Caring Heart Award Winners for 2017

June 28, 2017

Fourteen 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.

Auburn Adventist Academy

Auburn, Washington

Matthew Gorton

Matthew shows the character of Jesus in all he does. He is a strong and positive leader at Auburn Adventist Academy.

If you were to meet Matthew Gorton, you would easily see his caring heart displayed as a kind, compassionate and gentle leader. Matthew, a junior at Auburn Adventist Academy, approaches what he does with positive spiritual goals. For the past two summers, he has successfully been involved in Youth Rush, the Washington Conference youth literature evangelism program. He was able share door to door experiences during his student week of prayer presentation last year. Matthew’s faithfulness shines through in his resident assistant duties in the dorm, where he is able to share his love for Jesus as he mentors peers on his hall. 

Matthew is the son of Lloyd and Kimberly Gorton of Lacey, Washington. His interests include nature, running, photography and sports. He is the junior class vice president, is a member of Sylvan Chorale, and plans to enter mission service after high school and attend Walla Walla University to study engineering.

Columbia Adventist Academy

Battle Ground, Washington

Gabriella Irias

Once you crack through the quiet, introverted exterior of Gabriella Irias, known to her friends as Gaby, you find that this Columbia Adventist Academy senior isn’t the quiet introvert you initially saw. Her love for people doesn’t allow her reserved nature to exist for long, as any sign of a need prompts Gaby into action, asking if you can use a hand. She is actively involved in her school, church and home.

If a student or teacher ends up in the hospital, Gaby will be there. If someone is preparing for an event and Gaby is around, she’ll be helping. Her contagious, and sometimes mischievous, smile has warmed many hearts. But don’t be fooled into thinking that she will smile at just anything, as she is quietly outspoken if an injustice occurs.

She is loved by many who have observed her “watchdog” outlook for others and have seen her standing up for students who are being made fun of. She is not afraid to defend or care for anyone who needs it — whether she is a close friend of theirs or not. She constantly has the welfare of others on her mind. She is also considerate of her family — especially her mom, who works long hours to provide for her family.   

Her sense of humor, curiosity and lack of inhibition (in a good way) rounds out her fantastic personality. Gaby is someone you want to have present whether you’re playing soccer, throwing a tea party or checking out tide pools at the beach. An image that will remain forever etched on the minds of those who witnessed it will be Gaby kissing a moon snail. Now that’s an all-inclusive caring heart!

Cascade Christian Academy

Wenatchee, Washington

Alberto Ornelas

It’s not always easy being the big brother of three younger siblings, yet Alberto Ornelas handles it with ease. Alberto’s calm, collected and caring manner with his siblings carries over into his daily life on campus and is one of the reasons why this Cascade Christian Academy (CCA) junior was chosen as a Caring Heart Award recipient this school year.

Alberto has chosen Jesus as His Savior and Someone to strive to be like. This is evident in his willingness to be a student leader on campus and to involve himself in many of the activities CCA has to offer. Alberto is always very helpful to the staff and students whenever the opportunity arises. He models respectful behavior and is a positive role model for younger students.

Alberto’s caring heart extended to the mission field where he participated in CCA’s biennial mission trip to the King’s Children’s Home in Belize in 2016. There Alberto worked hard building picnic tables and a carrying out a variety of other chores the students were asked to do. Never once did anyone hear a complaint from Alberto as he labored in the sweltering heat.

And when it was time to play with the resident children at the orphanage or sit with them for worship, Alberto was actively engaged.

On campus Alberto is a much-sought-after student worker. He is a responsible self-starter who will even take work home if he's unable to finish. Alberto has been known to go to students whose papers he has graded to show them how to do certain assignments or problems so they won’t make the same mistakes again — yet another example of Alberto’s caring heart.

After graduation from CCA, Alberto plans to take a year off of school to work with the hope of attending Walla Walla University in the future. At the present, Alberto is undecided on his career plans, but the staff at CCA believe Alberto has what it takes and will be a blessing to his future employer, colleagues, church and community.

Gem State Academy

Caldwell, Idaho

Aurora Gault

Aurora Gault is a junior at Gem State Adventist Academy (GSAA). During her two years at GSAA she has used her considerable skills and cheerful disposition to help foster a positive and inclusive environment on campus. Her ready smile and a seemingly endless supply of craisins brighten everyone's day. Aurora is often heard reminding students and staff, "You can do it!"

Aurora divides her time between preaching at area churches and the academy church as part of the worship leadership program at GSAA; ministering in the academy's vocal, handbell and instrumental groups; participating athletically as a starting member of the Lady Jaguars varsity basketball team; and serving the campus at large as an officer of the student association.

