Bethel Christian Academy was founded in Portsmouth, NH as a K-8, independent school in 1979 by Betty Miller and Pastor Peter Miller of Bethel Assembly of God. In 1992 the school changed its name to Portsmouth Christian Academy (PCA) and by 1995 the decision was made to expand to include a college-preparatory high school.
PCA soon outgrew both the high school and elementary/junior high facilities. We moved the high school to Kittery, Maine for two years and began leasing modular buildings to handle the overflow in Portsmouth and Kittery. The ever increasing enrollment and the uncertain nature of our lease arrangements compelled us to seek a new location large enough to accommodate both schools and provide for continued growth. The search took several years; it wasn’t until 1998 that we learned about the possibility of purchasing our current campus.
The property was home to a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center which was closing. Through a series of near miraculous events, we acquired the property in January 1999 and immediately began converting the hospital into a school. The new building opened in the fall of 1999, and the first gymnasium was built adjacent to the main school building a year later.
It was also in 1999 when we decided to open a preschool program. The new facilities in Dover provided a wonderful venue for such an initiative and the first Lions and Lambs joined the PCA family in the fall of that year.
The high school also moved from Kittery and was established in one wing of the new school building. This was to be a temporary arrangement, and we began construction of three additional buildings in 2002 (an Upper School humanities/administration building, a science and arts building, and a second gymnasium). The construction projects were completed in time for the Upper School to take possession of the buildings in the fall of 2003. By this time, total enrollment at PCA was closing in on 800, making the school the largest independent Christian school in New England, a distinction that it still enjoys.