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Our History

Orangewood Academy traces its history back to Centralia, where the local Adventist Church established what is believed to be the first Seventh-day Adventist church school in the State of California.  The church school was established in 1896 under the visionary leadership of Mr. Milton Henry Shirley who served as an elder in his local church.  A native of the Dakotas, he came to California in 1881 and joined the Adventist Church.  The first teacher, by the name Carrie Hacker, was hired in 1896.  She remained at her post for only one year.  Alma McKibbin was hired as the second teacher for the small, unfinished one-room school, located in the back of the Centralia SDA Church.  The entire student body consisted of about 30 students spread over nine grades.  Classes ran from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., or even later.  All classes were taught without books.  The teacher wrote the lessons on the blackboard.  

In 1944 the Centralia School joined forces with a church school run by the Santa Ana SDA Church, which had been in operation since 1910.  Under the leadership of Wilton O. Baldwin, Superintendent of Schools for the Southeastern California Conference of of Seventh-day Adventists, the first Adventist union school in Orange County was established on Valencia Drive in Fullerton.  It became known as the Valencia Junior Academy.  It operated as a junior academy until 1956.

Early in 1950 ten acres of land were purchased at 13732 Clinton Avenue, in Garden Grove, in the heart of north Orange County.  This became the new site for an enlarged junior academy.  The new school opened in 1956 with 243 students spread over 10 grades.  It provided a complete teaching staff, including an excellent music department.  By 1959, the school counted on the support of 16 churches throught Orange County, with a combined membership of approximately 6,300.

In 1961 the school expanded to include 11th and 12th grades.  The plans drawn up by Lester Park became reality.  The high school moved into the new buildings and the elementary school occupied the junior acdemy campus.  In September 1961, Orangewood Academy became a full-fledged senior academy with an enrollment of 115.  It graduated its first class of 23 in 1962.

Since 1967 the school has added a full gymnasium, a 600 seat auditorium, more classrooms, locker rooms, shower facilities, a maintenence shop, and a preschool.

Plans are progessing towards a new and refurbished campus.  The vision launched in the 19th century continues now as we approach the second decade of the 21st century.


Purity of Heart - Clarity of Mind - Intensity of Mission - Integrity of Purpose