School eyes endowment fund; goal is $2 million
Jean Schollerman’s school began 35 years ago in her living room, teaching her two children the finer points of phonics and math with a sprinkling of the Gospel.
Forest Lake Christian school, Schollerman said, has been blessed by the Lord many times – when her husband Willard, now president of the 685-student school, tapped a friend to build Forest Lake’s first three classrooms; how 71/2 of the campus’ 12 acres were donated by a benefactor; and how the driving instructor began a busing program as the school moved into a permanent building.
They built the entire elementary and high school campus on a hilltop for $700,000 in 1969.
“Looking back, it’s been an incredible trip,” said the 60ish Willard Schollerman on a recent weekday afternoon in his office.
Jean Schollerman, the school’s curriculum director, believes a higher power has been at work all these years.
“The Lord made it happen. He had the plan,” she said.
On Monday, the Schollermans took a step toward advancing the plan by announcing a drive to create a $2 million endowment fund, to be raised over the next five years to fund future school projects.
“We’re at the point where we need to do this,” Willard Schollerman said. “We need this endowment to grow and become more effective.”
The school relies on tuition that ranges from $2,530 for kindergarten students to just over $4,000 for high schoolers and pays for 98 percent of the school’s expenses.
Alumni, the oldest of whom are in their mid-40s, aren’t at the age where large gifts are common. “The alumni are supportive in bringing their children back, but they’re just getting started on donations,” Jean Schollerman said.
The school prides itself on an education rooted in fundamentals, with emphasis on biblical principles that touch nearly every facet of a student’s life. Wednesdays, for example, are chapel days where boys dress in shirts and ties and girls wear dresses and prepare church lessons.
It’s this spirit, the Schollermans say, that sends 90 percent of the high school graduating class (about 60 last year) to four-year colleges and produces powerhouse sports teams; the girls volleyball team has won dozens of league championships.
On a recent school day, Willard Schollerman milled around the high school halls, chatting with students who call him “Mister S,” while the students gossiped with friends or put away books in lockers with their names above them.
Lockers, incidentally, do not have locks on them. There’s no shouting, no kissing or holding hands.
“Part of growing up is learning to be an adult,” Willard Schollerman said. “You won’t see any funny business going on. You might see a holy hug once in a while.”
Anyone caught fighting is immediately expelled, Schollerman said.
Though there are no standardized tests, every student from the third through 12th grades must take an entrance exam to enter the school, which uses textbooks from Christian publishers including Bob Jones University in Greenville, S.C. and Abeka Publishers, a unit of Pensacola Christian University in Florida.
“We won’t take someone if they don’t want to be here,” Schollerman said.
Students come from Auburn, Rocklin, Placerville, Grass Valley – as far away as Truckee.
Many students and teachers said they wouldn’t consider going anywhere else.
Senior Katie Boddorf, 17, has attended the school since the sixth grade.
“Since the school’s so small, I feel like it’s a giant family. Yes, I am sheltered, but I love it here. You know everyone,” said Boddorf, a chapel coordinator and member of the varsity volleyball and basketball teams. She’s also a mentor in SURF (Seniors Upholding Righteous Freshmen) club.
Boddorf, whose brother attended the school and whose sister is a student at the complex, said she never considered attending Bear River High School, a public school less than a mile away.
“It’s so personal here. I love the fact that we’re learning how much God can be a part of our everyday lives.”
Said Thad Kopec, a 20-year teacher at the school: “It’s a privilege to be here. You have the freedom to talk about God and pray and can really get involved in the lives of your students. It’s a perfect environment.”
The Schollermans hope to continue that with the endowment.
“The school has been run very frugally. We need a perpetual fund-raising campaign so that the school can expand and meet the needs of its growing population,” said parent Ed Cotney, who is developing the fund-raising campaign.
“We shouldn’t have a problem getting $2 million. We just need to teach people that they can give and that this can be done. Once that’s accomplished, we can get this done.”
Cotney and the Schollermans spent Monday wooing donors as the campaign kicked off.
“This will be for our future generations. With careful planning, I think we have a good shot,” Willard Schollerman said.
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