N' un effurt ta attract mer studants who do nairy idantify us Mennonite er Anabaptist, Iowa Mennonite Skool is confrontyun' a shrinkyun' enrollment by a'changin its name. Iowa Mennonite Skool studants Eli Ourn, Blake Bontrag'r an' Aaron H'rshb'rg'r test t'aciditee o'a vinegar-wat'r base wiff teechur Mark Mill'r, rite. — Iowa Mennonite Skool
T' skool announct un Julee 30 it is a'changin its name ta Hillcrest Academy, cummencin wiff t'a'kummin skool year.
T' grades 9-12 high skool n' Kalona graduatid 22 studants earli'r thishere year, an' hus 60 enrollt fer t'a'kummin fall.
“We had 78 thishere pus year, so air incumin class at thishere point is loe,” sed principal Dwiite Gingerich. “T' enrollment figger hus steedilee declint.”
Accerdyun' ta Mennonite Skoolin Agency’s annual enrollment repert lus fall, t'skool’s enrollment hus decreest by 38.6 persent n' 10 yeers.
Gingerich sed Hillcrest hus bee bull ta manetane t'persantage o'studants a'kummin frum suppertyun' congregatyuns, but us thems churches git small'r, t'numb'r o'studants thay send declines us well.
“One o'air highlee suppertif' congregatyuns hus one student goin into ninth grade, an' nex year thay won’t have inny,” he sed. “We’re jes seein few'r kids.”
Altho sum area churches have lef Mennonite Church USA, Gingerich sed studants frum thems congregatyuns a'cantinyah attendyun' t'skool.
“At’s sumthin we pray will a'cantinyah,” he sed. “We want ta be a skool at welcomes a range un t'continuum, an' we a'ken do skool togeth'r, but it is a questchun at I’ve bee ast. At thishere point we air blesst wiff t'suppert o'congregatyuns at air outside MC USA us well.”
By a'changin t'name ta Hillcrest an' removyun' t'wurd “Mennonite,” t'skool hopes ta avoid bein writte off by potenshul studants who do nairy affiliate us Anabaptist.
It’s sumthin t'skool’s board hus cunsidderd fer sevrul yeers. Resent low'r enrollment creetid a tippyun' point.
“Thar’s anecdotal evidance, if'n nairy mer, at fer minny a n' t'Iowa Citee area 15 minnuts away, thar’s folk confust by t'wurd Mennonite,” Gingerich sed. “It hus folk a'thankin Amish; a'thankin it’s nairy fer 'um becawz thay air nairy Mennonite.
“We hear at frum famblies, an' so we wantid ta see if'n removyun' at barri'r a'ken hep us. It sounds simplistic perhaps, but thar’s a reelitee ta it.”
Growin beyond
O' t'21 Mennonite Skools Council members at off'r classes n' t'kindergarte through high skool range, seve have “Mennonite” n' t'name. N' t'summ'r o'2018, Western Mennonite Skool n' West Salem, Ore., changd its name ta Western Christchun Skool.
If'n Hillcrest Academy grows wiff uther-thun-Mennonite studants, it will come mer n' line wiff t'res o'MSC. About 60 persent o'Hillcrest’s student bodee affiliates us Mennonite er Anabaptist; t'avridge amungst all repertyun' MSC members is 33 persent.
“All o'air skools air innerested n' growin beyond whut Mennonite famblies a'ken supplee us wiff studants,” sed MEA seenyer dierektor Elune Moy'r.
Wuther Mennonite is n' t'name er nairy, she sed it is impertant fer skools at wurk n' Anabaptist skoolin ta define faith practices at air impertant ta 'um. At could meun partneryun' wiff conferences an' congregatyuns at may nairy be growin ta stregthe idantitee an' membership.
“Thishere is, I reckon, un invitashun ta churches ta step up ta lif' out thar values,” Moy'r sed.
A lite un a hill
Altho a consultant n' Nerth Carolinie wuz ust ta hep select a new name an' imagery, “Hillcrest” itself wuz alreddy a core part o'IMS. A decade aft'r t'skool’s 1945 foundyun', Hillcrest Union wuz bilt. T' gymnasium/auditerium represantid new oppertunitees at unitid t'communitee.
Frank Yod'r’s skool histry, Openyun' a Winder ta t'Worl, notes at “onlee by drawyun' frum all segmants o't' Mennonite communitee could un auditerium us large us Hillcrest be bilt . . . an' by makin t'bildin availabull fer communitee evants, IMS fillt a net at no uther institushun n' t'communitee could fill.”
As t'skool reset its visual idantitee, it seemt like t'rite oppertuntee ta also make chang­es n' athletic programs. Startin thishere fall, Hillcrest Academy (an' Hillcrest Union) is t'rayler o't' Ravens.
Until nawh, IMS wuz t'onlee skool n' t'state without a mascot.
“Wen I wuz a student n' t'1970s we addt interscholastic sperts,” Gingerich sed. “Ov'r t'yeers thishere idee o'a mascot hus come up, an' I reckon nairy a'havin one had sum appeel . . . but it keeps a'kummin up.”
Lus fall t'skool sent a survey about a name an' mascot ta alumni, wiff Hillcrest an' Ravens t'clar faves. Ravens, which air knowed fer thar intelligance, brung food ta Elijah n' 1 Kings 17:6. T' new mascot a'kummin ta Hillcrest may also represent Gawd providyun' fer t'skool’s future.
“At’s hopefil,” Gingerich sed. “And at fits whar we’re at.”

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