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History of Hinkletown Mennonite School

In 1980, members of the nearby Weaverland Mennonite Church began to envision having a Mennonite school in their own neighborhood.  They nurtured this idea in the following months, and eventually Hinkletown Mennonite School came to be.  Late that year, when a local six-classroom school building became available, a group from Weaverland Mennonite Church purchased it.  For $227,000 they bought the building, along with desks, books and a piano.

With the assistance of the Lancaster Mennonite Conference Board of Education, in 1981 the school hired a principal, Jon Scott Bender, a man with a clear vision of what a child-centered school encompasses.  He, along with a supportive group of volunteers, was kept busy for the next several weeks, hiring staff, planning curricula and purchasing supplies until opening day in August 1981, when 62 eager students were greeted by four classroom teachers, the administrator, and a part-time secretary.  The school grew rapidly.  Enrollment doubled within two years and reached the current enrollment in the fifth year.

With a rapid rate of growth in the first few years, along with a commitment to hands-on, activity-based learning, the school facility has needed to expand over the years.  In 1985 three classrooms and a gymnasium were added, followed soon after by modular buildings for learning support, art and music programs.  In 2009, a 20,000 square-foot expansion was completed, adding new and larger classrooms, a welcoming entrance and lobby area, as well as new adminstrative offices.

From the beginning, the school aimed for academic excellence within a Christian context shaped by Anabaptist understanding of faith and practice.  HMS was a member of LACMS (Lancaster Area Council of Mennonite Schools) which restructured to become Mennonite Schools Council (MSC) in 2005.  Additionally, a strong commitment to educational innovation has characterized the school from its inception.  A visiting teacher from a neighboring school recently commented,  "All the right kinds of education are happening here at this school." 

The school was accredited by the Middle States Commission on Elementary Schools in 1992 and in 2014 received dual-accreditation with AdvanED and Mennonite Education Agency.  Today the school serves about 200 children in grades pre-K through eight, representing approximately 115 families and 50 church congregations.  About 74% of HMS students come from Mennonite or Anabaptist affiliated congregations and the remaining 26% represent a wide variety of denominations and independent churches.

An aspect of our history as a school that has remained consistent from its first years to the present has been our commmitment to global connections.  One example of this is that, every year since 1981, HMS has invited an international volunteer teacher to join our faculty through Mennonite Central Committee's International Volunteer Exchange Program (IVEP).  HMS believes that faciliatating global connections with our students helps them learn to appreciate other languages and cultures, teaches them how to make friends cross-culturally, and develops a sense of dignity and respect with God's people around the world.  Our IVEP participants are pictured outside our gymnasium on a map that stands as a testimony to the school's historic commitment to peace, reconcilliation and love for the people God loves everywhere.