Ozark Adventist Academy

Village students at Ozark Academy in 1942 (Flintonian, 1942).
Academy Principals
The Flintonian

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). The following 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). Josephine taught for four years and 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. In 1910, Edna Boaz was the teacher (Yearbook, 1911).

Flint Creek School

Rasmus L. Christensen was a strong promoter of the early school and encouraged more families to move to the area. (Newkirk, 1912; Grave, 2011).

There is no record of a school for the 1911-1912 school year and by February 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). The school became known as the Flint Creek school and the start of school was postponed until October 7, 1912, so they could finish the building (Eastman, 1912b). Grace Elliott was the teacher that year (Norwood, 1912). When school began in 1920, a room had been 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. The school year was lengthened from six months, to eight months (Wilcox, 1920), and the school 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 mere prospective one student in 1923, so the school was closed” for one year (Wilson, 1975).

Spring 1923 photo of Flint Creek School, which met in the Gentry church in the classroom on the right that had been added to the church in 1920. Photo courtesy of Ozark Adventist Academy.

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, Alice Twiggs, Roy Blalock, Elder David M. 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

Early in 1924, Professor William Beach Miller from Enterprise, Kansas, with his wife, Mary Ella, and three children, Wilma, David, and Robert, wanted to move to the Ozarks to start a self-supporting school. William talked it over his friends and neighbors and finally aroused the interest of the Clark B. Evilsisor family. Mr. Evilsisor was a carpenter and his wife, Pearl, was a practical nurse with some teaching experience. They were raising eleven children who were not their own (Hilborn, 1925). William and Clark made a trip to Arkansas to look for the right location. Their first stop was at the Flint Creek community, where they happened to meet the president of the Arkansas Conference, Elder H. M. J. Richards. “When he heard their plans he urged them to settle at Flint Creek to build up the school there and they agreed” (Cole, 1967). The two families “chartered a railway car for moving household goods and tools, and arrived in Gentry in time to open school in September 1924, with nine grades” (Cole, 1967; Richards, 1925). The school was opened with the name Flint Creek Intermediate School and Mr. and Mrs. William B. Miller were the teachers. Before time for the 1925-1926 school year 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). There were twenty-eight students in grades one through eight, and eight students in grades nine and ten (Statistical Report, 1925).

Student Housing

It was not in the plan to build dormitories but to invite industrious and loyal Seventh-day Adventist families from other parts of Arkansas to either buy or rent farms in the surrounding area and send their children to the school, and to help worthy children attend who needed assistance, by taking them into their home and paying their tuition.  The Evilsisor’s home was where many of them found a place to eat and sleep, and a chance to work for their keep (Cole, 1967).

Student Industries

One example of the numerous articles found in The Journal-Advance and other newspapers about the school and families associated with it. (Journal, 1933a).

Some work for students was provided by small industries—broom-making, fruit and vegetable canning, sorghum making, and a strawberry patch. The Journal-Advance in Gentry and other newspapers in the state, ran numerous articles about the school, about the Evilsisors, and other families who were involved in running the sorghum mill, making trips to Missouri to purchase broom corn, selling loads of completed brooms in nearby towns, operating the canning business, making quilts, rescuing people who fell or drove into Flint Creek, and mention is even made of various illnesses and injuries they sustained over the years (Journal, 1930-2001). These families had committed their lives to providing a school where students could obtain a well-rounded Christian education.

Second Classroom Added

Flint Creek Church built in 1912 with both school rooms added. Photo ca. 1927. Photo courtesy of Ozark Adventist Academy.

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. This gave them the two school rooms with a seating capacity of twenty-five in each room, in addition to the basement classroom. That year they operated a ten-grade, three-teacher school with fifty-five students. Fourteen were in the ninth and tenth grades (Shafer, 1927; cf. Statistical Report, 1927). In 1928, there were sixty-two students with eight graduates from eighth grade. There were eleven in the ninth grade and three graduated from the tenth grade (Shafer, 1928; Statistical Report, 1928). The 1930 school year began with forty students, eight of whom were in the junior high grades. The three teachers were Miss Pearl Pride, Mrs. E. A. Nixon, and Mrs. Killion (Hanhardt, 1930; Statistical Report, 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. Map courtesy of the Arkansas-Louisiana conference.
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).

Construction Begins

Administration building named “Blue Castle” (Flintonian, 1948).

In 1933, the first building put up was a teachers cottage (Journal, 1933b). The principal, Joshua C. Turner, and his wife moved in on Thanksgiving Day (Journal, 1933c). Built from lumber salvaged from an old board and batten barn, it was covered inside and out with blue building paper, and was soon given the name “Blue Castle.” The building later served as a classroom, administration building with offices for the principal and treasurer, and housing for six boys. In the treasurer’s office an old refrigerator was used as the safe, and it was robbed only once (Cole, 1967).

