THE SCHOOL BEGINS
On October 9, 1905, a church school was begun in Mena, Arkansas. Miss Manfull was the teacher and they had nine students from SDA families and five students from non-Adventist families (Felter, 1905). The school was in operation one year, then closed for several years (Yearbook, 1906).
Dallas Valley Church School
In 1957, the Mena church congregation purchased an old school building for their meeting place. This was in Dallas Valley and on June 1, 1957, the Mena company was organized into the Dallas Valley Mena church with thirty-six charter members (Ashton, 1958). It was voted to open a school in Mena for the 1961-1962 school year, with Kathryn Rowland as the teacher (Minutes, 1961).
B. J. Rowland Adventist School
In August 1978 a new church school began classes with four students in the Mena Church. Construction of a school building was being done by volunteer labor of the church members, so the church continued to house the classes until January when the students and their teacher were able to move into their new building. Finishing touches were still needed, but they were in their own building. By February 17, 1979, they were ready for an open house which began with a sundown vesper service, followed by supper and a patriotic program. Their teacher, Norma Wolter, came from Denver, Colorado, where she had taught at Mile High Academy for 28 years. In addition to the regular class subjects, she also taught nutrition, music, art, and crafts. One of the crafts was ceramics, some of which were put on display and were for sale, the proceeds going to the school building fund. At a business meeting the members voted to name the school “The B. J. Rowland Seventh-day Adventists Elementary School” in memory of Mr. B. J. Rowland, longtime resident of the Mena area and member of the Mena Adventist church. He took a personal interest in the progress and construction of the school and spent many an hour in the final days of his life watching as the members worked (Carbaugh, 1979).
About B. J. Rowland
Bailus Julius Rowland and his wife, Kathryn, lived in Mena, Arkansas for many years. They celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 1971. Mr. B. J. Rowland taught in the public school system, worked in the Museum of Natural History, and in the government printing office in Washington, D.C., for a number of years. Mr. Rowland was also a veteran of the First World War. His wife, Mrs. Kathryn Rowland, also taught both public and church schools. She was a teacher of music for over 40 years and attended Washington Missionary College. The Rowlands had a daughter, Mrs. Frank Darden of Fresno, California, and four grandchildren (Thurmon, 1972).
Miss Wolter Retires
Norma Wolter retired in Mena in 1985. The new teacher for the 1985-1986 school year was Stephen Burton. Norma and her friend, Mabel Madsen, spent many more years traveling to Vacation Bible Schools throughout the southwest, providing the craft programs and including all the supplies.
(1906) Yearbook of the Seventh-day Adventist Denomination. Washington, D. C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association.
(1961, Aug.). Minutes of the Educational Sub Committee. Shreveport, LA: Arkansas-Louisiana Conference of SDA.
Ashton, Mr. and Mrs. William M. (1957, Sep. 11). Southwestern Union Record, pp. 4, 5.
Carbaugh, Dorothy. (1979, Jun. 28). Ibid., p. 5.
Felter, L. W. (1905, Oct. 17). Ibid., p. 2.
Thurmon, James E. (1972, Jan. 22). Ibid., pp. 8, 9.