Caring Heart Award Winners for 2019

Fourteen Northwest academy students received the $500 Caring Heart Award scholarship made possible through three-way funding from the North Pacific Union Conference, local conferences and academies. Students were selected by their schools for exemplifying the spirit of the Caring Heart — a willingness to serve others. The North American Division provided each student with a plaque and an engraved Bible. The scholarships may be used toward tuition at an Adventist school or on a short-term mission trip.




Ezekiel Lemma

Auburn Adventist Academy

Auburn, Washington

When you think of an excellent student, Ezekiel Lemma is the perfect example. Excellence is defined by “the quality of being outstanding.” Ezekiel’s qualities are what qualify him as such. “He is a wonderful young man who is a pleasure to have in class,” comments Joe Underhill, acting vice principal and teacher.

Ezekiel has created this reputation of excellence since his first day on campus three years ago. Now, as a junior, he shines quietly as a beacon of kindness, compassion and integrity. Bryce Sampsel, science and math teacher, speaks highly of Ezekiel not only as his student but as his employee: “He is an absolutely exceptional worker, self-motivated, always trustworthy.”

Bryce is not alone in his high regard for Ezekiel. Fellow junior classmate, Kevin Chang, says, “Whenever I work with him, his ability to be a team player and how he displays leadership through cooperation inspires me.”

His inspiring character is seen in humble and subtle ways all over campus. Administrative assistant Suzette Maxwell describes Ezekiel as “a young man of integrity. He doesn’t work at it. It’s intrinsic. He navigates socially with a sense of honor genuinely representing Christian education.”

Auburn Adventist Academy's motto reads, “That students may become of Christ convicted, to Christ committed, and for Christ compelled.” Ezekiel is a noteworthy example of all of these qualities, making him an example of true excellence not only academically and socially but, most importantly, spiritually.

Devyn Hill

Cascade Christian Academy

Wenatchee, Washington

Devyn Hill is a senior at Cascade Christian Academy. Over the last few years, Devyn has become the student information technlogy guru on whom everyone depends. All throughout the day, teachers and students ask Devyn for help with their Chromebooks or other technology needs. He is always gracious to answer questions or help other students and teachers get back on track with their devices — and he never complains. Devyn also serves on the media team at the Wenatchee Church as well as filling in on the sound team as the need arises.

Devyn is also known for being a hard worker in everything he sets his mind to do. Devyn participated in two mission trips to Belize during his high school years. While in Belize Devyn never shirked the heavy labor projects he was assigned to, yet he still always seemed to have the energy to play basketball with the older boys at the King’s Children’s Home, where he served.

The Cascade Christian Academy staff believe Devyn’s pleasant personality, willing spirit and positive attitude while helping others qualify him to receive the Caring Heart Award. Without a doubt Devyn has been an asset on campus and will be missed tremendously. Devyn will be attending Walla Walla University in the fall, majoring in information systems.

Mitchell Powers

Columbia Adventist Academy

Battle Ground, Washington

With a huge, caring heart for people and a love for sharing God, Mitchell exemplifies the principles represented in the Caring Heart Award. However, he defies all the boxes into which one might attempt to place a recipient. While serious about helping others, he jokes around and brings smiles to people’s faces with his sense of humor and comments. Nobody who sees the smile on his face or the laughter in his eyes can avoid their contagion.

His wisdom comes through his search for mentors: first God through His Word, then people like chaplain Aaron Payne, pastors David Smith and Jackie James, and others. “Can I pray with you?” is a question he asks frequently that denotes his ultimate care for others that goes beyond the physical and the mental/social aspects and shows his care for the spiritual health of those he comes in contact with.

Mitchell is gifted in many areas, including music, leading Bible studies, speaking and mentoring others. "Over the top” is not an exaggeration for all the things he tries to pack into a 24-hour period. Meeting as a member of the Battle Ground Youth Council***, directing community outreach through the Meadow Glade Church, working on mission trips, leading spiritual activities as school chaplain and campus ministries member, volunteering with a social worker, planning fundraiser events for area homeless, and being involved in the planning and programming of Youth Ignite Sabbaths at his church are a few of these things where Mitchell intentionally uses his God-given talents to bless the lives of others, while maintaining stellar grades in his classes, including two advanced placement classes and anatomy and physiology.

