Connecting Columbia Union Seventh-day Adventists

Highschoolers Minister in Alaska During Spring Break, Highland View Academy, Alaska, Iditarod, Nome Church

Highschoolers Minister in Alaska During Spring Break

Story by Rob Gettys

While many high school students choose to enjoy spring break pursuits in warm places, a group of 21 students from Highland View Academy (HVA) chose a path less traveled, venturing to Nome, Alaska, to engage in ministry and community service.

Upon their arrival in Nome, where the thermometer read a mere six degrees, the students were met with the harsh realities of an Alaskan spring, including heavy snowfall and biting winds. Yet, the spirit of service and adventure burned within them as they embarked on a 10-day mission trip to connect with and serve the local population.

Students began their trip by experiencing the thrill of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, a storied event in Nome and one of Alaska’s most cherished traditions. They were fortunate enough to watch several of the dog-sledding teams arrive at the finish line and participated in the celebration by assisting organizers in setting up a banquet for the race participants, or “mushers.” They were also able to spend time with the sled dogs, feeding, playing and caring for them.

Throughout their stay, the students immersed themselves in the local community, offering their time and energy across a range of activities. They provided companionship, conversation and musical selections for residents at a senior center, many of whom are members of the city’s sizable indigenous community. They learned that in Alaska, they refer to this age group as “elders.” This connotation is used to remind everyone that they have much experience and wisdom to share with younger generations.

Their efforts also extended to the younger generation, with the students supporting the Boys and Girls Club’s after-school programs. A notable highlight was at a mini-clinic, hosted by members of the HVA Aerials gymnastics team, bringing flips and fun to the afterschool mix. Students also organized a multi-night Vacation Bible School program, offering music, spiritual programming and engaging activities and stories for the community children.

The academy group was hosted by the Nome church during their stay. Both Sabbaths, students led the worship service and enjoyed a “taste of Alaska,” as the church hosted the students with a fellowship meal. For multiple days, the students shoveled snow from the streets, driveways and sidewalks in the church’s surrounding neighborhood.

“I enjoyed the experience because I connected with many amazing, kind and hardworking people who helped us just as much as we helped them,” shares sophomore Cadence Rinehart.

“Our work in Alaska was an experience l’ll never forget,” says senior Aidan Sammons. “Never before have I seen the fruits of our labor appear so fast in the faces and words of those we helped.”

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