Bethel College Academy (North Newton, Kansas, USA)
Bethel College Academy began operations with the opening of Bethel College on 20 September 1893. During the first years the work of Bethel College was confined entirely to the academy and sub-academy level. No courses of college rank were offered. The first curriculum consisted of a two-year preparatory course and a three-year academy course. A Bible course and an evangelists' course were introduced in 1896. These, too, were mostly of academy rank. The preparatory course was discontinued in 1896 and only a few "preparatory branches" were offered as occasion demanded for several years thereafter. The curriculum of the academy was reorganized in 1899 into three separate courses, a German-English, an English, and a normal course each of three years in length, thus allowing students some election.
The academy was reorganized in 1909 on the plan of the four-year public high school. The new curriculum continued the German-English and the English academy courses, expanding them to four years each. The normal course was discontinued and an academy Bible course of five years added. In the same year definite admission requirements were outlined in the catalog for the first time. A four-year normal course was added and the first normal training class organized in 1910. The academy was accredited by the Kansas State Board of Public Instruction in 1910 and by the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools in 1913. A principal of the normal department was appointed in 1912, but the academy remained under the direct supervision of the president of the College.
In 1915 the purpose of the academy was stated as "(1) to prepare students for college, (2) to give normal training for teaching, and (3) to furnish such instruction as is desired by those who intend to re-enter their community with a general fund of knowledge and a clarified purpose in life." (Bethel College Bulletin 2, No. 1, May 1915.)
There was much overlapping of college and academy faculty members during these years. College equipment, library, laboratories, etc., were at the disposal of the academy. These were stressed as advantages the academy possessed over the public high schools. In 1924 a principal of the academy was appointed, and in 1926 a separate organization of the academy was effected with its own principal and faculty.
The attendance fluctuated considerably but approached 200 at times. But the increasing number of public high schools supported by taxation brought about a rapid decline in attendance, beginning in the early twenties. Free tuition in the high schools weighed heavily against increasing tuition in the academy. The academy became more and more a financial burden to the college and was discontinued at the close of the school year 1926-1927.
Its discontinuance was a cause of much regret among the constituency. The academy was a testimony to their interest in education. It had done much to raise the level of culture among the constituency, and to keep it abreast of educational progress in their still relatively new environment. It had fostered adherence to the tenets of the church and had been for years the main source of supply of teachers and church workers so sorely needed in the communities.
The academy was revived for a brief period (1944-1946) during World War II under the name "The Mennonite Bible Academy." It had its own separate organization, though under the auspices of the Bethel College Board of Directors. The maximum attendance was 70 with a full- and part-time faculty of 11 members. Because of the increasing number of college students at Bethel College following the close of the war with the resultant heavy demand upon college facilities, the academy at Bethel College was closed again.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, p. 307. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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MLA style: Wedel, Peter J. "Bethel College Academy (North Newton, Kansas, USA)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1953. Web. 19 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/B48607.html.
APA style: Wedel, Peter J. (1953). Bethel College Academy (North Newton, Kansas, USA). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 19 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/B48607.html.