On August 7, Mt. Salus Christian School will open its doors to welcome students on campus for the start of its fiftieth school year.
In 1970, when the leadership of Mt. Salus Presbyterian Church had the vision to start an elementary school, the purpose was to offer a Christian-worldview education option within the city of Clinton; and Mt. Salus Christian School was born.
Originally known as the Mt. Salus Patriots, the school experienced growth and over time expanded to offer classes through the ninth grade. But, by 1987, Mt. Salus’s enrollment numbers had dwindled, and the school announced they would close their doors.
With a desire to continue offering a Christian education option to the city of Clinton, Mrs. Phyllis Hurley and Mr. Dennis Bomgaars agreed to serve as the new school administrators. They opened the 1987 school year with fifty students.
Motivated by Isaiah 40:31, the school changed its mascot from the Patriots to the Eagles the same year. With a renewed sense of calling and growth, Mt. Salus began to slowly expand its elementary classes. By the mid-1990s, they were again offering junior high classes.
Around that time, there was a group of Mt. Salus families that began to pray and explore a local interest in a Christian high school. The problem was, there wasn’t room on the Mt. Salus campus for high school classes; and the Mt. Salus Church session didn’t feel called to run a high school on another campus.
In 1996, Agape Church offered the use of its facilities, and Covenant Christian High School was started independently from Mt. Salus, though many of their students were Mt. Salus graduates. Covenant grew and remained on the Agape campus until they sold that property in 2001. At that time, Parkway Baptist Church invited Covenant to use their facilities.
During that time, Mt. Salus Christian School continued to grow; and, in 2003, they purchased the school building from Mt. Salus Presbyterian Church and became accountable to their own board. A year later, the Mt. Salus Christian School and Covenant Christian High School boards merged, choosing the name Mt. Salus to keep alive the name that first identified the city of Clinton.
Today, Mt. Salus Christian School offers classes for students K3 through twelfth grade on the campus of Providence Presbyterian Church on Clinton-Raymond Road.
With the ups and downs in the school’s fifty-year history, there’s one thing that school leaders say has remained constant: a commitment to offering an excellent, Christ-centered education to all their students. They report that’s the reason an increasing number of alumni are choosing Mt. Salus for their own children.
When asked why she picked Mt. Salus for her children, graduate Catherine (Ireland) Hasie says it was an easy choice.
“I want my kids to learn practical life skills from a Christian perspective that prepares them for life beyond the classroom, like I did at Mt. Salus,” she says.
Mary Kathryn (Govero) Whittle attended Mt. Salus from kindergarten through twelfth grade and went on to play basketball as an MSU Lady Bulldog. After completing two degrees at MSU and a second master’s degree at Reformed Theological Seminary, she’s back at Mt. Salus serving as the Counselor and Dean of Students.
When she reflects on her time as a student, what stands out most is the family environment where she felt known.
“My teachers really invested in me. They gave me a great education; but, more than that, they helped me learn to see all of life from a Christian perspective. They modeled servant leadership and invested in me and my individual interests,” Whittle says.
“I know what my kids are learning, whether it’s social skills or academic, is consistent with what we’re teaching at home. I want them to have the same kind of life-shaping experience that I did at Mt. Salus, and I want to be a part of giving that to other students,” she adds.
As schools across the country navigate the challenges of the new school year amidst a worldwide pandemic, Mt. Salus Christian School’s commitment to preparing students for life, not just graduation, through an excellent, Christian-worldview education is unwavering.
“We believe having a successful school year is just as important for our students’ spiritual, mental and emotional health as it is for their continuing academic progress. Our goal is to do everything we can to provide that, while keeping our school family safe and healthy,” says Head of School Bill Maner.
Maner is confident that, even if keeping everyone safe means there are periods of distance learning during the year, the school is set up for success because of the way technology is already built into their learning model.
With only a few days until the start of the new school year, Maner says, “We’re looking forward to a great year and can’t wait to see God’s faithfulness continue at Mt. Salus for the next fifty years.”