Oskaloosa Christian School is a testimony of God’s faithfulness from its founding. On September 13, 1937, 43 men signed the official document to form a Society of parents and supporters “for the necessity of Christian education. . .for God’s sake. . .for the churches’ sake. . . for parents’ sake. . .and for the child’s sake.” A collection of $8.45 sealed the foundation of the school.
The Great Depression was a difficult time to fund a school, so the beginnings were understandably modest. The first Board of Education voted to conduct a Bible school from 9:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. during the first two weeks of June in 1940. The Board explored the feasibility of a Christian day school as early as September, 1942.
World War II and a number of challenges associated with finding and purchasing of property delayed the official start of Oskaloosa Christian until September 3, 1946, at which time the school opened its doors to 46 students in Grades 1-8. Mr. and Mrs. Peter Bouma were the school’s first teachers. During the previous spring, the Society had voted unanimously to purchase the former grounds and gymnasium of William Penn College on College Avenue, just east of D Street for $16,500, no doubt a significant sum at that time.
As with any ministry, the school has experienced a number of ups and downs, tragedies, and hilarities throughout the years. Early in the school’s history, people living at the south end of the school yard took care of the peach trees for half the fruit! The Society approved building a six-room house for the principal at a cost of $10,395.50; that house, the “teacherage,” is now a rental property for the school at the corner of D Street and College Avenue.
A part-time secretary was hired at a salary of $1 per hour! Swings were padlocked when school was not in session! A hot lunch program was begun in the early-1960s. Enrollment grew, and 193 children were students in 1964-1965; due to the increasing numbers of students, the teacherage basement was remodeled for use by classes! A new two-room building was constructed at the north end of the school property for $45,000 (a building which houses the SONshine Pre-School and kindergarten program today).
An addition of 3 classrooms, a new library, restrooms, cloak rooms, the principal’s office and board/teachers’ workroom was funded for $112,000. Yet another addition of 5 classrooms resulted in an additional $114,000 in building costs, plus $21,000 in interest. That addition was dedicated on August 24, 1969, and the name, The Oskaloosa School for Christian Instruction (OSCI), was born!
An additional 80 feet were constructed onto the south side of the building, containing a small work room, “remedial” reading room, library, music room, and three classrooms at a cost of $165,000. By the mid-1980s, 227 students from 130 families were enrolled in the school community. A new addition included the serving kitchen and the gymnasium. In the 1990s, a music room was added to the east of the gymnasium.