Adventist Academy students cut classes to help community

Find out why the entire student body of Portland Adventist Academy “played hooky” for a day – and in the process, worked hard helping others …

Portland Adventist Academy Daniel Yang (foreground) and Jonathan Halleson put the finishing touches on the once-neglected yard of a physically-disabled senior citizen in the Hazelwood neighborhood.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Some kids cut classes and “ditch school” for a day to hang out, smoke cigarettes (or worse), and get into trouble.

But, in mid May, all of the students, teachers, and staffmembers at Portland Adventist Academy (PAA) – located between the new I-205 MAX Light Rail line and Adventist Medical Center in the Mill Park Neighborhood – took a day off in service of their community.

“We call this our Community Service Day,” explained the school’s chaplain, Greg Phillips. One of the goals at our school is to instill in our students the desire to serve others. In addition, in some of our Bible classes, we require that our students devote 12 hours to community service every quarter.”

Although this group of PAA “Inside-Out” workers was scheduled to spend the day cleaning up the yards of two elderly Hazelwood neighbors, their diligent work got the job nicely done before noon. Chaplain Phillips is standing to the far right.

“What’s the connection was between the Bible and community service?” we asked.

“It’s the basis of that which we believe,” Phillips replied, “We find joy and meaning in serving others. We want to have students catch a glimpse of that, so we get out and work together with them. The whole idea behind our project – which we call ‘Inside Out’ – is taking our inner values, and living them out on the streets.”

These PAA tenth-graders – Judith Mendoza and Deanna Conner – help by sorting and hanging clothes at Portland Adventist Community Services Thrift Shop, in the Gateway District.

We found other students working on NE Halsey Street in Gateway, sorting and hanging clothes at the Portland Adventist Community Services Thrift Shop.

Student Judith Mendoza said, as she grabbed a bunch of garments on hangers, “It’s important to me to help our community. We share our faith by the activities that we’re doing today.”

PAA history teacher, Shelly Fry, sorts clean donated clothing at the Portland Adventist Community Services Thrift Shop.

“Helping our students learn the importance of service is as important as teaching them history or math,” said PAA instructor, Shelly Fry.

“It’s important for them to see, first hand, that the world is bigger than their personal needs. Many kids at Portland Adventist already know that; and this is another reminder that this is an opportunity, right here in our own backyard, to help other people.”

© 2009 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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