Fifteen Northwest academy students received the $500 Caring Heart Award scholarship, made possible through three-way funding from the North Pacific Union, local conferences and academies.
Students were selected by their schools for exemplifying the spirit of the Caring Heart — a willingness to serve others. Each student is gifted with a plaque and an engraved Bible, courtesy of the North American Division. The scholarship funds may be used toward tuition at an Adventist school or on a short-term mission trip.
Amazing Grace Academy
Jared Beaubien has been a student at AGA for seven years. In those years, Jared has grown as a leader among his peers and the younger students who look up to him. He has been a student association officer for two years, working with a small team of students to plan activities and events.
Jared’s thoughtfulness and leadership shine through as he’s working with the younger students in his family group or cleaning the halls of the school building.
Jared is typically found with a guitar in his hands on Friday mornings as he leads out in music for school-wide worship. This year, he was the captain of the volleyball team and encouraged his teammates to work together and do their best.
Jared’s leadership is not only seen at school, but also in his church family and community. He went to Ica, Peru, on a mission trip and helped build a church and school. He has helped with Vacation Bible School, is part of the music leadership team at church, is consistently helping with the audiovisual and sound needs at church and school, and is the captain of a local competition rock climbing team. He recently placed third in the intermediate level Alaska Piano Competition.
We are looking forward to seeing how God continues to work in Jared’s life and how He will continue to lead him to impact others positively.
Auburn Adventist Academy
Natalia Pons, AAA junior, is a thoughtful, diligent and responsible spiritual leader on campus. As the Project Unity coordinator, she uses her leadership qualities to promote the amazing cultural diversity found at Auburn.
Kilikina Vega Richards, AAA English teacher, said, "Natalia is always willing to do anything I ask with a cheerful and willing spirit. She finishes everything with her best effort.” Other teachers have noted her strong core values and high ethics. Eddy Darisme, AAA chaplain, said, “She is a leader that I never worry or stress about because she is so dependable.”
Natalia has many other strengths, such as kindness, genuineness and open-mindedness. “Her heart is big and she is kindness personified,” said Nikki Kiger, SEEKToday president. The genuineness and open-mindedness she displays has been deeply felt through her influence and leadership this school year.
Natalia strives for excellence, pushing herself in whatever comes her way, whether it be drama club, Campus Ministries, her class office or her on-campus job. The faculty and staff are honored to be a part of her journey and celebrate Natalia as the recipient of the Caring Heart Award.
Columbia Adventist Academy
If you come early to CAA or stay late after most students have left, you’ll meet someone with a smile on her face and a sparkle in her eyes. She will say “hi,” ask you how you’re doing and if there’s anything she can do to help. From sharing dark chocolate to running SA senate, Madi Jokela is looking for ways to make CAA and anyplace she goes a little better.
Madi is a strong voice for those who have lots of friends and those who have few. She has a love for understanding psychology and how the brain works, and this underlies her desire to understand and help others. She is a solution-seeker having care, compassion and integrity.
Madi’s life reflects Christ’s. Well-balanced socially and emotionally, she has an optimistic attitude, finding the best in every situation and person. Her work ethic is excellent, exhibited in both schoolwork and jobs, including class and SA offices, National Honor Society and volunteer projects.
One project she recently volunteered for was CAA’s fundraising to make the music tour to Washington, D.C., a reality. She helped, outside of school hours, with all phases of planning, which allowed more than 70 students to bless the lives of many.
Madi has a caring heart that blesses others and brings glory to God. We are proud to have her represent CAA for the Caring Heart Award.
Cascade Christian Academy
God used Google Maps to lead Luz Silverman to CCA. She and her family had recently moved from California to Wenatchee, Washington, and Luz was enrolled at St. Joseph’s Catholic School. A teacher there told Luz’s parents that she would have to find a different school to attend the following year, since St. Joseph’s only went through the fifth grade. She recommended a school in the valley that Luz and her parents had never seen.
One day, Luz and her parents decided to use their phone to try to find the school. Luz put in the name of the school on their cell phone and they started out on their adventure. However, they lost the connection several times and ended up in the middle of nowhere. They kept driving around until finally they got a connection and continued on their way with Google Maps.
When they finally drove up to the school, they realized it was not the school the teacher told them about or that Luz had entered into Google Maps. Instead, it was CCA. Luz’s parents felt impressed that this was the school she should go to. A few days later, with help from Julie Savino, registrar and vice principal, she was enrolled at CCA for the following school year. Luz later said she believes God led her to CCA for a reason.
Now, Luz is a senior preparing to graduate. A dedicated student, she not only excels academically, but also is always willing to help and encourage her classmates. In addition, during a recent health crisis in her family, she served as their interpreter, even moving with them to be closer to the hospital. During that difficult time, she continued her studies online with CCA for almost a full quarter.
Back in person on the CCA campus, she stays busy with her family, classes and church. Each week, she does community service and cares for the children entrusted to her through the church community. She says that in her confirmation classes, she has learned helping others is being a messenger of God. There is no doubt that Luz will continue to live her life as one of God’s messengers.
