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Who We Are


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Who We Are


Who We Are

Hillcrest Academy is an outstanding Christian school serving 7th-12th graders.  Hillcrest is located along the Otter Tail river in beautiful Fergus Falls, MN.  The school offers an excellent resident program for students living outside of the Fergus Falls area with fully staffed boy's and girl's dormitories.   Regardless of whether you live in Fergus Falls, out of state, or are from outside the USA, the Hillcrest experience is one you don't want to miss.


Hillcrest Academy is unashamed of its Christian values. They are neither an afterthought nor open to compromise. They are at the core of who we are and why we exist.


The staff at Hillcrest Academy is dedicated to providing students with the highest quality, Christian education available anywhere at the junior and senior high school level. A liberal arts curriculum with the Bible as it's cornerstone, provides a comprehensive educational program that is unique and challenging.   Students are provided experiences for learning in a wide variety of areas, preparing them for the rigors of university life.  The school program is well-balanced with strong academic structure for all students, regardless of their individual educational abilities and a dormitory environment that many students would say is second to none.  The academic program offers three educational paths: advanced level honors program with advanced placement as its nucleus; a college preparatory program; and a program for students needing help in specific skill areas. In each instance students receive the care and attention they need to succeed in the classroom built upon the spiritual foundation needed to integrate their faith into their future goals.

As our world grows smaller and becomes increasingly diverse, there is a greater need than ever to be able to understand, communicate, and work with countries and cultures different from our own.  At Hillcrest students attend class and dorm with students from Europe, Asia, and South America as well as many from around the United States.  We are providing our students with an international education to prepare them for their most productive work years in the 21st century. In addition to broadening our students' concern for the world with its diverse peoples and cultures, Hillcrest Academy provides the setting and atmosphere where every individual in our student body and staff enjoys a sense of community and belonging -- the feeling of being valued and treated fairly by all.

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Mission & Philosophy


The mission of Hillcrest Academy is to equip students in a Christ-Centered, Bible-based environment for a life of eternal significance.

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Mission & Philosophy


The mission of Hillcrest Academy is to equip students in a Christ-Centered, Bible-based environment for a life of eternal significance.

Mission Statement

The mission of Hillcrest Lutheran Academy is to equip students in a Christ-centered, Bible-based environment for a life of eternal significance.

 

School Philosophy

A.  Hillcrest, as a Christ-centered Bible-based environment:

  1. Believes in God, the Father and Creator; in Jesus Christ, the only Son of God; and in the Holy Spirit presently active in the world.
  2. Believes the Bible is the infallible and inspired Word of God; the foundation and final authority for faith, doctrine and conduct.
  3. Affirms the biblical view that every person is created in the image of God, is separated from God through inherited and actual sin, and can only be restored through faith in the redemptive work and person of Jesus Christ.
  4. Agrees with the foundational doctrines taught by the Church of the Lutheran Brethren.
  5. Welcomes students of other church affiliations and religious beliefs to learn in this Christ-centered Bible-based environment.

B. Hillcrest sees a life of eternal significance for its students when:

  1. Their ultimate meaning is found in God’s creative and redemptive love for them.
  2. They realize, develop and use their gifts and abilities humbly for the glory of God and the good of others.
  3. They engage their world as servant leaders with God’s gifts of mercy, grace and compassion.
  4. They submit to God’s design for moral integrity, respect for authority, civic responsibility, discipline, and accountability in their lives and communities.
  5. They are able to discern, share and live out biblical truths.
  6. They seek excellence and truth in order to make a difference now and throughout their lives.
  7. They recognize their skills, abilities, potential and vision have worth and influence in vocation.

C. Hillcrest equips its students for a life of eternal significance in these ways:

  1. Hillcrest collaborates with home and church in the Christian education of its students.
  2. Hillcrest equips students through their overall “Hillcrest experience,” including school culture, residential life, cross-cultural relationships, and instructor mentorship.  Having the theological resources of the Lutheran Brethren Seminary on the same campus provides an added benefit.
  3. Hillcrest equips every student with a comprehensive understanding of the Word of God through Bible classes and in its entire curriculum.
  4. Hillcrest instills a Christian worldview in its students through all academic disciplines.
  5. Hillcrest provides a holistic educational environment, including the fine arts, athletics and service clubs.
  6. Hillcrest, as a college preparatory school, stresses academic rigor and the pursuit of post-high school education.
  7. Students are taught to view every trip off campus as a missional opportunity.  
  8. Hillcrest faculty and staff function as mentors as they lead by example and coach students in all areas of life.  This includes helping students determine significant objectives for their lives.
  9. Hillcrest instructors expose students to a realistic view of other standards and philosophies even though they may be in conflict with the Christian worldview.
  10. Hillcrest provides, encourages, and creates an excitement for learning that is lived out among the faculty, staff, and students.
  11. Hillcrest provides the unique aspect of residential life for high school students, where the goals of the home, church, and school are supported and reinforced.

