Caring Heart Award Winners for 2015

Thirteen Northwest academy students each were recipients of 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.

Emily Karmy

Auburn Adventist Academy

Emily Karmy is an outstanding student known for her sympathetic and helpful attitude.

Karmy is a junior this year and has attended Auburn Adventist Academy in Auburn, Wash., since her freshman year.

Karmy is employed by the academy's mathematics department, where she grades student assignments. Her supervisor points out that she is one of the few workers he has had who is in the habit of praying for math students who are struggling with their homework.

As a leader on campus, Karmy has held class office multiple times.

Karmy is a shining example of a student who constantly exhibits kindness and helpfulness.

Lacey Axelson

Cascade Christian Academy

Lacey Axelson is a junior at Cascade Christian Academy in Wenatchee, Wash. She is a talented athlete, musician and student, but the thing people notice most about Axelson truly is her caring heart.

A spiritual leader, Axelson displays a consistent Christian witness that lets those around her know she is proud to love Jesus. She has willingly shared devotional thoughts with her peers and delivered sermons in local churches.

Axelson is adored and looked up to by the younger students; she has a heart for children and always greets them with a smile and a hug, listening to them and making them feel special and important. Her high school peers respect her integrity and kindness. Teachers appreciate her habits of thoughtfulness, such as thanking them after every class and asking sincerely how they are doing. They consider her trustworthy and appreciate her incredible work ethic and the high standards and goals she sets for herself.

Axelson intends to use the Caring Heart scholarship toward an upcoming mission trip. In the future, she plans to continue pursuing a life of caring service as a pediatrician.

Natalia Perry

Columbia Adventist Academy

There are some students who serve, and then there are some students who are servant leaders. The student receiving the Caring Heart Award for Columbia Adventist Academy, in Battle Ground, Wash., is the latter. Whether it is leading out in her Sabbath School class, in the chaplaincy office, for community service as NHS president or in young women's Bible study group, she is always actively involved. Her desire to be a spiritual leader and to help others find Christ is commendable.

While some students have been on a mission trip, there are others who have made their entire life journey a trip with a mission. While that is true of Columbia's recipient, she has also been on a plethora of mission trips, including Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, Panama and at home in the United States, from Kentucky to Arizona.

She also loves her life as a Christian; she is neither apologetic about her life nor does she try to change so that she fits in with everyone else. That is just one more of the many reasons that Columbia Adventist Academy chose to honor Natalia, a four-year senior, as the Caring Heart Award recipient this year.

Kelsey Turner

Gem State Adventist Academy

Kelsey Turner is a junior at Gem State Adventist Academy (GSAA) in Caldwell, Idaho, and has stood out as a leader and a friend to her GSAA family. Turner has served as her class president for the past three years and plans on running for president again as a senior. She has been selected twice by her peers to speak for student-led weeks of prayer and has held the position of a student deacon at the GSAA Church. She has been an active member of the music and athletic departments and enjoys spending time with her friends in the dorm.

The Caring Heart Award was voted on in a secret ballot by the faculty and staff. Turner is a very involved person in school activities and a sensitive, caring and religious student. She is always willing to help whomever.

Turner plans to use her Caring Heart scholarship toward a mission trip to the Amazon. She plans to attend Walla Walla University. Turner and her parents, Keven and Fernette Turner, are members of the Olive Tree Ministry Center in Twin Falls, Idaho.

Emily Silcox

Livingstone Adventist Academy

Emily “Emmi” Silcox has a heart that reaches out to other people who are in need of a friend. She encourages other students with a note or a kind word.

Emmi has been a student at Livingstone Adventist Academy in Salem, Ore., since kindergarten. She has been the Associated Student Body spiritual vice president this year, and she has made efforts to build a stronger school community through positive spiritual interactions. She has been involved in several missions throughout her time at Livingstone.

Joshua Bendezu

Milo Adventist Academy

Joshua Bendezu, a senior at Milo Adventist Academy in Days Creek, Ore., is known for his passion for outreach. He worked with the Oregon Conference Youth Rush during the summer of 2014 and showed leadership on Milo’s mission trip to Panama this spring break.

Daily involved with helping wherever there is a need, Bendezu serves as the Student Association’s historian and the senior class spiritual vice president and is a proven, dedicated worker. He plans to attend Walla Walla University in the fall and continue growing in Christ.

Mara Nutt

Orcas Christian School

Her school family is honored to announce Mara Nutt as the recipient of the 2015 Caring Heart Award for Orcas Christian School in Eastsound, Wash.

In the first grade, Nutt always had her letter to the senior citizens written first. By middle school, she was helping her elderly neighbors clear fields. In high school, she has participated in every mission trip and service project her school has held.

Nutt’s actions show her caring heart, but it is Nutt’s consistently kind, caring personality that make her the unanimous choice among the Orcas staff for this award. Nutt brings out the absolute best in everyone around her by always holding herself to her own high moral code. Her positive outlook on life is contagious; her inclusive behavior ensures all feel seen and loved. Her caring spirit lingers long after she leaves a classroom. Her classmates and teachers will certainly miss her sweet energy next year.

It has been sheer delight watching Nutt grow into the beautiful, quiet servant that she is today.

Zac White

Portland Adventist Academy

Zac White is a remarkable young man. Rarely do schools see young people who approach life with the depth, unselfishness and creative energy that characterize White. He truly “lights up” the campus from the moment he arrives.

Academically, White excels. He works hard, has a quick mind, engages in meaningful conversation and thinks beyond the surface of issues. His interactions with others are always thoughtful and measured, yet direct and on point.

Few things energize White like a meaningful and authentic conversation with another student. When that connection takes place, White comes to life. And when White comes to life the world knows it. His enthusiasm and energy infects others around him because it flows from White in tangible ways. His words, his actions, the bounce in his step, the bob of his head and the light in his eyes give notice that White is sharing something worth paying attention to. 

As a leader White is unafraid to step up and get involved. During his four years at Portland Adventist Academy (PAA) in Portland, Ore., he has been involved in campus ministries, mission trips, small groups, local community service … if there is an activity that involves sharing Christ with others, White has been in the middle of it. His participation has been appreciated on mission trips to Portland, Fiji, Peru and the Dominican Republic. He has led Bible studies and men’s groups, helped to coordinate weeks of worship, led out with music regularly, and has played a key role in planning the Friday evening vespers (community) gatherings. White has been a shining example of students caring for students and the world around them.

White’s plans after graduation will take him back to Big Lake Youth Camp in central Oregon, where he loves to serve the hundreds of kids who attend each summer. From there, it will be off to Walla Walla University, where he is considering the pursuit of a career in social work. PAA will miss having White’s presence on campus next year — but wherever White winds up, it will be a friendlier place because White is there.

Andrew Gagiu

Puget Sound Adventist Academy

Andrew Gagiu was selected unanimously by the Puget Sound Adventist Academy (PSAA) staff in Kirkland, Wash., because of his exceptional leadership, scholarship and positive involvement on campus. As vice president of the senior class, president of the National Honor Society, and an active member of music groups and sport teams, all while maintaining outstanding academics, Andrew also takes the time to make his school the best it can be.

Some words that describe Andrew include intelligent, driven, responsible and aware, setting him apart as a student who cares. His dedication to high-quality work translates into concern and care for his campus, shown through positive interactions with peers and participation in spiritual events. He has made a noticeably constructive impact on PSAA and our students, and we know that he will continue to do so wherever he goes. For this reason, we are pleased to recognize Andrew Gagiu as this year’s Caring Heart Award Recipient.

Andrew plans to apply his award toward his college tuition as he pursues a degree in engineering and music at Walla Walla University.

Andrew’s and his parents, Alex and Hellen Gagiu, attend the Greenlake Church in Seattle, Wash.

Jasmine Haddad

Rogue Valley Adventist Academy

Jasmine Haddad is a senior at Rogue Valley Adventist Academy (RVAA) in Medford, Ore. She joined RVAA her freshman year from the Grants Pass Adventist School. Haddad has a real passion for all students to have an opportunity for a Christian education. During her sophomore year she developed her own nonprofit organization called Student4Student, through which Haddad works, with the support of her parents, Haithan and Sheila Haddad, to raise funds for other students to receive a Christian education. Haddad has also served as a tutor to many elementary students as well as a few classmates.

With hard work, Haddad has achieved the distinction of class valedictorian. She is a successful leader to her peers by serving as class president and vice president throughout her high school years. She has enjoyed being on the varsity basketball team, and snowboarding is always a great time she can spend with friends.

After completing this year’s mission trip to Washington, D.C., Haddad plans to continue her education at Walla Walla University and pursue a degree in psychology.

Brett Rowe

Skagit Adventist Academy

Having attended Skagit Adventist Academy (SAA) in Burlington, Wash., for 13 years, Brett Rowe is truly one of the academy’s sons. Rowe has grown throughout the years to be a leader in his community, his church and at his school ... even making an impact on his world.

As a leader in his community, Rowe has served as a volunteer while preparing and serving meals at the Friendship House, a local homeless relief shelter. He has delivered Christmas and Thanksgiving dinners to those in need and has served as a leader with Project Homeless Connect in conjunction with the school and the Skagit Community Action Agency.

On any given Sabbath, Rowe will be found leading song service or other parts of the church program, and he's seen as one of the stronger spiritual leaders among his peers. During his sophomore year, he developed and led an after-school Bible study group and has been instrumental during the church service that is presented entirely by the youth department.

Rowe is appreciated by the staff of SAA for his ability to take roles of responsibility and be trusted to complete the tasks at hand. In addition to other leadership positions, Rowe has served as the president of his junior and senior class. He plays first-chair trumpet in the school band and serves as director of a student-led select choir, is a member of the regular and select choirs, and uses his talents on the piano to accompany singing during morning worship. Rowe helps set a positive tone for the high school and his peers.

Even with all of his activities, Rowe shows his willingness to reach out to the world by serving with mission trips to Belize and the Dominican Republic. From cinder-block wall construction to helping with medical clinics and leading song service during student-led evangelistic series, Rowe’s caring heart is showcased through action. The SAA staff are proud of their "son" — and they know Rowe is not done “being the change” in his world.

Meghan Spracklen

Upper Columbia Academy

Meghan Spracklen has exemplified hard work, dedication and a heart of service in her time here at Upper Columbia Academy (UCA) in Spangle, Wash. Whether it was going on a mission trip and doing manual labor or serving through her job as a resident assistant on campus, Spracklen has exemplified a very caring heart. While there are many students who care and serve, the UCA staff have seen in her a consistent and steady example of Christ’s love and service and feel that this award was well-deserved. 

Spracklen is from Cove, Ore., and attends the La Grande (Ore.) Church. She has a deep love for animals and because of this is considering a career as a veterinarian. Regardless of where her future ultimately leads, she is committed to serving others in every element of her life. She plans on attending Walla Walla University. 

Hannah Thiel

Walla Walla Valley Academy

Hannah Thiel’s smile has lit up the hallways of Walla Walla Valley Academy in College Place, Wash., for four years. Whether it’s simply saying hello to a classmate in the hallway or volunteering her time to a local cause, she demonstrates kindness and connection to her peers and teachers and compassion for those who need encouragement.

Thiel is the daughter of Sharon and Norman Thiel of Walla Walla, Wash., and big sister to Rachel, a junior at Walla Walla Valley Academy, and Lydia, a seventh-grader at Rogers Adventist School. Thiel plans on attending Walla Walla University in the fall.

June 27, 2015 / Feature