History of Hull Christian School
“Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations.” Psalm 90:1
It is with joy and deepest thankfulness to God that we can recall blessings throughout the ninety-eight years Hull Christian School has been in existence.
The first society meeting was held March 10, 1909, for the purpose of electing a school board, which would be responsible for beginning our school. B. De Jong, C.J. Schaap, C.R. Bos, Rev. H.J. Heynen, A. Faber, A. Brummel, and A. Brunsting constituted the first School Board.
The most important issue facing this board was the building of a school and hiring a teacher. On May 5, 1912, a building fund drive was conducted in both the Reformed and Christian Reformed churches. The amount collected was $2,211.00 of which $1,500.00 was used to buy an acre and a half of land for the site of the school building. The building contract was let to Tom De Koster for $4,649.73. A two-story building (46’X36’) was ready for dedication on September 1, 1913. The following day classes began with Miss Della Vanden Hoek teaching grades one through four. Henry Van Zyl, principal, taught grades five through eight.
Two major issues confronted the constituents of the school for the next years-the Dutch language and the addition of ninth and tenth grades. The Dutch language was taught and used for teaching until the government passed a ruling against this practice in 1919. For six years the school year was for ten months to make up for the time spent teaching the Dutch language. When the government ruling was made, the year was reduced to nine months and the month of June was used to teach the Dutch language to those who wanted it. We do not know how long this continued. In 1914, a decision was made to add a ninth grade on a trial basis. During that year there was talk for adding a tenth grade. Since there were not enough parents supporting this, the ninth grade was dropped. In March of 1919, a request was again made to the board to add two grades. It was turned down, and that fall Western Academy began its classes.
Mr. Van Zyl stayed with our school for many years. He, like so many dedicated teachers since him, was always willing to take on more than the full occupation of teaching. Whether it was teaching an extra class or two or organizing new groups to support the school, he was always ready. In 1920, he was given a week’s leave of absence to help organize the National Union of Christian Schools in Chicago. The following year our school joined this union.
An alumni association called the Junior School Society was organized in 1923, under Mr. Stephen A. Van Harn. Onie Arrdema was instrumental in organizing the Parent-Teacher Association and The Sunshine Club, an organization of seventh and eighth grade girls. This club continued until 1962, when it was dropped for lack of room, and there was no way to provide for the boys of these classes.
On March 4, 1919, the society decided to build a teacherage for an estimated cost of $5,000.
Due to “hard times”, the janitor was released in 1931, and the principal, Mr. Cornie Zylstra, and the other teachers were required to do the janitor’s work. In November 1918, the school closed for four weeks because of the Spanish “flu” epidemic.
During the principalship of Mr. Peter B. Bouma, the Perkins Christian School Society asked to merge with ours because of financial stress due to their small enrolment; so in September 1936, their students came to Hull.
Following the depression, the years were marked with growth and improvement. In the mid-forties there was interest expressed for a new school. Projected enrolment indicated that something would have to be done soon. In 1947, a building fund was begun. By 1953, only some $31,000 had been raised. This was the year the men appointed to go on the annual drive got together and decided that more definite plans had to be presented to the constituents. They met with the board and things got rolling. In fifteen months, $50,000 was raised. De Stigter Brothers were given the contract, and it was completed in 1955, at a cost of nearly $100,000. In 1956, 206 students were enrolled.
Building projects never seemed to end. In 1959, a teacherage was built next to the school property, and during that school year increased enrolment prompted the decision to add two classrooms on the east end of the building. The next September, 251 students were enrolled.
Several improvements followed. The first kindergarten class met with Mrs. Peter Mesman as the teacher in 1955. Their classes met three full days a week. Music classes began in the’50s. Mrs. L. R. Haan taught fundamentals of music in grades 5-8 a half hour a week. In the school year 1955-56, the music program went more in the direction of a band program under Mr. Hazen Brummel. This was continued into the ‘60s.
