Shreveport Seventh-day Adventist School

THE SCHOOL BEGINS

In January 1904, fifteen children, grades one through seven, together with their teacher, Miss Katherine “Kate” Bickham (later Mrs. Katherine Martin), gathered in the bedroom of the H. S. Roach home for classes. This was the first Seventh-day Adventist school in Shreveport, and the second in the entire Louisiana Conference (Hancock, 1980). Kate Bickham later became the conference Educational and Young People’s Secretary after three years at the Shreveport school (Yearbook, 1908).

A New School in 1906

First school building to house the Shreveport school. Photo courtesy of the Southwestern Union Record.

Times were hard and it was with a real feeling of accomplishment that two years later, after having utilized the bedrooms of several church members, the group was able to move into its first permanent home. The structure stood on S. Roach Drive just west of where the Pathfinder clubhouse is now and served as both church and school. Every Friday afternoon the desks were moved outside and the benches put in place for Sabbath services. The furniture for this building was made by P. C. Sibley. Later a floor was added by the men of the church, fashioned from lumber paid for with $25.00 advanced by the school teacher. Dedicated teachers, such as Miss Bickham, Miss Bertha Lee, and others taught for small remuneration (as little as $15.00 a month paid partially in room and board) and school was conducted with few supplies or facilities, but there was no shortage of book learning and spiritual growth on the part of the pupils. All but three of the original group became baptized church members while attending school (Hancock, 1980). The school operated off and on for a few years between 1907-1917, then it was moved to the basement classroom in the new church on the corner of Missouri and Frederick Streets and opened for the 1917-1918 school year (Sanders, 1917).

School was held in the basement of the church on the corner of Missouri and Frederick Streets. Photo courtesy of the Southwestern Union Record.

School Growth

Shreveport Junior Academy during the 1922-1923 school year. Photo courtesy of the Southwestern Union Record.

In 1920, the school enrollment began at twenty-eight (Huntley, 1920). Miss Neva Matthews was the teacher. Her enrollment during the year grew to fifty-two. She went home to Keene for the summer with plans to bring her sister, Minnie Lee Matthews, back to assist her the next school year (Knudson, 1921). The enrollment was sixty-seven the following year (Worker, 1922) with nine grades (Knudson, 1921) taught by Neva and Minnie Lee Matthews. A black school in Shreveport was also operating that year, taught by Mrs. C. A. Rooce (Thompson, 1922). The 1926 school year began with twenty-five students and two experienced teachers, Lucile Hoskins and Jeanette White. By November, the school had grown to forty students (Christian, 1926). The school was quite well equipped, but the playground was small (Bradley, 1926). In 1928, the school cut back to one teacher, Lurline Roach, although the enrollment was larger that year than it had been in the two years prior (Wilson, 1928), but in 1929 they again hired a second teacher, Esther Thomson (Worker, 1929). The school added tenth grade sometime during these years.

Four Generations

Four generations of Giffords attended Shreveport Junior Academy: Harvey L. “Pozzy” Gifford Sr. started his school days there in 1904, then his son, Harvey L. “Buck” Gifford Jr., his granddaughter, Betty Gifford, and his great grandson, Mike Jones. Below left: Pozzy Gifford as he looked a few years after his first days at Shreveport Junior Academy; below right: Betty Gifford Jones, Buck Gifford, and Mike Jones, a first grader in 1980 (Hancock, 1980).

Harvey L. Gifford. Photo courtesy of the Southwestern Union Record.

The church membership continued to grow until a larger meeting place was needed, so the church on the corner of Missouri and Frederick Streets was sold in January 1938. Four lots on the corner of Bessie Street and Virginia Avenue were purchased. Until a new building could be built, the Mangum Memorial Methodist Church on Stonewall and Missouri Streets granted the members the use of their building on Sabbaths for two years. By 1940, the shell of a church building was being used (McAnally, n.d.) and the school met in the basement of the church at 2704 Virginia Avenue. There were nineteen students in ten grades and Lockie Gifford was the teacher (Elliott, 1940).

