Christian school kept growing, and finally, they were busting at the seams.
“We enjoyed it a lot, and now we kind of miss that presence, it’s just a lot quieter,” Rohlwing said.
Today, you can find 110 Vail Christian students just a mile or two down the road in their new, more traditional high school building. They’re all together on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 10 a.m. for chapel, where they sing modern hymns, listen to inspirational words from the Bible, then go back to their computers, microscopes or maybe a theology class. That mixture of college-prep academics and Christian-centered values was and still is the heart of the school
Here’s the story of how Eagle County’s only Christian high school came to be, what their mission is and where they’re headed after 10 years.
Vail Christian High School began with a large donation from two members of Gracious Savior Lutheran Church. The money needed to be used for “something special,” and the congregation just had to figure out what that special something would be, Rohlwing said.
“We decided the best way to use it was as seed money to start a Christian high school in the valley,” Rohlwing said. “It would compliment the two elementary schools that had already begun.”
He’s referring to the Vail Academy, formerly the Eagle Valley Christian Academy, and St. Clare of Assisi.
“We wanted to provide an alternative for all high school kids in the valley if they want to choose a Christian environment,” he said.
The church hired a consultant to survey the community, find out what kind of support a Christian high school would have and what their focus and mission would be. Gracious Savior wanted to make sure they built a school that would be accepted by the entire Christian community.
“There was a wonderful small-town camaraderie amongst all the Christian churches and Christian pastors that was quite remarkable for our days,” he said. “We saw the vision and provided the seed money, but we never wanted it to be our school, we wanted it to be for the community. It’s been one of the strengths of the school.”
All those normal things you associate with high school are a part of Vail Christian ” tough classes, homework, sports, plays, music and crazy homecoming festivities.
It’s just much smaller, which many students see as a good thing.
“Here, you get to know your class really well,” said senior Britni Beasley. “You kind of know everyone.”
Mike Mutter, chairman of the school board, said from the beginning, the school wanted to be family-oriented and Christian-centered while prepping kids for college, giving them a heads up on technology and giving them a chance to play sports.
In the classroom, and of course in the chapel sessions, you’ll especially see the religious aspect you don’t see in public schools. Theology classes are taught at all grade levels, starting with New Testament studies, then Old Testament studies, ethics and morality and life applications.
Principal Mike King says pastors from Christian churches throughout the valley are invited to participate in weekly chapel services, and that the school remains sensitive to the different backgrounds and beliefs of the students.
The school prides itself in its science labs and use of technology. Flat-screen monitors around the school flash announcements, computers are highly used in every room and students are learning about podcasts and video production.
“I was reluctant to go, but once I got accustomed to it, I love it, and I’m glad I came here,” said senior Galen Jacobs.
The Vail Christian High School you see today is only half of what it will be.
Construction is expected to finish by February on phase two of its new facilities, which will include a performing arts center and gym.
The performing arts center will have a main stage, an outdoor stage and should be able to seat around 350 people and be set up for banquets. Eventually, the school hopes to have professional stage lighting and sound equipment installed.
There will also be art rooms, classrooms, a locker room and a weightlifting room.
All this will be connected to a two-story gymnasium, which will feature a wood floor, basketball courts, volleyball courts and bleachers.
The school is hoping that with all this, they’ll be able to transform the school into a community center.
“Twenty-four-7, this can be kind of a main sanctuary for youth in this valley,” Mutter said. “This building could be used for Colorado Christian University” a satellite campus.”
Staff Writer Matt Terrell can be reached at 748-2955 or firstname.lastname@example.org.