 

Goals

  1. To give every student a sound foundation in the Word of God. We believe that in the teaching of the Christian faith, we must recognize the admonition of scripture: "Test everything; hold fast to what is good." (1 Thes. 5:21). Therefore, we encourage students to think with as much integrity and rigor in matters of faith as in other academic disciplines.
  2. To challenge all students to perform at their highest level.
  3. To encourage students in their private lives to actively use their talents and abilities in spreading the gospel and furthering the work of the kingdom of God.
  4. To provide quality Christian education that engages the heart and mind.

 

Moral & Ethical Standards

One of the objectives of Hillcrest Lutheran Academy is to foster a mature and intelligent respect for and an adherence to accepted moral and ethical standards. It is essential that all Hillcrest Lutheran Academy students understand that in addition to the following guidelines governing behavior at HLA, the local, state and federal laws of the land are to be obeyed.

The standards to which Hillcrest students will be expected to adhere are explained in detail in our Community Life Agreement.

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History


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History


Missional from Day One

What is now Hillcrest Academy began in 1915 as the high school program of the Church of the Lutheran Brethren. The Lutheran Brethren Church was active in missionary work, having sent out missionaries to China in 1902, and its educational mission was to train pastors and missionaries in its seminary and to educate church workers in the Bible School.

Lutheran Brethren Schools Building in Wahpeton, ND

By 1912, the “need for a high school in connection with the Bible School began to be felt more and more,” and certain individuals of the Church voiced strong demands for it at the annual national conventions.  The public schools educated all students only through the eighth grade in that era.  If a young person desired to get a high school diploma, he or she would have to enroll at a town that had such a program.

In 1915, the church authorized the addition of freshman and sophomore high school classes at the Wahpeton, ND school; and these classes began in the fall of 1916, marking the official beginning of what later became known as Hillcrest Lutheran Academy.

In 1917 Bible School President E.M Broen recommended to the Convention that a full four year high school be offered as a separate department of the Bible School as soon as possible. Further, he recommended that moral young people who might not have come to a conscious life in God be accepted into the high school department.  

The time has come when a full four-year high school is a necessity. Many parents are pleading for a Christian high school at the Bible school, and they want it open for their own sons and daughters who may not have come to a clear assurance of salvation... To send these spiritually hungry young people into the worldly high schools would take them away from Godly influences and could, indeed, bring about their spiritual downfall.
— President E.M. Broen

The decision to offer a full four-year program created a crisis, for the Wahpeton building was too small to handle the increased number of students that a high school would attract.  There were not enough dormitory rooms to house high-school students and Bible School students in that location.  The school administrators were forced to find a bigger building---either in Wahpeton or elsewhere.

Lutheran Brethren Schools Building in Grand Forks, ND

A larger building became available in 1918.  Church leaders made a deal with H.H. Aaker, a businessman in Grand Forks, 120 miles north of Wahpeton.  He owned Aaker’s Business College and was willing to trade his large school building for the smaller Lutheran Bible School building.  Aaker’s building had been built in 1891 and had sufficient classroom space and dormitory space for the anticipated needs of the combined Lutheran Brethren high school and Bible College. 

For nearly two decades the work of the school carried on in its new home in Grand Forks despite enduring intense financial hardship. The Lord faithfully provided and the doors remained open. However, by 1933 it became clear that the current facility would require extensive renovations in order to continue operating or a new home for the school must be found. 

 

The Castle On the Hill

Park Region Luther College, circa 1905

In 1935 a unique opportunity arose to resolve the school's facility issues. The beautiful and spacious former facility of the Park Region Luther College in Fergus Falls, MN had become available for a "very reasonable" price. The college had carried significant debt from expansion and was unable to weather the financial turmoil of the depression. In 1932, Park Region Luther College was closed and its operations incorporated into Concordia College in Moorhead, MN. 

The building was made of red brick and had been built on a hilltop in the southeastern portion of Fergus Falls.  Four-and-one-half stories in height, with roof spires reaching even higher in the sky, the brick structure had been an architectural landmark in the area since its construction in 1901.  The peak of the pencil-point spire on top of the building’s belfry measured about seventy feet off the ground, soaring far higher than any other building in the city.

