After nearly 30 years of planning and discussing strategies for a full campus for Oakwood Adventist Academy (OAA), I’m pleased to announce that the third and final phase of the OAA building project is now completed! It’s been a long time coming, but look what God has done!” These were the opening words from Carlton P. Byrd, D.Min., Oakwood University Church (OUC) senior pastor and OAA building chairperson, to the excited crowd of community residents, church members, OAA employees, parents, and students gathered to witness the official opening of the newly constructed OAA High School building in Huntsville, Ala., on August 9, 2020.
Special guests who were present for this celebratory occasion included Tommy Battle, Huntsville mayor; Laura Hall, Alabama State representative; and Will Culver, Huntsville City councilman, who all shared greetings, well wishes, and words of commendation to OAA for the longstanding commitment to education and investment in the lives of young people. Additionally, Benjamin Jones, South Central Conference president, and Leslie Pollard, Ph.D., D.Min., Oakwood University president, also shared words of support for the realization of the historic event.
Also present were Albert Dudley Sr. and Bonita Dudley Parker, children of the late Charles E. Sr, and Etta Dudley. The Dudleys were strong supporters of Adventist Christian education throughout Charles Dudley’s 31-year tenure as president of South Central Conference. Given the Dudleys’ advocacy, the new high school building was named in their honor.
Judy B. Chiles-Dent, OAA’s principal, remarked about the significance of the timing of the completion of the project, saying, “One thing that I’m grateful for is that while we’re in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, it gives the opportunity for our children to have the necessary space for practicing social distancing while receiving a quality Christian education.”
In 1992, the OAA Elementary School building, Phase One, was completed under the leadership of the late Eric C. Ward, OUC senior pastor and OAA building chairperson. In January 2012, Byrd assumed this responsibility, and in December 2013, the OAA multi- education complex, Phase Two, inclusive of the middle school, gymnasium, and cafeteria, was completed, along with the elementary building being completely renovated. In August 2020, the OAA High School building, Phase Three, was completed. The full OAA campus can now accommodate 500 students.
The new building is a state-of-the-art, 20,000-square-foot facility, equipped with an administrative office suite; faculty lounge; conference room; and 12 classrooms, including a contemporary collaboration room for media and technology learning opportunities, along with two science labs to promote “STEAM” education.
Lakeisha Williams, Ph.D., OAA vice principal, remarked about the unique learning opportunities that the new school building provides, and said, “We really have the ability to provide stellar education in a Christ-centered environment, not just for our Adventist community, but also for students in the entire Huntsville community.”
Mary Greene, OAA business manager, added, “I walk into this building, and I feel a sense of relief, because it’s done. Just knowing that God was able to walk us through this and bring us to this point has been so refreshing. And, I’m just waiting to see what else God has in store as we walk in this uncharted territory.”
South Central | October 2020