The first building on the left is the frame building. The next one is Blue Castle (Flintonian, 1948).

The next structure on the campus was an all-purpose little frame building near the church. This served in many capacities during its time—temporary dormitory, storeroom, library and study hall downstairs and academy classrooms upstairs; and finally elementary school upstairs and hot-lunch room downstairs (Flintonian, 1942; Cole, 1967; Olsen 1947). This building was demolished about 1955 when the new church school was opened on the west side of the road (Melton, 2004).

Ozark Junior Academy

Warren D. Pierce in 1942. Photo courtesy of Ozark Adventist 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). That same year a “nut house” had been added to the east side of blue castle, where students shelled black walnuts for a few years as an industry (Ruf, 1935). Construction continued and in 1936, a two-story building to house the broom shop and a print shop was erected to offer employment for the students. In 1937, Warren Pierce and his wife, Myrtle, came from Little Rock to teach at Gentry (Record, 1937a). When they arrived and Mrs. Pierce saw Blue Castle as the only place to live, she broke down and cried (Cole, 1967). Elder Pierce was assigned as the principal in 1938. He felt that the school needed to have twelve grades and in order for that to happen, there needed to be dormitories to house the students (Melton, 2004).  

First Dormitories

Immediately Pierce began raising funds to build a girls’ dorm, which was later named Pierce Hall, and when school opened for the 1938-1939 school year it was nearing completion. “It didn’t have a stairway yet,” Pierce recalled, “so we placed a ladder on the outside leading up to a second-floor window. The girls had to climb the ladder and crawl through the window to get to their rooms” (Loveridge, 2001). Native oak was used to build the first dorms. It was available at less cost than softer timber, but required much harder work to complete the hand sawing and nailing. Insulation was mostly by papering the walls and ceilings (Cole, 1967).

Fire Destroys Industrial Building

New print shop built in 1938. Photo courtesy of Ozark Adventist Academy.
Article from The Journal Advance dated November 18, 1937

A cannery was added to the industries in 1937, but on November 16, 1937, the building housing the broom shop and the print shop burned. Since the fire demolished both industries it was decided that they should not both be in the same building, so construction was begun on a new one-story broom shop on the same foundation in mid-December (Record, 1937b), while a separate building was put up to house the printing industry. In 1940, a new industry added on campus was a venetian blind factory that was managed by Roy Cole and employed a few students (Pierce, 1940). Every student was required to work a minimum number of hours a week, but time worked beyond the minimum was reimbursed, beginning at 10 cents per hour (Melton, 2004).

Students working around campus

Working in the kitchen…
…broom shop…
… and print shop (Flintonian, 1943)

Primitive Facilities

Flint Creek crossing. Photo courtesy of Ozark Adventist Academy.

Conditions were primitive during the early years. Students took their baths in the creek and girls dressed by a large pot-bellied stove in the first floor of the dormitory with a large hole in the floor above for heat upstairs. Boys had no heat in their dormitory. Former student Milton Easley, was disappointed to find no electric lights or running water in the boys’ dormitory. When he woke up the first morning he was there, Mrs. Pierce handed him two buckets and told him to go down to the pump and fill them up. The drinking water was carried from the pump, but water for washing dishes, clothes, and scrubbing floors came from the creek. Kerosene and gasoline lanterns furnished the light in the dormitories (Cole, 1967). Boys brought stove wood for the girls’ dorm furnace, but they were not allowed into the building until the girls were out of sight and in bed. One student recalls, “When winter came and the thermometer dropped to twenty below, and all the furnace wood had been burned up, school was let out and the girls went to bed to keep warm” (Loveridge, 2001).

Elder Baker’s Contribution to the Building program

Elder and Mrs. Isaac Baker. Photo courtesy of the Southwestern Union Record.

Elder Isaac Baker, the pastor of the eight churches making up the northwest Arkansas district, had also seen the need for buildings, especially dormitories and a dining hall. He wrote an article in the August 17, 1938, Southwestern Union Record saying, “Cannot someone pay the price of a door, or window, or purchase hinges, locks, or window stops? Come on, friends; this good work must progress. Send chairs, tables, beds, or anything that can be used at such an institution” (Baker, 1938). Elder Baker and another man went to Fort Smith and solicited the furniture factories and they brought back beds, springs, mattresses, dressers, mirrors, and other pieces. About this time Frank McCrary, who owned twenty acres including the property where most of the buildings now stand, contacted Elder Baker and told him that he would sell that property. Elder Baker told the church he would buy the land and donate it providing the members of the church would furnish free labor to erect the buildings. Everyone was willing to work — and work they did! Later Elder Baker bought another acre of land from Mr. and Mrs. Joe Rogers on which the girls’ dormitory and dining hall were located, and donated that too (Beem, 1958; Statistical Report, 1938). Another donation of land was made and the school had twenty-two acres by the end of 1938. The buildings were covered with imitation brick siding (Record, 1940).

