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Students at Heritage Christian School have been making due in tiny classrooms, tight hallways and limited space in a rented school. But that hasn’t dampened their spirits.

“It really has been an encouraging year,” said Gerry Goede, the school’s co-administrator.

About 145 students and 20 staff members have called the former Petra Academy School building behind Grace Bible Church home since a fire destroyed a part of Heritage Christian last August.

The school has operated this year in a building about a third of the size of its facility. But classes have gone on, and the kids have been resilient, Goede said.

He said the experience has brought the students, staff and all their families even closer together.

“It made us have to trust God,” Goede said.

A little bit of good timing and an outpouring of support from the community allowed school to go on at Grace Bible Church, but school officials hope to return to their renovated and rebuilt home this fall with the help of two fundraisers.

The gymnasium, where the August fire started, is being torn down. Reconstruction will begin April 8, and all construction is slated to finish Aug. 9. The 2013-2014 school year starts Aug. 28.

More than $70,000 has already been raised, thanks to a successful barn dance fundraiser that drew nearly 600 people. But the school still needs more to finish the project.

While insurance covered much of the construction, the school still needs to come up with $200,000 to offset required code upgrades and enhancements to the gymnasium.

Next week, the school will hold a two-day Re-Build-A-Thon phone campaign as well as a bike-a-thon fundraiser.

The phone campaign will run April 5 and April 6 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. High school students will spend those days calling family and friends to solicit donations. A toll-free number, 855-587-9311, has also been set up for people to call in to donate.

The younger students wanted to get in on the fundraising action as well. The bike-a-thon will be Saturday, April 6. Students will ride from Heritage Christian School on Durston Road to the school’s temporary location on Discovery Way.

There is a $20 entry fee for riders. The event will also accept $20 pledges. Registration opens at 10 a.m., and Bozeman police will offer bike safety tips at 10:30 a.m. The ride will begin at 11 a.m. Riders will be escorted by police the entire way.

“It was a way for all of the kids to get involved with rebuilding their school,” said Monica Remely, Heritage Christian board member.

Donations to the school can also be made online at

Whitney Bermes can be reached at or 582-2648. Follow her on Twitter at @wabermes.

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