The Hemet Adventist Christian School will celebrate its 100-year anniversary Oct. 20. “Celebrating 100 years of Seventh-day Adventist education in the city of Hemet is a testimony of God’s leading and providential care over the decades,” said Don Dudley, SECC superintendent of schools. “We are proud of Hemet Adventist Christian School and look forward to their continued excellence in educating young minds and assisting in the expansion of God’s Kingdom in our conference.”
The student body is composed of only 39 students. This allows for a more intimate setting for students and staff. A typical day in the school includes a school-wide assembly with worship. Each week, one student is featured and celebrated. Older students begin the day with Bible class, while the younger students go to their respective classes. The school serves hot lunch twice a week. Interested students can take music classes and participate in skits and plays.
“We are like a family,” said Gary Brown, principal. “The older students help the younger ones. The staff works together really well, and we have a biblical theme each year.” This year, the theme is based on 1 Corinthians 14:31.
Hemet is one of the oldest cities in Riverside County. The town was incorporated in 1910 after two wealthy landowners invested in the area, constructing warehouses, an opera house, the Bank of Hemet, rental cottages, a stock farm, a water filtrations system and a stage line to Idyllwild.
Although the town incorporated with only 1,000 people, the school was opened three years later, and Ida Proctor was the first teacher. According to research by Noel Coronel, the Hemet school was the first Christian school in the city. The school grew, and by 1917, there were already two teachers. Mary Cushman taught the first three grades, while Alma Fink taught the rest.
The school went through some growing pains and between 1918 and 1921, during which it was shut down. It reopened in 1922 under the care of Leora Van Benthusen, who was later relieved by Mildred Merryweather.
By 1933, the population of Hemet had grown to 2,300. The Hemet school’s teacher salary was $35 per month, which included firewood and the one room school house’s stove. By today’s standards, that would be equivalent to approximately $620 per month. At this time, the school flourished. It moved from its original location to a spot on Girard Street. The school has since moved again, and is currently located on Hemet Street.
As housing became more affordable, the city kept expanding. By 1975, Hemet’s population reached 12,500, and the school needed to expand. A new school building was constructed on the 10 acres it now occupies.
Although both enrollment and teachers fluctuated going forward, one teacher, Jeanne Miller, taught there for 26 years.
The school has embraced technological advancements in order to engage with students. Smartboards and computers are located in each classroom. In the past few years, the school has gotten new carpet, paint and self-locking safety doors.
Due to the small size of the school, the students are able to go on several field trips each year. Most importantly, the school is involved in several mission trips, working closely with the Restart Mission in Hemet, which serves displaced families. The school is also engaged with a reservation located in Arizona.