It was an outpouring of support from a small, rural community that simply hasn’t been seen in more than 50 years. Churches, school officials and members of the community working hand-in-hand to insure Buckeye High School would be ready for the new school year.
DEVILLE It was an outpouring of support from a small, rural community that simply hasn’t been seen in more than 50 years. Churches, school officials and members of the community working hand-in-hand to insure Buckeye High School would be ready for the new school year.
This story began two years ago when parish and local school administrators asked the churches in the community to help promote the need for a bond issue to pay for the replacement of the 45-year-old school.
The community churches, which included four Baptist churches – Holloway, Longview, Philadelphia and Unity, – hosted town hall-like meetings promoting the need for the new high school.
“We could never have passed the bond issue had not all the churches in the community come together to support it,” school board president E.L. Paulk said. “Support like this is truly unprecedented in this day and time.”
The project, though, ran out of money six months before the school was completed.
“We had to cut back on some things, and get creative with our finances,” Rapides Parish superintendent Gary Jones said. “The community, though, rallied around this school, which says a lot about this area.”
Robby Poole, pastor of Longview Baptist, said the support is typical of the community.
“Churches, schools and the community working together – what a unique concept – and one seldom found in this day and time.
“This community, however, is truly a unique place,” Poole said. “Buckeye High School is one of the last remaining community schools, and Deville takes a lot of pride in its school.”
Philip Robertson, senior pastor at Philadelphia Baptist, agrees the support is typical, but also feels God has also intervened.
“From start to finish, God has really intervened in a number of ways,” Robertson said. “When the bond issue passed, it was thought it would increase our tax rate, when more millage was added. God’s intervention made it so that the timing was such that the rate on the bonds would not cause the taxes on the community to increase.
“When the project ran out of money six months before completion, a number of things happened that showed God was orchestrating this entire deal,” Robertson said. “It was evident He was totally involved.”
For instance, a much-needed out building, which would have cost $235,000, was built for just $35,000 by the head of maintenance for the school board. Sen. Neil Riser gave Buckeye High School $70,000 when he had only $250,000 earmarked for his entire district. The demolition of several buildings would have cost several hundred thousand dollars, but Tony Paul demolished all three buildings for free.
Perhaps the biggest contribution came from the community itself, which provided the time and effort as well as “a lot of sweat and elbow grease.”
Mark Kelly, a member of Philadelphia Baptist Church and a member of the oversight committee, and Tina McCorvey, a member of the school’s PTO and Longview Baptist Church, turned to the churches for help.
“The school’s local PTO (parent teacher organization) came to the churches seeking volunteers to help the administration complete a laundry list of projects,” Poole said. “All of the churches pulled together.
“There is a perception a church will only help when it benefits them, but that wasn’t the case here. The four Baptist churches … all the churches involved … were just following Jesus which was to be true servants of God as they brought the church to the community,” Poole said.
When the call for volunteers went out, Robertson said it was “no brainer for him.”
“We are always looking for ways to engage the community – looking for ways to take this ministry beyond the four walls. ”
Two special workdays were planned, but others came during the week to help out at the school when time allowed. But on those two workdays, which featured the pastors and members of Holloway, Longview, Philadelphia and Unity, more than 100 people turned out to help do whatever was needed which included cleaning, painting, moving books, chairs, and desks.
“I had always heard about how this community had a special bond with its schools and churches,” Buckeye principal Harry Welch said. “The people of this community more than lived up to their reputation.
“I cannot thank everyone enough for the help, support and prayers,” Welch said. “It is truly uplifting to see a community join together like this one has done. What has been accomplished by you could, and should, be a shining example to others.”
Robertson agreed and said, “Everywhere one turned you could see God’s hand at work, and I think it is just a sign of much more to come.”