Everyone helped! The three Royer sisters opened their home to Elder and Mrs. Baker so they could stay in their “Shunamite room” when they came from Fayetteville, their headquarters, to work on building projects during the week. Ruby and Ben Wilson gave milk and vegetables and with what the Bakers and others furnished, the people who gave their labor were fed. Elder Baker was there working from the time the first nail was driven until the day that the smoke began rolling from the oil drums that had to serve as stoves until the time that he could afford to go himself and buy furnaces to donate to the boys’ dormitory and the dining room, which was part of the girls’ dormitory (Beem, 1958).

First Graduating Class

Class of 1940 with their sponsor, Carlton Blackburn. Photo courtesy of Ozark Adventist Academy.

In 1936, there was an enrollment of thirty-five. In 1937, there were thirty students in the elementary grades and twenty-seven in the secondary (Statistical Report, 1937). Up through the 1939-1940 school year, the school only went through eleventh grade. The Class of 1940, however, was considered the first graduating class. The graduates were Mary Alice Benedict, Lola Marie Diehl, Adaline Erma Lewis-Valedictorian, Betty Ruth Seasly-President, and Esther Wilson (Melton, 2004). For the 1940-1941 school year, twelfth grade was added. The enrollment was 153, of whom 109 were secondary students (Statistical Report, 1941). The first graduating class with the full four-year high school program was that school year in the spring of 1941 with twelve graduates. Tuition, with room and board was $18.75 that year. By the 1941-1942 school year the enrollment was 150 with forty in the elementary grades and 110 in the academy (Record, 1941).

Ozark Academy in 1941

Pierce Hall after the 1941 addition (Flintonian, 1953)

A two-story wing was built onto the girls’ dorm in 1941, adding several student rooms upstairs and a worship room downstairs.  It also provided room for bathrooms, bringing to an end the girls having their baths in the creek. On March 15, 1942, the sign was hung naming the dorm Pierce Hall after the much loved Mr. and Mrs. Warren Pierce. About this time, ninety-foot well was drilled, providing clear cool water. A pipe was laid to the kitchen sink and a septic tank for the girls’ dorm was built. Finally, the first running water to the kitchen was hooked up in July 1941 (Cole, 1969). Tuition for a dorm student was raised to $25 for the next school year. That summer at the constituency meeting held during camp meeting, it was voted to recognize Ozark Junior Academy as a conference institution and the school name was changed to Ozark Academy (Record, 1941a). Arrangements were made in 1941 to purchase thirty acres of land adjoining the school property. This gave the school fifty-two acres and provided at least twenty acres for cultivation. Also, a large two-story farmhouse was built on the school farm to house at least two teachers and their families (Record, 1941b).

The boys’ dorm named Baker Hall after the pastor who had done so much to get the school started (Flintonian, 1953).

Wooden bridge over Flint Creek in 1943 (Flintonian, 1944).

Roy Cole’s map courtesy of the Arkansas-Louisiana conference.
Ozark Academy Medical Cadet Corps

Ozark academy

Joe Bischoff, principal, (right) in front of Blue Castle after it was remodeled (Flintonian, 1948).

In 1942, restrooms were added to the boys’ dorm and facilities were installed for using butane gas for cooking and supplemental heat. “Blue Castle” was remodeled, taking away its colorful name. A solid concrete foundation was added, and a cement floor was put in the basement. The outside walls were covered with imitation brick to match the other buildings (Baker, 1942) and green carpet was installed (Flintonian, 1944). Ozark Academy was slowly making progress. Nine students graduated in 1942 (Cole, 1967; cf. Flintonian, 1942).

Graduating Class of 1942
Row 1 : Billy Hix, Avon Dalton, Ben Gardner;
Row 2: Addie Mae Gage, Cree Biggs, Donna Connell;
Row 3: Hubert Morgan, Milton Easley, Clarence Morgan (Flintonian, 1942)
History class in 1943 in classroom with walls made of rough lumber (Flintonian, 1944)

Meal Time

Dining hall with new chairs. Photo taken in 1948 (Flintonian, 1948).

In 1943, Professor Pierce purchased cane-bottom chairs for the dining room. Up to that time there had been only six chairs—the other students sat on benches made of one-by-four boards, without backs, around home-made dining tables. Sometimes it took real ingenuity and hard work to provide food for the growing boarding academy. When Mrs. Ruth Petty was the food matron, she found the students grew tired of the too-frequent appearance of roast made with yesterday’s left-overs. But scraps of nourishing food must not be thrown away, so Ruth got the idea of making them into soup for supper, and it was good! One of the girls who was a student in those days wrote these lines about the menu:

“Four Kinds of Gravy
On Monday we have bread and gravy,
On Tuesday it’s gravy and bread;
On Wednesday and Thursday it’s gravy on toast—
And of course that’s gravy on bread.
On Friday we went to the matron
And asked for something instead.
And—what do you think?—on Saturday morn
It was gravy without any bread.”
–Polly Davidson-Haynes

(Polly sang this to the tune of “Beautiful Texas” at the Ozark Academy
 homecoming of June 26-28, 1970) (Cole, 1967)

Twelve-grade Conference Boarding School

Mrs. Crystal Duce in 1942. Photo courtesy of Ozark Adventist Academy.

