Swanhild Algaard attended Hillcrest in the 1940s. Her recollection of memories penned in the Hillcrest Beacon in 1943 mark time honored traditions that started with move-in day and welcome week. Algaard walked into a school culture that was operating for nearly three decades before her Hillcrest experience. Some sixty years later, Hillcrest students are still experiencing the emotions and joy that made an eternal impact on Algaard.


Swanhild sits in an apple basket as a group of friends try to lift her during Hillcrest's campus cleanup day.

Swanhild sits in an apple basket as a group of friends try to lift her during Hillcrest's campus cleanup day.

It was way back in the fall when we first stood in line to register. Some of us stood there with great big lumps in our throats and felt as if we were only hands and feet. Then after registration we went up to our bare rooms, threw ourselves on the bed and cried oceans of tears. After a while a friendly senior came in and persuaded us to come out and meet some of the nicest girls we have ever seen, and before long we began to feel right at home.

Then there was that bewildering first day of school, when we inquired anxiously in what classroom English I and Algebra were held. At first, our marks were rather low, but soon began to climb up the ladder, and we found our rightful place. After a few months some of us had an entirely new experience. We were sought and found by the Master, Jesus Christ, and we went joyfully forth to serve Him by winning our unsaved friends to Him. Our lives were now changed, and we saw things from an entirely new perspective. Months flew by altogether too swiftly. One day came graduation and the end of the most profitable and pleasant year we had hitherto experienced.

In three months we were back again. As we drove up to the entrance of the school friends came running from all directions and fond embraces that followed were long and hard. We were sure of ourselves now, and we looked forward to the teachers’ reception, students’ reception, and attending the Junior-Senior banquet. We went to the socials with gusto and came up to our rooms brimming with happiness.

We lively youngsters weren’t immune to the bites of a very young little love bug. Our dean was swamped on Saturday nights with requests for girls to step out with some young fellow. She smiled to herself and said “yes” to most of our requests, though to some she gave a bit of sound advice to wait a little longer.

Remember those outdoor suppers we had in the early fall, roasting wieners and apples? We gathered around the fire after supper for testimonies and chorus singing until the shadows began creeping in.

Students pose by the front steps of Hillcrest before jogging to the back of the Castle to toboggan on Hillcrest's campus in the 1940s.

Students pose by the front steps of Hillcrest before jogging to the back of the Castle to toboggan on Hillcrest's campus in the 1940s.

When winter came we went out on the hills and had skiing and tobogganing parties. After those afternoons of fun we came traipsing into the dining hall full of spirit but empty in stomach.

But life wasn’t all joy. Remember how we worried when our schoolmates were ill or when accidents occurred? And then remember how we agonized over tests, getting up at 4am to cram until we felt as though our heads would burst?

As seniors we no doubt felt superiority over any other class that ever graduated. We were the ones who smiled patiently when the questions rained upon us as to where to go and what to do. How we bustled around looking important for the benefit of those younger than we. It was with a touch of sadness that we entered May because we realized that the happiest years of our lives were drawing to a close. Every minute was precious. There were long hikes along the river and over the hills to unexplored places. There were the all-important senior class meetings when we sat behind closed doors and seriously considered our class motto, song, announcements, and pictures. There were chats with teachers, for now we could see things with a mature light. Often it was weeks and months after we left that we were able to appreciate those gentle talks.

This photo of young men at Hillcrest in the 1940s shows new habits built inside Hillcrest's Castle.

This photo of young men at Hillcrest in the 1940s shows new habits built inside Hillcrest's Castle.

We made new friendships, had new experiences, and formed new habits. We found that new desires were being born within us; we were growing up. Throughout the year Christ drew us closer, and we began growing spiritually too. But since all good things must come to an end, that year did too. Too soon we packed our grips and headed once more for home. It was the happiest and most blessed years of our young lives, passed quickly by. We thank God for the privilege we have had in going to a school of this kind.

-Swanhild Aalgaard H’43

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