Eighty Years of Service: A Short History

God has blessed the mission school richly, over the past eight decades. The seeds of His mission here on the border, to educate and evangelize His special children, were planted by Dr. T. E. Bartholomew and Dr. Henry Forcher, more than seventy five years ago! You may ask, “How did all of this come about?” The story goes like this:

Ever since 1928, Dr. Bartholomew had been assisting two itinerant teachers—Mr. Warren, and Mr. Fergusen—in providing a sort of unofficial “home-school” education for the Adventist children of the area. Even then, Dr. Bartholomew foresaw the potential for a quality Adventist school so close to the border. So he presented his case to the Southeastern California Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.

The conference also saw the need for an Adventist school in Calexico. The Calexico Adventist Church was growing rapidly through the dedicated efforts of brothers Warren and Fergusen, and there were over twenty school-age children who wished to study.

In the summer of 1937, the conference called Mary Moreno Aguayo to Calexico to help set up the church school, and agreed to cover her salary. She was both principal and teacher to almost thirty students of all grade levels. Her hard work, along with the continued dedicated assistance of Drs. Bartholomew and Forcher helped shape the school into a fine educational environment. This early school was located on Mary St., only a few blocks away from the present school site.

God smiled upon that early beginning, and the school continued to grow. By the fall of 1940, there was an expanded teaching staff, complete with upgraded facilities. Teacher John Ewing became the new principal, and under his direction, with Mary Moreno and Gabriel Arregui as his able assistants, he oriented the church school towards a mission outreach and placed it firmly on the road to the future. Mr. Ewing taught the older students, Mary Moreno taught the primary students, and Gabriel Arregui pastored the growing church, also serving as chaplain to the school. When Mary Moreno left later on that year to marry Phillip Aguayo, Mabel Emley arrived to take her place.

Before the arrival of the other teachers, Mary Moreno had used extracurricular English-language teaching to supplement her meager teaching salary. Burdened as she was with other duties, she was never able to take it much farther than that. With a larger staff available, however, the idea of teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) for missionary purposes seemed much more practical. Immediately seeing the potential of such an idea, John Ewing decided to give it a try. The teachers opened an adult ESL school in the evening, and for almost a decade, teachers taught both the students AND their parents how to read and write in English! The results were as astonishing as they were successful: many, many souls were brought to Christ through the early witness of those classes! Enthusiasm for this new and unique mission started to grow in earnest.

In the late 1940’s, the Missionary Volunteers department of the conference voted to underwrite the financial support of the school. It was then that Mary Moreno’s pet name for the school, “Calexico Mission School”, was officially adopted, and the school as we know it became officially integrated into the Southeastern California Conference. Even though the mission school’s tuition is the lowest in the conference, it covers over 80% of the school’s operating budget. The conference provides a modest subsidy, but the remainder of the school’s operating budget–as well as any money for campus improvements–comes primarily through the giving of missionary individuals. People like you…

Today, the Calexico Mission School serves approximately 300 students, most of whom are non-Adventist Mexican citizens. Each year, precious young lives are touched by the Holy Spirit, and young people make important decisions about God, and His plan for their lives. Even many years after being a student, alumni will return to the school and attend church, becoming converted through the seed that was planted in their youth. Truly, God has done a mighty work here at the mission school! What a wonderful blessing it is, to be a part of His work, through eighty years of service to Him!