For the 1944-1945 school year, $35 a month tuition covered board, room, and tuition, but a new administration building and library were needed. By this time there was pressure both financially and from the southern part of the conference to relocate the school (Beeler, 1996). These were also the war years and times were hard. The attendance that year took such a drop that support called for from the conference was more than they could bear. In 1945, regrets were expressed, but the decision was announced to operate Ozark Academy only as a twelve-grade day academy. Students in the southern part of the conference were encouraged to go to Southwestern Junior College in Keene. The staff members got together and decided to ask the Conference to give them a chance to try to operate the school on their own for a year. Permission was given and a month later, it was announced in the Southwestern Union Record that Ozark Academy would operate as a boarding academy after all but would only go through 11th grade (Record, 1945). That year the principal, Crystal Duce, provided the turning point in the history of the school. She went to Fort Crowder, Missouri, where the military camp was being demolished. She purchased a gymnasium, salvaged its lumber and brought it to the Ozark Academy campus, to be made into classrooms. Windows were purchased and a ground-breaking ceremony was held April 9, 1946. The year ended with a balanced budget that convinced the conference that Ozark Academy was worth supporting (Loveridge, 2001). In 1946, the General Conference sent a telegram to the school board that their plans to build a new administration building had been approved. The conference constituency unanimously voted to operate Ozark Academy as a twelve-grade conference boarding school and to build the administration building (Wells, 1946).

Ground-breaking ceremonies for a new administration building were held April 9, 1946. Photo courtesy of Ozark Adventist Academy.


Joseph H. Bischoff, principal from 1946-1950.

Under the leadership of Joseph H. Bischoff, on March 10, 1947, Ozark Academy was accredited by the Arkansas State Board of Education (Bischoff, 1947). In 1949, the General Conference Board of Regents gave the academy permanent accreditation (Bischoff, 1949) and in 1950, the State of Arkansas advanced Ozark Academy’s rating from Class C to a Class B school (Bischoff, 1950).

New Buildings

The 1948 graduation was held in the unfinished administration building (Wells, 1948) and in 1949, some classes began meeting there, but the exterior brick work was not completed until near the end of 1950 (Bischoff, 1950). A principal’s cottage was added in 1951, a maintenance building in 1952, an industrial building in 1953, and a building to house home arts, music, and the cafeteria in 1954 (Russell, 1954).

Graduating Class of 1949

Front row: Jean Welsh, Betty Sue McCulley, Ireldean Gilliam, JoAnn Wilson, Irma Jean Roller; Back row: Lester Fowler, Herbert Morgan, Larry Boswell, and Dale Collins (Flintonian, 1949)

The administration building, completed in 1950, housed the classrooms and offices, library and a chapel.

Photo courtesy of the Arkansas-Louisiana conference.

Photo courtesy of Ozark Adventist Academy.
Inside the chapel of the new administration building. Photo courtesy of Ozark Adventist Academy.
Principal’s house built in 1951 (Flintonian, 1952).
Boys at the Flint Creek swimming hole (Flintonian, 1954).
(Record, 1953)

Maintenance building added in 1952, Industrial Arts building added in 1953, and construction of the Home Arts, Music and Cafeteria building under construction in 1954 (Russell, 1954).

Students involved in a variety of activities on the OA campus in 1954. Photos courtesy of the Southwestern Union Record.

Completed Home Arts building in 1955 that included dining, bakery, laundry, and music facilities. Photo courtesy of the Arkansas-Louisiana conference.
Roy Cole’s map dated 1950, although some of the buildings shown were completed after that date. Map courtesy of the Arkansas-Louisiana conference.
In 1955 cards were sent to the churches throughout the conference promoting the academy. Photo courtesy of the Arkansas-Louisiana conference.
Academy students walking across the road to the new Gentry church in 1958 (Flintonian, 1958).

A New Boys’ Dormitory

A new boys’ dormitory was completed in 1958. A fire in old the dorm during the 1957-58 school year helped speed up “the construction process, and open house for the new dorm was held March 14 and 15, 1959” (Melton, 2004).

Photo courtesy of the Southwestern Union Record.

New boys’ dorm under construction. Photo courtesy of the Southwestern Union Record.

