The seeds that grew into CCA were planted in the small rural community of Alden, NY. A group of parents from the Alden Mennonite Church, dissatisfied with the public school and the trend toward centralization, considered starting a Mennonite school in 1947. The small, one or two-room schoolhouses were rapidly disappearing and the consolidated schools would mean even less influence on the choice of teachers, classroom, and school activities. All felt that a better education could be received in a school that operated under Christian principles. Therefore, “In September of 1949, the first school day opened in the basement of Alden Mennonite Church with 38 pupils and two teachers” (from the Alden Mennonite School Archives).
The growth of the school in the 1950s created a need for a separate building, additional grades and more teachers. An active parent organization underwrote the cost of a bell system, library books, recreation equipment, chairs and desks, to name just a few of their many contributions. Auctions are nothing new in the history of Christian Central Academy. In 1963 the church’s “Sisters’ Fellowship” held the first, of what has continued for several years, as an annual auction fundraiser for the school.
As the school began reaching out to the community beyond the Mennonite church, it became natural to consider a name change to Alden Christian School. Further development brought about a relocation of the school to facilities in Randall Baptist Church in Williamsville and a further change of name to Faith Christian School. In 1977, a public elementary school building, Sheridan Hill, became available due to decreased public school enrollment, and Faith Christian School moved into this then modern facility, offering grades kindergarten through twelve and a curriculum in keeping with the NYS Regents requirements. Parent support continued to be strong with mothers volunteering their services through organizing fundraisers, preparing hot lunches, and spending hours in weekly prayer. Tight times, after the damage of an explosion from a nearby quarry, saw some faculty willing to forgo paychecks to assist the school during a difficult financial situation.
At about this time, The Metropolitan Chapel of Buffalo (now called “the Chapel at Crosspoint”), realizing the value of a Christ-centered education and not wanting to see this important resource to the church community dissolve, assumed the responsibility of the school in August 1978, with incorporation following. The name was again changed to what we now know as Christian Central Academy, offering an academically based curriculum, emphasizing the full development of the child, mentally, morally, physically, and spiritually.
The Hand of God was evidenced again in 1981 when the Williamsville Academy Street School became available and once again, the school found a new home. Thus, in 1985, the building was purchased from the school district for $275,000. The Williamsville Historical Society noted in their 1991 publication that since 1981 “the Academy School has been the home of Christian Central Academy, with classes maintaining the traditional, historical, purposeful, educational character of the original building. In 1991, the corner of Academy and School Streets was declared an Historic Site.”
As a further step in the maturation of the institution, the decision was made by The Chapel and the school to launch CCA into independence with the governance of a Board of Directors, which formally occurred on July 1, 1994. The Chapel’s nurture and oversight of Christian Central Academy for sixteen years provided an important platform for the next stage in the life of this God-blessed school. During that time, CCA was granted an absolute charter and was registered by the New York State Board of Regents. During this transition the able leadership of Dr. Ruth Adams, for ten years as principal, set a high standard of academic and spiritual leadership that was continued in 1997 by Fred and Ellie Weir. During their tenure as an interim principal team for one year, there was a search for a new Head of School. God called Mrs. Nurline Lawrence in the summer of 1997 to Williamsville to serve as Head of School for the next 17 years.
Under the Leadership of Mrs. Lawrence, a passionate proponent of biblical integration within the classroom, the school continued to grow. In 2004, the Emmanuel Athletic Facility was added to the Academy Street building. In 2005, 25 School Street was purchased by CCA to house the business office and auction staff. In 2006, the school grew further with the acquisition of 5830 Main Street. A generous donor purchased this space to expand CCA’s campus. The building became the Center for Science and Art. The extended campus made it possible to continue to increase the enrollment of the school. In 2007, a tennis court was added to the beauty and function of the campus. CCA purchased a home at 50 School Street in 2011. Also, in 2011, under the leadership of Mrs. Lawrence, CCA was accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools (MSA). In 2014, two additional homes, 44 School Street and 50 Rinewalt Street, were purchased.
After many successful years of service, Mrs. Lawrence retired and was succeeded by Mr. Thad Gaebelein in July of 2015. Mr. Gaebelein issued in a new logo and made improvements to the buildings and grounds. In 2017 he initiated a STEM program under the direction of Dr. Stuart Chen, Dean of Academics with the goal of encouraging and preparing students for technical careers. New electives and AP courses were also added.
Dr. Stuart Chen was appointed CCA Pre-K-12 President in 2020 and served the school faithfully until the summer of 2022. He was a tireless proponent of, and outstanding contributor to, CCA and clearly loved the school and its learning community. Dr. Vincent Montoro was hired, as principal, during the summer of 2021 and is currently leading the school in that role.
A more detailed history is included in History of Christian Central Academy and Williamsville Classical Institute compiled by William S. Hein.