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Academy Students Serve, Impact Community

Compiled by Visitor Staff
Published 11/30/2011

Takoma Academy Students shovel mud from a park behind the Visitor Center in Ellicott City, Md.  

Whether it is through the arts, donations, evangelism or through physical labor, students at Seventh-day Adventist academies across the Columbia Union know that community service is a core part of the curriculum. During the first half the school year, students have been out and about in their communities helping in anyway they can. Here are just a few of their stories:

Artistic Service

This year Community Service Day at Highland View Academy in Hagerstown, Md., took a slightly different turn. Students reached out to a wide variety of local, community-based organizations, such as The American Red Cross, The Humane Society, Halfway Fire Station and Adopt a Highway. Eight students (some pictured) had a different experience. Under the direction of Julie Recker, registrar, and Glen Milam, director of the nearby Mount Aetna Retreat Center, they spent the morning painting murals of Dr. Seuss scenes on the walls of an interview room at the Washington County Child Advocacy Center “Safe Place.”

Safe Place is committed to reducing the trauma to children in a child-friendly environment through collaborative investigations, therapeutic/medical interventions and criminal prosecutions of child abuse cases. The students completed about a third of the project but volunteered to return to the center to complete the project.

“Service learning is the deliberate connection of community service to the stated learning goals,” Recker shared. “A common misconception among educators, youth workers and young people is the notion that service learning can just be assigned and completed. Our goal was to make community service an effective life-long learning tool.”

Four students at Blue Mountain Academy in Hamburg, Pa., also participated in a similar project. They painted murals in the hallways of The Children’s Home of Reading. “It was a great experience. The kids that live there have been through so much, and it was great to do something that I love, that will help cheer up their day,” said junior Hannah Ashburn.

Serving Through Labor

High school students (pictured) at Spring Valley Academy in Centerville, Ohio, recently participated in the community-wide service day dubbed “Project M-pact” day.  Under the direction of high school teachers students cleaned and planted trees at local creeks and parks, did yard work for their neighbors and worked with the Catholic Social Services Day Care Center on various projects.

Ken Knudsen, the school’s chaplain, shared that it is always a blessing when “we can see that our kids truly do make a difference in our community at large.” 

In response to flash flooding in Ellicott City, Md., earlier this year, 18 Takoma Academy (TA) students helped the community clean up. Armed with brooms, shovels, buckets, gloves and squeegees, the students joined Chaplain Tim Soper and Nora Ramos, TA’s Spanish instructor, in travelling from their Takoma Park, Md., campus to help. They cleaned up mud and debris from a small park behind the local visitor’s center. They also helped haul, sort, clean and organize merchandise—and shovel more mud—at a thrift store and architectural firm.

Funding Overseas Education

Drama students at Spencerville Adventist Academy in Spencerville, Md., are making the schooling experience of orphans in Montrouis, Haiti, better. As a thank you to their director, Jane Lanning, the cast of last spring’s musical production, Cheaper By the Dozen, made a donation to the Eden Garden Orphanage in Haiti.

Lanning recently took the more than $1,700 donation with her on a visit to the orphanage. The funds went a long way and allowed for the construction of 20 new school desks (pictured). While there Lanning also incorporated the help of the orphans to sketch and paint murals for the nursery and kindergarten classroom. She recalled that one of the highlights of the trip was discovering what the kids want to be when they grow up: doctors, engineers, nurses, fashion designers, pastors and teachers, even a policeman. “By creating more of a learning environment with new desks and painted walls, these dreams may actually feel possible!” she said.

Serving Through Evangelism

As the Parsons church, a very small congregation located 20 miles from Elkins, W.Va., puzzled over how best to witness to the local community, Mountain View Conference officers encouraged schools across the conference to develop evangelism projects in their local areas. Students and staff at the Highland Adventist School (HAS) in Elkins responded to the challenge and worked with Parsons members to plan a 10-month evangelism cycle with health ministry as the emphasis. Click here for the full story.

Adventist students don’t limit community service to their academy years, click here to read how Washington Adventist University students in Takoma Park, Md., impact their community!