Preparatory Schools (Vorbereitungsschulen) were schools among the Russian Mennonites of the prairie states and provinces, which came to their bloom at the turn of the last century. In the complex system and development of education among the Mennonites of this area the following criteria can be used to establish whether a certain school falls under this category or not: (1) the age of pupils was usually fourteen or above; (2) the curriculum included Biblical and high-school subjects; (3) the more advanced preparatory schools prepared students for teaching or college entrance. Originally the preparatory school was modeled after the Russian Mennonite Zentralschule and later more after the American high school. In this process of adjustment a number of the schools, not having enough students to develop according to the original plan, had to be satisfied to convey an elementary knowledge of the German language and Bible. These became known as Bible schools.
The terms "Zentralschule" and "Fortbildungsschule" were used when the Emmatal School was established (1878). Already before this Peter Balzer had been teaching secondary courses in his school. Those preparatory schools able to pursue their goal to prepare students for teaching and college entrance later became known as academies (Bethel, Tabor, Freeman, etc.) of which some have been discontinued or have become colleges. Some are still functioning in this category, for example, Meno and Corn, Oklahoma, the Mennonite Collegiate Institute at Gretna, Manitoba, and Rosthern Junior College in Saskatchewan. Recently established academies are Central Kansas Bible Academy and the Berean Academy.
Two of the most prominent preparatory schools were the Hillsboro Preparatory School, with H. D. Penner as founder, and the Mountain Lake Preparatory School. The following is a partial list of the schools which fall under the category of preparatory schools (not included are those which have become colleges): Beatrice Bible Academy, Berean Academy, Central Kansas Bible Academy, Corn Bible Academy, Emmatal Fortbildungsschule, Goessel Preparatory School, Gotebo Preparatory School, Henderson Bethesda Preparatory School, Hillsboro Preparatory School, Hoffnungsau Preparatory School, Meade Bible Academy, Mennonite Collegiate Institute, Moundridge Preparatory School, Mountain Lake Preparatory School, Oklahoma Bible Academy, Rosthern Junior College, Zoar Bible Academy.
The catalogs of the various preparatory schools that have been preserved are quite uniform in content. The one prepared by H. D. Penner for the Hillsboro Vorbereitungsschule probably served as a model for most of them. It states that the objective of the school is to prepare Mennonite youth for a higher school, for a special vocation, or for an intelligent concept of duties of life in general, and that boys and girls of at least fourteen years of age were accepted. The school year consisted of two semesters beginning 28 September and closing 26 March. The tuition per semester was $7.50 and board and room $2.00 per week. The nine rules of the school emphasized standards of conduct generally observed in schools even in our day. Among the subjects offered in the first catalog were Bible history, world history, language, singing, and geography. During the second year two new subjects, church history and composition, are included in the curriculum. These schools usually had a two-year course.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, p. 215. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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MLA style: Krahn, Cornelius. "Preparatory Schools." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1959. Web. 19 June 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/preparatory_schools.
APA style: Krahn, Cornelius. (1959). Preparatory Schools. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 19 June 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/preparatory_schools.