Baton Rouge Seventh-day Adventist School

The SCHOOL BEGINS

John Speyer with his mother, Christina, who sent the money for his salary each month (Ancestry, 2015).

In 1927, Baton Rouge completed a new church building on Jefferson Avenue and included a school room (Pound, 1928). The school room was behind the church and had only one classroom where grades one through six were taught. The upper grades met in the church (Fautheree, 2016). Their first school opened that fall for the 1927-1928 school year (Pound, 1928). In 1930, 1931, and again in 1939, John F. Speyer was the teacher (Yearbook, 1931, 1932, 1940). Mr. Speyer was supposed to receive a salary of thirty-five dollars a month for teaching but the school could not afford to pay him so every month his mother faithfully sent the thirty-five dollars to pay his salary (Fautheree, 2019). The school apparently closed for a year or two and reopened in 1933. It was reported that they had a nice school room and their desks were in good condition and that the students had been doing good work. A special offering was taken for the school in 1936 to help them purchase equipment for geography and history (Ruf, 1936). In 1939 John Speyer began teaching at Baton Rouge. He went around in his truck to pick up students from their homes and took them to school. He had so many children in the truck that he couldn’t reach the gear shift. One of his students, Nell Copsey, who was ten-years-old at the time, remembers having to operate the gear shift so John could drive (Fautheree, 2019).

School in 1942

Photo and names courtesy of Regina and Bill Wilson.

Teacher: Lockie Gifford, Grades 1-6, in 1942

  • 1st Row Left to Right: Peggy Holden, Unknown, Gertrude Kingsbury, Clem Pearson, Betty Callioutte Desjardins.
  • 2nd Row: Unknown, Unknown, John Gilbert Sectatol, Billy Wilson, Warren Lovett.
  • 3rd Row: Frances Warren, Unknown, Unknown, Billy Aiken, Norma Jean Pearson, Peggy Laird.
  • 4th Row: Ralph Laird, Wayne Blount, Tommy Lovett, Peggy Gardner, Unknown, Mable Burford Etheridge.
  • 5th Row: Margaret Ann Livingston, Unknown, Henry Holden, Jackie Vale, Clifford Lovett, Unknown.

A New School

Near the end of 1942 the church sold the property on Jefferson Avenue and bought some land on Government Street. Due to war restrictions and scarcity of materials, the new church and school took a long time to build.  The temporary school was a simple two-room affair with one front door, two tiny restrooms and nothing else. When the men’s dormitory burned in Keene, an anxious father came the next day and cut another door in the back of the school to serve as a fire escape (Baton Rouge, 2015).

The school children in 1944 wearing their Missionary Volunteer uniforms. Photo courtesy of the Baton Rouge church.

A New School Building in 1956

Groundbreaking for the new school. L to R: Rex Callicott, George Holden, Gaston Wallace, E. F. Armour, Cullen Nilson, I. M. Evans, and R. H. Wood (Evans, 1956)

By 1950 Baton Rouge was operating a ten-grade, three-teacher school. The name was changed from Baton Rouge Elementary School to Baton Rouge Junior Academy. The school was meeting in a temporary building, and they were working toward a new school building project. A new school was desperately needed to house the expanding church school and land had been purchased to build the school and a recreation center (Lee, 1950). In 1954 the Baton Rouge church began arranging for a development area in their new property which would allow them to sell off portions of the property with sufficient profit to greatly aid in the erection of a new church school building (Record, 1954). By the fall of 1956, construction of the new school building was finished. By this time, Baton Rouge Junior Academy had an enrollment of over seventy students in grades one through ten, with four teachers. A dedication for the new school was held on Sunday, September 9, 1956 (Wood, 1956). A gym, completed in time for camp meeting in 1959, included a thirty-five foot ceiling, dressing rooms, showers, a large kitchen and facilities for basketball, skating, and other activities, as well as serving as an auditorium (Medvee, 1959; cf. Wood, 1958). This school grew to an enrollment of over 100 students with six teachers (Baton Rouge, 2015).

Baton Rouge Junior Academy on Prescott Avenue in 1956. Photo courtesy of the Baton Rouge church.
Mrs. John Beck with grades 1-3 in 1960. Photo courtesy of Southwestern Union Record.
1977 School Board. Front row L to R: Mrs. Joycelyn Hess, Mrs. Lonnie Lewis, Mrs. Jackie Vail, Mrs. Ella Jones. Middle row L to R: Elder Kenneth Schelske, Mr. Aubrey Fautheree, Mrs. Barbara Lucas, Mr. Carl Petty, Mr. Henry Wooten. Back row L to R: Mr. James Brown, Mr. Richard Winget, and Mr. Robert Livingston. Photo and names courtesy of Baton Rouge church.

A New School Building in 1991

In the spring of 1991, the Baton Rouge church purchased a school facility from another denomination. While classes were still being held in the old facility, the new one on Jones Creek Road was used for church recreational functions and community services. The following school year, the school moved in to the new facility and the school name was changed from Baton Rouge Junior Academy to Jones Creek Adventist Academy (Kostenko, 1991). In 1994 plans were in place to add a 3,800 square foot gymnasium and recreation room (Carlson, 1994).

Jones Creek school before it was renovated. Photo courtesy of the Baton Rouge church.
Jones Creek Adventist Academy on Jones Creek Road. Photo courtesy of the Baton Rouge church.

Citations

(1931, 1932, 1940) Yearbook of the Seventh-day Adventist Denomination. Washington, D. C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association.

(1954, Jul. 28). Southwestern Union Record, p. 4.

Ancestry Family Trees. (2015, Mar. 21). John Frederick Speyer. Retrieved from ancestry.com.

Baton Rouge Church (2015, Apr. 4). DVD of the 90th Anniversary of the Baton Rouge church provided by Joycelyn Fautheree.

Carlson, Kathryn. (1994, May 1). Southwestern Union Record, p. 7.

Evans, I. M. (1956, Jul. 18). Ibid., p. 3.

Fautheree, Joycelyn. (2016, Jan. 1). Ibid., p. 17.

Ibid. (2019, Sep. 11). Stories passed down from Joycelyn’s father, John Speyer.

Kostenko, Peter A. (1991, May 1). Southwestern Union Record, p. 10.

Lee, Leonard C. (1950, Nov. 1). Ibid., p. 3.

Medvee, Michael. (1959, Jun. 10). Ibid., pp. 3, 4.

Pound, I. C. (1928, Nov. 14). Southern Union Worker, p. 4.

Ruf, A. F. (1936, Jan. 15). Southwestern Union Record, p. 8.

Wood, R. H. (1956, Sep. 26). Ibid., p. 10.

Ibid. (1958, Apr. 23). p. 8.