Western Mennonite School began educating high school youth in 1945. That year, the State of Oregon passed the School Attendance Law, raising the compulsory school age to sixteen and ultimately impacted families coming out of World War II. The Pacific Northwest Mennonite Conference proposed the establishment of a Christian school in the district out of its desire “to properly balance the course of study with Bible knowledge and spiritual development in a strong Christian atmosphere”. Holding strong to these beliefs today, Western Mennonite currently educates students grades 6 through 12 and is enriched by denominational and cultural diversity.
The first year of classes at WMS were held in the Bellevue school building located between Sheridan and McMinnville, Oregon. The next year, the school opened where it is currently located, seven miles north of West Salem on Highway 221. The original 12 acre campus was donated by first School Board President F.J. Gingerich. Later, it became a 45 acre campus (its current size) with the purchase of additional wooded-acres.
Over the next 45 years, Western added a gymnasium, dormitory, administration building and chapel on its campus. The school expanded its education program in the 1990’s to include a middle school and in 2000 added sixth grade. In opening its doors to a broader age range, the campus grew with the addition of more classrooms and parking areas.
As the school increased in size and numbers, leaders and active community members began creating a plan for the future of Western. Their desire was to nurture and maintain the school’s mission to educate youth in a Christ-centered environment under the Mennonite church, while better supporting and expanding its program. Out of their vision came the Vision for Excellence Campaign that stretched from 2000 to 2008. The campaign addressed key areas that have greatly impacted WMS and have brought its program to where it is today.