PAA Inaugurates Cultural Geography Fair

March 27, 2014 | Liesl Vistaunet

Students, parents, grandparents, friends and educators recently gathered at Portland Adventist Academy (PAA) for its inaugural Cultural Geography Fair.

More than 35 seventh- and eighth-grade students participated by studying topics ranging from the geography of the world to the historical significance and present-day influence of culture, commodities and trade routes. The students wrote reports on their subjects, created visual examples of what they learned, and then displayed their projects at the fair. Some even dressed in traditional clothing of the country they studied. Students presented their projects to a panel of five judges who awarded 10 prizes.

"I have received so much great feedback about our Cultural Geography Fair,” says Dan Nicola, PAA principal. “We are committed to encouraging inquiry, research and scholarship on our Portland-area Adventist school campuses, so we are thrilled that our Geography Fair has gotten such a positive response.”

“I was inspired by the diligence, enthusiasm and knowledge of our students,” says Shirley Allen, pastor at neighboring Sunnyside Church and a judge at the fair. “They knew their subjects, they spoke with authority, and their displays were informative and well-documented.”

Allen says she could tell the students learned more than just the facts. “They could see the challenges that people face all over the world, and they could relate to them,” she says. “In some presentations strong spiritual lessons emerged.”

“They shared applications of how we as Christians should really treat each other,” adds Gale Crosby, Oregon Conference vice president for education and a second judge at the fair. “I was amazed at how many of the students made spiritual applications from their research. And for that every one of the students deserves a gold medal.”

The Cultural Geography Fair not only demonstrated how much a student knows but also pointed to the strength of Adventist education. “It’s clear,” says Crosby. “Our schools and teachers are following E.G. White’s vision to ‘inspire young minds to be thinkers, not mere reflectors of others thoughts.'”