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Everyone builds faith in something. There is a trust in thoughts, processes, and histories, among other things, that are built in schools. It is dangerous to think that a person might build faith in school. The question is, who or what are they building faith in through their ~35 hours per week of study? 

At Hillcrest, we train students to have well formed faith that considers the revealed truths in the world, finding reference and purpose for those truths in the foundation of the Bible, God's inerrant and revealed word to humankind. Hillcrest students learn that faith often carries many assumptions, and the most dangerous ideas aren't the ones being argued, but the ones assumed.

Students at Hillcrest are equipped with thinking tools that help them process information as they consider their future plans in college, marriage, the workforce, and beyond. Our benchmark isn't what kind of 18 year-old graduates from our school, but how the 28 year old is living after graduating from Hillcrest ten years earlier.

Hillcrest uses classroom rigor to challenge students to consider how an intricately designed world, with structures in mathematics, chemistry and physics laws, artistic modes, language structures, and many other designed elements of the world could exist without God. Forming a need for their be an intelligent designer, Hillcrest's classes build a comprehensive presentation that the world needs a savior to redeem the brokenness of the world. Through Bible classes, chapel services, prayer days, spiritual formations weeks, mentor focuses outside of the classroom, and small group Bible studies Hillcrest students build a faith in Jesus Christ that is living and robust.

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Developing intellect involves more than teaching for a test. At Hillcrest we believe that intellect involves digesting. Students will spend a great deal of time wrestling through big issues at Hillcrest, working in a dialog-based classroom setting to express their ideas, have those ideas critiqued in a loving Christ-centered classroom, and reformulate thoughts and patterns that aligned to truth and the revealed world as understood from a Biblically-based perspective.

Students at Hillcrest take advanced placement courses alongside college offerings with Christian teachers mentoring them. It is common for Hillcrest teachers to pause students in the middle of secular texts, calling students to know what the test will ask while at the same time calling students to align their thinking to Biblical principles. At Hillcrest we prepare Christian students to lovingly communicate with the world, knowing the world might not understand the beauty and wholeness of the Christian perspective. Students at Hillcrest build a good base to engage a secular world with the truth of the Gospel using their intellect.

With faith being built, Hillcrest DEVELOPS INTELLECT in students. Students understand God's character more deeply and intimately through Bible courses. Bible study continues in every academic discipline, giving context to English, Mathematics, History, Language study, the Arts, and much more, as students understand God's design.

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In Hillcrest's community where faith formation and academic enhancement are regularly happening, students live together in close-knit community. Consistent interactions in the classroom and dormitory communities open opportunities for Hillcrest to STRENGTHEN CHARACTER, where successes and failures shape students in a Biblically-based environment. 

At Hillcrest we think it is imperative that assumptions are challenged.  in At Hillcrest Lutheran Academy we look to our heritage as a Lutheran school. Martin Luther commented, "I advise no one to place his child where the Scriptures do not reign paramount.  Every institution in which men are not increasingly occupied with the Word of God must become corrupt...I am much afraid that schools will prove to be the great of hell unless they diligently labor in explaining the Holy Scriptures, engraving them in the hearts of youth."

At Hillcrest our students use their Bible as their first textbook to lead them to understand the world. We pride ourselves on Biblical teaching and instruction which leads into our 3 tiered expression of life found at Hillcrest.


Live at Hillcrest

Life at Hillcrest is much more than homework and classes. Our mission is to train our students to live a life of significance found in Jesus Christ. That's why Hillcrest provides countless opportunities for spiritual, social, and physical development outside the classroom. It is a place where students are learning to live out their faith in every avenue of life.

Structured in the Hillcrest program are prayer days, challenging chapel speakers, regular times of praise & worship, bible studies, community and international missions and plenty of leisure activitIes throughout the year.

The diversity of cultures on Hillcrest campus is unique and exciting. Students come from all over the world. Hillcrest has an uncommon ability to integrate local, national, and international students into a dynamic student body. This wide array of cultural exposure serves to enrich the Hillcrest experience for every student.


Learn at Hillcrest

Hillcrest regards the Bible as absolute truth. This perspective allows us to teach classes with a biblical worldview. Whether students are studying history, biology, calculus or choir, all teachers at Hillcrest approach their subjects with the Bible as their primary textbook.

Our instructors help students to see what God’s word has to say about each subject they study. Teachers will challenge students to think and act like a Christian, equipping them with the tools to successfully navigate college life.

Outside of the traditional high school curriculum, Hillcrest offers a rigorous Honors program highlighted by AP courses in math, history, english and art. If students are musicians or artists, Hillcrest is a place where they’ll feel right at home. Hillcrest boasts a strong liberal arts program with multiple opportunities for students to improve in their musicianship or artistic craft. Courses are offered in choral, small group ensemble, concert band, jazz band and visual arts with exposure to ceramics, drawing, painting, photography, multimedia and graphic design.

In addition to our traditional music program are opportunities to play and lead in several Hillcrest praise bands. We realize that the trend of musicianship within the church is growing, and to encourage this we have established a Worship Arts program. Students will get a chance to work on musicianship, organize a worship service and understand what scripture teaches about worship.


Go out from Hillcrest

The Hillcrest experience gives each student the opportunity to encounter the living Christ on a regular basis. At Hillcrest we realize that not everyone is called to missions overseas, but everyone is called to live a missional life. Our goal is to prepare students to live out that calling in whatever occupation they choose.

Students have plenty of practical opportunities to experience both local and cross-cultural missions. They are encouraged to step beyond their comfort zone and prepare for a life of significance.

Hillcrest dorm and student life will strengthen student's social skills, preparing them to function in a diverse world. Hillcrest academic life will strengthen their mind, preparing them to succeed among fierce competition. Hillcrest spiritual life will strengthen their confidence, preparing them to bring Christ to a lost world.

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Who We Are

Hillcrest Academy is an outstanding Christian school serving 7th-12th graders.  Hillcrest is located along the Ottertail 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 boys and girls 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 its 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 Africa, 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.


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.



  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.


School Strategic Plan

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Missional from Day One

What is now Hillcrest Academy began in 1915 as the high school program of the Church of the Lutheran Brethren (CLBA). 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 started by the CLBA began to be felt more and more, and certain individuals of the Church of the Lutheran Brethren 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 high school department changed its name to 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 Info

Hillcrest boasts a calculated approach to it’s multi-cultural program. Hillcrest works to create consistent representation from around the world in its high school program. Students from Central America, Asia, Europe, North America, Africa and South America are 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 and 8th grade. The rigorous academic program in the Junior High school prepares students for the college preparatory program 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 toward a future of productivity. 

Starting as Freshmen 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 enough 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 European 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 one-year college preparatory experience at Hillcrest. Along with the Norwegian students, the Junior class includes a number of other international students coming from a plethora of nations. The Junior year at Hillcrest is the most integrated class, with students with varied cultural practices and national origins. 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 make an impact in the 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.