The Early Years Downtown, 1973-1975
The original school met for two years (1973-74 and 1974-75) in the Sunday School rooms of the First Presbyterian Church in downtown Ft. Myers with grades K-6th. The number of students the first year was around 75 but doubled in size by the second year. The number of faculty and staff that first year was 9, including Mr. Dunn. Employees today total around 130.
In 1974, the school held its first kindergarten graduation. The school expanded to high school with a senior class of two graduating in June of 1975. The Kono System, a radio link to other school sites around the country, was used in the Jr. High and High School classes. There was only one secondary teacher on site at ECS, Paul Deschanes. He sat at a radio console and taught history to all of the schools on the systems, and our students got their other classes from the other teachers on the system. Monitors helped keep order in the classroom. The elementary had classroom teachers.
The first couple of years of operation, all tests, quizzes, and handouts were run off on a hand cranked ditto machine after hours at the Emmanuel Baptist Church. The school staff is forever grateful to Pastor Dick Riley, now deceased, for his support in those early years.
The original board members included Dr. and Mrs. Dunn and Stanley Bjornson.
Moving to a New Home
In the summer of 1975, twenty acres was purchased (with great faith) at a cost of $110,000 near the southern city limits of Ft. Myers. Six wooden frame buildings were built under the tall pine trees, and the campus was moved to its present site. Additional land has been added over the years.With all the additions, the land, buildings, and sports facilities, the present value is around $30,000,000. The upcoming addition of a new Fine Arts Building will significantly add to that.
School started in mid-August in the buildings on the south end of the campus. One contained the administrative offices and kitchen area. The lunchroom itself was a covered concrete deck area between two buildings. One building was split down the middle, with the entire high school on one side and the whole Junior High on the other. This was possible because of the Kono system. Three other buildings were divided in half and each side housed a grade, 1st through 6th with kindergarten in its own.
1975 saw the addition of a basketball program under the leadership of Coach Paul Asfour, and the addition of cheerleading. The first yearbook was produced, and the graduation class swelled to six.
Recently, ECS graduated its largest graduating class of 79 students. Numerous properties and buildings have been added to the campus. The school has seen major improvements in the Fine Arts, Athletics, and Academic programs. The school leadership is excited to see what God has in store for the future of Evangelical Christian School.
Evangelical Christian School has had only two presidents/headmasters since its inception in 1973.