History of Anchorage Christian Schools
In September of 1972, Anchorage Christian Schools officially opened its doors for business in the facilities of the Anchorage Baptist Temple. Dr. Jerry Prevo, the pastor of the Anchorage Baptist Temple, founded the school. The facilities of the Anchorage Baptist Temple/Anchorage Christian Schools were located on Debarr Road at that time. That first year’s enrollment was ninety students with seven faculty members.
During the second year of operation, ACS moved to the newly completed facilities on the corner of Baxter and Northern Lights Blvd. This modern two-story church sanctuary seated one thousand and added numerous classrooms and offices. The move was timely for the school because enrollment continued to increase. The “old church building”, as it is now called, still houses some classrooms used for the school as well as one of our preschools. The Lord continued to bless the ministries of both the church and the school. It was apparent that the new church building would not be adequate for either the growing church or the growing school.
Within two years an additional two million dollar complex began which could house an expanding Christian school student body. Ground was broken for this second school building on June 19, 1976. Its 164’ x 180’ dimensions contained fourteen classrooms, various school offices, a library, a full sized gymnasium, modern athletic facilities, and a retail Christian bookstore. The “high school building”, as it is now called, still contains most of the secondary classrooms and offices. The number of classrooms has changed several times over the years, along with the location of the library and bookstore, because of remodeling projects. This gymnasium is still the gym used for the majority of school activities. The Lord was working mightily in the programs of Anchorage Christian Schools. His blessings continue to be poured out on this ministry.
This secondary building still functions as the main secondary facility. As the secondary program has expanded, classes and entire programs have been moved around and re-modeled to meet the needs of the students and faculty. For instance, the preschool was in this building at one time but was moved when the secondary program continued to grow. The computer room moved into a modern, networked lab, as resources were available to up-grade that program. Many other changes were made as required.
Getting back to our “building-time-line”, the third building to be added to the ABT/ACS complex was begun in the spring of 1981 and completed in the summer of 1982. This building is primarily used by the church as office space and production facilities but also contains a few classrooms used by the school. The biggest impact this area has had on the secondary program is the addition of radio and television production facilities. Students now have the opportunity to learn these trades without leaving our facility.
The multi-purpose room was added next during the summer of 1984. This expansion enabled ACS much greater flexibility in our sports, Physical Education, and activities programs. The “small gym” is used extensively along with the adjoining weight room for a wide variety of activities. The weight room has been re-modeled and upgraded over the years. We have been blessed to have a first class weight room and cardio room with equipment that rivals the equipment found in any modern health club. PE students, members of various ACS athletic teams, staff members, and church members use these rooms.
The next building to be constructed was our new church auditorium. This was finished in the spring of 1992. This modern facility is a model for church construction. It is used only occasionally for school purposes for things such as special assemblies, music concerts, etc. Even though it is only used a few times a year, it is a blessing to have such a modern auditorium available for our students. Having concerts in the auditorium provides an optimum, acoustically correct place for young musicians to perform and gives the students a sense of participating in something “big” as well.
Part of this building project was to re-model the old auditorium into more classroom space. The most attractive addition for the secondary program is a large room we use on occasion for chapels and assemblies. Most of the space from the re-modeled auditorium is used for our preschool division.
The last building project we completed was what we call our CMC building (Children’s Ministry Center). It was designed to meet the continuing needs of our church and school. It building was designed from top to bottom, from beginning to end as a school-type building. Construction started in 2001 and was completed in 2002. ACS moved into the facility for the 2002-03 school year.
The facility houses 33 classrooms with a synchronized clock and intercom system, cable and video system, intruder protection on all doors, and independent environmental controls.
Included in this facility are a library, state-of-the-art science lab, music-training complex (orchestra room, band room, choir/music room, electronic piano teaching lab, and private piano practice rooms. A large gymnasium is located in the center of the facility and can host basketball and volleyball games at the high school level. It includes two locker rooms for teams and P.E. classes.
