Livingstone Adventist Academy (LAA) celebrated the grand opening of its brand-new school building on Aug. 22, 2019. Founded in 1898, LAA offers pre-K through 12th grade in Salem, Ore.
The grand opening was well attended by students and families, as well as constituent church members and members of the community. Speakers included George Personius, LAA principal; Gale Crosby, Oregon Conference vice president of education; Dan Linrud, Oregon Conference president; Chuck Bennett, Salem mayor; and Kevin Cameron, Marion County commissioner. The Salem Chamber of Commerce was also there and presided over the ribbon-cutting ceremony. Student body president Aspen Forshee had the honor of cutting the ribbon as members of the LAA community cheered her on.
The completion of the school building comes after five years of major changes that have improved and upgraded the campus significantly.
A Brief History
For a number of years, the LAA community had known the old gymnasium wasn’t in good shape. A 2014 engineering study of the gym confirmed the building was beyond the point of being fixed and would need to be torn down and replaced. The financial cost of demolition and replacement was well beyond what the school was able to afford. Things looked grim — but God had a plan.
Generous donors who were aware of the situation with the gym visited the campus to see what could be done to help. As they toured the school, they discovered the main school buildings were also in poor condition. The elementary building was nearly 60 years old, and the high school consisted of a patchwork of portable classrooms that were old and in disrepair. Those buildings also weren’t worth repairing. After seeing the need, the donors decided to fund construction of a brand-new school.
The first phase involved construction of a gymnasium/auditorium as well as an industrial arts complex. The next phase began in 2016 with demolition of the old school building. Elementary grades were moved into the new industrial arts building, and high school grades were housed in temporary classrooms adjacent to the chapel.
Beginning of a New Era
The new school building was completed this summer and is now in use by all grades. The new building includes a presentation/lecture hall that can seat more than 100 people, a state-of-the-art kitchen complete with industrial ovens and baking equipment, a music wing that includes individual practice rooms, a fully equipped home economics classroom, and libraries and computer labs for both the elementary and high school wings.
Now that students are properly housed in the new school building, the industrial arts complex will be used as originally intended — as classrooms for things like auto shop, metal working and wood working/carpentry. The school’s robotics and gardening electives also have ample room to grow, now that the main school building is complete and occupied.
The last few years at LAA have been truly remarkable. It has been amazing to see God working through the generosity of donors and the support of the constituency. It has been wonderful hearing the positive feedback from construction workers — many of whom are not Adventist — who have experienced firsthand the love and appreciation of students and staff who daily strive to uphold the school’s mission of "Knowing God, Seeking Wisdom, and Serving Others."
Livingstone Adventist Academy is beginning a new era with both a sense of humble gratitude to God for past blessings, as well as faith in His leadership in the years to come.