by Barda Bedingfield and Ron Eckert
Colville, Wash., March 6, 2013 - Adventist pioneers in the Colville Valley purchased land near Kettle Falls, Wash., in 1890. After seven years of work, they opened a boarding school. Few schools in the area offered secondary classes, so it was well attended by both Adventist and non-Adventist youth. Unfortunately, the school closed after seven years.
In 1911, members secured land in Colville, Wash., and built a one-room school which opened in 1912 with one full-time and one part-time teacher for 24 students. A wood-burning stove heated the room, two buckets provided drinking and wash water, and two outbuildings served bathroom needs.
Tuition cost $3 a month in 1919, only six students attended, and the school was insured. By 1928, enrollment had risen to 17. In the 1930's ninth and tenth grades were added, plus a second room and an upstairs apartment. The 1950's brought inside restrooms, and more land was deeded to the school.
In the fall of 1967, the school burned to the ground although many furnishings were saved. School continued in the basement of the church. Not ideal, but worked under the circumstances.
A new building, finished in 1973, opened its doors with one teacher; two teachers in 1974. In 1975, the board purchased a rubber mat-making machine so students and parents could produce mats, thus defraying some tuition and other expenses.
After selling the school, church members moved classes into the basement of the new church in 1980, and church members began building the present school with four large classrooms and offices on five acres. Teachers and students moved there in January 1988.
The next few years saw a steady increase in enrollment. In 1992, a large covered play area was added. 1993 saw an addition to the school giving room for a library and two more classrooms, including space for a computer lab. In 93/94, enrollment had reached over 50. A work-study program gave students valuable experience plus help with tuition.
Tenth grade and a fourth teacher were added for the 94/95 school year and the name of the school was changed from Colville Valley Adventist School to Colville Valley Junior Academy. Students attended from all over the valley. "The Kings Kids" performed music in area churches and community venues representing their school well and witnessing for God.
From the 94/95 school year through the 98/99 school year, enrollment hovered at 60 to 80. Finances were short, but community, church and parent support included eight to 10 volunteers giving their valuable time each day. The success of our school can certainly be attributed to their team effort.
In the 99/00 school year enrollment dipped to 54 students. Some of the highlights of these early and middle 2000's were establishing the school store, re-carpeting the school, lavishly decorating the bathrooms and building a vocational training building.
Later, just as many Adventist schools nationwide struggled to maintain enrollments and keep schools open, enrollment at CVJA fell and grades nine and 10 were discontinued. In the last two years enrollment has risen to 26 with three teachers employed.
Space doesn't allow recognition of everyone in this short article. Visit MYCVJA.org and click on 'History' to read a more detailed account.
The Centennial/Alumni weekend will be April 26 at the Colville Church.