Over the past three years, Upper Columbia Academy (UCA), a 220-student boarding school south of Spokane, Wash., and Lake City Academy (LCA), a 150-student junior academy in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, have been in discussions regarding a concerning trend in Adventist education. A review of LCA’s eighth-grade graduates since 2010 revealed that fewer than 20 percent of students graduated high school from UCA. Most students who attend LCA for eighth grade now decide to go to public high school.
Our surveys and anecdotal evidence tell us that families love LCA, and they think UCA is a great school. However, there are challenges such as the cost of boarding academy, sending kids away from home and the desire for a four-year high school experience.
Due to this trend in education, UCA has decided to forge a partnership with LCA to reach these students who would otherwise go to public school. Bridging this gap with a satellite school model has the potential to solve many challenges that smaller schools and junior academies face. Most importantly, and impossible to quantify, are the priceless, lost ministry opportunities with students who are no longer in Adventist education.
With the Upper Columbia Conference’s blessing, both schools have agreed to a three-year pilot program. By expanding one year at a time, UCA will operate a high school on the campus of Lake City Academy. Satellite students at the LCA campus will be UCA students taught by UCA teachers and graduating with a UCA diploma. These students will enjoy a small-school family experience, while getting many of the benefits a large boarding academy has to offer. The foundation will be a strong academic program centered in Christ. We are honored to have the opportunity to meet the needs of our community, and to pioneer a new pathway for Adventist education.