Members from the Bell Branch church passed out more than 60 sleeping bags on Jan. 9.
Part 4 of our “Growing Schools” series.
Members of the Martinsburg (W.Va.) church have long dreamed of constructing a new building for Rocky Knoll Adventist School. When the pandemic hit last year and enrollment dropped, many feared that day would never come.
Despite dedicated efforts to recruit new students during the summer of 2020, Rocky Knoll was losing students. It soon became apparent that tuition wouldn’t cover operational expenses. The school board faced the difficult prospect of letting a teacher go.
Melissa Baggett, principal and head teacher, didn’t believe reducing staff was a good option. “In the long haul, we felt like it would not be beneficial for the school,” she says.
Martinsburg church pastor, David Livergood, agreed. “We knew if you let a teacher go, then it starts to spiral down, and fewer people are interested in the school,” he says.
The school board weighed its options during a meeting that summer. After the board discussed options for more than an hour, Livergood sensed he needed to speak up.
“Usually, during a board meeting, I don’t say a whole lot or make lots of motions,” Livergood says. “But this time, I knew that this was in the church’s court…And so, I made a motion that we don’t let anybody go, but let’s bring it to the church, and let’s ask the church if they’d be willing to raise $60,000.”
The school board voted to accept the motion, and the church agreed to raise $60,000 so the school could retain its staff and build for the future. Several months later, the church had raised more than $70,000.
“It was phenomenal to see how many people were willing to give and support the school in order to keep all the staff,” says Baggett.
The investment Martinsburg church members made in Rocky Knoll has paid dividends. After finishing the 2020-2021 school year with 57 students, Rocky Knoll had added 17 new students this year, bringing its current enrollment to 74.
The church and school continue to make progress on their dream for a new school building.
“If the Lord wants it to happen, it’ll happen,” says Baggett. “Prayer works miracles.”