Olive Knolls Christian School

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Middle school students

Middle school students

Profile appeared in our 33-1 Issue – April 2016

In 1979, Rev. Bert Rhodes, the pastor the Olive Knolls Church of the Nazarene, had a great idea. He wanted to establish a preschool and infant care program at the church in order to meet the needs of our community.

2011 fire damage

2011 fire damage

“My father told my mother, Leta Mae Rhodes, that she was the best person to run it,” explained current Administrator and Principal of Olive Knolls Christian School Rusty Rhodes. “She had been an educator for many years. So she took a sabbatical to get the school started.”

As Rhodes elaborated, it was in the early ‘80s that the school expanded to include elementary students. The mission from the beginning, Rhodes said, was “to inspire and equip generations of students who will activate their sense of responsibility, commit to a Christ-called character, seek truth with a passion, maximize their God-given talents, and pursue a life-long vision to transform their world for the glory of God.”

Just a few years later, the school grew again to include middle school students.

Tragically, a fire broke out on March 5, 2011. “One wing of the school burned to the ground and significant damage was done to another wing,” explained Assistant Principal Scherlie Friberg, who was principal at the time. “We lost thirteen classrooms.”

Between the Saturday when the fire occurred and the following Wednesday, administrators, staff, church members, and the community rallied around Olive Knolls to help get the children back to school.

“The outpouring of community support was incredible,” Friberg said. “People came to help build, and donated their time, money, and resources.”

“Bakersfield is known for its generosity and our situation speaks to that,” Rhodes said. “The school rebuilt itself physically and in other ways. We were accredited by two agencies: the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI) and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).”

Battle of the Books Team, 2016

Battle of the Books Team, 2016

Gina Martinez, a parent of an Olive Knolls student, felt it was the perfect place for her son.

“Before I even had a child I knew I’d want that child to go to a Christian private school. I went through third grade and felt it gave me an incredible foundation for living my life.”

After becoming unhappy at a former school, Martinez did research and found Olive Knolls.

“I wanted to find a school that was in it for the passion of serving the community they were in. I realized they had everything I was looking for. The teachers and staff are amazing; everyone pours themselves into the progress of the students and even other educators. It’s such a tight-knit family. My son is so happy.”

Rhodes elaborated, “We don’t just want to protect children, we want to prepare them; give them a strong education and help them build a strong character.”

Though the fire was devastating, Olive Knolls has risen from the ashes to continue their beautiful work.

“Ultimately, the kids are allowed to just be kids; to learn and have fun,” Martinez said. “Olive Knolls celebrates that.”

6201 Fruitvale Avenue, Bakersfield CA   |   661-393-3566



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