Buses for transporting the country students began in 1947 with the purchase of one bus. A second bus was added in 1955.
Since 1966, many educational changes took place while Mr. Bonnema was principal. The curriculum was greatly enlarged. The news of Sputnik resulted in a dramatic study of the entire educational system in our country. Special attention was given to the math and science areas. The “Modern Math” was introduced which actually was not so new, but there were many new terms and names. Changes in teaching resulted. Pupils were taught to discover. Not all of this so-called modern math remained in the curriculum. There was a tendency to return to the traditional way, giving more attention to drill and problem solving. Science also became a more important part of the curriculum.
Music as a subject became more important during these years. In 1968, a music program was begun in grades K-8. Our music instructor moved from room to room with a cart loaded with materials. Programs were given regularly, and we participated in Interscholastics with other area Christian schools. The era of musicals was introduced with “Down by the Creek Bank.” Our band program was continued with the band instructors of Western coming to our building for lessons. Full band met at Western. A remedial reading program was begun in 1967.
The Iowa Department of Education became more interested and more critical of our schools in the late ‘60s and ‘70s. We had to have a central library and a better physical education program. Teachers had to be properly certified. Many of the criticisms were good and resulted in further expansion. We needed more space, a gym, or all-purpose room.
The result was another building project. In 1969, a “calf project” was initiated. Farmers raised livestock, and the proceeds went into a building fund. In the first year, we had $10,000 invested in animals. In 1971, the society met for the purpose of deciding whether or not we should build. The time was not ripe. It did not pass. In 1973, another meeting was held, and a proposal to build an all-purpose room, a kitchen, and a classroom was presented. It passed by an overwhelming majority. The Lord provided for the right time. It happened according to His plan for our school. In May, the groundbreaking ceremony took place, and the building was completed in February of 1974. Immediately, we began using the new facilities.
The result was a better, scheduled physical education program and better basketball training. Basketball has always been very important to our area. Also, a hot lunch program was begun in a fully equipped kitchen. Pupils then could have a good nourishing noon lunch. The kitchen has been used for many other school-related activities.
In February of 1978, we burned the mortgage at our annual Hostess Supper.
In 1966, our school had a total of 285 pupils. Some classrooms had more than thirty pupils. Soon after this, our families decreased in size because of fewer births. Then too, the Protestant Reformed members built their own school. This caused a drastic drop in our enrollment. At that time, the average attendance remained between 160-190 pupils.
The next addition to our school was built in 1984-85. Four rooms were added to the west side. This enabled our school to have a spacious central library, a music room, an office, which provided room for a secretary and principal, and an adequate board-faculty room. In 1984, the teacherage was sold to Mr. Kramer, our current principal. The money from this business transaction provided a good share of the needed funds for this addition. True to tradition, Hull Christian did not have a building debt very long. This is a worthy tribute to its supporters. Also, we recognize God’s hand in it – He blessed us!
Grandparents’ Day is one of the highlights in the school year. It was begun in 1980. What a great delight it is to have these grandparents come to see what their grandchildren are doing!
While Mr. Groothuis was principal in April 1998, another building project was proposed for the addition of a music room. This proposal did not pass. A revised building plan for a music addition was presented to the society and passed in October 1998 while Mr. Hoogeveen was principal. A new music room was built on to the east side of the school and the old music room space allowed for a computer lab and a resource room.
A major renovation took place during the summer of 2008 during Mr. Ten Pas’ tenure. The original plan to add on more office space was defeated during a society vote in October, 2007. However, the board decided to use the existing building to meet this need. The new plan to renovate was approved by the society in March, 2008. The library, pre-school, 1st grade, 5th grade, 6th grade, 7th grade and 8th grade were relocated. The faculty workroom, Scrip room, secretary’s office and principal’s office also moved. The only additional spaced added was a storage space along the North side of the gym.
We cherish the past and look forward to the future. May our school always remain a God-centered school. It is a joy and challenge to prepare our youth for a life of dedicated service to our Lord.