Spring Valley Academy educates physically, mentally and spiritually.
Tucked away on more than 40 acres in Washington Township is Spring Valley Academy, a private pre-K through grade 12 parochial school, and a hidden gem in the Dayton area.
“I’ve been very impressed with the quality of the program and the excellence here,” says Darren Wilkens, who was named principal a year ago.
Part of the North American Seventh Day Adventist education system, the second largest parochial school system after the Catholic Church, Spring Valley is “focused on educating the whole person,” says Wilkins. “The physical, mental and spiritual are equally important.”
Spring Valley, with a staff of 59, is recognized as a charter school by the state of Ohio. Its 310 students are drawn from across the Greater Dayton area and other outlying counties as far away as Hamilton, Warren and Clermont in the Cincinnati area.
In 2012, Spring Valley ranked in the top 10 percent of all high schools in Ohio based on the 2012 Ohio Graduation Test results.
“We have a very high-end college prep program, but it’s infused with a huge emphasis on the arts, the visual arts and music,” he says. More than 95 percent of Spring Valley graduates attend college.
Wilkins says about 20 percent of students are not Adventists. “We are open to all,” he says. “We have some foreign students who aren’t Christian. We aren’t here to indoctrinate you, but you will hear things from our perspective.”
The athletic program includes interscholastic girl’s volleyball and basketball, boy’s basketball and soccer, and boy’s and girl’s tennis.
Since its founding in the mid-19th century, one of the hallmarks of the Adventist faith is its schools and hospitals.
Spring Valley, which replaced a smaller K-8 Seventh Day Adventist School, opened in 1968 and is an outgrowth of the Kettering Health Network. When the family of industrialist Charles Kettering donated the land for the Seventh Day Adventist-affiliated Kettering Hospital, it became apparent a larger school would be needed for the influx of Adventist executives and staff at the new medical facility, Wilkins says.
Adventists emphasize an active lifestyle and plant-based diet, he says. The school uses some of the wooded areas on its campus as outdoor learning areas. “We put a lot of emphasis on the natural beauty we have,” he says.
Because of the large Adventist community in the Dayton area, Spring Valley has a lot of resources “that allow you to have a big bold vision and go after it,” says Wilkins who previously spent about 11 years heading an Adventist school in Montana.
For example, the school is developing a medical magnet track, which would allow its high school students to take college courses through Kettering College to pursue medical careers and earn some necessary certifications.
“We’re developing the program and hope to launch it in the next year or two,” he says.
Also on the drawing board are plans for new 400-seat performing arts center and chapel. Details are still being worked out, but about $2 million already has been pledged for the construction.
“We hope to break ground in about a year and open the facility in 2017,” he says.