Gem State Adventist Academy
Every day, you can hear Everett Stone ask, “Do you need help?” He is a junior at GSAA, possessing a huge heart that he willingly shares with his family, classmates and teachers. He went the extra mile this year, hosting an early morning worship that is open to all students and staff.
He knows prayer is vital for not only his spiritual life, but for that of the school. Everett works hard academically, on the basketball court and on the baseball field. He has served as historian all three years at GSAA, contributing wholeheartedly as a class officer.
During spring break 2022, Everett participated in a mission trip to Alaska. While on the trip, he gained a new appreciation for giving to others and growing closer to the other participants. He enjoyed the children who attended VBS and was an appreciated part of the team helping with the puppet shows, music and the program’s overall success. He loves making special meals for his family and also working at Camp Ida-Haven, where he plans to share Jesus for many more summers.
Everett is considering attending Walla Walla University to become a secondary history teacher, so he can witness daily in the classroom and make service a continued extension of his life.
Livingstone Adventist Academy
Alexander Dryden, LAA junior, serves as the junior class president and student body athletic director. He is a servant leader and can be found helping students with homework and even carrying bags and backpacks for fellow students.
Whenever there is a big task to be done, Alexander is the first to jump in and help. He notices when someone could use a hand, never complains and always sees a job through to the end.
Athletics are a huge part of Alexander's life, and he can be found participating in any activity on campus, including soccer and basketball. He enjoys planning events for students, including helping with track and field day.
Alexander is a person who perseveres. He can be found working hard no matter the task given to him. He is always willing to help with a smile. His reliability and kindness have been felt by the entire school.
“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love Him” (James 1:12).
Milo Adventist Academy
As the recipient of Milo’s 2023 Caring Heart Award, Luke Alder models a Christ-like character with his quiet and observant ways over situations and people, looking for how he can help and be a team player in getting a job done.
With a heart of service for others, a strong work ethic and a love of the outdoors, he is known for his hard work and dedication to any task at hand. He will often step up and go above and beyond his own responsibilities to help others by volunteering to lighten their load.
One example is that he has been known to fill the sawdust bin at the boiler during home leaves when everyone else is busy or away. He sees it as an opportunity to help out the staff who would usually be responsible for it. When someone in the community needs help with yard work or other outdoor tasks, Luke is eagerly sought after and called.
Even before Luke moved to Milo with his family from Palmer, Alaska, he was active with mission work and helping others at a young age. He participated in mission trips to Bolivia with his grandparents, as well as to Colorado and Arizona with Milo.
Over his four years of high school, Luke has developed his leadership skills by holding a class leadership position each year, including his current role of senior class president. Whether in the classroom, on the basketball court, taking a group for a horse trail ride, working in the auto shop or running machinery for the Academy’s heavy equipment class, Luke’s classmates know they can count on him to always be there for them.
This summer he is looking forward to fishing in Alaska and then spending the end of his summer working at Big Lake Youth Camp for bonus weeks before heading to Walla Walla University in the fall to take aviation classes to get his pilot’s license. He plans to let God lead him in his next steps of life.
Mount Ellis Academy
Jim Hanson goes about life with a rare sense of earnesty. It is true that not all dictionaries include the word earnesty, but I think we should use the word more often. Maybe the word is so rare because those who demonstrate the value of earnesty in their lives are similarly rare. Earnesty is a good value, and it is worth recognizing Jim in light of this rare trait.
At first, Jim stressed a lot about how he would do in high school and about his grades. In the intervening years, Jim repeatedly harnesses his sincerity and drive to improve himself and greatly benefit the lives of others.
Whether playing a game of capture the flag or running the sound system, he is all in. The way he learns, interacts with classmates and approaches life in general is all in earnest. It’s a credit to his choices and sense of values that his talents are used effectively for Christ. It’s a fine way to live.
If you want someone on your team who you can trust to commit at the highest level, Jim is your man.
Orcas Christian School
Sadie Kongorski lives with her family on Lopez Island. She is probably the only student who commutes by ferry to school on Orcas Island and to church on San Juan Island.
Sadie has a big heart for service throughout all the islands, especially at school. She has a heart for God and strives to be an example of Jesus’ grace and compassion. For the last two years, she has taken leadership in the school praise band and has been a genuine friend and mentor to younger students in the band. She is always willing to travel on weekends to other churches with the band.
In addition to her leadership in the praise band, Sadie is an example to the other students by her willingness to wholeheartedly throw herself into any service project that the school puts in front of her. This year our school and church put on a community dinner and fed more than 300 people. Sadie not only invited friends and family, but made arrangements to spend the night so she could work until the last dish was washed and the last table cleaned and put away.
Sadie is looking forward to studying music and business at Walla Walla University next year and she will be a positive addition to campus life there
Portland Adventist Academy
From the moment Lindsey Monterroso stepped onto campus as a freshman, she has lived out the Christ-centered and character-driven motto of PAA.
As a freshman, she quickly showed a true desire to know God and connect with her classmates. Not only was she an active participant in discussions about God and Christianity, but was also clearly living out her beliefs. Even during distance learning during the pandemic, Lindsey was actively connected and involved with Campus Ministries, helping with Zoom chapels.
