Vail Christian High School celebrates 20th anniversary of putting feet on their faith |

Vail Christian High School celebrates 20th anniversary of putting feet on their faith

Bob Isbell, right, was one of original Vail Christian High School faculty members, as was his wife Linda.
Special to the Daily |

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Vail Christian High School is located at 31621 U.S. Highway 6 in Edwards. For more information, go to, email or call 970-926-3015.

EDWARDS — Behind the paint on every steel beam in Vail Christian High School are prayers and signatures written in permanent marker, as permanent as God’s love for “The Little School That Could.”

Twenty years ago, the first classes opened at Gracious Savior Lutheran Church, with 30 students and a million dreams.

Founders and family members gathered last weekend to celebrate 20 years.

In those two decades, Vail Christian students have brought home state championships in all sorts of competitions: six state academic decathlon titles, seven straight dance team titles, a state football title, speech and debate titles … the list is long and illustrious.

“I am so grateful that we are the Saints. We’re proud to be the Saints, a cloud of witnesses,” Head of School Steve O’Neil said. “As head of school, I see myself as standing on the shoulders of giants who have come before me.”

In the beginning

The Vail Christian story is varied and, like any good story, includes some near-death experiences. In March 2010, a Vail Daily headline screamed, “VCHS to close.”

Two weeks later, a headline conjectured, “VCHS may stay open.” Two days later, the headlines proclaimed, “VCHS will stay open.” Ironically, that was also the year the first Vail Christian alum graduated an Ivy League school.

There’s a little confusion among some people about who was the first to speak of the Vail Christian dream. The Rev. Dan Rohlwing put that to rest during the Founders Breakfast on Saturday, March 17, in the room that bears his family’s name: Rohlwing Commons. It was his wife, Kathy, Dan Rohlwing said.

Dan Rohlwing was Gracious Savior Lutheran Church’s pastor, and the church was having financial problems, as most churches sometimes will. So, of course, instead of pulling in their horns a little, they decided to start a Christian high school.

Outside in the sunshine is Founders Rock, carved with the names of 40 families that donated at least $10,000 each to launch the school.

“That’s an amazing commitment, to give $10,000 to a school that was just coming out of the ground,” Dan Rohlwing said. “We didn’t know what the location was going to be, and God blessed us with this land. The people who stepped forward in faith to help this dream grow and survive, they deserve incredible thanks.”

The school is built on two pillars: kids and God. They do all kinds of things, but it’s all about kids and God, Dan Rohlwing said.

“We have to remind ourselves sometimes that this is God’s school,” Dan Rohlwing said.

Because God wants us to use both sides of our brains, there are new facilities for both the arts and technology.

The dream takes shape

Gary Adams and Mike Mutter helped drive the dream for the Vail Christian building. They looked at lots of lots before they found their home.

They also dug through boxes and files until they found the building’s original rendering, drawn before anything was on the site besides good intentions. Adams and Mutter framed it and presented it to the school and the founders Saturday morning. It looks almost exactly like how the school turned out.

“Students should know that there are a whole lot of people who helped them get to this point, in this place,” Adams said.

The marketing line was simply, “Believe,” Mutter said.

Belief they had plenty of. Money … not so much.

That original rendering was on all the original brochures and fundraising material, as they worked to make the dream a reality.

“Founders, this is all because of you, your time, your talent and treasure,” said Deborah Worley, current chair of the Vail Christian board of directors.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and

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