Western Christian Schools, dates its beginning in 1920, but its roots go back even further. In the first years of the 20th century people were migrating from the east and mid-west. Members of the Brethren in Christ denomination were a part of this migration. With continuous growth of the church, a larger church building was needed in 1918. By 1920 another facility was built at the intersection of 3rd Ave. and Street in Upland. A plan for their own school was to serve both the need of a Christian grade school and for training young adults for Christian service. A Christian school was begun in this church, in the fall of 1920. The new school was called Beulah College and Bible School.
The school in a church was functional, but not ideal and there was a growing need for a real school facility. In 1935 the Brethren in Christ church purchased the vacant San Antonio hospital parcel (Arrow and San Antonio) to serve as their new permanent home for their school. For the next 15 years, additional space was acquired. These facilities exist today as Pacific Christian Center. During the 40’s the name was changed to “Upland College” and there was a gradual separation of the college and the high school programs. The high school division became known as “Upland Academy.” During these years both the college and high school had their programs accredited.
Upland college developed a strong college program. In 1963, the College was merged with a Brethren in Christ college in Pennsylvania. As the college needed room and resources to grow, the Academy became a perceived hindrance. The majority seemed to believe that all resources were needed for the College, and the decision was made to discontinue the operation of the Academy in 1963. A Core group of Board members, parents and like-minded Christians, from a variety of churches, were convinced that the Academy should not die. Providentially, a connection was made with a group of Christian school believers in West Covina. In 1958 they had formed a legal corporation in the State of California to operate a Christian School. In 1963 they no longer had a school, and were willing to consider using their corporate entity to operate our Academy.
Instead of a small Upland Academy, the whole San Gabriel Valley and Inland Empire was to be our field of influence, as an independent Christian School. “Western Christian High School” was the new name, and our first location was in Pomona, Sept. 1963. In spite of limited facilities, our accreditation was renewed in 1965, but with the obvious recommendation that we make every effort to acquire real school facilities. Our 5-year lease on church facilities in Pomona expired in 1968. Again prayers were answered when Calvary Baptist Church in La Verne agreed to move our school to their church in 1968. For the next two years Western Christian grew with more students; however, it was mutually agreed that we should not plan for a third year there.
In 1970, the school moved to the Hillside Campus in Glendora, owned by Azusa Pacific College, where the enrollment doubled. Jr. High classes were added and had the advantage of their own classrooms, principal, and extracurricular activities. At this time, we had a corporate name change from Western Christian High School to Western Christian Schools. As years passed, repeated attempts were made to purchase this property. When this was not successful various relocation plans were investigated. In 1980 Western Christian relocated to the leased Palm View Campus in Covina, CA. Although the campus was built for smaller students, many adaptations were made for the high school and jr. high programs. Adjacent athletic fields and fields developed for softball and other sports enabled the sports program to grow. Another area of growth included our International Program which began in the year 2000 and thrives today. WCS spent almost three decades on this campus â€“ a record for the longest time in one place.
Western Christian purchased their first property ever in its history. A historic campus with 10 acres, located in north east Claremont on Padua Avenue, became the new permanent home for Kindergarten through 8th grade. There was no consideration of moving the high school to Claremont. This would be a new school. It began with the junior high grades until 1986 when we opened with a kindergarten and a combined first and second grade. Each following year grades were added to complete one class in each grade, from Kindergarten to grade 8. This expansion of the program went faster than predicted and soon classes were filled and waiting lists were made.
As additional classrooms were built, space was available to add a preschool. Facilities were modified for this use and Western opened their first preschool in 1998 with 13 students. Today, the preschool has grown to over 90 students.
Continuing the search for a place to call home, Western Christian Schools secured a permanent location for the high school in Upland, CA, on 9th Street and Euclid Avenue just a few blocks away from its original campus beginning in 1920 – definitely a series of providential events.
Western Christian Schools celebrated their 90th year anniversary at the high school Homecoming game, on their new first time ever, home football field; dedicated to Dr. Harold Sider