WWVA Students Volunteer in Community

January 08, 2017 | Elaine Blake Hinshaw

Connecting with the larger community in Washington's Walla Walla Valley is a priority for Walla Walla Valley Academy students each year. Whether a part of the formalized service learning process or just because, students find that engaging with others outside their own circle of friends is very rewarding.

Noelle Calkins and Alison Fenton, WWVA upper classmen, both show animals at the Walla Walla Fair and Frontier Days each fall.

Calkins shows her miniature horse, Gracie, and has won eight ribbons over the last two years. “Miniature horses are stubborn, and I have had to learn patience, but she brings me a lot of joy,” she says. “God made these little horses, who have unique personalities and skills. I love being able to share her with people, especially children and people who are disabled. [Gracie] is absolutely great with them.”

Fenton has shown animals at the fair for six years and especially loves chickens. This year she received a blue ribbon and was declared the Showmanship Reserve Champion. “Chickens are so varied in their personalities,” she says. “Some love human attention; others definitely do not. Many people don’t realize that. God knows what happens with sparrows, and each animal is precious to Him. My responsibility is to care for them and to appreciate their uniqueness.”

Students also volunteer as fairgrounds crew as part of academy history classes. According to history teacher Tyler Anderson, it offers students an opportunity to understand what is happening in their own community and what makes the fair tick. From working with the concert crews to cleaning up when it’s all over, students come back with a new appreciation of the work done within their community.

Other events offer similar opportunities for WWVA students. From biannual service days, during which students work for nonprofit organizations and individuals, to campus ministries projects, students focus on making a difference for others.

“This is an essential part of growing up and taking responsibility,” says Brian Harris, WWVA principal. “The first step is to take responsibility for yourself. But the next step is to take responsibility for your community. It’s not always just about you, but instead about the people you serve.”

The final project of the 2016 calendar year was working with the Salvation Army crew during the annual Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day. The students and community members loved collaborating so much they plan to work together during the Christmas season ringing bells for the annual Salvation Army fundraising campaign. The impact on students lasts forever.

“Volunteering is one of the most fun things I did at WWVA,” says alumnus Aidan Hinshaw, now a senior at Walla Walla University. “It showed me there is always a lot more going on than what is happening in my own life, and that’s something that I remember every day.”

WWVA staff and students