Following years of concern over dwindling numbers, Tweed Valley Adventist College (TVAC) in Murwillumbah (NSW) is celebrating its highest ever enrollment of more than 270 students in 2021, and the construction of new classrooms.
The surprising influx comes after COVID-19 impacted enrolments at a number of private schools in the area last year.
“Credit must be awarded to dedicated teachers and staff who worked tirelessly to provide digital classes to all students during lockdown,” explained Vern Parmenter, TVAC council chairman.
To cater for the new students, the school’s building committee called an urgent meeting and made the decision to convert the current industrial arts area into three new classrooms. Within a week, twenty volunteer builders arrived to begin the process, completing it before the school year commenced.
“TVAC needed three more classrooms at short notice. It needed money to achieve this as well as quick approval from Conference leadership, the school council and hopefully a government grant,” explained Pastor Parmenter (retired). “This meant of course that the industrial arts faculty needed a new home. And while was not ready for the beginning of the school year, a large facility will be constructed as soon as plans are finalised,” he continued.
The influx of new students comes after the school faced closure 10 years ago, when enrolments dwindled to just 90 students.
“In 2010 the school was struggling to be viable with a declining enrolment and aging buildings, some of which were affected by regular floods. Families who assisted with the construction [of the school] in the 1970’s began to pray that God would intervene. The church agreed that the school should follow the blueprint outlined in the book Education by Ellen White, and that the name ‘Adventist’ should feature in the name of the school. The turn-around was remarkable,” said Pastor Parmenter.
Within four years, student numbers more than doubled, with a maximum enrolment of 251 students in 2014. But then in 2018, enrolments declined once more.
A credit to their strong spiritual focus and community orientation, Murwillumbah Church and TVAC united for three days of fasting and prayer with a focus on families who are open to receive the gospel.
“God answered that prayer with more requests than ever before for Bible studies and supplied an additional chaplain to assist,” explained Pastor Parmenter.
TVAC’s strong spiritual emphasis was also evident during 2020, with 12 students baptised. Recently, the TVAC council organised a Friday night service with teachers and staff featuring a devotional message, musical items, prayer, a meal and more than 30 teachers sharing their testimony and commitment to Christian education and mission.
Most families at TVAC come from non-Adventist homes (56 per cent).
“This makes TVAC and indeed all of our Adventist schools a wonderful outpost for evangelism,” said principal Paul Fua. “It is not only the physical growth we praise God for. It is the quality of the families and the ways that God is moving upon the hearts of the students and staff.”
The school grounds.