Begun in 1985, ICS Marathon is located in the city of Marathon, 35 miles further south in the Florida Keys from Islamorada. The Pastoral staff called Mr. Gary Cheon to be a pastor to the community. Gary was part of the leadership and had a Sunday school bus ministry in Marathon. God burdened him with the children of the city. A preschool and adult Bible studies along with an Awana program developed during the 1980’s. During the first 11 years of ministry, preschool classes were located in three rental buildings, two of which needed major renovations.
In 1992, in answer to prayers, 1.6 acres of land at the north end of Marathon, running from highway to bay, was purchased as a permanent home for Island Christian School – Marathon. The first stage of construction provided four classrooms, a kitchen area, and limited office space. Panel-fold walls between classrooms were installed so that the rooms can be opened and used for special school activities, parents’ seminars, and evening church services. One of the most exciting aspects of the school from the children’s perspective is the large outdoor play area – away from the highway noise they have dealt with in the past.
In 1997, Island Christian School – Marathon Campus opened its doors for the business of providing Christ-centered education from preschool through 5K for the children of the Middle Florida Keys, realizing a mission vision started back in 1974. Four classrooms now provide care from two-year olds to first grade. A spacious fenced outdoor recreation area provides needed and necessary physical exercise and social opportunities under the watchful supervision of carefully selected and supervised teachers, aids and volunteers. Initial enrollment in 1997 was 46.
The second stage of construction began in the year 2000 and completed a second story which accommodates and an all-purpose meeting room with a service elevator. Presently, preschool classes and a kindergarten for 5year-olds and adult services on Wednesday and Sunday evenings are held here.
In 1993, 158 additional acres were purchased expanding the High School property. Sites for 12 RV vehicles along with a shower room for winter guests of the SOWER organization have added to the use of the property.
An Advisory Board was formed to assist the administration of both the school and church ministry. The formation of this board coincided with the hiring of Bob Parr as Financial Administrator. Island Christian School increased in several areas which matched their mission. Decisions were made and instituted to instruct all high school classes at an honors level. AP classes were added in English and Art. Athletic teams had success in both conference and district play. Spiritually, students were challenged through Spiritual Emphasis weeks, trips to conferences and Acquire the Fire. Each summer saw many students involved in summer mission programs.
Richard Oates was asked to become Headmaster and totally oversee the school program.