Gentry Seventh-day Adventist School

THE SCHOOL BEGINS

The first teacher, Goldie May McLaughlin. She became the daughter-in-law of Rasmus L. Christensen (see below) in 1908. Photo taken on her wedding day (Grave, 2017).

The first known church school in Gentry opened on or about December 16, 1904, just two weeks after the church building was completed. Goldie McLaughlin was the teacher with a class of nine students (Watts, 1905). For the 1905-1906 school year, Josephine Wilson was the teacher, with school beginning on October 7, 1905. That year she had fourteen enrolled, with prospects of several others coming (Wilson, 1905). For the 1908-1909 school year, there were enough students that Josephine’s sister, Ella, was also hired (Yearbook, 1909). There were eight students enrolled for the 1909-1910 school year, with J. S. Moore as the teacher (Record, 1909). The reason given for the low enrollment was that the members of the Gentry church were somewhat scattered so there were few that lived near enough together for a school. The school year lasted only six months, from September 13, 1909, until March 3, 1910 (Moore, 1910), since most of the students came from farm families and were needed at home to help with the farm work.

Flint Creek School

There is no record of a school for the 1911-1912 school year, and in 1911, the property in town, worth $700-$800, was sold. A church with a basement classroom was built near Flint Creek on one acre of land (Eastman, 1912a). Elder Leslie Littell held a series of meetings in early 1912 and helped the church plan and organize for the building up of a good strong church school (Eastman, 1912b). The school was known as the Flint Creek school and the start of school was postponed until October 7 that year so they could finish the church and school building (Eastman, 1912c). In time for the 1920-1921 school year, a room was added to one side of the church to accommodate the school, which was going to have two teachers, Mrs. Emma Hooper, and Miss Myrtle Butler. They lengthened the school year from six months to eight months (Wilcox, 1920), and also went to nine grades with about thirty-five students (Griffin, 1921). For the 1922-1923 school year, they were back to an eight grade school, but were asking people to move to the area so they could have ten grades for the 1923-1924 school year (Griffin, 1923). According to Pearl Evilsisor, who moved to the area in 1924, the attendance had dwindled to a one prospective student in 1923, so the school was closed for a year (Melton, 2004).

Spring 1923 photo of Flint Creek School, which met in the room on the right that had been added to the church in 1920.

Front Row L. to R.:  Margret Styles, Frances Twiggs, Fletcher Blalock, Edson Neal, Willard Styles (all five children were  under 12 years old; Back Row L. to R.: Mrs. McCrary (in long black coat), Ruth (last name unknown), Mr. McCrary (the McCrary’s owned the grounds where the faculty homes are now), Grace McCrary, Emma Blalock, Alice Styles, Rose Neal, Iva Butler, Bud Stephens, Mrs. Twiggs, Roy Blalock, Elder Twiggs (Principal and only teacher, Student (name unknown), Elder H. M. J. Richards (President of the Arkansas Conference and father of H. M. S. Richards, the founder of the Voice of Prophecy), John Blalock (Conference Educational Secretary). Names and picture were provided by Fletcher and Amy Blalock November 12, 1985 (Melton, 2004).

Flint Creek Intermediate school

Beginning with the 1924-1925 school year, the church school was upgraded from eight grades to nine (Richards, 1925) and the name was changed from Flint Creek School to Flint Creek Intermediate School. Mr. and Mrs. William Miller were the teachers and a broom-making industry was started. Before time for the next term to begin, a few other families had moved to the community and two more teachers were added, Miss Evilsisor and Miss Minnie Robbins (Black, 1925). On May 1, 1926, the conference president, Elder H. M. J. Richards visited the school and baptized fifteen students in Flint Creek (Richards, 1926).

Flint Creek church and school built in 1912-1913 with both school rooms added. Photo ca. 1930.

In 1926, a second wing was added to the church to provide an additional 24′ x 30′ school room for the 1926-1927 school year. That year they operated a ten-grade, three-teacher school with fifty-five students (Shafer, 1927; cf. Statistical Report, 1927). In 1928, there were sixty-two students with eight graduates from eighth grade and three from the tenth grade (Shafer, 1928). The 1930 school year began with forty students with prospects for more, and three teachers, Miss Pearl Pride, Mrs. E. A. Nixon, and Mrs. Killion (Hanhardt, 1930).

Roy Cole’s map drawn from his memory, dated 1925. Corrections: The first church built beside Flint Creek was in 1912, the first school room was added to the church in 1920, and the second was added in 1927.
Flint Creek crossing. Photo courtesy of Ozark Adventist Academy.
The Flint Creek School, 1927-1928, taken at the side wing of the church. Minnie Robbins (far left) was the Bible teacher. The principal, R. C. Post, is just behind her. The other teacher was Martha L. Low (far right). (Record, 2001; Yearbook, 1928).