In a three-page letter written to the principal, F. H. Hewitt, dated January 12, 1958, Anna Beem wrote that “a group of us who have known and loved Elder Isaac Baker feel that it is only fitting that the new [boys’] dormitory that is under construction at Ozark Academy might well bear the name of the one now in use, Baker Hall.” She continued by explaining that Elder Baker was the one who was “most responsible for the early establishment, construction, and development of the academy” (Beem, 1958). The administration agreed with her and the new boys’ dorm was named Baker Hall.

The new Baker Hall. Photo courtesy of the Arkansas-Louisiana conference.

Ozark Academy Band ca. 1960. Photo courtesy of the Arkansas-Louisiana conference.

OA Cottage Cheese Loaf

Cottage Cheese Loaf was often served for Sabbath dinner at Ozark Academy. Jean DeGroat, laundry supervisor and assistant cook from 1960 – 1969, shares this recipe (Huff, 1994).

4 cups small curd cottage cheese
5 cups Rice Krispies
1/4 cup milk
5 beaten eggs
3 envelopes George Washington broth
1 cup pecan meal
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup melted margarine
1 teaspoon sage, to taste

Blend cottage cheese, milk, beaten eggs, broth, and pecan meal. Saute chopped onion in margarine until soft. Add in and mix. Add Rice Krispies and sage to taste. Spray large baking pan with Pam. Bake for one hour at 350 degrees, covered with foil for the first 30 minutes.

Increasing Enrollment

Enrollment at Ozark Academy was a gradual but steady growth. Opening enrollment in 1952 was 123 students, in 1954 it was 151 (Record, 1954), in 1958 it was 163 (Hewitt, 1958), and in 1963 it was 170 (Evans, 1963). For the 1966-1967 school year, enrollment reached 214 with students coming from Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Texas, New Mexico, California, Florida and Nevada (Swinyar, 1966b).

New Ozark Academy sign donated by the Class of 1961. Photo courtesy of the Arkansas-Louisiana conference.

Some Student Industries

In 1962, Brandom’s Kitchen Cabinets of Texas, opened a Gentry branch off campus (Record, 1962). This became a major industry for Ozark Academy students. After the plant burned in 1969, Bill Young with the Young Building Company of Siloam Springs, Arkansas, was hired to construct a building 150′ x 450′. This new facility more than doubled the space and increased production three-fold. It also had extra fire-safety features to insure against loss by fire and air-filtration to reduce the hazard of dust inhalation (Swinyar, 1969). In 1982, when Brandom’s closed, a group of Gentry church members organized Mid-America Cabinets to continue providing work opportunities for about 35 students (Record, 1983). In 1986, McKee Foods built a large branch plant in Gentry for box recycling to employ students, which became an important student industry for many years. By 1998, the box factory was employing over 100 students. Also in 1998, a memorandum of understanding was signed with ADRA to begin a clothing depot where students sorted and baled clothes for overseas shipment (Dart, 1998).

Construction phase of Brandom’s Kitchen Cabinets-Gentry branch.

Photo courtesy of the Arkansas-Louisiana conference.

Students working at Brandom’s Kitchen Cabinets. Photos courtesy of the Arkansas-Louisiana conference.

Aerial view of Brandom’s taken September 23, 1964 . Photo courtesy of the Arkansas-Louisiana conference.
Box Industry building 1986. Photo courtesy of Ozark Adventist Academy.


By 1962, forty to fifty students from Oklahoma were attending Ozark Academy. The Oklahoma conference agreed to become a constituent of the school on a three-year basis, and their conference president became a member of the board (Dessain, 1962).

I. M. Evans Hall

A groundbreaking ceremony for a new girls’ dormitory was held on May 23, 1963, with Elder J. J. Swinyar as the emcee. The new dormitory was completed in 1964 and named I. M. Evans Hall. This replaced the hand-built oak structure, Pierce Hall.

Photo courtesy of the Arkansas-Louisiana conference.

New Gymnasium

On July 13, 1965, following camp meeting, the ground-breaking ceremony for the new 52,000 sq. ft. gymnasium was held on the Ozark Academy campus. The board voted to name the gymnasium Callicott Hall in gratitude for the generosity of Rex Callicott, whose generous financial backing had made the gymnasium and the new girls’ dorm possible. Wesley Stabel was the building superintendent. The first event held in the new Callicott Hall was the annual student Amateur Hour held on February 19, 1966. Although the building was not quite complete, there were curtains on the stage and the light fixtures in place so over 600 attendees could enjoy the program (Swinyar, 1966a).

Photo Left to right: Bill Saxon, Architect; R. E. Callicott, E. C. Wines, P. I. Nosworthy, O. D. Wright, L. C. Evans, K. C. Beem, R. A. Nesmith, Sherman Kenyon (hidden), A. C. Carlson, leading music; Ora Curran, Executive Vice-President of Allen Canning Company; Dennis Nooner, J. J. Swinyar, W. D. Welch (Swinyar, 1965). Photo courtesy of the Arkansas-Louisiana conference.