A Fergus Falls newspaperman wrote a description of the building’s beauty of form and setting:

Park Region Luther College Interiors, circa 1902

Looming up from the river-bordered eminence, constructed in accordance with the most up-to-date plans, faced on all sides with Menominee red pressed brick, and virtually five stories in height—-the basement being partially above ground and finished throughout as a full story—-it is the largest and most complete college building in the northwest.
— Fergus Falls Weekly Journal, 1902

Unsure of how the Lord would ultimately provide the necessary funds, the decision was prayerfully made to go forward with the purchase of the Fergus Falls campus. Local community members saw the good sense in bringing the school to Fergus Falls and contributed generously to the cause of purchasing and refurbishing the vacant college. Classes in the remodeled school began with opening exercises on September 17, 1935, with the formal opening of the thirty-second year of the Bible School and the nineteenth year of the high school.  President Broen delivered a “short address,” pointing to the wise promise found in a verse of Psalm 34:  “Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD.”

Since 1935, the "Castle on the Hill," as it is lovingly referred to, has undergone many renovations to make it a safe and modern learning & living environment. However, preservation of the classic aesthetic of the original architecture has remained a priority. 

Hillcrest is Born

The school got its name as Hillcrest Lutheran Academy in 1948.

In that year, in the aftermath of World War II---which had ended just three years previously, the school’s leaders wanted to renew the mission of the high school in the dawn of a new era of hope after the tragedies of that deadly war.

A graduate of the high school department, class of 1947, came to the rescue.  A young man came up with the right name, one that was really wanted by the church people. 

Robert Overgaard, who had been born in Dalton, Minnesota, twenty miles south of Fergus Falls, and who had grown up in Fergus Falls, had an inspiration.  His father, Gust Overgaard, was a carpenter who had been hired to remodel the Old Castle school building after its purchase in 1935, and the height and majesty of the building held its sway over young Robert as his father’s workmen improved it on the outside and on the inside. 

The name of Hillcrest Lutheran Academy has endured and, while the old building looks much the same, the legacy of the school, through its three thousand-plus graduates continues to be written through the significant lives of its alumni.

 

The Mission Continues

Nearly a century later, Hillcrest proudly carries on the missional tradition of its beginnings. The doors are now open to the world, and the international impact of Hillcrest's program continues to grow year after year. 

 

This history is adapted from the writing of Joseph H. Levang and Steve Hoffbeck.

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Enrollment


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Enrollment


Enrollment Info

Hillcrest boasts a calculated approach to it’s multi-cultural program. Hillcrest works to create consistent representation from around the world in it’s high school program. Students from Central America, Asia, Europe, North America, Africa and South America are currently trained with a Biblical basis and encouraged to interact with the western culture Hillcrest is located in for the sake of the Gospel.

The Junior High program includes 7th grade and 8th grade. The rigorous academic program in the Junior High school prepares students for the college preparatory progrmam in the Senior High school. Students are trained in study skills and prepared through extra-curricular activities to manage and accomplish tasks that will propel them towards a future of productivity. 

The Freshman class is the first year students may live on-campus at Hillcrest. Dormitory students are accepted for the Freshman class after a thorough screening process to ensure the student is mature to handle the dormitory experience. The Freshman class receives a comprehensive introduction to academic rigor required for college and university studies. Through classes and mentorship students are set on a path of equipping for progress that integrates academic discipline and spiritual growth.

The Sophomore class traditionally introduces more nationalities to Hillcrest's student body. Many Asian, African and South American students begin their Hillcrest experience their sophomore year, with a number of dormitory students also joining them from the United States. The Sophomore program utilizes a comprehensive instruction in academic disciplines to build upon past knowledge. Students progress through curriculum programs with an emphasis in conversation and dialogue in classes. Opinions are formed and logic introduced as students begin exploring the depth of knowledge in their specific academic courses.

Adding to the Junior class are students from the Danielsen School in Bergen, Norway. This sister school partners with Hillcrest Academy each year to send a number of students for a 1-year college preparatory experience at a Christian school. Along with the Norwegian students, the Junior class includes a number of American, Korean, and students of other nationalities. The Junior year at Hillcrest is the most integrated class, with students with varied cultural practices and national orgins. The Junior classes operate with a specific focus in communicating knowledge with a background in reason, logic, and academic processes. 

The Senior class is filled with a number of students who are anxiously awaiting the opportunity to impact their world for Christ. A number of students come for their Senior year as they understand the philosophical and worldview challenges that will be waiting for them in a University setting. Senior level courses emphasize practical communication of knowledge, truth, and the Gospel through classroom simulations and missional endeavors. The Senior Class mission trip to the Dominican Republic is a capstone event for many students.