She is a leader in every endeavor and is currently working closely with the Bible department to plan and participate in a mission trip to Fiji during spring break. Her future plans include ministry at Walla Walla University after she completes her senior year at GSAA.

Livingstone Adventist Academy

Salem, Oregon

Zachery Rapozo

Zachery Rapozo is a junior at Livingstone Adventist Academy (LAA) and a blessing to LAA in so many ways. He is always looking for opportunities to lift others up and encourage others. He is there to greet you with a big smile and wish everybody a great day.

Zach is a young man who exemplifies the character of Christ in what he does. He is a scholar and a gentleman.

Last summer, Zach served with the Oregon Youth Rush and had an amazing time sharing the gospel of Christ with those with whom he came in contact. He loves sharing his love for the Lord with others.

For the past several years Zach has participated in a mission trip to Mexico. He always comes back excited and ready to share his experience with the rest of his friends and encourages them to get involved in service.

It is a privilege to have Zach at LAA. His teachers look forward to seeing him continue to grow in the Lord and be a blessing to others. 

Milo Adventist Academy

Days Creek, Oregon

Kristine Young

Kristine Young, a senior at Milo Adventist Academy, is the daughter of Todd and Ellen Young of Yreka, California.

This year Kristi is serving as executive vice president of the student association, senior class secretary, girls’ club president and yearbook editor. She can frequently be seen with a camera, documenting events and capturing memories. Those who work with her appreciate Kristi’s cheerfulness, creativity, encouragement and her organized, dedicated, hardworking approach to all her responsibilities.

Milo’s music director, Leonard Hild, speaks warmly of Kristi's dependability and attention to detail, which help the music tours run smoothly.

As a member of Milo’s mission team to Fiji, Kristi assisted with medical work, helped to build a soap factory, and performed community service in the school and village. Her positive attitude and cheerful spirit were a blessing to all the participants, just as they are at home on campus.

Kristi is a member of Apostles’ Outreach, a Milo ministry that takes students to present worship services at churches around the Oregon Conference. She is also a part of the praise team, presents children's stories and works with children's Sabbath School. Her kind and affirming interactions with both her peers and the adults in her life exemplify the fruit of the Spirit.

Next year Kristi plans to attend Southern Adventist University in Tennessee.

Mount Ellis Academy

Bozeman, Montana

Micah Ferro

Micah-James LáaKeamaiKalani Ferro is a junior at Mount Ellis Academy. Son of Aaron and Denise Ferro, Micah moved to Montana from Hawaii in 2014. He has attended Mount Ellis Academy for the last three years and has spent the last two summers going door to door doing literature evangelism with the Montana Youth Rush program.

Micah has a passion for learning about Jesus and developing a lifelong relationship with Him. The staff at Mount Ellis Academy selected Micah for the Caring Heart Award because of his dedication to witnessing to those around him. He is often found leading out in worship music at school and church. Micah is also always is willing and ready to volunteer in outreach activities.

Micah wants to go on a mission trip and help others. Currently, his family is saving up to go on a family mission trip through which they serve others as a family. The Caring Heart Award funds will go to this goal of mission service. 

Orcas Christian School

Eastsound, Washington

Emily Toombs

Emily Toombs has attended Orcas Christian School for the last six years. During that time she has participated actively in two international mission trips — one to Costa Rica and another to the Philippines — and two domestic mission trip in Washington state. Emily definitely has a heart for service and compassion.

Emily has many interests in her life. She is member the Orcas Public High School orchestra, in which she is a violinist. Emily also enjoys golf and is a member of the golf team. On the spiritual side, Emily is an acolyte for her local Episcopal church, where she assists regularly for weekend services.

During her high school career Emily has served as a student leader, filling multiple positions and leadership on the executive committee. Emily always bring lots of energy and ideas to her leadership positions and enthusiastically supplies the grit to get things done in a quality way.

Future plans include attending George Fox University in Portland, Oregon, where Emily will major in English. Her goal is to become an international English teacher. Her dream is to share with students’ opportunities to experience some the same exciting life adventures she has lived.

Portland Adventist Academy

Portland, Oregon

Ryan Michael Schmid

Ryan Michael Schmid was nominated for the Caring Heart Award because of his desire to be involved in mission work as well as campus ministries, his willingness for public speaking and his special interest in providing Bible studies.

Ryan has been very intentional about Bible studies/small groups at Portland Adventist Academy (PAA). He has also been part of several mission trips during his time at the academy.

He is a calm and consistent spiritual leader on the PAA campus. He is constantly thoughtful of others around him and is genuine in his friendships. Ryan displays great self-initiative and responsibility.