Photo Left to right: K. C. Beem, P. I. Nosworthy, L. C. Evans, Unknown, O. D. Wright, R. A. Nesmith, R. E. Callicott, and Dennis Nooner (Swinyar, 1965). Photo courtesy of the Arkansas-Louisiana conference.

Industrial Arts Building

Site prepared for the industrial arts building (Flintonian, 1972).
Stanley Swena checks out the controls on the new airplane used in the flight-training program. Photo courtesy of the Southwestern Union Record.

In 1972, a much-needed 5,800 square foot Industrial Arts building was added to the OA campus. The hill behind the administration building “had been leveled off and the dirt used to fill in the gully behind the gym” (Flintonian, 1972). This not only provided space for the industrial arts building, but provided a level area to build a larger administration building in the near future. The brick and steel industrial arts building included four class-laboratory rooms, a teacher’s office, and a conference room. The most popular classes offered during the next school year were graphic arts and auto mechanics. Other classes available that year were flight training, general shop, architectural and mechanical drawing (Record, 1973). Ten students earned their pilot’s license that year (Wines, 1973). Funding for the Industrial Arts building was provided by the Oklahoma Conference, the Callicott Foundation, the Brandom’s Manufacturing Corporation and numerous individual gifts (Record, 1972).

Sketch of the new Industrial Arts building (Record, 1972)

More New Buildings

Between 1966 – 1974, Ozark Academy moved to a stronger financial base of operation and enrollment grew to 267. In addition to the new industrial arts building, OA enlarged the dining room facility, built six new faculty homes and two new faculty duplexes (Leach, 1974). One much appreciated improvement during the summer of 1980 was paving the campus roads and parking lots. This was largely possible through funds provided by Rex Callicott, the generosity of Hollis Scarbrough who provided the machinery and much donated labor for laying the concrete, and the sizeable discount of the Ready-Mix company that provided the material (Nelson, 1980).

Roy Cole’s map dated 1970, although some of the buildings shown were completed after that date. Map courtesy of the Arkansas-Louisiana conference.
In 1976, the name of the school was changed to Ozark Adventist Academy.

Oklahoma Conference as a Constituent Again

In 1976, the name of the school was changed to Ozark Adventist Academy. The new name was adopted in connection with a vote in the spring that the Oklahoma Conference would again become a constituent of the academy. A new board was selected by the constituency on November 7, 1976 (Nelson, 1976). Oklahoma remained a constituent of OAA for ten years until 1986 (Grove, 1999).

New Administration Building

Plaque by auditorium entrance inside the administration building.

Groundbreaking for a new administration building was held during camp meeting on June 6, 1976. The actual start of the construction was dependent on selection of a construction superintendent and the final approval of the plans. In September 1976 construction began. Interrupted by weeks of snow and cold, by March 1977, the walls finally began rising (Nelson, 1977). As a constituent, Oklahoma contributed heavily in funding the new building (May, 1976). An Open House was held on February 5, 1978, to celebrate the opening of the new administration building that had been under construction for more than a year. The new 52,000 square foot complex housed the administrative offices, a library, an auditorium to seat 400, music department, home economics, and science departments, and classrooms for all areas of instruction except the Industrial Arts, which had its own building (Record, 1978).

New administration building completed in 1978. Photo courtesy of Stephen Burton.

OAA Includes Computer Technology

Mark Emery working on a research paper in the computer lab. Photo courtesy of the Southwestern Union Record.

In 1983 Ozark Adventist Academy made a strong commitment to including technology in their curriculum. During the 1983-1984 school year students raised over $11,000 for the purchase of computer hardware. This made it possible to teach classes in computer programming, word processing, and individualized computer instruction during the 1984-1985 school year. The school was able to purchase eight computers, a dot-matrix printer, and a library of assorted software. The equipment was placed in a computer lab that was available for both students and teachers to use (Record, 1985).

This sign marking the entrance to Ozark Adventist Academy was a gift from the class of 1988, alumni, and friends (Record, 1989).
Aerial view of the OA Campus ca. 1990
Aerial view of the OAA Campus ca. 1990. Photo courtesy of the Arkansas-Louisiana conference.

Fiftieth Annivesary

Ozark Adventist Academy celebrated its 50th anniversary as a twelve-grade school in 1991, with over 480 alumni attending the weekend event (Abernathy, 1991).

New Boys’ Dorm

Excitement mounted as students, faculty and parents watched the progress being made on the Ozark Academy boys dorm (Dart, 1998).

