Tri-City Junior Academy Celebrates 50 Years
Hundreds of former students and faculty came back home to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the present Tri-City Junior Academy (TCJA) Sept. 27–28, 2013. Friday night was a casual reception in the Fireside Room at the Pasco (Wash.) Riverview Church. On Sabbath morning, the sanctuary was filled as Anthony Oucharek, TCJA principal, stepped to the platform to welcome returning students, families and staff. He gave a history of how the Pasco church triumphed in building of the school.
In early 1945, a small group of students were meeting in the basement of church, which was located in downtown. Within a few years the congregation outgrew their little church and made plans for a new location.
The war had just ended, and the church members scraped together enough building materials to build a small three‐room schoolhouse, which became known as the “little pink school” on Lewis Street. Soon it was filled to capacity.
In September 1963, the present school building opened its doors for the first time. David Gouge, principal and teacher, and Alden Vixie were very instrumental in the organizing and construction process.
The congregation was delighted as they listened to the six sermonettes, entitled “My Life’s Journey.” These were presented by former students who represented the decade in which they had attended TCJA. Each told how God had lead them, through their Christian education from TCJA, into their life’s work.
Speakers included Amanda Birney (2000s), David Lopez (1990s), Vicki Coughren Littlefield (1980s), Bob Ratcliff (1970s), Cherie Beddoe Colon (1960s) and Don Murray (1950s).
A special tribute was given to the Walla Walla University Alumnus of the Year, Doug Thomsen. His mother, Carol Thompsen, was a former teacher at TCJA. A poem of dedication, "Shifting Sands," was written and spoken by Clayton Patchett. Former students and staff provided the music throughout the service.
Lunch was provided by the Pasco Church and served by the present staff at TCJA. The afternoon was open for visiting and tours of the newly opened Children’s Daycare Center and preschool. Sam Derting provided an afternoon concert. Former principal David Gouge gave sundown worship.
The Pasco Cherokee Pathfinder Club served an evening meal of burgers, hot dogs and homemade ice cream, all made by Marilyn Coughren, as guests reminisced to the sounds of the 50s and 60s. The evening ended with a video that covered the highlights of the past 50 years of school history.
The reunion was enjoyed by many former and present students, staff and friends. Tri-City Junior Academy has a long, rich history of excellence. Those who attended and heard the stories of how the church family struggled to start a church school realized what a privilege it was to have the opportunity of a Christian education.