The following was written by SCS co-founder, Mr. Marshall D. Bonney.
For years, the Free Methodist Mission had operated a little, one room school in Santiago following a US Curriculum. By the mid 1960s it became apparent that our little "Kalvert School" would not be able to handle the influx of potential students whose parents would be wanting a US type education for their kids."
A dozen enterprises were springing up in Santiago which brought scores of Americans, Canadians and Europeans to the immediate area, most of whom had school age children. Several of us realized that we either start a Christian School or somebody else would start who knows what for these kids!
An ad hoc group met in Santiago Spring 1967, as I recall, to address the question: "Should we start a Christian Day School in Santiago with an American Curriculum?" Persons present at that meeting were: Dr. Al Anderson, a US professor at the newly minted Catholic University in Santiago. He and his wife had 3 school age children. They were from a Friends Church in Ohio. Dan and Doris Wiebe were Canadians with a Prairie Bible School background. Presently serving as missionaries in La Vega some 20 miles east of Santiago. Nancy and Paul Potter, Southern Baptist Missionaries attended.
It was quickly agreed that we should start an evangelical day school immediately, that it should be independent of any particular mission or church but that it should be solidly evangelical in nature. That board members would serve without pay, that all financial balances above expenses (if there ever were such) would be invested back into the school and that to be a board member, one had to be a member in good standing of an Evangelical Church or Mission. One additional decision which had far reaching implications in the future was that new members to serve on the board would be recruited and named by the Board itself. The Ad Hoc Committee became the Board of Directors that very day.
Several standing committees were formed at that first meeting. We needed a constitution for incorporating purposes under the laws of the Dominican Republic. So, there was a constitutional committee named. A finance committee was appointed to figure out how we would get this school going with no backing from any outside or even local group. And we had to have an academic committee to decide on curriculum, where to get materials, where we would get teachers and related challenges. The finance people worked on property issues as well.
We flew into the jobs at hand. Within a relatively short time (really, in retrospect, an amazingly short time which we all felt was the result of the hand of God working in our behalf) we were granted incorporation rights under the legal requirements of the D. R. We contacted and were given the "blessing" of the Dept. of Education in the Capital to operate an "American Type" school in the country. Classroom space was found (even one such classroom was the garage of the Free Methodist Mission owned house on the corner of the Instituto Campus) and initial contacts were made to buy 20 acres of land about 3 miles east of Santiago city limits.
I do not recall our first year enrollment at the Santiago Christian School ( Sept. 1967-May 1968) it must have been around 60 or so. The Instituto Evangelico was especially helpful to our SCS those first years. On unused portions of their campus, they allowed our SCS Board to build simple, but adequate classrooms with the promise they would be "given" to the I. E. when the SCS moved to its own campus. We rented a narrow piece of land to the east of the I. E. Campus which would give us access to a new street just put in by the city for our main entrance to our little "complex.
Our commitment to naming our own Board members soon faced a stiff challenge. A dam building group based in Utah came to town to work on a dam not too far from Santiago. That group sent some 35 students our way! We certainly could use the tuition! But, by the second year they were demanding Board representation and that Board members be elected by the parents. Dan Wiebe and I visited their Dominican Headquarters. Our answer was "No". Their answer was, "Then we go". Which they did. We survived. A few if the "dam related" parents sent their kids back to SCS on their own.
From the earliest days, it was pay as we go. All expenses including land purchases, building construction as well as operating budgets were covered by tuition from students. Missionary Kids got a 25% discount. Our teachers the first years were mainly missionary wives who had teaching credentials. Then missionary agencies such as the Free Methodist Visa Program began to help us recruit candidates in the US and Canada. Some Dominican teachers were hired as well.
Students were a cross section of American, British, Canadian, German, French and Dominican parentage. Most non-Dominican parents were in the Santiago area working at the new Agricultural School at La Heradura (heavily assisted by Texas A and M), at the brand new Catholic University (strongly encouraged by Notre Dame and St Louis Universities) on major public construction projects such as the hydro electric project not far from Santiago and from a new US Consular Office established in Santiago. Dominican students in those early days came mostly from sons and daughters of the large factory owners in and around Santiago. For example, the Bermudez kids came to our school, the Leon-Jimenez family sent their kids. And then a little late, the Portelas enrolled their kids.
Dan Wiebe took the leadership role in obtaining land for the SCS Campus. We were able to purchase about 20 acres east of town behind the Army Fortaleza for the Northern Area. Later, about 20 more acres were added to the property from a Dominican land owner in the immediate area who "gave" the land in exchange for free tuition for several grand kids for several years. I believe his name was Sr. Checo. He had a large tile and concrete block factory in Santiago.
Volunteer construction teams from the USA helped build some of the buildings on the SCS campus. Most, however, in the early years were built by Julio Guzman and his crew, the same man I had used so much at the Instituto Evangelico. Again, we built as the money was available through the tuition charges. As far as I can recall, we never took out a loan for anything.
In 2006, Ruth and I had a chance to revisit the Santiago Christian School. The enrollment at the time of our visit was between 500 and 600. Many new buildings were in evidence. One of the newer ones was an auditorium which parents and former parents and former students had donated to the school. It was moving for us to see this kind of loyalty. Also, very satisfying to us was the fact that chapels are still held, week-long Spiritual Life events are scheduled on an annual basis and membership on the Board is still limited to born-again Christians. We were treated as if we were visiting "royalty". There were a few around the school with whom we had worked years before but most had only "heard" about the Bonneys and the other founders.
How good it was to see that the school now had a computer lab, science labs and lots of equipment. The fact that budget surpluses were always reinvested in the school itself was much in evidence. All that Ruth and I saw and felt on campus that day in 2006 reinforced our conviction that back in 1967 when we drew up the constitution and the by-laws for the SCS we "did the right thing" with the Lord's help.