Lindsey is a spiritual leader on campus, boldly, transparently and vulnerably sharing her testimony. Her comments consistently serve as a warm invitation to lean deeply into the love of Jesus. On occasion, she brings a worship thought to read at the beginning of a class or volunteers to read a prepared one. She loves to make insightful comments about worship. It seems to be her favorite part of class.
Even in a school project, Lindsey's heart of care for others is evident. For her senior project, she created a podcast called Living Abundantly in which she skillfully interviewed professionals with the goal of helping high school students live healthier and happier lives.
Lindsey is a beam of sunshine. Her peers trust her as a leader, as evidenced by her serving as the president of her class for three years. She is a skilled musician who leads worship music at school and church, but she doesn't just lead in the public sphere. Her interactions with individuals are genuine and real. She actively listens, and students and staff alike leave conversations with Lindsey feeling encouraged and valued.
Her caring heart leads her to pursue a dream to become an elementary school teacher.
Puget Sound Adventist Academy
Samuel Mesfin was selected by the staff of PSAA because he has often been proactive to help staff and other students. Sam is known to smile and joke often on our campus. He is a fun person to be around and takes the opportunity to make others feel welcome.
Throughout his four years on campus, he has demonstrated this heart of service countless times. Staff and students have witnessed these acts of service. Many times he has taken the initiative to ask staff and students if help is needed on a current project they are working on.
His desire and dependability to take initiative is a key reason for his nomination. Sam stands out as a student who truly cares about his school and community. He has made a noticeable impact on PSAA, and we know that he will continue to do so wherever he goes. For these reasons, we are pleased to recognize Sam as this year’s Caring Heart Award recipient.
Rogue Valley Adventist Academy
Hannah Caldwell is a senior at RVAA. She joined the RVAA community at the beginning of her junior year and made quite an impact. She gives wholeheartedly in everything she pursues, whether it be in sports, academics, art or student association.
As this year's senior class president, she has worked hard to make sure this class will have a year to remember. Hannah has also taken on the task of being the elementary art teacher for all the students in pre-kindergarten through sixth grade. With her mother assisting her, she has made art fun for so many of our youngest learners.
Hannah enjoys rock climbing with her dad and all sorts of outdoor activities. She is quite the gifted artist and took it upon herself to add some beauty to the walls of our art classroom. Hannah currently plans to attend University of Oregon next year. We are confident that whichever road Hannah chooses she will master her goals with confidence and kindness.
Skagit Adventist Academy
SAA is pleased to nominate Damion Countryman as the 2023 recipient of the Caring Heart Award. Damion is a junior and serves his fellow students as an ASB and class officer.
Damion has a heart for the gospel. He shares this love by regularly sharing sermons in his home and surrounding churches. He has a unique story and looks for ways to share his connection with God with others. He has participated as a presenter in our student-led week of worship and will be traveling with SAA to Belize this spring to take part in the school mission trip.
SAA staff and students look forward to one more year with Damion sharing his spiritual gifts before he graduates in June 2024. Thank you, Damion, for your unique leadership and for letting God use your voice.
Upper Columbia Academy
Asher Mack is a real-life definition of caring. He has been at UCA for four years and has been a blessing every step of the way. During his time at UCA, Asher has consistently been a person others seek to relate to. The way he carries himself makes people feel comfortable approaching him whenever they need a listening ear.
One of Asher’s gifts is kindness. Whether hanging out with friends or checking in on someone to encourage them, Asher approaches his interactions sincerely and carefully. He is often found darting at full speed all around campus, dashing to class, work or to check on someone who may need him. He is in constant motion.
Whatever he finds to do, he puts his all into it. Giving his all during work, planning a Sabbath hike or grabbing his backpack of golf discs and playing the course at UCA, he is interested in making every opportunity count and not wasting a moment.
Students and staff appreciate Asher; his can-do spirit and readiness to help in any situation or task is a jewel of blessing to all. Asher daily lives his faith, and Jesus shines brightly out from him to others. His servant spirit is a treasure that he shares warmly with others.
UCA is proud to share this year's Caring Heart Award with Asher. His walking influence has made our campus a better place.
Walla Walla Valley Academy
Juan-Manuel Lopez is a four-year senior at WWVA. He is a lifelong Pendleton, Oregon, resident who travels to Walla Walla daily to attend school.
Although he describes himself as shy, Juan's remarkable voice is a gift that he loves to raise in song, and he has anchored the bass section of the school choir since his freshman year. He says he may want to pursue a music career.
Juan works at WWVA in the maintenance department. His beautiful voice can be heard practicing a choir song as he works, ensuring he gets it just right. Juan has been a reliable and dedicated asset to the department.
Juan frequently helps out at Pendleton Christian School, where his mother teaches. He helps with cleaning or doing whatever the school or his mother needs help with. He is very family-oriented, and it shows in his relationships with his classmates and teachers. His willingness to help and his kindest makes him endeared to all the faculty and staff at WWVA.
One of Juan's teachers describes him as "among the kindest, sweetest students any of us have ever been around."