Columbia Strikes Oil Gains Class Gift

March 01, 2010 | Larry Hiday

Most senior classes don't decide what they're going to leave behind as a class gift before their senior year. Even fewer senior classes give gifts worth thousands of dollars, invest "sweat equity," or complete and pay for their class gift months before graduation. But then a tradition of generous senior class gifts isn't new at Columbia Adventist Academy and the Class of 2010 isn't like most high school senior classes.

When the idea of a school outdoor amphitheatre was discussed and a site identified where students and community groups, could meet for vespers and special events, the seniors ran with the idea. In a matter of days, and with the help of parents and community members, the amphitheater shape and construction were well under way. Then CAA "struck oil." The oil (and kerosene) was from the old fuel storage tanks for the boiler plant which once ran heating for the campus. This was from a bygone era when overfilling the tanks and allowing them to run into the soil wasn't a concern. Now it is. The removal of the contaminated soil became so extensive, excavation ran under the landscaping and block work forming the amphitheatre, thus necessitating the deconstruction of the project and starting over. However, students were not deterred from their goal and fortunately, CAA has an incredible network of support. As soon as the Meadow Glade Adventist Church men's group heard about the problem, they headed for the campus and provided the manpower, making starting over a little more palatable.

Thanks to major donations of time, energy, equipment and landscaping expertise by Hendrickson Construction, the gift has been completed with landscaping, a water feature, a fire pit, heaters and lighting. Students and staff await warm, sunny weather allowing them to celebrate the first use of the class gift from the Class of 2010.