History of Rogue Valley Adventist Academy
Our school began as a little one-room school in 1908. It was attached to the back of the Medford church, which was located at 617 N. Riverside. Two rooms were built over the church as living quarters for the teachers. After a fire at the Riverside Street church, a new church was built on the corner of Edwards and Beatty streets in Medford with a small building behind the church to house the school.
Before 1920, there were two academies in the Oregon Conference, Laurelwood Academy near Portland, Oregon and Sutherlin Academy in Sutherlin, Oregon. When Sutherlin Academy closed in 1920, the need became extreme for an academy in Southern Oregon and Northern California, where students could work and help pay their tuition. Two local church members recognized the need, John Meehan and Bert Lockwood, and began a building project for a new school.
So in 1925 the property was purchased from owner Mrs. Minear, 30 acres of land at $30 per acre, and then the work started. With help from gratefully accepted volunteers and generous builders who donated their time, the building was completed in 1926. 5600 square feet was divided into four classrooms, principal’s office, library, music room, and a chapel seating 200 students. It started as a ten-grade academy but, due to enrollment in grades 11 and 12, the building was increased to two stories, thus getting its nickname “The Cracker Box.” The following year, 1927, the elementary school, located at the Medford Church in downtown Medford, transferred their students to the new Rogue River Academy campus. In the 1940s a gymnasium with a basement cafeteria was added.
Mr. & Mrs. Meehan’s daughter often visited the campus while her father worked on the buildings at the very young age of five, and by the end of the school year the teacher recommended to her parents that little Miss Dorthea, currently known as Mrs. Dorthea Bom, should be placed in the 2nd grade. Mrs. Dorthea Bom has remained a member of the Rogue Valley Community most of her life and is currently a member of the Medford Seventh-day Adventist church and a wonderful supporter of Rogue Valley Adventist Academy.
When Rogue River Academy opened in 1926, ten faculty were ready to receive their new students. Frank Bunch, principal and bible teacher; John Meehan, business manager along with teaching carpentry and glove making; Mrs. Meehan taught practical nursing; T.H Folkenberg taught violin and orchestra; Mrs. Folkenberg taught English, bookkeeping, and algebra; Mrs. A.F. Van Ausdle taught sewing and history; Ester Miller taught Spanish and art; Jeanette Simmons taught shorthand and typing; Cora Smith taught U.S. history and government; and the piano teacher Matie Vronman.
There were 29 students in the high school that first year, and a senior class of six, all girls, graduated in 1927.
Some thirty years later, the school building was condemned and lost its twelve-grade status. Milo Academy had been built by that time as a boarding academy so students in grades 11 and 12 began attending there. In 1956 construction begin on a totally new facility in phases, the last being construction of a new gymnasium in the late 1970s, this building still stands today. At that time, the school’s name was changed to Rogue River Junior Academy. The school continued to educate many spectacular students throughout the next several decades with a few small changes here and there. A kindergarten program was added in 1986, the name was changed again in 1993 to Rogue Valley Adventist School, and a pre-kindergarten program was added in 2007.
The decision to expand the school by once again adding grades 11 & 12 to make this a senior academy, came from concerns expressed by families that did not want to send their children away in order to provide them with a Seventh-day Adventist education. The administration and board had been hearing these comments from parents for more than a decade. So in 2002 the RVAS Constituency voted to proceed with the process. Students were first enrolled in grades 11 & 12 for the 2004-2005 school year. That year four students graduated and since then, with this year’s graduating class, 145 students will have completed their high school education here at Rogue Valley Adventist Academy.
After many years of providing a place to learn and grow, this facility was beginning to show it’s age, so through the generous matching donation offer of a few, the goal was set to raise $300,000.00 by the beginning of 2016. School families and community members alike gave to help raise the funds, which were then match with an additional donation of $600,000.00. After it was all said and done, RVAA surpassed their goal and was able to begin a massive remodel project with donated funds of 1.2 million dollars. As you can see, looking out over this beautiful campus, your donations have been put to good use. Beautiful, energy efficient windows, new kitchen, new lighting, along with updated wiring though out the campus. Our technology received an upgrade with new computers, fiber optics, and a security system. The ancient boiler was replaced with a new state-of-the-art boiler, along with a clean-up to the boiler room. But what most visitors notice first is the landscaping that makes you feel like you’re at your favorite park.
The rich legacy of students who have attended this academy is impressive. Many have gone on to being leaders in our Adventist community, medical professionals, and fantastic educators in their own right. Many more have become successful entrepreneurs, and wonderful mothers and fathers. In fact, currently three alumnus have returned and work on shaping the minds and hearts of those who call Rogue Valley Adventist Academy there school. Because of our close community students currently attending have grandparents and great-grandparents who have received an education in these same buildings. Rogue Valley Adventist Academy, or by which ever name you know it as, has guided young people to the love of Jesus, and will continue to do so until we all meet again in the earth made new.