Just a few miles south of the Virginia border, there is a small community in Person County called Bethel Hill. A quaint little school was built in 1921 to educate the children of this farming community. Since that time, many children have passed through the doors of this school. Some grew up and became farmers while others went on to college and then returned to the school as teachers. After nearly 80 years of service, the Bethel Hill School was finally slated for retirement. The building would be left vacant and the students would be bused to newer schools – at least that was the plan.
However, a handful of industrious and dedicated residents who did not want to send their children on a long bus ride to a new city school decided to explore their options. Even though the building was old and run down, they realized that were was and much that is good about that school. Community members met to see what could be done to keep it open. After reviewing the various options, they decided to establish a Charter School using CORE Knowledge as their curriculum and Character Building as a cornerstone.
At the end of the school year in 2000, the county officially closed the school as scheduled and removed everything from it. The school was rented and then purchased by the BHCS Board of Directors. Mr. Wade, the custodian, also stayed on to get the school ready to open by the last week of August. The community members also banned together and worked to make the brand new beginning for Bethel Hill Charter School (BHCS). Berryhill was also a part of BHCS as Chairman of the Board of Directors.
BHCS is a unique Charter school. It has a certain atmosphere and ambiance that is the result of dedicated volunteers, parents, children and other community members giving their time to the children. Everyone pitches in where necessary. During school functions you will see Betterton and Berryhill pushing mops or doing any number of other chores in order to help out here needed. Employees of BHCS gather, sort and box paper to be used at the school rather than putting it into recycling facilities. This way it is immediately recycled, and it saves the school from having to buy additional paper for arts and crafts.
The Duke Fellows, sponsored by Duke and Dr. Gary Ybarra, come regularly to teach at the school. In December 2000, the Duke NCSU Engineering Teaching Fellows Program gave away 64 IBM PC’s donated by Microsoft Research University Programs to six schools across four North Carolina counties. Bethel Hill Charter School was a recipient of 9 of the computers.
The coming years look to be even better for BHCS. Enrollment has increased and there is a waiting list. With the continued direction of Principal Betterton and Chairman Berryhill, BHCS is ready to meet the challenge.