In 1995, plans were being made to build a new boys’ dorm to replace the outgrown and outdated Baker Hall. One of the first donors, McKee Foods Corporation, committed $750,000 toward its construction, to be given over a three year period (Record, 1995). On November 10, 1996, Edwin de Meritt was chosen from a group of three architects submitting proposals, to draw plans for the new dormitory. The groundbreaking for the new dorm was held on May 16, 1997, and construction began. On June 25, 1997, Tom Mayes was asked to serve as project superintendent. In Phase I, wings A, B, and D were constructed. The boys moved into their new dorm in 1998 and the old boys’ dorm was demolished. Phase II and wing C were completed February 12, 1999, and the Grand Opening of McKee Hall was held September 19, 1999.

An artist rendition of the new boys’ dorm. Photo courtesy of the Arkansas-Louisiana conference.

First Website

In January 1998, Doug Fisher, who was the math and physics teacher at the Ozark Adventist Academy, launched an Ozark Academy website that had pictures and information about OAA life, people, academics, and news (Fisher, 1998).

The cafeteria on fire the night of October 18, 2001.

The cafeteria on fire the night of October 17, 2001.

Photo courtesy of the Arkansas-Louisiana conference.

The Cafeteria Burns

On the night of October 17, 2001, the cafeteria caught on fire. The girls were rapidly evacuated from their dorm which stood next to the cafeteria. Thankfully no lives were lost and the girls’ dorm was not damaged, although the cafeteria building and contents were a total loss. For a few weeks, meals were  prepared for the students in the Gentry Church Youth Center until a temporary cafeteria could be set up on campus. The temporary facility was used for two years. The dedication of the new cafeteria was held on December 13, 2003, (Record, 2003).

Closing the Box

For eighteen years Ozark Adventist Academy entered into an agreement with McKee Foods Corporation in which students peeled tape, sorted and stacked the snack cake boxes for recycling. On June 30, 2004, the final trailer of recycled boxes was loaded, marking the end of a successful long-term relationship. The industry generated over $10 million making Christian education available for young people who would not have been able to attend academy otherwise (Hansen, 2004).

Girls’ Dorm Remodeled

The girls’ dorm underwent a complete remodel in 2005. The building was stripped down to the bare floor and walls and rebuilt into a completely new dorm inside. Each room includes its own climate controls and private closets with suite-mates sharing bathroom facilities between two rooms (Ozark, 2005).

Ozark Adventist Academy as it looks today

OAA campus looking toward the administration building. Photo courtesy of Stephen Burton.
On February 5, 1978, an Open House was held to show the new R. E. Callicott Educational Center, which houses the administrative offices, classrooms, library, and auditorium. 

On February 5, 1978, an Open House was held for the new R. E. Callicott Educational Center, which houses the administrative offices, classrooms, library, and auditorium. Photo courtesy of Stephen Burton.
Gymnasium, Callicott Hall, built in 1965
Gymnasium, Callicott Hall, built in 1965. Photo courtesy of Stephen Burton.
Boys' dorm, McKee Hall, opened in 1998.
Boys’ dorm, McKee Hall, partially opened in 1998 and completed in 1999. Photo courtesy of Stephen Burton.
Girls' dorm, Irvin Hall, after remodeling in 1999.
Girls’ dorm, Irvin Hall, after remodeling in 2005. Photo courtesy of Stephen Burton.
Ground-breaking for a new cafeteria took place on December 11, 2002. The cost of the new 10,500-sq.-ft. building was completely covered by the insurance settlement received after the previous cafeteria burned. (Record, 2003)
Ground-breaking for a new Evea Bainum Cafeteria and Entertainment Pavilion took place on December 11, 2002. The cost of the new 10,500-sq.-ft. building was completely covered by the insurance settlement received after the previous cafeteria burned (Record, 2003). Photo courtesy of Stephen Burton.

The buildings, industries, and accomplishments are important, of course, but the many people who sacrificed so much over the years to make Ozark Adventist Academy the wonderful school it is today, are the best part of this school that has given guidance and direction to our young people in the development of Christian character and in making decisions for Christ and for eternity.

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(1904, Apr. 4). 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.

(1925 – 1938). Annual Statistical Report. Takoma Park: General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.

(1930-2001). The Journal-Advance, Baxter Bulletin, Madison County Record, Northwest Arkansas Times and Democrat Gazette.

(1933a, Oct. 12). Flint Creek Flashes. The Journal-Advance. p. 3.

(1933b, Oct. 20). Flint Creek News. Ibid., p. 3.

(1933c, Dec. 7). Flint Creek. Ibid., p. 2.

(1937, Nov. 18). Fire Destroys Adventist Industrial Building Tuesday. Ibid., p. 1.

(1937a, Oct. 27). Southwestern Union Record, p. 3.

(1937b, Dec. 15). Ibid., p. 4.

(1937) Yearbook of the Seventh-day Adventist Denomination. Washington, D. C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, p. 67.

(1940, Nov. 6). Southwestern Union Record, p. 4.

(1941a, Aug. 25). Ibid., p. 3.

(1941b, Sep. 22). Ibid., p. 3.

(1942-1960). The Flintonian. Gentry, AR: Ozark Academy Printing Class.

