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Founding Past Bruce Porter
Early Beginnings
Island Christian School had its origins in and continues to be a ministry of Island Community Church. In 1968, Island Community Church, Inc. was established in the home of Floyd and Melissa Russell. The Russell home was located across the street from the High School property. Students from Florida Bible College had been conducting youth meetings for over two years prior to this and the successful high school program led to an adult Bible study and ultimately the beginnings of a church in the Russell home. Children and adults carried both their Bibles and swimsuits to services. A community of believers developed with “pot-luck” Sunday suppers and dives into the Atlantic.
As the program grew a small church building was leased in 1969. The former Islamorada Post Office, currently a title company, became a young growing church led by the founding pastor, Bruce Porter. Pastor Porter traveled to the Keys from the Hollywood campus of Florida Bible College for a long weekend and then returned to his duties as a teacher and registrar of the college.
 
In 1972, a young atheist, public school biology teacher, named Tony Hammon walked into Island Community Church, after being invited by his students, to hear Pastor Bruce Porter deliver a message on science and the Bible. Tony reluctantly agreed to attend that Sunday to appease several students in his Coral Shores High School marine science class. His purpose was to challenge and disprove the claims of Scripture, but instead began a yearlong investigation into the claims of Christ and became a Christian in 1973.
 
Tony Hammon was teaching biology and marine science classes at Coral Shores High School, when he was approached by the Elders of Island Community Church, and was asked to consider helping with the organization of a new Christian school. He agreed to help where he could. After several weeks of organizational meetings he was asked to consider assuming the Principal’s position. At first Tony declined, but after a time of seeking and prayer God made it clear that he was to accept the position. After resigning his position with the public school Tony began to organize Island Christian School and hire its first teachers. The Island Community Church body acted upon a conviction that they should provide a Christian school for the families of the Upper and Middle Keys.  In 1973, a daycare program was instituted in the first church building. Little did anyone realize that the foundations of Island Christian School were beginning.
 Two events occurred in 1974 that dramatically shaped the beginning of ICS. A gift of $200,000 was given for the purchase of the Cinemorada Theater and a bond program established for the completion of an elementary complex to be added onto the theater, which has become the auditorium of Island Community and ICS.
 
After Tony Hammon accepted the principal’s position he attended a Christian School Principal’s seminar at Pensacola Christian College. The decision was made, Island Christian School would open with traditional classes and would hire a teacher for every elementary grade and preschool.
 
First Days!
The first year was challenging both for the young principal and the first teachers. Nine teachers, primarily graduates of Florida Bible College, had been hired for nursery through sixth grade. On opening day fifty-four students were enrolled. Tuition for preschool was $36.00 per month and $50.00 per month for grades K-5 through sixth. It didn’t take long to realize that payroll and bills were not going to be paid with 54 students and low tuition rates.
 
All staff members agreed to make a huge sacrifice and be paid on a per student basis. Preschool teachers earned $6.00 per student per week and elementary teachers earned $8.00 per student per week. One teacher, Miss Tina Verdi (now Tina Porter), had six students in her class for the year and earned $48.00 per week. Several teachers shared housing in a small house behind the elementary school while others lived with church families. Amazingly, after more than 30 years, several of those original pioneers to the ministry are still on staff and serving faithfully.
 
One challenge that faced these pioneers was the construction of the entire construction of the elementary building. Construction began in the spring of 1974 and had to be completed by late August. Pastor Bruce Porter, Principal Tony Hammon, and teachers worked literally around the clock as part of the construction crew. Pastor Hammon often tells of the memories he has of young first year female teachers carrying wheelbarrow loads of scrap concrete at mid-night just to help get there classrooms ready for opening day. Or of the volunteer electrician from Miami, who would come to the Keys, work all night long doing electrical work on the building, and drive back to Miami without sleeping, just in time for work the next day.
 
Just before opening day it was learned that the architect had failed to put required floor drains in the upstairs restrooms and the building inspector (who had his child enrolled) would not issue a C.O. until they were installed. For the first several weeks Island Christian School met entirely in the ICC church auditorium. Each class was given a section of seating in the sanctuary and lobby. The teachers made the best of the situation. After a short while, the classrooms with all-new equipment and furniture were opened. The staff and the community showed great appreciation for the facilities the Lord had provided.
 
Fifty-four students were in attendance in Island Christian School on that first hot summer’s day in August 1974. The students were spread between the grades 3K – 6th. When the last days of May came, 154 students were in attendance, a 185% increase!
 
 
 
 The following year, 1975, grades seven through nine were added. A two-story office building was three blocks south of the elementary campus leased. This former publishing house became home to the 6th – 9th graders and later the first high school. A North Campus for pre-school was leased in North Key Largo. During the 1975 – 1976 school year the enrollment grew to 300. A need for expanded facilities was obvious.
The leadership of Island Community approached the owner of Russell Park and asked if they could purchase this seven and one half acre track for school expansion.
 
 

 

A ten year plan of development was designed by architect James Yates Bruce for a newly purchased seven and one-half acre property in Islamorada. The plan included a classroom complex, gymnasium, locker rooms, library, administrative offices, lunchrooms, laboratory, faculty housing, and bus maintenance facilities.
 
High School Campus Construction Begins
In 1978 with some modification to the original plan, phase one was completed with the opening of a new three-story classroom building.
 
1980’s
During the decade of the 1980’s several changes occurred in the ministry of Island Community Church and Island Christian School.
Tony Hammon left for a year to pursue a master’s degree in school administration from Tennessee Temple University in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Relationships developed during that year resulted in many staff members who came to Island Christian during the next several years.
The other significant change was founding Pastor Bruce Porter receiving and accepting a call to take a pastorate in Salem, Oregon. Several months after Pastor Porter left, Island Community called Tony to be the Senior Pastor. 
Since the responsibilities of the church ministry and supervising the Christian school would be too much for anyone, Tony asked Mike Young to assume the role of high school principal and Richard Oates the position of elementary principal. Mr. Young had been teaching high school science since 1975 as well as being athletic director and coaching. Richard Oates joined ICS as 6th grade teacher in 1977 and had already been helping with supervision in the elementary program.

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.

 

Marathon Ministries
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.
 
1990's
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.

 Journey of Faith – 2005
During the decade of building the Marathon facility, plans to expand on the high school property were put on hold. In November of 2001 plans to build a gymnasium and classroom project at the north campus was launched. Initial plans were conceived but a roadblock came from the Village of Islands Planning Commission. ICS was advised to submit a site plan which would include any and all building on the property. Several plans were submitted and revisions made. Finally during April of 2005, ICS was given the assurance that the site plan could be approved with only a few minor variations.
Island Community Church in support launched a capital campaign during the winter of 2005. The favor of our Lord shinned on us. Over 2.3 million was pledged over a three year period. The campaign was called “A Journey of Faith”. 
 
Additional donations can be made  on Island Community Church's web site.
 
The Family Life Center was opened March 2009. This facility is used year-round by ICC/ICS groups as well as the community at large. The meeting room is used as a classroom, testing center, and evening group meetings, as well as weekend functions which could include small dinners. The gymnasium and weight room are used for daily PE classes and athletic teams. The evening and weekend hours find the gym filled with community athletic groups. Summer months are busy with Camp Eagle and other camp groups using the general facilities.