When I was hired as Director of Development I came here basically as an outsider. This was done with a certain degree of intention. The thought was that it might be beneficial to have a fresh pair of unbiased eyes come on board to take an objective look at Spring Vale Academy. Although I had visited Spring Vale a couple of times when I was younger I was never a student. I never had a brother or sister who attended, nor were my parents alumni from a long ago grad class. So, I came here with my eyes wide open, not knowing quite what to expect…
I was approaching my time here at SVA strictly as a job. One that didn’t necessarily require a passion fueled by past experiences, or a deeply rooted sense of love for SVA. I was all business.
So, why am I telling you all of this? Perhaps, at its core, this is a testimony. But it is also a bit of a confession too. I am quite fond of the saying “People don’t know what they don’t know”. I am here to confess that I didn’t know what I didn’t know about Spring Vale Academy. However, everything changed after I started spending time with the young men and women here at the school. Having spent some time on the ground level, I’ve begun to realize the significant role that SVA plays within the Kingdom of God on Earth. And it’s pretty simple… It’s all about the kids.
Spring Vale Academy is a bastion of hope, encouragement, and love for the Church of God (Seventh Day)’s young people. As I’ve gotten to know these students I’ve been amazed by their hearts, by the tremendous love that they show for each other and for God, and the strength of their faith and spiritual foundation.
I say all of this to admit that my attitude has changed. This is no longer just a job for me. I have been made a believer of Spring Vale Academy. I’m sold. And it is the students who sold me! So now my motivation is different – deeper – than it was at first. I feel the responsibility – the obligation – the need – to ensure that SVA has the opportunity to influence as many young men and women as possible!
In my short time here Ihave seen the excellent job that the current staff does under the guidance of Mark Caswell. During his tenure, Spring Vale has taken enormous strides forward in terms of advanced curriculum, staff, campus life, and most importantly – spiritual guidance. This is a new Spring Vale Academy. And we are on the brink of some extremely exciting endeavors.
We’ve been given a new vision for Spring Vale and big things are going to happen over the next couple of years; of that I have complete faith. We will be upgrading our facilities and improving aspects of our academic and campus experience. We are exploring exciting possibilities to broaden Spring Vales reach beyond Owosso, MI, expanding the size and scope of our impact on Gods Kingdom, and more specifically, on our current generation of youth. It sounds cliché’, but it is the absolute truth that our youth represent the future of our church. If we don’t do what is necessary to invest in our young people then the future of the church is indeed bleak.
Like many things in life, one of the most challenging difficulties to overcome is the financial one. As we prepare for fall enrollment, it is evident that there will be a great divide between the number of students who want to come to Spring Vale, and the number of students that can afford to come to Spring Vale. SVA has been offering greatly discounted tuition rates in an attempt to make attendance possible for all who wish to come. The reality of the fact is that we are struggling to bridge that gap on our own. The rate at which we have discounted current tuition is making it difficult for us to meet our current financial responsibilities, and has made it nearly impossible for us to offer additional scholarships and discounts to future applicants. I am being extremely upfront about this with the hope that simply making our church body aware of the severity of this situation will compel more people to give.
I’m not going to presume to know exactly what God wants, but there is something that I feel safe in assuming – I cannot imagine that God wants to see Spring Vale Academy just barely getting by. We, as a church, can no longer stand idly by as Spring Vale struggles to pay its bills. As I mentioned before, we discount the tuition ofnearly every student that attends Spring Vale. In fact, base tuition rates are already subsidized far below the cost of attendance. Subsidized tuition is typical for independent schools, especially independent Christian schools. What isn’t typical is for independent Christian schools to struggle with a lack of funding from their given denominations. Unfortunately, the current financial and organizational structure of our church doesn’t allow for significant monetary support like other denominations are able to offer. This leaves us in the unique position of having to rely upon the generous contributions of our church body at large. Many of you have been faithful Spring Vale supporters for years, and to you we are so very grateful. But to everyone else, we need your help, and we need it now.
We should not be content with seeing COG7’s only high school struggle to pay its bills. In fact, if we really stopped to think about it, I think that maybe we might find ourselves collectively ashamed of our lack of involvement. We must stand behind the one and only secondary school that we as a church claim! We have to take ownership in its successes, as well as its failures. And if we want to be a thriving and vibrant 21st century church then we absolutely have to help Spring Vale Academy aspire to greater and grander heights!
Up here in Owosso, Michigan, we can all feel it – there is something afoot. Something big, something huge, something God-sized is about to happen to Spring Vale – but it has to start with you. I pray that God inspires you to give – all of you – and to give generously.
Spring Vale Academy has been operating on a small fraction of the budget of a comparable independent Christian school. The simple truth is that our church needs to be aware of our financial needs. We simply cannot survive off of discounted tuition alone. No private school does. Scripture tells us that we have not because we ask not, so I am going to make it be known that we need $250,000 in donations to be applied towards student financial sponsorship. This isn’t unreasonable – it’s necessary. This money would be applied directly to student sponsorship, helping us to bridge the tuition shortfall so that we can offer the best possible experience for each and every student who wants to attend SVA.
And let me tell you, this isn’t a one-time need. We will need this support this year, and for every year to come.
For us to afford to keep our doors open for our young people we absolutely have to have a significant increase in the level of support that we receive. We need our church members to stand behind us, to take ownership of us, and to be proud of the impact that we have on our youth for the glory of God.
Church of God (Seventh Day) membership; I challenge you. I challenge you to invest in our youth. I challenge you to invest in the future of COG7 and the future of its educational institutions. Please give as abundantly as you can. Let’s swing the doors of Spring Vale Academy wide open so that as many of our young people as possible can have the opportunity to learn in an environment free of the worldly influences and evil secularism that is destroying their spiritual foundation. Remember, it’s all about the kids…
Status quo isn’t good enough anymore. If we, as a church, want to see our one and only high school blossom into what God truly would have it be, then we need to get behind it and take ownership. All of us. We should want to support Spring Vale Academy, to see it not just get by, but to see it thrive. As I said before, people don’t know what they don’t know. Well, now you know. We need your support. Help us raise this money, and have the faith that we will see God’s Kingdom glorified through our youth.
(Please contact me regarding your donations, large and small, or you can mail them directly to SVA:
4150 S M52, Owosso, MI. 48867. Please make sure to earmark donations to this cause as SSF. Also, please call the school regarding donations via credit card.)
Darrel W. Walters II
Director of Development
Spring Vale Academy