A New School in 1960

Shreveport Junior Academy built in 1960. Photo courtesy of the Southwestern Union Record.

After these two school locations it became evident that the facilities were no longer adequate. When the need was presented to the members, a four-and-a-half acre portion of the same parcel of land on which the first school had stood was donated by H. L. Gifford Sr. and a sacrificial giving program was begun. The men of the church organized a work program for clearing and leveling the terrain for the new building. A possible steel-strike was looming, so the building committee ordered the structural steel as soon as the plans were completed (Record, 1959). In September 1960, the new building on Gifford Drive was ready for occupancy. The school was named Shreveport Junior Academy and the dedication at which they burned the mortgage was held on August 3, 1963. It had also been voted to buy ten additional acres of land adjacent to the school building for Pathfinder and other educational work (Elder, 1963).

In 1980, many improvements were made to give a bright new look to the school and the teaching staff spent many hours getting ready for the fifty-two students who enrolled. The Loma Linda University Kindergarten program, “God, Creation, and Me,” was added and taught by Mrs. Carole Rusco. Mrs. Dianne Hancock taught grades one to four, Ron Rusco taught grades five and six plus all the physical education classes, and Mrs. Joyce Kostenko taught grades seven to ten. Carole Rusco helped with language arts in the afternoons after kindergarten was dismissed at noon (Hancock, 1980).

Shreveport Junior Academy. Photo courtesy of Don Hevener.
Karen Ryder teaching at Shreveport Junior Academy in 1984. Photo courtesy of Don Hevener.

His Little Ones Daycare Opens in 2000

In August 2000, the Shreveport South church opened a daycare center at their church. Marsha Salzman, Teresa Parker, and Al and Peggy Schlemmer spent many hours coordinating a rummage sale to help raise funds to open the daycare. Several other fundraising events were scheduled throughout the fall to help fund the project (Nugent, 2000). By 2003 the center had reached its maximum capacity of fifty-eight children. Plans were pending to increase the capacity to 110 in the near future (Nugent, 2003). His Little Ones Daycare closed in 2013 (Minutes, 2013).

School Moves to South Church in 2003

In the summer of 2003, Shreveport South church was busy preparing for a new school year with Shreveport Junior Academy moving to the church property. This put the daycare and grades K-8 all in the same location (Newsletter, 2003). Since the school was now on Colquitt Road, the school was renamed Colquitt Christian Academy.


Citations

(1908-1918). Yearbook of the Seventh-day Adventist Denomination. Washington, D. C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association.

(1922, Jan. 12). Southern Union Worker, p. 2.

(1927, Jun. 29). Ibid., p. 4.

(1929, Oct. 16). Ibid., p. 5.

(1959, Jul. 1). Southwestern Union Record, p. 3.

(2003, Jul.1 ). Newsletter, Arkansas-Louisiana Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, p. 14.

(2013). School Board Minutes. Shreveport, LA: Arkansas-Louisiana Conference of SDA.

Bradley, W. P. (1926, Dec. 8). Southern Union Worker, p. 5.

Christian, I. A. (1926, Nov. 24). Ibid. p. 6.

Elder, W. H. (1963, Aug. 21). Southwestern Union Record, p. 4.

Elliott, W. R. (1940, Jan. 31). Ibid., p. 2.

Hancock, J. Wayne. (1980, Nov. 13). Ibid., pp. 12E, F.

Huntley, E. H. (1920, Nov. 25). Southern Union Worker, p. 2.

Knudson, Ellen. (1921, Jun. 9). Ibid., p. 2.

Ibid. (1921, Nov. 24). p. 4.

Nugent, Terrie. (2000, Aug. 1). Southwestern Union Record, p. 15.

Ibid. (2003, Mar. 1). p. 17.

Sanders, C. N. (1917, Mar. 8). Southern Union Worker, p. 1.

Sherrill, E. Frank. (1967, Jul. 8). Southwestern Union Record, p. 3.

Thompson, J. C. (1922, Apr. 20). Southern Union Worker, p. 1.

Wilson, M. L. (1928, Nov. 14). Ibid., p. 4.