This summer Mitchell is at Big Lake Youth Camp as the student chaplain, and we are sure that many young people, as well as his coworkers, will be impacted by his mentorship and caring heart.

Anna Stone

Gem State Adventist Academy

Caldwell, Idaho

Junior Anna Stone is a young woman who is devoted to serving her church and her fellow man. Her science teacher, Glen Wahlman, says he has been so impressed with how Anna takes opportunities to serve those around her and the kindness she shows. Wahlman says Anna truly exemplifies 1 John 3:18: "My children, our love should not be just words and talk; it must be true love, which shows itself in action."

Anna regularly leads worship and music at her home church. She coordinates the youth praise team at the Caldwell Church. She also volunteers at Caldwell Adventist Elementary School. She spent last summer working as a colporteur with Oregon Youth Rush and has been on two mission trips to Guatemala and the Philippines since becoming a student at GSAA.

Anna is a talented writer and artist who enjoys using her talents to serve God. Every day she demonstrates a caring heart through her quiet service to others. She is the first to reach out to new students and to offer a kind word to someone having a bad day. Her English teacher, Kim Mitchell, says, “She is always helping other students — no one asks her to. I know I can always count on Anna. I am so proud too of how hard she works at everything she does.”

Nathalia Palafox

Livingstone Adventist Academy

Salem, Oregon

Nathalia exemplifies what it means to have a caring heart. She is really good at reading other people's emotions and is quick to ask them if they are okay when she notices they are down. She reaches out to check on her friends and has been there to support them all.

Livingstone Adventist Academy has been blessed to have her as a student since her fourth-grade year. Throughout that time, she has been a stellar student and a leader both in and out of the classroom. She is involved in our music ministries group, leading praise singing for chapels as performing with the high school choir. A member of both the volleyball and basketball varsity teams, Nathalia plays a supportive role on and off the court.

At church, Nathalia often volunteers for music responsibilities like leading praise music and performing special music. As a Pathfinder leader, she has helped organize meetings and plan functions. She is a church deaconess, finds many ways to show she cares for church members and volunteers in outreach activities like feeding the homeless.

Nathalia has not waited to be "old enough" to demonstrate God's love; she lives Jesus' love every day. We are thrilled she will be returning to Livingstone for her senior year. Not merely a student leader, Nathalie is a role model and example of what young disciples are capable of.

Xavier Alarid

Milo Adventist Academy

Days Creek, Oregon

Xavier Alejandro Alarid, a senior at Milo Adventist Academy, attended Grants Pass Adventist School his freshman and sophomore years. While there, he participated in two mission trips to help the homeless in San Francisco, California. He also volunteered at a local soup kitchen and worked as a teacher’s aide. He was active in the music program and was awarded a music scholarship to attend Milo.

At Milo, Xavier continued to be involved in music and to show his care and concern for others through his work as a resident assistant in the men’s dormitory, where he mentors younger students. He also enjoys witnessing, selling Christian books and reading to children.

Everyone who knows Xavier appreciates his cheerful demeanor and words of encouragement. His positive attitude is uplifting to students and staff, and he is always ready and willing to lend a helping hand. Xavier was honored at Milo’s spring concert with a band award for his outstanding achievement this year.

Because he is a good listener and problem solver, Xavier has chosen to study social work at Walla Walla University.

Xavier’s family — Jamie and Tracy Alarid and Matthew and Dianna Austin, all of Grants Pass, Oregon — are very proud of Xavier and his accomplishments.

Elennie Ramirez

Mount Ellis Academy

Bozeman, Montana

Senior Elennie Ramirez is a true leader with a caring heart. She is always ready to lead or serve at a moment’s notice, whether by sharing her testimony, leading music, or sharing her amazing talents in graphic design and photography.

