Failing to Reach Financial Benchmark, Mt. Vernon Academy Will Close

(Spectrumbot) #1

In a message today from Ohio Conference president Ron Halverson, Jr., news came that efforts to save Mt. Vernon Academy from closure fell short. In a special constituency session on January 11, Ohio Conference constituents voted to give the beleaguered boarding academy an ultimatum: raise $3 million by March 10, or begin taking steps to cease operations. Today served as a preliminary deadline, after which conference leadership would assess the school's progress.

Writing on the Ohio Conference website, and Faithpoints, the conference news bulletin, President Halverson stated that to date, only $17,069 came in to the conference.

An online fundraiser through the Faith Partners crowdfunding site created by Allegheny East Youth Director Patrick Graham originally set out to raise the entire $3 million needed to keep Mt. Vernon afloat. After only a handful of donations trickled in through the site, the campaign was changed to $1.5 million by today's date. As of press time, the effort only attracted seven donors, who gave a total of $970.

Mt. Vernon Academy students used social media to push their own fundraising campaign called #DoSomething MVA. The most-watched YouTube video in the campaign by MVA senior Alyssa Thompson was viewed over 900 times, but the #DoSomething campaign ultimately failed to garner the needed money.

In his memo to constituents, Halverson wrote,

We had the monumental task of raising $3 million dollars in a short time. Unfortunately, despite the earnest efforts of many students, families, alumni, and supporters of Mount Vernon Academy, I’m sorry to report that we did not receive enough funds to meet the first benchmark. [...] You will recall that after considerable study and research the Blue Ribbon Committee, MVA Board of Trustees, Ohio Conference Executive Committee and the delegates at the January 11 Special Constituency Meeting voted a process which called for $1.5 million to be raised by February 10, and another $1.5 million by March 10. This amount would have enabled MVA to remain operational next school year. Since we fell immeasurably short of the first financial deadline, MVA will have to cease operations at the end of this school year.

Halverson noted that conference leaders are "committed to seeing this school year through and hope you will join us in supporting the MVA family during Alumni Weekend (April 24-26) and Graduation (May 22-24)."

The conference will now create two committees. The first will search for ways of providing Adventist education to the academy-aged students in the Ohio Conference. The second will oversee the MVA property until the close of this school year.

Halverson went on to say that funds raised to date and funds given in the future will go to constituent students wishing to pursue Adventist secondary education.

"Secondary education will continue to be a part of the big picture for ministry in Ohio, but we will have to do it differently," Halverson said. "Though there are fewer school-aged students in our Ohio families, we want to see more of them receive an Adventist education. In order to make this a reality, we will look to collaborate with more of our ministries to create avenues of support for secondary education."

Jared Wright is managing editor for

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

(Thomas J Zwemer) #2

Kettering should add a senior pre-college year to their program, if they have not already done so. the rest should be local. A Christian home is the best base for early teen years. I left home for the army at 18 with two years of college under my belt. I had my King James and a correspondence course in English lit. My first no com quit school in the fourth grade. The Bn Commander has been a high school principal. At that level we finally had a meeting of minds. Keep them home until at least 16. Tom Z

(Frank Peacham) #3

Although it may have been considered, I would have liked to see the Academy morph into live on-line classes. Parents could supplement their children’s education; some classes could appeal to the broader Christian community, such as religious histories and sciences.

I am dismayed that the leaders responsible of operating the school for years in the red had not been named and held accountable. I saw no pledge made for cost saving such as affiliating with other Christian schools to share resources. Has not Porter Hospital affiliated with Catholic health services? It’s time for new paradigms?

(Thomas J Zwemer) #4

in 1936 The treasurer of the Lake Union Conference stole $3,000. Of conference funds. He was charged and spent 3 years in the Micigan State Prison… the news of the affair put such a bad light on Adventism, that the Church has never gone that route again on mere fiscal games. Tom Z

(jeremy) #5

sad, but probably not surprising…

(Dee Roberts) #6

Although it is sad to see any institution with a history as long as Mt Vernon come to an end, it is a reflection of the fact the institution did not adapt to changing times an paradigms. Where the responsibility lies is not a simple neat picture, in fact it is anything but that.

The choices by the board and the conference and constituency to continue to operate with budget deficits year after year is a collective failure. This should cause us to reassess a model that worked from the late 1800 thru the 1970s, maybe the early 1980s. Demographic changes, basic societal expectation changes, changes in the SDA church have all had an impact, and the institution is longer needed as it currently exists.

Will there be any real lesson(s) learned, that is the only question of substance to be answered.


The best hope for the future of Adventism is to get the kids away from their parents as soon as possible. Parents today coddle their children and do not prepare them for adulthood. The boarding school is a child’s best hope of learning to live a responsible independent life in a controlled environment.

(George Tichy) #8

You are kidding, right? It can’t be otherwise.