Ryan plans to attend Southern Adventist University in Tennessee to pursue ministry in various capacities and plans to use his award money toward a mission trip. Ryan is the son of Joe and Jeanenne Schmid. 

Puget Sound Adventist Academy

Kirkland, Washington

David Anderson

David Anderson was selected unanimously by the Puget Sound Adventist Academy (PSAA) staff because of his exceptional spirit of helpfulness on campus. His dedication to show love through acts of service is hugely impactful and a distinguishing feature of this young man.

Always the first to engage when assistance is needed, other words and phrases that describe David include supportive, respectful, honest, true to himself, and aware of the needs of others. These traits set him apart as a student who cares.

The staff at PSAA particularly recognizes David as an inspiration because his year has been a difficult one, with the recent loss of his mother, Jean Anderson, to cancer. Through it all, his attentive helpfulness has persevered. This is a trait that defined his mother as well and bears testimony to what real love and living is all about.

David has made a noticeable impact on PSAA staff and students, and his teachers know he will continue to do so wherever he goes. For this reason, they are pleased to name David Anderson as this year’s Caring Heart Award recipient. At this time, David is undecided in how he will use the award money. He would like to attend Walla Walla University.

Rogue Valley Adventist Academy

Medford, Oregon

Katherine Alvarez

Katherine Alvarez has been a student of Rogue Valley Adventist Academy for many years. She joined her class in her early elementary years and has been a positive influence since her arrival. She is the daughter of very proud parents, Angel and Victoria Alvarez, and the big sister to Christopher and Mark. 

Katie, as she likes to be called, has a gift for helping others. She has participated in school-sponsored mission trips to Washington, D.C., and New York and loved every minute of it. She also lends a hand to the many summer VBS programs offered in the southern Oregon area. Because of this, many of the younger students are always happy to see Katie on campus.

Katherine’s future plans are to attend Walla Walla University in the fall. Because of her struggles with vision during her younger years, she wants to study optometry and help others with their eyesight. God has given Katie the gift of warmth and caring, and she proves it daily.

Skagit Adventist Academy

Burlington, Washington

Matt Rowe

Matt Rowe, a senior, has attended Skagit Adventist Academy (SAA), a kindergarten through 12th-grade institution, since he first started school. He has proven himself to be a leader through academics and service to others.

Matt is a believer in missions, having served from Belize to a reservation in Idaho. While leading out in praise and worship in his youth Sabbath School, he also finds time to use his musical talent to praise our Creator during the regular church worship hour. His fellow students have elected him as student body vice president the past two years, vice president of his senior class and spiritual vice president of his junior class.

Vacation Bible School is close to Matt’s heart. As a youngster he regularly attended, and today he is an assistant each summer. He also supports the Friendship House.

Plans beyond his senior year include attending Walla Walla University as mechanical engineering student. The SAA family appreciates Matt’s positive influence at SAA and looks forward to seeing his life unfold.

Upper Columbia Academy

Spangle, Washington

Kaitlyn Kramer

Kaitlyn Kramer is a two-year junior at Upper Columbia Academy (UCA). She enjoys reading, hiking and art. Her heart and passion for Christ are made evident in her service both on and off campus. Kaitlyn has gone on mission trips, most recently the UCA trip to Africa to help bring food and medical care to the struggling people of Kenya.

She has had a passion to have her fellow students experience a more meaningful and intimate worship service. Vespers is a key element to the spiritual life on UCA campus, and Kaitlyn has taken it very seriously. She has led a team to create new and interactive ways for students and staff to worship Christ as a body of believers. From outside services to intimate Bible studies, Kaitlyn continues to help create an atmosphere of heaven and push the limits of the student body’s spirituality.

Kaitlyn has a gift of organization and has joined the spiritual life committee on campus, in which she has become a key member. Though the obstacles have been apparent and constant, Kaitlyn has cheerfully endured and never given up.

Kaitlyn is a light on the UCA campus and continues to shine for Jesus. For this she has been chosen as the recipient of the Caring Heart Award.

Walla Walla Valley Academy

College Place, Washington

Alissa Hendrickson

Alissa Hendrickson was chosen to receive the Caring Heart Award because she has consistently and quietly served in ways big and small during her time on the Walla Walla Valley Academy campus.

Her work with the Change the Day program through Leadout Ministries and her participation in the Change the Day Tour during spring break focused on making little changes that impact lives in a big way.

In addition, she routinely takes part in campuswide service activities, provides wise and consistent support to her peers, and was a fall week of worship speaker, sharing the powerful ways God has worked in her life. Alissa is daughter of Delwyn and Sandra Hendrickson of Echo, Oregon, and a senior at Walla Walla Valley Academy. She plans to attend Walla Walla University in the fall.