Carl Zello leaves a legacy to students at Heritage Academy

April 28, 2010
  • Zello

When Carl Zello died April 10 at the age of 93, he left a legacy to the students at Heritage Academy.

In 1968, when a group of parents was looking for land on which to build a school, Zello donated 10 acres five miles west of Hagerstown for the school.

After the Supreme Court voted to remove prayer and Bible reading from public schools in 1968, a group of parents began to meet for prayer and to discuss the possibilities of beginning a Christian school in the Hagerstown area.

As they prayed for God's direction, they began contacting already-established Christian schools in other states to gather necessary information.

That was the beginning of Heritage Academy.

The school founders hired Principal William Vimont and Administrator James Billings. Billings began visiting local churches to present the idea of a Christian school and to share what would be needed if it were to become a reality.


One of the first things needed was a place to build the school.

Billings shared that need while visiting Grace Brethren Church in Hagerstown. After the service, Zello approached him and offered the land on Walnut Point Road.

Roy Grove, who served as chairman of the board of Heritage in the beginning, recently said, "We couldn't imagine a school in that out-of the-way location, but it appeared the Lord had other plans."

Once the land was acquired, a 10-room school was built.

Heritage Academy opened its doors in September 1969 with five teachers and 118 students, including Zello's daughter, Anita.

Zello's involvement at Heritage did not stop with the donation of the land. He also served on the board of directors of the school for 25 years.

On June 4, Heritage will complete its 41st year at the location on Walnut Point West, just minutes from downtown Hagerstown.

The original 10-room building has grown to include 20 classrooms, a computer lab, gymnasium and chapel.

Heritage began with grades kindergarten through eight.

Currently the school offers preschool through 12th grade, and has 16 fine-arts programs, A.P. and honors courses, 21 co-curricular educational programs and 11 athletic teams for grades five to 12.

Zello's legacy will endure for many years through the lives of the 550 graduates of the school, as well as the many other Heritage students past, present and future.

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