Yes, parents lack parenting skills, but what about the Church starting a real parenting program teaching/training/coaching parents? What about having professionals involved in the process?


(jeremy) #9

wow…this statement seems a bit extreme…i think this puts incredible pressure on the people running a boarding school…who in his right mind would want that kind of pressure…

(Billman) #10

That is the type of approach that bodies take when they want to brainwash kids into thinking differently to their parents. Communism, fascism, lords army, anyone.

(Frank Peacham) #11

Why has the GC extensively focused on Woman’s Ordination and related issues, instead of open discussion on how to re-invent our flagging educational system before disaster is reached?

Second, I am dismayed at the leadership vision of the Central California Conference in raising 14 million dollars to renovate Camp Wawona and Soquel, to build wonderful camp meeting buildings for ourselves. We should soon drop the name “Adventist” for we are planning a longer sojourn in California. Since our educational system needs no endowments and our large cities need no gang intervention ministries? All is well on the home front in healthy local congregations?

So let’s build larger faculties for ourselves. Sounds like a good idea, even North American Division has caught the vision in moving from the GC into spacious new buildings.


It would be better for most Adventist kids that they had the opportunity to be exposed to something different than the religious views of their parents. I think you know what I mean.

(Elaine Nelson) #13

Having spent many summer vacation time at Soquel many years ago, how many are in attendance today, and how many young parents with children for future academy age. Even when I used to go regularly, the majority were elderly grandparents. What a phenomenal amount of money has been expended on Soquel compared to the current SdA population in CC. Has the membership grown so dramatically that it justifies such expense? No, don’t answer, he leaders decide where to put the money which is shown in such disbursement.

(Elaine Nelson) #14

Many school districts, including the third largest in California where I live, offer home classes by internet. There is no reason that Adventist education cannot be offered online in academy as well as college. More universities are now offering online classes enabling students to study when they must work. Sitting in classrooms is so old today with the internet. But Adventists have been slow to use it for other than public evangelism to the “unsaved.”

(Kevin Seidel) #15

Some already are. Like:

(Billman) #16

Well that’s a different emphasis. I still don’t know whether that means a hardline indoctrination or a liberal approach. Personally, I think it would be better for the kid to be exposed to either a Christian education without a particular sectarian dogma, or a public school with good standards and chaplaincy.

(Steve Mga) #17

If you lived in Macon, GA you might want to consider Private School.
Front page of paper yesterday – 16 midstate schools make “failing” list.
One of the schools listed [where our 18 tutoring kids come from] has been on this list for the past 5 years. It went from a 50% passing rate on elementary reading and math to 60% passing last year.

(Thomas J Zwemer) #18

A suggestion born out of ignorance of parenting and boarding schools. Tom Z

(The Pk) #19

Starting with the history of MVA, it is shown that the counsel given was to have an educational institution in Ohio. This was confirmed by the GC. MVA is stated to be owned by the Ohio Conference which makes MVA a division of the Ohio Conference. This is where the waters start to get muddy. How can a conference, which owns an education institution that it has the authority over, make financial demands on the school to raise a certain amount of money within a specific time frame as if this school was a separate entity??? The way this has been written, it makes it look like MVA is totally separate from the Ohio Conference and that there was some sort of an agreement that MVA administration did not follow to make the payments to the Ohio Conference. Therefore the Ohio Conference is going to shut the school down. It is clearly known that MVA is “owned and operated by the Ohio Conference,” it therefore is the Ohio Conference’s responsibility to take leadership in doing the fundraising and the making of the decisions on how to keep this school open is a conference level action, not the school level. It should have been this way since the beginning of time in 1893. Remember that this school was started on the advice of EGW and agreed by the GC… Somewhere along the way, it seems that someone in the educational dept of the Ohio Conference did not have close reigns on what was going on at MVA if the school got to the position that it is now in. Where were the checks and balances on the conference level that could have prevented this? Someone on the conference level has to step up and take responsibility for this situation to have gotten to this point. If I was a constituent of the Ohio Conference, I’d be asking tough questions and waiting for the answers that only the Ohio Conference VP Of Education has to offer why this was allowed to get to this point!! While MVA may close anyway, I pray that our other educational institutions learn from what is going on in Ohio. I pray for the many conference constituents who who over the years since 1893, had high hopes for this school, people who know what it was to sacrifice in order to get a Christian education for their youth, constituents who put money, sweat & tears into making this school a safe place for their kids, that they can have peace in their heart knowing that they did what they could to make MVA happen. The Ohio Conference is in my prayers that they take the responsibility for how this happened, and do the right thing in working out a way to keep this school operational in some form. Many good ideas listed here that may not have been researched by the conference, but maybe now is the time to do it. God bless you in working “together” to see if this school can be saved and not making a hasty decision to close it which is against the advice of why it was started.

(Loren Seibold) #20

I am particularly sad for the young people in my churches who thrived on the MVA experience and now won’t get to have it.