Administrative offices include the elementary principal, vice principal, support staff, teacher resource room, finance offices, and first aid station.
A heartfelt gratitude is expressed to the Lord Jesus Christ. Without the Lord all of this work would be in vain with no purpose or goal for eternity. We are also deeply grateful to our pastor, Dr. Jerry Prevo. Without his leadership and direction, starting with founding the school back in 1972 and continuing through these many building projects, ACS would not have risen to the position it occupies today nor would have enjoyed these excellent facilities.
As important as nice facilities are, it is recognized that a school does not have a good program just because it has nice facilities. Anchorage Christian Schools also has experienced the Lord’s blessing on many of its programs.
The 1990’s were pivotal years for ACS. Two other Christian schools in the area closed. Students from Muldoon Christian School and Peter’s Creek Christian School were invited to join Anchorage Christian Schools during these years. Another school, Eagle River Christian School, changed its curriculum and several parents moved their children to our program. Our total secondary enrollment went from 137 in 1990 to 299 in 1999, a 218% increase in ten years.
Every year from 1990 to 1999, our secondary enrollment increased from as little as 1% between 1995 and 1996, to as much as 23% between 1992 and 1993. This growth continued through 2001 when it peaked with an all-time-high secondary enrollment of 328.
Many changes took place during the 1990’s in the secondary school. Curriculum revisions were being considered in all departments and formally structured curriculum guides were written. These guides are now reviewed each year and revised annually as necessary. The Philosophy of Christian Education, upon which the school was founded and from which all teaching, daily operations, and decisions were/are made, was reviewed and clearly articulated in written form. This is now included in all handbooks and publications about the school. The Mission Statement was formalized and included in most literature from the school.
During this period, the science department received much attention and efforts were made to improve that department. Curriculums were reviewed and revised, and the commitment was made to build a state-of-the-art science lab.
Along with changes to the physical plant, academic program changes, etc. the school was able to list many athletic contest victories both at the region and state levels. These victories were coupled with a number of coaches being named as recipients of Coach of the Year, and students and teams were given sportsmanship awards. Choirs, bands, and individual singers and musicians continued to bring home awards and to place at region and state competitions. Students also continued to perform well at academic competitions such as the ACSI Speech Meet, Math Olympics, and local Spelling Bees.
Throughout the years, ACS students have been encouraged to participate in community activities, mission outreach, and to become actively involved in their local churches. As a result, many students participated in a variety of mission trips, community service projects, and service to the local body of Christ through their local church.
During this time Anchorage Christian Schools recognized the importance of having an outside evaluation of the school, particularly at the 7-12 level. In 1990 we made the commitment to complete the Self-Study through ACSI. In 1993 the Association of Christian Schools International and the Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges (Now Northwest Association of Accredited Schools – NAAS) accredited Anchorage Christian Schools for grades 7-12. ACS was the second school in the state of Alaska (the first is no longer open) to receive this status.
Educational institutions, simultaneously committed to teaching biblical truth and preparing students for the realities of their world, have always faced the challenge of remaining faithful to the Word of God while educating for a world in dramatic transition. Some schools have compromised and lost their impact as a Christian institution; others have become mediocre in their teaching and have become so withdrawn from the world that they have stagnated and have no concept of a Christian Worldview. It is because Anchorage Christian Schools is committed to educating students in the truth of God’s Word in every area of instruction and activity, so that their lives may be transformed by the renewing of their minds, that ACS is committed to continual improvement.
The 1990’s produced tremendous growth, challenges, and change for ACS. The Administrative Board is committed to continue in the tradition of our founders, continually seeking God’s guidance for ways to better educate our students; ways that are relevant to the world in which they must live, work, and lead. Our goals must be realistic to better fulfill our mission as we lead into the years ahead. We, the faculty, staff, and administrators, believe that we are called to this task.