Elennie has held several leadership positions throughout her high school years, most recently serving as associated student body chaplain, tearbook editor and class representative. MEA faculty and students describe her as creative, caring and helpful. She is aware of those around her and is incredibly sensitive to them. She never seems weary of giving of her time, energy, and talents.

Elennie graduated this spring, and the MEA campus won’t feel the same without her. However, we are excited to see how she uses her artistic talents, her leadership skills and her caring heart to touch the rest of the world.

Katie Kemmerer

Orcas Christian School

Eastsound, Washington

Katie’s ability to care for others has shown through many different aspects throughout her academic career. In school, Katie has been captain for volleyball and basketball, a part of the student association, and a junior staff member on mission trips. Through each and every activity, Katie leaves no person behind. She has a natural ability to see a need and move in to fill it whether with younger students or in areas during an activity.

During sport seasons, Katie is often helping her fellow athletes become better in practice drills through one-on-one mentoring. When asked to lead a drill, she continues to guide and build up her teammates. She can be seen often before a game checking in on everyone and encouraging them before hitting the court. Personal relationships are a key aspect of who Katie is. All of her teammates have high regards for her, even giving her the Team’s Choice Award in volleyball this year.

As a member of student association, Katie’s ability to care about the program and wants of others is clear. Not only does she have a clear idea on what would do well within the school, but she takes the time to find out her fellow classmates' preferences.

Katie advocates for her fellow students' desires, even when they may not align with her own. She is good to her word and shows up to see each project through to the end.

Having gone on two mission trips, Katie shows compassion for her community not only locally but internationally as well. While in the Philippines, she worked on a medical mission trip, assisting those who needed medical attention. In the Pacific Northwest, Katie worked on helping local communities and nature renovation. On both trips, Katie demonstrated a tenderness towards strangers and an ability to lead her peers by example.

Katie deserves the Caring Heart Award because she displays kindness to both those she is familiar with and strangers. She leads by example and has a heart for leaving no person behind.

Dakota Arnold

Portland Adventist Academy

Portland, Oregon

In a world that often rushes past the “least of these,” Dakota Arnold stops to hold the door for a stranger, smiles and offers an encouraging word. “Kind, respectful, honest and brave” — these are just some of the words teachers echo about Dakota. He is dependable, has a positive work ethic and is helpful to all. Dakota is the first to volunteer for a job, no matter how messy, and finds the fun in a difficult task.

Dakota also has a knack for dropping timely, groan-worthy puns. His refreshing authenticity is a result of wholehearted living. He faces life with optimism and sincere faith. He brightens the corner where he is. Teachers also note Dakota's inner strength and wisdom beyond his years. He holds remarkable courage through uncertainty and remains a quiet source of hope for others. His kindness, honesty and concern for others is sincere. Dakota Arnold fully embodies a caring heart.

Katherine Wong

Puget Sound Adventist Academy

Kirkland, Washington

Showing genuine care for others is something senior Katherine Wong does with ease and grace on our campus. Her empathy is inspiring, illustrated in many tangible ways. Every fall, Katie can be observed welcoming and making new friends with underclassmen and maintaining those relationships throughout the year in a role of support. She takes time to chat with students and staff, asking meaningful questions and sharing a depth of thought that is special.

Katie cares greatly about Puget Sound Adventist Academy’s openness and spirituality. She helps lead praise music each Friday at chapel, encouraging our student body to participate. She has grown as a spiritual leader on campus, both in leading worship and in speaking with honesty and compassion. Music is an avenue that brings her joy, which she shares in various school groups and area churches.

Katie’s care and shared talents were expressed in a vivid way during Puget Sound Adventist Academy’s spring mission trip to the Dominican Republic. She participated in a variety of worship activities, getting out of her comfort zone in order to really connect with the local community. There are many who will remember her, including one little boy named Fabiel, who received the blessing of her care one afternoon.

Katie plans to study social work at Walla Walla University, and we know she will go far in this profession, blessing many with Jesus’ love for others.

