Bonnerdale Seventh-day Adventist School

The School Begins

In November 1906, Elder Griffin baptized a few people and organized a church of eight members at Lucky, Arkansas. The group had already built a little church in which they had begun meeting although it was not quite finished (Griffin, 1906). Almost immediately they realized they needed a church school for their children (McCoy, 1907). From 1907 to 1910, they had such short school years that the school was not reported in the SDA Yearbook for those years. For the 1910-1911 school year they planned to have a much longer and better year (McCoy, 1910), and they did, with twenty-six students taught by Dewey Kinzer.

Around this time, the Jim and Genie (McConnell) Wilson family moved to this area with their seven children. Their concern had been to find and live near a church school. James, the oldest son, wrote, “There we found a home on a small farm of 60 acres. It was fairly level and not too rocky. There we grew corn and oats and peanuts for feed and cane for molasses. All kinds of garden truck to feed the family. Cows too, of course, for milk and butter. There were several acres in cultivation and we cleared some more. A crop that was new to us was cotton but we soon learned how to do that one, too. It was our principal money crop even though the price was disappointing sometimes….But that church school, how we loved it! Even though it was 2 miles from our home. We didn’t mind the walk. Took a lunch with us, of course. It was here that we began to prepare for some future line of service – teaching, preaching, colporteur work, mission service in some part of the world field. Our search for a church school was ended” (Wilson, n.d.)

The Wilson family in September 1913. Jim, Genie and children from oldest to youngest: Bessie, James, Robert, William, Katherine, Benjamin, Velma, and Juanita (Wilson, n.d.)

The little community of Lucky no longer exists, but by 1931 the school became known as the Bonnerdale school (Hopkins, 1931).

A New School in 1937

The 1937 school year began in a newly built three-room school for the Bonnerdale students (Pound, 1937). In 1942, they went to eleven grades. Edith Ewing was the lower grade teacher and Mr. and Mrs. W. M. Ladd taught the upper grades (Pannell, 1942). The grade levels taught fluctuated with the needs of students.

A New School in 1980

Aerial view of the Bonnerdale school under construction in 1980

At the end of 1976, Irvin and Evea J. Bainum donated property for new church and school. The school and Ewing Auditorium were built first. The church congregation met in the new auditorium for the first time on December 22, 1979 (Record, 1979). The 1980-1981 school year opened in the new school building which included the auditorium/gymnasium, a $150,000 gift from Irvin and Evea Bainum in memory of Evea’s parents, Albert and Florence Ewing (Shain, 1980). That school year marked the seventy-third year of continuous operation for the school. Enrollment was as low as eight students one year and as high as thirty-one students. The school and Ewing Auditorium were built first. The new school was named Florence Ewing Junior Academy, and in 2010 shortened to Ewing Adventist Junior Academy (Simpson, 2010).

Photos courtesy of Stephen Burton


(1976, Dec. 17). Minutes of the Board of Trustees of the Arkansas Conference Association. Shreveport, LA: Arkansas-Louisiana Conference of SDA.

(1979, Dec. 13). Southwestern Union Record, p. 12F.

(2010, Aug. 11). Ewing Adventist Jr Academy. Retrieved from

Griffin, H. Clay. (1906, Nov. 13). Southwestern Union Record, p. 2.

Hopkins, E. B. (1931, May 6). Ibid., p. 3.

McCoy, Ava L. (1907, Feb. 26). Ibid., p. 2.

Ibid. (1910, Oct. 11). p. 3.

Pannell, G. C. (1942, Jul. 29). Ibid., p. 1.

Pound, I. C. (1937, Sep. 22). Ibid., p. 8.

Shain, Jacquelyn. (1980, Oct. 2). Ibid., pp. 4, 5.

Wilson, James Orville. (No Date). An Ordinary Family Serves Humanity, pp. 20, 28.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: