Alaska Students Enjoy Field Trips from Land of Dead-end Roads

There are no roads to Nome, Dillingham, Juneau or Sitka. These towns, along with the majority of small Alaskan villages, are all accessed exclusively either by air or water. In fact, Juneau, Alaska’s capital city, has roads that only go 40 miles north and about seven miles south. So, where does a teacher take his or her students on a field trip when all roads lead to a dead end?

Brave teachers and assistants take their upper-grade kids on what for some are “field trips of a lifetime”—trips “outside” to the lower 48 states. Some of these kids have never been outside of their own town!

During the spring of 2004, students from Nome, Dillingham, Juneau and Sitka took field trips to Catalina Island (Calif.), Mexico and Seattle. Students from Nome have visited Washington, D.C., in the past.

Upper-grade students from Dillingham participated in a mission trip to Mexico. Rod Rau, upper-grade teacher, explained that, after his students heard the recruiter from Auburn Adventist Academy describe a mission trip Auburn students went on last year, the students wanted to do something that would help others. This school, which is more than 80 percent non-Adventist, has begun plans to return to Mexico next year to work with a specific pastor they made contact with while there this year.

Nome students explored the natural variety that surrounded them on Catalina Island. A pod of dolphins accompanied the boat on its way to the dive site—a dream come true for some of the students. “You should have seen Thomas’ eyes when he saw the depth gauge showed he was at 40 feet below sea level!” reported Tami Burrell, Nome’s upper-grade teacher. Then it was back to snow-covered Nome.

The Juneau and Sitka teachers combined their fifth- through eighth-grade students for a trip to Seattle. Thanks to the hospitality of Auburn Adventist Academy, the students were introduced to academy life while experiencing Seattle’s arts, sciences, geography and people. Some of those students are now talking about going to academy when the time comes.

While in Seattle, the students enjoyed a guided tour of the Seahawks Stadium. "It was really cool having Josh Brown, a Seahawks kicker, as our guide," remarked eighth-grader Sara Sayre. The students ended up on the 10 o'clock edition of Sports Network.

While small schools may lack the sophistication of large urban school systems, they do provide opportunities for students to explore their world in rich ways. Through the efforts of teachers, students, families and church congregations, students receive life-changing education.

July 01, 2004 / Alaska Conference