Brian Harris

Rogue Valley Adventist Academy

Medford, Oregon

Brian Harris joined the Rogue Valley Adventist Academy family his junior year of high school. In that short amount of time he has had an impact in his pleasantly quiet way. Brian is very committed to community service. He attended both RVAA mission trips, the first to Costa Rica and this spring in Paradise, California. He also joined a short trip to Coos Bay, Oregon, to help rebuild a much-needed deck and ramp for an elderly woman.

He has been a great help to the local community service center when stocking shelves with food to distribute to those in need. Brian always has a pleasant smile and a kind word for everyone. We think Brian embodies the true meaning of a caring heart.

Brian is the son of Melissa Haas from Grants Pass, Oregon. He plans to attend Walla Walla University this fall and has a keen interest in all things to do with technology.

Elijah Fautheree

Skagit Adventist Academy

Burlington, Washington

Skagit Adventist Academy is pleased to nominate one of its seniors, Elijah Fautheree, as this year’s Caring Heart Award recipient. Elijah consistently demonstrates great leadership on campus and was selected as this year’s senior class pastor and associated student body president.

Elijah’s strong sense of leadership and spiritual maturity has led him to be consistently involved in feeding the local homeless through Skagit County Friendship House. He has also participated in various outreach activities including with the local Community Action and Project Homeless Connect.

Skagit Adventist Academy has been blessed with Elijah’s musical talent and spiritually rich worship talks for his fellow students. He has also worked very hard on campus in the maintenance department, helping to pay his tuition. In addition, Elijah has demonstrated a fabulous team spirit on our sports teams and in intramural sports the last four years.

Elijah has also had the opportunity to demonstrate his love for missionary work through mission trips to Idaho and Puerto Rico. The last two years, students have selected him to be one of five speakers for the student-led week of worship. He is heading to Walla Walla University to study physical therapy. Elijah’s parents are Aubrey and Jan Fautheree.

Kerianne Kruger

Upper Columbia Adventist Academy

Spangle, Washington

Anyone who knows Kerianne Kruger will tell you she is a ray of sunshine. The Upper Columbia Academy family has been blessed these last three years by her caring disposition and her growing love for Jesus. She is an exceptional student leader, participating in a mission trip to Cambodia, serving as the junior class chaplain, speaking for student week of prayer and coordinating UCA’s Youth Church program.

Students and staff appreciate her positive presence and her ability to engage in real conversation about important things. “Kerianne leaves a lasting impression of positivity and kindness,” says Julie Hagele, UCA registrar and Kerianne's work supervisor. “She is someone that you can trust to complete the task at hand with genuine concern for how her work and actions impact others. Whether she is speaking up front or interacting with those around her, her genuine smile melts anyone’s bad day into hope and a reminder of goodness.”

Kerianne’s parents are Tim and Heidi Kruger. She plans to continue her education at Walla Walla University.

Alex Engels

Walla Walla Valley Academy

College Place, Washington

Alex Engels of Milton-Freewater, Oregon, is a four-year senior at Walla Walla Valley Academy. He is a quiet but mighty influence for good on our campus. Wise beyond his years, Alex has overcome many challenges, which enabled him to do well academically and endear himself to those with whom he comes into contact each day. His powers of observation and empathy make him a sincerely caring friend to everyone.

A true self-starter, Alex often takes it upon himself to act on the needs around him that God places on his heart. Instead of attending a large church nearby with others of his age, he chooses to attend a small church where his contributions make a big difference — sometimes walking miles to get there. With few available volunteers in his church, he took it upon himself to grow the youth group and is a regular in the Sabbath School classrooms. His ideal Sabbath would be to teach Sabbath School at his local church, go down the road some to another yet smaller congregation and worship with them, then spend the afternoon at the Native American reservation mission.

Alex also contributes financially to his education by working at SonBridge Thrift & Gift, where his calm demeanor, capableness, integrity and respect for all are greatly valued.

With plans to attend Walla Walla University in the fall, Alex will major in elementary education.

Congratulations, Alexander Engels, on receiving the 2019 Caring Heart Award. We thank you for heeding the call of Jesus in your life and blessing so many with your gifts.

Featured in: July/August 2019