In 1966, five men started discussing and praying about the need for a local Christian school. Five years later, their dream was realized as Colorado Springs Christian School opened in Temple Baptist Church, which would later become Pulpit Rock church. Tuition was $40 per month.
Now celebrating its 50th anniversary, CSCS has seen more than 10,000 students enter its doors and 3,228 graduate. The school now has 1,150 students — including some in Woodland Park and Westcliffe — 130 employees and an $8 million budget. Tuition costs $6,500 to $9,700 a year.
The 2021 class academic graduated 71 students, who won more than $5 million in scholarships to attend some of the country’s best secular and Christian colleges. Many grads have attended the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, a mile to the east, and some now work there.
CSCS is one of 3,000 schools in the US affiliated with the Springs-based Association of Christian Schools International.
“The bottom line is that our students can go wherever they desire to go and their education will carry them there,” said Roland DeRenzo, CSCS’ energetic superintendent and CEO, who had of playing Major League Baseball before “God had a different plan .” He has been with the school since 2000.
Shaping minds and hearts
CSCS’ motto is: “Excellent Education. Biblical Perspective. Lifelong Service.”
The goal is students who are trained and transformed, who love God and want to serve the world.
“Brain research says you can’t just pour facts into people’s heads,” says DeRenzo, who also consults with other schools. Godly education requires a safe environment, dedicated teachers, who he calls mentors, and an emphasis on both intellectual and spiritual development.
“We stress the intellectual side of learning, but that’s empty without the heart. We help each young person see the giftedness God has intended them to live out.”
In CSCS’ 50th anniversary newsletter, DeRenzo said, “We live in a world that has become dangerous, violent and hostile to what we believe. To impact this culture we need to stand up, stand out, and be counted.”
Students have the opportunity to use their gifts through on-campus and off-campus service projects. CSCS students participate in the annual Great Fall Cleanup in the Cragmoor neighborhood.
“We encourage students to be servant leaders, not isolationists,” he says. We’re not a monastery. We want to propel our graduates into the community. We’re developing good citizens who are going to contribute to the greater good.”
New emphasis on science
The Bible teaches that God created the cosmos, but Christians disagree about how he did it. CSCS teaches a creationist approach for a student body that includes young-Earth creationists who believe the cosmos is less than 10,000 years old and those who it’s billions of believe years old.
“They are confronted with the different beliefs on the age of the Earth so they are informed,” DeRenzo said.
This year the school launched a new STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) elective for middle school students.
“We teach science from a biblical world view that says we are uncovering God’s majesty as we study the universe,” says teacher Christie Wingo, who worked as an aerospace engineer. “We want our kids to explore and look and think critically.”
Recent lessons focused on the mechanics of flight, simple robotics and computer programming.
Programs such as these cost funding, a constant challenge at CSCS, which had nearly 1,400 students in the 1990s, a time when there were fewer competing educational alternatives. The school receives no federal dollars, but its 501c3 nonprofit, the Lion’s Foundation, provided $100,000 in grants to offset tuition costs in 2021-22, a figure DeRenzo is trying to grow. And one local family donated more than $15 million to help CSCS with various building projects.
“Unfortunately, the economic barrier is still there,” he says. But he insists financial challenges won’t interfere with CSCS’ mission.
“A lot of things have changed over the last 50 years, but CSCS continues to provide a Christ-centered, excellent education. We give all the glory to God for that.”