After standing as a beacon of light to the Roseland community for more than a century, Roseland (Ill.) Christian School closed its doors in June.
“There are many factors that have brought the board to this difficult decision,” wrote Rick VanDyken, board president, in a letter distributed to churches, “but the underlying cause is the lack of financial resources needed to provide the high caliber academic program that our students deserve.”
Founded in 1884 by members of the Christian Reformed Church, the school experienced a 75 percent decline in enrollment over a five-year period. Meanwhile, costs to maintain the aging building increased.
For 36 years, Bill Dykstra taught at Roseland—some of those years also spent coaching and driving a bus. His wife served in various capacities, and their four children all graduated from Roseland. He remembers a time when there were 50 graduates; this year there were just 10.
“I just love teaching here,” said Dykstra, a member of Pullman Christian Reformed Church (Chicago, Ill.). “I have met some incredible students, teachers, and parents—people who have opened my eyes and reminded me what being a Christian is all about. My faith has grown so much.”
After the announcement went out, letters as well as financial contributions poured in to allow the school to finish well.
Rev. Tim Hoekstra recalled several memories of attending Roseland through fifth grade, from playing marbles in the back schoolyard to being called into the principal’s office for stamping on a filled milk carton. A pastor at Suburban Life Community Church (Darien, Ill.), he has been an advocate of Roseland Christian School.
“I have supported seeing Roseland stay over these years because I believe that a quality education and mentoring that comes through a Christian education can change lives in poverty-challenged and under-resourced communities,” Hoekstra said. “These efforts and many more of imagination and creativity are needed. Those of us who have had privilege must continue to bring our access to these things to those who are often ignored or left to battle alone. This community gave so many of us a solid and blessed foundation, and we must continue to give back in great thanksgiving.”
Others in the community are already praying and planning that a new academic center will arise one day to once again offer the Roseland community exceptional Christian education, VanDyken noted in his letter. A farewell celebration is scheduled for Sunday, August 11, at 3 p.m.