In just a few short weeks, on April 8th, Livingstone Adventist Academy will celebrate its 125 year anniversary on alumni weekend. As you may remember, Livingstone celebrated the grand opening of their new facility in August of 2019––not even a year before the COVID-19 pandemic began. But what is known today as “Livingstone Adventist Academy” has seen several different iterations since its earliest mentions in the late 1800s. What likely began as an elementary school inside a church has blossomed over the years into a full-fledged day academy after existing in several different locations in the Salem area.
Dr. Lorin Koch, who has served many years as both a registrar and as a teacher at the school, has been doing some research on the history of the school in preparation for its anniversary. “I started teaching at Livingstone in 2004,” said Dr. Koch, “It was the first year that they had a 12th grade class. They had been a junior academy and walked it up over the course of two years, adding 11th grade and then 12th grade in the 2004-2005 school year.”
Pouring through over a century’s worth of newspaper articles from publications like Salem’s “Statesman Journal,” Dr. Koch has yet to discover the answer to one mystery, in particular – how the school got its name. “One of the things I’ve found the most interesting as I’ve been looking into our history is that no one really seems to be sure how Livingstone got its name. Among Adventist schools it’s very rare to be named after a person, but especially a figure who wasn’t Adventist themselves,” said Dr. Koch, “The story is that between 1915 and 1920, a teacher was reading out of David Livingstone’s book for worship and the students approached the teacher and said, ‘That’s what we want our school to be named!’ That’s the legend. But it was also over 100 years ago, so we don’t actually know if that’s accurate or not. Others have said it was named after the reference to ‘living stones’ in 1 Peter. I’m hoping when people read this story maybe someone will come out of the woodwork to answer that! That would be fantastic.”
While there may be much more to learn about Livingstone’s past, the present focus of the school is a bit easier to understand––sharing Jesus through service. “One of the aspects of our school’s mission statement is to serve others,” said Dr. Koch. Rather than being primarily known for things like their sports teams or having graduates that go on to Ivy League schools, a major focus is serving the community. “Service has become a big emphasis for us,” he said, “We have service days once a month now. We do community projects, clean up roadsides, and help at food banks, things like that. Sometimes students will ask, ‘What’s the point of this? Why do something that isn’t homework?’ but I feel like having that experience of going out and serving others is so valuable for everybody to see what life is like and give of themselves rather than just focusing on what they can get all the time.”
Students and faculty, both past and present, are invited to come for alumni weekend. Barbara Livesay, who served as the school’s principal from 1996-2007 will be speaking for the church service that begins at 10:30 AM in the school gymnasium, with lunch provided in the cafeteria following the service. Tours of the new facility and class photo opportunities will be available in the afternoon, with alumni basketball games beginning at 8:00 PM.
An alumni handbell choir will be gathering as well, and any interested ringers are invited to contact Katrina Koch at 503-881-2670. Livingstone Adventist Academy is located at 5771 Fruitland Rd NE, Salem, OR 97317.
Do you know more about the history of Livingstone? Stories, articles, and photos from years past are welcome! You can send all related historical materials to the school at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Livingstone History” if you’d like to contribute!