(1945, Sep. 12). Southwestern Union Record, p. 7.

(1953, Jul. 1). Ibid., p. 6.

(1954, Oct. 6). Ibid., p. 5.

(1962, Apr. 4). Ibid., p. 8.

(1972, Jul. 22). Ibid., pp. 10, 11.

(1973, Apr. 28). Ibid., pp. 3, 4.

(1978, Jan. 26). Ibid., p. 12I.

(1983, Apr. 28). Ibid., pp. 6, 7.

(1985, Jan. 31). Ibid., p. 8.

(1989, Oct. 1). Ibid., p. 11.

(1989, Dec. 1). Ibid., p. 11.

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

(2003, Dec.). Ibid., p. 23.

(2005). Girls’ Dorm. Retrieved from ozarkacademy.org.

Abernathy, M. (1991, Sep. 1). Southwestern Union Record , p. 16.

Baker, Isaac. (1938, Aug. 17). Ibid., p. 3.

Ibid. (1942, Aug. 26). p. 3.

Beeler, C. (1996). A History of Seventh-day Adventists in Arkansas and Louisiana 1888-1996. Keene, TX: Arkansas-Louisiana Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, pp. 129, 138.

Beem, Anna. (1958, Jan. 12). Letter to F. H. Hewitt. Arkansas-Louisiana Conference of Seventh-day Adventist Education Office.

Bischoff, J. H. (1947, Apr. 2). Southwestern Union Record, p. 3.

Ibid. (1949, Nov. 30).

Ibid. (1950, Jun. 7). pp. 3, 4.

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

Cole, Roy B. (1967). Ozark Academy, Ozark Junior Academy, Flint Creek Junior Academy. Arkansas-Louisiana Conference of Seventh-day Adventists Education Office.

Dart, Charles. (1998, Jun. 1). Southwestern Union Record, p. 10.

Dessain, W. A. (1962, Sep. 12). Ibid., p. 5.

Eastman, C. N. (1912a, Feb. 27). Ibid., p. 5.

Ibid. (1912b, Sep. 10). p. 7.

Evans, I. M. (1963, Sep. 11). Ibid., p. 7.

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

Ibid. (2011, Nov. 4). Rasmus Larson Christensen. Ibid.

Fisher, C. A. (1998, Jan. 1). Southwestern Union Record, p. 10.

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

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

Grove, Rodney A. (1999, Aug. 3). Letter to the Ozark Academy Board. Arkansas-Louisiana Conference of Seventh-day Adventist Education Office.

Hanhardt, W. H. (1930, Oct. 15). Southwestern Union Record, p. 2.

Hansen, Lyle. (2004, Oct. 1). Ibid., p. 15.

Hewitt, F. H. (1958, Sep. 24). Ibid., p. 4.

Hilborn, Dr. R. R. (1925, Apr. 28). Ibid., p. 1.

Huff, Jan. (1994). O. E. S. Favorite Recipes. Waseca, MN: Walter’s Cookbooks, pp. 158, 159.

Leach, B. E. (1974, Sep. 28). Southwestern Union Record, p. 6.

Loveridge, L. (2001, Jul. 1). Ibid., pp. 14-16.

Loveridge, Linda. (2001, November/December). Ozark Academy Cafeteria Burns! The Arkansas-Louisiana Conference of Seventh-day Adventist Newsletter, p. 1.

May, Bill. (1976, Jun. 12). Southwestern Union Record, p. 7.

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.

Nelson, Velda. (1976, Sep. 25). Ibid., p. 9.

Ibid. (1977, Apr. 23). pp. 6, 7.

Ibid. (1980, Dec. 25). p. 6.

Newkirk, Ira H. (1912, Jul. 16). Ibid., p. 3.

Norwood, J. W. (1912, Oct. 15). Ibid., p. 3.

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

Pierce, W. D. (1940, Jun. 12). Ibid., p. 3.

Ibid. (1941, Jun. 9). p. 2.

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.

Russell, L. E. (1954, Mar. 10). Ibid., p. 3.

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

Ibid. (1930, Jun. 17). p. 3.

Swinyar, J. J. (1965, Aug. 18). Ibid., pp. 3, 4.

Ibid. (1966a, Mar. 30). Ibid., pp. 4, 5.

Ibid. (1966b, Oct. 22). Ibid., p. 7.

Ibid. (1969, Feb. 22). p. 9.

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

Wells, F. D. (1946, Jul. 24). Ibid., pp. 2, 3.

Ibid. (1948, Jun. 9). p. 2.

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

Wilson, J. O. (1975, May). History of Ozark Academy. Arkansas-Louisiana Conference of Seventh-day Adventist Education Office.

Wilson, Josephine. (1905, Nov. 7). Southwestern Union Record., p. 2.

Wines, E. E. (1973, Apr. 28). Ibid., p. 6.

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