A new Emmaus-Bethania High School will formally welcome its first students as a newly merged secondary school on August 15. The new school will be co-education with both boys and girls to be mixed in the same classroom and on campus.
PEC School System Administrator Pastor Dodger Kumanagai with new women's dorm in the background. Photo by Ongerung Kambes Kesolei.
Emmaus-Bethania High School is mission school administered by the Palau Evangelical Church.
A total of 83 students including 48 boys and 35 girls are expected for the upcoming school year 2016-17.
Except for the senior students, grades from 9th to 11th have the option of being a day student or staying at the dormitory. “All graduating students are required to stay on campus for their senior year,” said the new school administrator Pastor Dodger Kumangai.
The combined school is operating with limited classroom capacity and has had to turn away new prospective students. “We are limiting the new freshmen class to 30 students because there’s just no space for more,” Kumangai disclosed.
Meanwhile, only a week remaining before class starts, construction work is ongoing to convert a former church staff quarters into a dormitory for women.
“At this point, the biggest challenge is getting the women’s dorm to open before the required check-in by August 14th,” Kumangai said.
For almost 60 years, the Emmaus and Bethania were separate boarding schools for boys and girls, but the economic realities exacerbated by low enrollment took a toll on Bethania which closed its doors after holding its last graduation last May.
Further Kumangai said that the school which is fronted by Ngesang Beach face a real threat from the impact of climate change.
Kumangai stressed that the decision to close down Bethania was neither an abrupt nor an easy decision for everyone,” said Pastor Kumangai. Bethania alumni mounted an opposition against closing the school but were not successful.
The new school administrator further disclosed that the school has presented a budget request to Olbiil Era Kelulau for funding assistance to address the shortage of classroom space.
Emmaus-Bethania High School classroom with plans to add additional floors for classrooms. Photo by Ongerung Kambes Kesolei
Kumangai also added that a plan is being developed to establish an elementary school with in the Palau Evangelical Church school system. “The plan is to start with only first to fourth grade for next school year,” Kumangai added.