Ozark Junior Academy

In May 1935, it was announced that the name of the school had been changed to Ozark Junior Academy (Ruf, 1935), although this name had been used occasionally since 1930 (Shafer, 1930). By 1941, the enrollment was 150 with forty in the elementary grades and 110 in the academy (Record, 1941).

Roy Cole’s map dated 1941.
1941-1942 School Year
Eighth-grade class of 1942

Extra Classroom and First Hot Lunch Program

The first building on the left is the frame building that served as an elementary classroom and hot lunch room.

The school soon outgrew the facilities at the church and from about 1943 to 1954, the upstairs of a small frame building near the church was used as an elementary classroom (Cole, 1967). In 1946, the Home and School Association started a hot lunch program downstairs so each child in the elementary school would have a hot lunch daily. A small charge was made per week per child. Not only would the children benefit physically, but this was used as a home economics class for the seventh and eighth grade students, as they were taught the principles of foods and cooking. They had a gas stove and a sink, but had to use the refrigerator at the little store nearby owned by Mr. and Mrs. Edward Coffman (Olsen, 1947).

1943-1944 School Year
1947-1948 School Year
Front row 4th from left is Lois Morley. Photo courtesy of Lois Morley.
Gentry church and school in 1947.
1949-1950 School Year
Gentry school with Mrs. Chesnut and Mrs. Hoag as teachers

Ozark Adventist Elementary School

In 1950, the name of the school was changed to Ozark Adventist Elementary School (Report, 1950).

1951-1952 School Year
1953-1954 School Year
1954-1955 School Year
Class photos above are from The Flintonian for the years shown.

A New School Building

May 9, 1954, the Gentry members held a groundbreaking ceremony for a new elementary school. D. M. Twiggs, who had attended the first school and later taught there for four years, told the history of the school. The 1955-1956 school year began in this new school building, although there was still work to be done to complete the building. The building, made of concrete blocks, stood next to the church and included three classrooms, a lunch room and a principal’s office. Enrollment had been running at about sixty students (Jameson, 1954). The new gas furnaces which circulated warm air to every corner of the room, made this school more comfortable than the students had ever had (Jameson, 1955).

Groundbreaking for the new elementary school building was held May 9, 1954 (Jameson, 1954). This photo shows where the church built in 1948 stood in proximity to the school built in 1954-55, which is still standing.
The new Gentry church school building. Photo courtesy of the Southwestern Union Record.
1955-1956 School Year
1956-1957 School Year
Roy Cole’s map dated 1950, although some of the buildings shown were completed after that date. The frame building in which the hot lunch program began was next to the Blue Castle shown in the drawing.

1957-1958 School Year

1958-1959 School Year

1959-1960 School Year
1960-1961 School Year
1961-1962 School Year

school name Changed Again

In 1964, the name of the school was changed again and became Gentry SDA Elementary School and in 1976, became Ozark Elementary School (Report, 1964, 1976).

1966-1967 School Year
Gentry church school group with Delano Gilliam, principal, extreme left; Mrs. Aurora Chesnut, second from left; Mrs. A. Burton, second from right; and Miss Susan Gifford, extreme right.

A New School in 1981

Groundbreaking for the new school

A groundbreaking for the new Ozark Elementary School was held on January 25, 1981. Exactly seven months later, school opened in the new building on August 24, 1981. Under the leadership of Hollis Scarbrough, building committee chairman, members of the Gentry church donated many hours of labor to build and complete the 15,000-square-foot elementary school on the hill across the parking lot from the Gentry church. A scale model of the school was used each Sabbath to collect special offerings for the construction (Teale, 1982). The school was ready for dedication in the spring of 1982. By 1983, there were 133 students enrolled, with five classroom teachers.

Photos from 1983-1984
Photos from 1994
Roof construction over the central courtyard.

In 1991, the problem facing the school was too many students for the facilities. After considering many options, the school board voted to enclose the central courtyard which provided 1,600 square feet of additional space. This space was used for the kindergarten classroom for many years and for the 1991-1992 school year, they were able to offer an optional full day kindergarten instead of the half day that was previously provided (Abernathy, 1991).

Ozark Elementary School is now called Ozark Adventist School. Photo courtesy of Stephen Burton.

8th Grade Mission Trips Begin

In 2000, Rosa Gillham’s eighth-grade class started a tradition of raising money and going on a mission trip each year. This first year they went to Camp Yorktown Bay and established an Indian outpost camp that included a sixteen-foot diameter teepee with a raised wooden floor.

2001 Mission Trip

In 2001, the eighth-grade mission project was to create a place for youth to meet. The Pathfinders had been meeting in the back rooms of the old school building and the front rooms were being used for storage of old desks and other supplies. The eighth grade class cleaned out all of the junk, relocated usable supplies, and took out a wall between two classrooms, remodeling the new large room into a meeting place that was named the “Pipeline.” The youth met there for many activities for a time. A few years later, Compass, a contemporary SDA group, began meeting in the Pipeline room on Sabbath mornings. Compass soon outgrew the space and the Pathfinders began meeting in the front room, while Compass remodeled the back rooms, removing a wall to create a larger room, making it a more suitably-sized meeting place.

