In the summer of 1973, a dream was born with the establishment of Rocky Bayou Christian School in Niceville, Florida. Pastor and Mrs. Thomas, of Forest Lake Bible Church (FLBC), persuaded a reluctant USAF Major Bob Grete to accompany them on a trip to Fairfax Christian School in Virginia. There, Mr. Bob Thoburn, the founder of the school, explained to Bob Grete what Pastor and Mrs. Thomas already knew: that parents (not the state) are responsible for the education of their children and that God commands Christian parents to provide their children with an education based upon truth - biblical principles rather than those of Secular Humanism.
God quickly revealed to some very key people that He wanted an independent, non-denominational Christian School established in Niceville to provide a God-centered education of high academic quality. Bob Grete's father, Mr. W. B. Grete, contributed five thousand dollars to meet initial expenses. Mr. C. Walter Ruckel, Chairman of Ruckel Properties, Inc., set aside a beautiful 30 acre campus site and agreed to build and lease facilities to the school at a price the school could afford. Bob Grete, Mrs. Joyce Thomas, Mrs. Katherine M. Grete, Mrs. Doreen Claggett, and Miss Cheryl Thompson formed the teaching staff for the first year's 22 students, who ranged from 3 year old Kindergarten through Sixth Grade.
For the first year they held classes in rented Sunday school classrooms in Niceville's First Baptist Church pending completion of the first building at the 2101 North Partin Drive campus. Ground breaking ceremonies were held there on December 18, 1973. A regular feature during that period was Bob Grete leading the students on a jog to the Niceville Lyon's Park for lunch and P.E. The first RBCS transportation system was the Claggett, Grete and Thomas cars.
The first annual Christmas Program was presented to the Hurlburt Chapel congregation, and then to the FLBC congregation in their newly constructed sanctuary. The first Spring Music Program was presented in the new FLBC sanctuary on June 2, 1974. By 1983, the RBCS faculty had grown to 44, and the student body to 365 students. The campus had 3 of its current 7 academic buildings in use. A bus maintenance building was operational and the slab for the Gym building was poured and the metal for it delivered.
In 1983, however, Congress passed the Social Security Amendments of 1983 (PL 98-21). This law, for the first time in American history, required religious ministries to pay a tax to the federal government. The RBCS Board of Trustees saw this law, effective 1 January 1984, to be violative of biblical and constitutional principles. The Board therefore authorized the Director, Bob Grete, to respond to attempts of the IRS to collect this tax "in accordance with good judgment." The Social Security controversy was paralleled by a decline in student enrollment to a low of 283 in 1988, the year in which the controversy was amicably settled.
To avoid continuing controversy, the school had to reorganize under a new legal umbrella. Four local churches formed the Northwest Florida Christian Education Association (NFCEA), an association of churches which took control of the school's assets on 1 July 1988. The RBCS, Inc. Board of Trustees, augmented by representatives from member churches, formed the Board of Directors of the NFCEA. The NFCEA does business as Rocky Bayou Christian School. On 16 July 1991, the NFCEA Board of Directors authorized the establishment of a remote site in the facilities of Covenant Community Church in Fort Walton Beach. It began operations for Academic Year 1991 - 1992 under the directorship of Mrs. Doreen Claggett, who had guided the Niceville kindergarten program to over 100 students.
On 21 February 1996, RBCS took possession of its next Niceville campus academic building (approximately 13,000 square feet) containing a 3000 square foot library, computer lab, science lab, music room, and other classrooms. The library was named in memory of K. W. Saxon (late husband of Flo Saxon), who had a burden for providing students with better library resources. The building has come to be known as the Saxon Building. In Academic Year 2003 - 2004, three new facilities were added to the Niceville campus, funded by a capital campaign that also had the goal of purchasing the Niceville campus from Ruckel Properties, Inc. A building for the band plus another for two classrooms were built to the east of the gym. An extension was built onto the elementary building to accommodate all classes from first through sixth.
On 31 December 2003, RBCS purchased the Niceville campus from Ruckel Properties, Inc., for $2.6 million. A mortgage granted by Vanguard Bank for $2.5 million must be paid down by continuation of the capital campaign. Effective 1 June 2005, Dr. Grete retired as Superintendent, RBCS, and became Superintendent Emeritus. He resumed the office of Superintendent upon the June 2009 resignation of Dr. Donald Larson, who accepted a call to an inner city ministry in North Carolina. God has richly blessed our efforts to establish an institution to the glory of His name in the Okaloosa, Walton, and Santa Rosa county area. Let us pray that He always finds RBCS faithful to its original commitment to provide a quality education based upon biblical principles.