The present Dakota Christian School began operating in 2006 when three area Christian schools merged into a new 43,000 square foot facility located nine miles east of Platte on South Dakota Highway 44. These three schools were New Holland Christian, Platte Christian, (both grade schools) and Dakota Christian High School. A brief history of each follows.
The early Dutch Reformed settlers began arriving in South Central South Dakota in the early 1880’s and brought with them a love and desire for God honoring education. Their vision for Christian schools for their children in America never left them. By 1912, serious discussions to begin Christian schools were taking place in both New Holland and Platte. These people were very concerned that their children understand at an early age that the Lordship of Christ demanded that every square inch of life be lived to His honor and glory.
New Holland Christian School began in 1913 and operated continuously to 2006. 26 students used a building of the New Holland Christian Reformed Church to hold their classes. A one-room school was dedicated in 1914 on the school’s site, and the school was incorporated by the state in 1915. Miraculously, the school survived the 1930’s. In those extremely difficult times, the importance of Christian education seemed to stimulate a community spirit of determination to keep their Christian school open. Incredible sacrifices by both parents and teachers kept the school running, and by the 1940’s the school again grew in numbers and expanded its facilities. More additions were made in the 1950’s at which time grades 9 and 10 were briefly added before Dakota Christian High School existed.
When Corsica Christian School closed in 1975, many of its students were welcomed into NHCS. In 1986 a gym was added. Many things changed over the years at NHCS, but the work of providing a Christ centered education based on the Bible and built on the love of Jesus Christ continued steadfastly for 93 years.
A Christian school in Platte existed from 1912-1929. For several years classes were held in the Christian Reformed Church building. In 1918 a building was purchased and all eight grades attended school there, but eventually indebtedness caused the building to be sold. After another period of classes in the old church building, the school closed in 1929.
By 1943, work toward establishing another Christian school in Platte had begun. In 1951 the new Platte Christian School opened in a new two classroom building with two teachers and 35 students. As enrollment increased to over 100 students, the school grew to five classrooms including kindergarten. A gym was added in 1968. Four hundred sixty students graduated from the “new” Platte Christian School during its fifty five years of existence. Curriculum and methods changed over the years, but the commitment to keep Christ at the center of all things remained constant.
Dakota Christian High School had its beginnings in the early 1950’s. It was located in New Holland, just north of the New Holland Christian School. Concerned parents saw the need for Christ centered secondary education to help their children develop a Christian world view. By 1953, the constitution and bylaws of DCHS were approved.
Soon thereafter, the Army Corps of Engineers at Pickstown was offering surplus housing for sale since Fort Randall Dam was being completed. A large dormitory, complete with heating and plumbing, was purchased for the net sum of $25 and moved to New Holland by Vander Pol Moving of Corsica for $1200. After much rebuilding and remodeling by volunteer help, the facility was transformed into a high school and opened in September 1956. Despite much ridicule and skepticism, God enabled that humble beginning to prosper and grow. In 1959 a science lab and a classroom were added to the north. In 1960 a kitchen and gym were added to the south. An industrial arts room and music room were added to the north in 1975. In 1983 the kitchen and entry were enlarged and another classroom was added.
In its fifty years of operation, DCHS graduated over 950 students. As of 2006, graduates live in 37 states, 3 Canadian provinces, and eight foreign countries. God has used a small school on the Dakota prairies to prepare and send disciples to 37 states, 3 Canadian provinces and 8 foreign countries to do His work and reflect His light and love.
Several other Christian schools have operated in this area over the years including Joubert, Clark, Garden Valley and Corsica Christian schools. As means of transportation improved and population density declined on the South Dakota plains, it became necessary to provide Christian education for our community at one location. Hence the present Dakota Christian School was built. We thank God as parents and community that we may continue to have education for our children where God is honored and His truth is taught based on the Bible. And we truly wish to share this blessing with Christian families from all churches throughout our communities who love Jesus as Savior and Lord.
Contributed by Marilyn Lefers and Ivan Van Dusseldorp