SWAJA Celebrates 88 years

DALLAS – On April 15, 2018, Southwest Adventist Junior Academy (SWAJA) gathered at the Hilton Garden Inn in Duncanville, Tex. to celebrate its First Annual Community Youth Scholarship Gala, a tribute to the 88 years of continuous service in Seventh-day Adventist education. Over 250 supporters came out for an incredible evening that included honorees and awardees from the school’s historical beginning in 1929.

It was a very special afternoon, and Kenneth Medlock, Master of Ceremonies, orchestrated time and events to introduce a meritorious program.

The gala signaled its beginning with opening prayer by Dallas City Temple Seventh-day Adventist Church senior pastor, Jaime Kowlessar and SWAJA school board chairperson, Roderick Reed. Tyrone Boyd, pastor of Agape Fellowship Seventh-day Adventist Church offered prayer for dinner to begin; and Kimberly Mays, SWAJA principal, made remarks.

After over seven decades of memory-lapses, planners reignited the fires from the past by reminding attendees of the outstanding contributions from fearless leaders. These undaunted ones excelled in Christ-centered leadership, unselfish sacrifice, total commitment, child-like faith, and unfaltering trust in the power of God. Each leader was introduced as an honoree and represented by a family member. Each family member received a token of thanks in memory of his or her loved one. The honorees were: the late Naomi Turner, who organized the first school in 1929 (nephew, Dr. George Keaton Jr.); the late Elizabeth Chandler Moore (son, Oliver Moore II); the late Ruth Paschal (son, Michael Paschal); and the late Lallage Jay Egleston (granddaughter, Gloria Jean Price). Three awardees were recognized: Earlene Lister-Freeman and Fred Pullins, who represented the first graduates of the Southwest Region Academy in 1962; and Barbara P. Steele, who was recognized for her commitment and devotion to Christian education.

Other program participants were: harpist, Bailey Mason; Grammy Award-winning gospel artist, Madukwu Chinwah; narrator, Jonathan McNorton; Tameka Beason, owner of a vintage boutique; video presentations by Southwest Conference President Calvin Watkins and Barry Black, United States Senate chaplain; and words of support and encouragement from Robert Ashley, news director and host of Dallas Radio Station KHVN (Heaven 97).

Special fundraising moments included a presentation, by Robert Lister and Earlene Lister-Freeman, of a $600 donation from the family of the late Nathaniel Alsobrook.

This occasion was one of the most important fundraising events to date, helping SWAJA to support and provide financial stability for tuition and important educational learning tools.

Laughter, beauty, friendship, fellowship, and love spiced this occasion. Special thanks to organizers: Nancy Jones and Shauretta Robertson; conference and union supporters; Southwestern Adventist University; Dallas City Temple pastors and church family; SWAJA alumni, administration and staff, parents, students, well-wishers and all who helped to make this afternoon an outstanding success!

Southwest Region Conference Education Superintendent Buford Griffith, III brought the evening to a close with gracious remarks of appreciation for a job well done. His closing prayer left a lingering benediction of hope. “We have this hope that burns within our hearts, hope in the coming of the Lord. We have this faith that Christ alone imparts, faith in the promise of His Word. We believe the time is here, when the nations far and near, shall awake and shout and sing Hallelujah! Christ is King! We have this hope that burns within our hearts, hope in the coming of the Lord,” (Wayne Hooper, 1962).

By Catherine Jackson

In the photo: The first graduates of SWAJA with the School Board Chair Roderick Reed, and Principal Kymberly Mayes-Polite. Photo by Charles Mayes.


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