Seniors are the Heart of CAA

December 22, 2021 | Education | Larry Hiday

At the heart of the Columbia Adventist Academy campus is a water tower. But the true heart of the school are students, especially seniors, who provide leadership, energy, novel ideas and mentoring to bless the school community. 

A water tower makeover was the original plan for a CAA class gift from 2021 seniors. But with a price tag of over $200,000, the plan changed to a one-mile walking trail in the northwest corner of the school property.

It was CAA students, teachers and community members who made it happen. Aaron Payne, chaplain and organizer of the event said, "We asked our students to come to school in work clothes and to bring a rake. The students worked hard, and it was fun to see what happens when a school unites together for a common cause, even if it was only for three hours.” 

Payne said, "Our hope is that this trail be a blessing to our school and school community for a long time." The biology class has already used the trail for its diversity of ecosystems for birding, and additions will be made to the trail as time and weather permit. It will even include a Brandon Moor Memorial bench as a rest spot halfway around the trail and the old school bell at the entrance.

Now, the current senior class is playing an integral leadership role. The class of 2022 has already submitted their senior project proposals. One project will build and provide hydroponic tables for local food banks to increase available vegetables over the winter. Other projects include providing art kits for foster children, supporting suicide prevention by selling personal artwork, bulb planting, building a storage facility for sports equipment as well as creating a welding table.

Some projects were possible thanks to a senior project from last year. Sam Flores, a 2021 graduate, raised funds to furnish grants for projects that meet community needs. "What we want is for students to see that [their project is] a way to give to other people," said Nita Yuros, senior experience teacher. "From the very beginning, this has been the central focus of what we want to have at our school. As they graduate from CAA, we hope and pray this informs their volunteer service, their career and their life.”

Following year-end presentations, senior project panelist responses confirm these goals are being realized, and the CAA community is being positively impacted.