History of CCS
(formerly known as Martin Memorial Elementary School)
The following article was written by Charles P. Harris Jr. for the 25-year anniversary of Martin Memorial Elementary
now known as Centerville Christian School.
This was written in 2017.
Martin Memorial Elementary School 25-year History
By Charles P. Harris Jr.
One Sabbath, our district pastor, John Hood, asked Loren and Alice Frazier and Ruth and I what we foresaw as the future of the Centerville Church in 5 years and in 10 years. I am sure he had some misgivings as we were so small. This was around 1983. To have a new church in 5 years and a school in 10 years was a rather ambitious dream; but this is what at least one wrote down. Five years later, our new church was well on its way; and in 10 years, we had our school.
Roy and Bonnie Crews wanted to have a church school and were willing to pay whatever it took to make it happen. They had two children, Devon and Jed. They talked to Helene Riggs, the wife of Pastor John Riggs, who used to be our pastor at Centerville. Pastor John also had helped several days in building our church and was a good builder. The only thing was that they were now at Lawrenceburg, a sixty mile distance from our school. We did not have a school, but had a basement that would be easily converted into a one-room school during the week; but it would be used as the fellowship hall on Sabbath if we pushed the desks back in a pile at the end of the room. Helene did not know the Crews, but knew some of the rest of us and wanted to talk to the treasurer. She agreed to teach for a stipend for one year. What could we say? This was in August 1992, only two days before the school was to start. On opening day, we had 5 students who wanted to come. Jennifer Street lived twenty miles away and did not have transportation. Helene would pick her up on the way to school and bring her home when she returned to Lawrenceburg at the end of the day. As a side-note, the Riggs had a daughter who was at the top of her class at Loma Linda Medical School at the time.
We averaged about 9 students a year for the first 8 years; so we decided that we needed a new building. We were able to sell the old church property on Highway 100 with the help of Atty. Doug Bates and this gave us some money for the new school. The school was designed by Marsha Kesselring and Roy Crews. Roy officiated as the superintendent of the operation. The walls were poured reinforced concrete. One Sunday, early in 2000, many folk from all over our conference came in and put up the building. We did not know we needed a building permit as we were located out in the county and had some trouble getting one after it was completed but did so in time. We did not want supporting posts in the basement so bought steel floor joists. When the floor on the top of the steel joists was completed, it bowed upwards in the middle about 3-4 inches. You just could not have a floor that was not level. Roy called the people who made the beams, and they informed him that the floor required a 3” concrete slab. We intended only a wooden floor with tile on top. What should we do? We did not know what to do but take our petition to the Lord at a church prayer meeting that Wednesday evening. We prayed most earnestly that the Lord would do something like taking the bow out of the floor. The next morning Roy went to the school to work and THE FLOOR WAS LEVEL!!! We had another season of prayers for the wonderful level floor. The building was ready for occupancy in the fall of 2000.
In 2002 a straight line wind came through knocking down two dozen large trees. One tree fell toward the new school building landing just east of it and the only damage was done to the gutter on the east side of the school. This ended up being a blessing in that there were less leaves to gather up. We had a big job removing all of the downed trees. The stump by the sidewalk leading into the front of the school is a reminder of how close to the building and how large the tree was.
In order to save expenses, Charles Harris mowed the church and school yard at no cost. One day, the mower gave out, and he decided to take it to Dickson for repairs. The latch on the end of the trailer hitch did not seem right; so, part way there, he stopped to examine it and found that part that gripped the two-inch ball on the back of the truck was missing. Only the weight of the diesel tractor held the trailer on the truck. He did not know what else to do but to continue on praying all the way that there would not be an accident. The trip was uneventful. After unloading, he started back thinking that surely he could get home with it and get it repaired. About a mile from the shop, the trailer came loose, instantly breaking the two safety chains and landing the two-wheel trailer upside down safely between two parked cars. He went to the house across the street from where the accident had occurred. Finding no one at home, he went to the back of the house and found a small shop with a truck in front. To make a longer story short, it was a welding shop. The man said he would fix it if provided with the proper parts. After returning home, Charles looked in his Dickson Yellow Pages to see how many welding shops there were and found only one, the one where the accident occurred.
Finances have been a problem from time to time. One year, we lost several good paying members who decided to start a church some distance from here and we were not at all sure we could continue. A visitor by the name of Brenda Pace showed some interest and I called her to see if she might help and she readily consented. And from time to time, others came and picked up the slack. One year again we were hurting for funds. A good friend of ours called me one day and said that he was tired of the treasurer of their church making remarks that if everyone made the kind of money that he made, they could do much more than they were now doing. Would I be willing to receive his tithe and offerings for a while? I was the conference auditor and knew how much money he generously gave to the church. Without hesitation I said yes. He paid a thousand or more each month for church expenses besides his tithe. It got us through what would have been a very difficult year. Another time, we lost the best financial supporter of our school and I was for sure afraid that we could not go on. Someone who was not a member of our church came by our house one sunny afternoon and wanted to pay tithe. They knew about our church school and wanted the check to go for it. It was a large check and was able to take us through about three more years with what other money was coming in each month. As of late, the Hohenwald Church has graciously agreed to help with the support of the school. We started the fruit program before the first school year had finished. It continued until last year. Bruce Kesselring led out in it but had to discontinue it due to poor fruit quality.
In the twenty-five years, we had the following teachers: Helene Riggs (1992-1993), Barbara Langham (1993-1994), Lorena Freemen (1994-1995), John Dysinger (1995-1997), Marsha Kesselring (1997-2014), and Roberta Zeismer (2014–). (NOTE: Ms. Zeismer left in 2020; Sheila Jones is the current teacher (2020-present) along with Katherina Daul (2021-present)).
We can’t finish without our most important part of our school–our students. The enrollments are as follows: 5, 7, 5, 4, 13, 11, 9, 16, 7, 7, 12, 12, 9, 7, 7, 7, 9, 8, 6, 5, 4, 7, 6, 3, 8. Three being the lowest and 16 the most for a year. There were around 77 different students for the 25 years we have been in existence.
We have not been able to follow all of those who have gone to school here, but we do know that the first graduate of our school, Devon Crews Rogers, finished first in her nursing class of approximately 250 graduates at Southern and received a B.S. degree. Her brother Jed was the first student to attend all 8 grades of our school. He went on to the University of Virginia, and was in the ECHOLS program where he lived in special housing because of his scholastic achievements. He finished at the top of his class in his masters program at the London University of Economics, and is a senior business consultant in Seattle. The Wilsdorfs have all gone to college. Anniliese having already received her bachelor's degree, and Rachel and Renae will get theirs this spring. Four have served their country in the military, three in the Army, and one as an officer in the Navy. Four have become registered nurses. Jonathan Reynolds is a nurse anesthetist and Daniel Reynolds will get his medical degree this spring.
We are very appreciative of the faithfulness of our members through the years. We do thank the Hohenwald Adventist Church for its part in making this possible. We know this has been the Lord’s project and we give Him all the credit for these twenty-five year.
Addendum: The Columbia Seventh-day Adventist church has more recently become a constituent church.
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