Community Christian School is a new school with a long history. CCS was created to fill the gap from the closing of Ridgewood Baptist Academy with classes starting in August 2011. The history begins with the beginning of Ridgewood Baptist Academy formally taking place on February 27, 1974, when the congregation of Ridgewood Baptist Church voted 119 yes, 3 no, to start a Christian school.
The original plan called for having K-5th grade, however, as plans were being made, interest increased and it was decided to expand the school through the 8th grade. Ray Pearce was appointed to survey other schools, legal ramifications, the church and school’s personal needs and requirements, and report these findings to the Deacon Board. A school board was then appointed consisting of Jack Price, Jack Lepper, Jim Haywood, and Dave Reeves. They made a thorough study and determined that a minimum of $15,000 would be needed to provide the necessary equipment to get started by the fall of 1974. In a special thrust for the school, God provided more than the $15,000 to show His approval and backing.
Mrs. Beverly White, wife of the youth pastor at that time, was a great help in ordering the needed materials and equipment along with getting the school organized. Also instrumental in the initial setting up of the school’s program were Pastor Keith, Mrs. Cathy Bergstrom, Mrs. Edith Storch, and Mrs. Mary Lynn Lemke. Mrs. Betty Haywood and Mrs. Jean Landrey set up the school library.
The first year sixty students enrolled from K-8th grade, and of this number 75% were from outside our church. Pastor Keith served as temporary Administrator, and Mrs. Cathy Bergstrom ably assisted as Principal, while Mrs. Barb Durham proved to be a very capable secretary that first year and throughout the first four years of the Academy. The teachers that first year were: Mrs. Cathy Bergstrom, K-2nd grade; Miss Deborah Hudgins, 3rd-5th grade, with Mrs. Sandra Koop assisting part-time the second semester; Miss Linda Lee, 6th-8th grade. This new ministry and work had its rough edges that needed smoothing, but the Lord provided and the school completed its first year.
Ridgewood Baptist Academy was the result of a concerned church and concerned Christian parents. It was not started only as an alternative to the problems in the public schools, but because the Word of God admonishes the home to instruct in Biblical principles, something seriously neglected and even scoffed at in the public schools. In February of 1975 the school hired Stan DeVaney as Administrator, however, Mr. DeVaney and his family did not move to Joliet until July of 1975 because of his teaching in a Christian school in Michigan.
In the second year 117 students were enrolled, 9th grade had been added, and the staff was increased to six full-time teachers, one part-time teacher, one teacher’s aide, plus the school secretary and administrator. The church approved the addition of 10th grade the third year, and the enrolment increased to 150 students. With the fourth year of operation, the 11th grade was added, two more teachers were hired for full-time employment and one part-time staff position.
In 1979, Ridgewood Baptist Academy graduated its first class and has not looked back since that time. It grew in size to about 290 at one point in time. The need for a quality Christian Education in today’s society cannot be over-emphasized. Ridgewood Baptist Academy certainly filled that need. Over the years, the Lord has blessed our school. By May of 2011 there will be 430 graduates of RBA and many more hundreds of lives that have been touched by the school. It has been gratifying to see our graduates go on to highly productive lives lived for God. We have graduates that have gone on to get advanced degrees, some who are now serving the Lord in full time ministries, others who actively represent the Lord all over the country in their lives and chosen careers. We are particularly proud of those graduates who have chosen RBA for their children or even come back to teach here themselves.
The May 2011 graduating class was the last of the RBA alumni. The church was forced to end the ministry for financial reasons. However, Community Christian School was immediately formed to fill the gap in Christian education in this area. Founded for the same reasons as the original RBA, this parent run, new school operates as an independent Christian School. We are looking forward to serving the same students and parents and many more, for years to come with quality Christian education plus sports and fine arts extracurricular activities.