Remote and Necessary

No one would ever have mistaken Harvey, North Dakota, for a great United States metropolis. Nor would they have imagined the corner room in the Jamestown Church basement in North Dakota to be a school. But there in those tiny schools I spent three of my elementary school years. They were remote, but necessary for me. These two schools could have benefited greatly from a subsidy which has for some years been a unique vision of the North Pacific Union Conference — our remote and necessary schools fund.

Lana, Leroy, Mary Kay and I were the four first-graders in the Jamestown one-room school. We had the most students in our grade and kept our teacher, Mrs. Esther Rau, busy teaching us how to read and write while she also taught 17 other students in assorted grades up through the eighth. I wonder how in the world she kept it all organized and us under control without losing her mind or at least her patience. But we learned to read and write and do arithmetic, and we also had Bible class every day. We learned memory verses and listened to character-building stories while we rested after the noon recess. Most importantly we had a teacher who modeled Christ-like qualities and Adventist values while we wiggled and squirmed in her classroom.

In the Harvey school there was just one girl in my class — Roberta. I was in that stage of life when girls held little interest to me and I don't think I was always very nice to Roberta. There were just eight students in our school, but a berm had been graded around a space the size of a gymnasium. In winter the fire hydrant was used to flood the area, creating an ice skating rink that provided great fun. Recess was my favorite subject. Yes, I walked to school every day through the snow — but it was not uphill both ways. It was fairly level.

The Cognitive Genesis study has proven young people in Seventh-day Adventist church schools out perform peers in public schools in every subject and every grade level. There is no measurable difference between those in small, one-room schools and those in bigger Adventist schools.1 As Adventists, we have always intuitively known it was true, but now we can say we have proved it. The best place for every boy and girl to go to school is at a church school, even if it is one of the remote and necessary ones.

I hope you agree with me that it is a great investment for the North Pacific Union Conference to provide subsidies from the funds you provide, to give a little extra financial help to the remote and necessary schools in the Northwest. I think it is a valuable investment — even an eternal one. And by the way, Lana, Leroy, Mary Kay and Roberta are all still members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church — even though we have to reluctantly admit we now qualify as senior citizens, and we are still waiting expectantly for Jesus to come.

1 The Journal of Adventist Education, December 2008/January 2009.

“I came from a remote and necessary school.”

July 01, 2010 / Editorial