2002 Mission Trip

The eighth-grade mission trip in 2002 was to New Life Ranch, a Christian youth camp on Flint Creek, just over the state line in Oklahoma. There they installed a wood floor in a large hay barn.

2003 Mission Trip

In 2003, the eighth grade class raised about $2,300 for a Camp Yorktown Bay (CYB) mission trip. Some of the money went to help pay for the lumber, wiring and other materials needed for their project. The eighth graders spent six days at CYB remodeling the stage at the campfire bowl. This included rewiring for new lights and power outlets. In addition to the stage, many smaller projects were completed. The leaves were raked, trails repaired, handrails installed, gravel replaced, benches and the sound building painted, and the horseshoe pits were redone. There was still time for play each afternoon. The kids enjoyed wakeboarding, tubing, and sunbathing (Burton, 2003).

2004 and 2005 Mission Trips

The purpose of the eighth-grade class mission trips in 2004 and 2005, was to build a large deck out the back of the dining hall at Camp Yorktown Bay. In 2004, Stephen Burton and his daughter and son-in-law, Julie and Rodney Bowes, spent spring break at the camp putting in posts and framing the deck floor for the large octagon portion of the deck. When the eighth-graders arrived for their mission trip, they installed the floor-boards, the railings, and the steps to the ground on this part of the deck. In 2005, the eighth-grade class put in the floor joists, the flooring, railings of the upper level of the deck and added steps connecting the upper deck to the lower level.

Other Mission Trips

Other mission trips since these included building two levels of seating at the horse corral at Camp Yorktown Bay in 2006, and adding two more teepees to the Indian camp in 2007. Eighth grade mission trips continue to be held each year.

Seating at the horse corral built in 2006.
Photos from 2019

Citations

(1904, Nov. 28). Southwestern Union Record, p. 2.

(1909, Nov. 30). Ibid., p. 1.

(1909-1928) Yearbook of the Seventh-day Adventist Denomination. Washington, D. C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association.

(1927). Statistical Report of Seventh-day Adventist Conferences, Missions, and Institutions. Takoma Park: General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.

(1941, Oct. 1941). Southwestern Union Record, p. 3.

(1942-1962). The Flintonian. Gentry, AR: Ozark Academy.

(1949-1979). Teacher’s Opening Report. Shreveport, LA: Arkansas-Louisiana Conference of SDA.

(1966, Nov. 12). Southwestern Union Record, p. 8.

(2001, Sep. 1). Ibid., p. 7.

Abernathy, Maxine. (1991, Sep. 1). Ibid., p. 16.

Black, L. J. (1925, Oct. 20). Ibid., p. 2.

Burton, Stephen. (2003, Jul. 1). Newsletter, Arkansas-Louisiana Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, p. 11.

Cole, Roy (1967). Unpublished.

Eastman, C. N. (1912a, Feb. 27). Southwestern Union Record, p. 5.

Ibid. (1912b, Mar. 21). Review and Herald, p. 18.

Ibid. (1912c, Sep. 10). Southwestern Union Record, p. 7.

Find a Grave. (2017, May 14). Goldie May McLaughlin Wakenight. Retrieved from findagrave.com.

Griffin, Charles. (1981, Apr. 2). Ibid., p. 12F

Griffin, H. Clay. (1921, Jan. 25). Ibid., p. 3.

Ibid. (1923, May 29). p. 2.

Hanhardt, W. H. (1930, Oct. 15). Ibid., p. 2.

Hickman, N. R. (1917, Sep. 18). Ibid., p. 5.

Jameson, J. S. (1954, Jun. 9). Ibid., p. 4.

Ibid. (1955, Nov. 23). p. 6.

Melton, June. (2004, Spring). A Pictorial History of Ozark Adventist Academy. Retrieved from ozarkacademy.org.

Moore, J. S. (1910, Apr. 19). Southwestern Union Record, p. 1.

Olsen, Boyd E. (1947, Sep. 3). Ibid., p. 3.

Richards, H. M. J. (1925, Mar. 24). Ibid., p. 2

Ibid. (1926, May 25). p. 2.

Ruf, A. F. (1935, May 22). Ibid., p. 3.

Shafer, S. T. (1927, Nov. 15). Ibid., p. 2.

Ibid. (1928, Jun. 12). p. 2.

Teal, Thelma. (1982, Feb. 4). Ibid., p. 8E.

Watts, V. B. (1905, Jan. 17). Ibid., p. 2.

Wilcox, Lorena E. (1920, Nov. 30). Ibid., p. 3.

Wilson, Josephine. (1905, Nov. 7). Ibid., p. 2.