PAA Students Grow Beyond PAA

December 20, 2019 | Education | Liesl Vistaunet

For nearly a decade, students at Portland Adventist Academy in Portland, Ore., have been embarking on annual off-campus adventures at the start of the school year.

Uniquely designed for every class, the events build a positive foundation for the school year ahead and focus on character development with PAA’s core values in mind.

Courage, leadership, integrity, curiosity and concern are values built on the school’s motto: "Christ-Centered, Character-Driven." 

The Freshman Adventure

The freshman class explored downtown Portland while competing to win team scavenger hunts. They grew skills in leadership and teamwork while discovering many great people and places that make their city unique.

The Sophomore Excursion

Sophomores spent a day in a forest where they ascended giant trees and faced great heights as ropes suspended them through a tree-to-tree obstacle course.

“It was fun for me, but it was kind of scary,” says Jairo Anaya. “I learned that you have to get over your fears because they hold you back from the things you really want to do.”

By facing their fears, sophomores found courage and confidence. By working as a team, they developed trust and faith.

The Junior Challenge

In the eastern Oregon wilderness, the junior class is in the hands of PAA teachers, senior mentors and certified mountaineering guides. For many, the event is the most difficult experience they’ve ever faced.

They cook for themselves with no modern conveniences. They face steep heights as they rock climb and repel to firm ground. They seek solutions to mind-bending puzzles. They hike long distances without maps and instead depend on newly learned navigation techniques to find their way home. They learn to lead, how to follow, when to listen and how to initiate. Most notably, they discover perseverance and resilience deep within themselves.

When Maddy Healy’s group took a shortcut, they ended up lost and added several more miles to their journey before finally arriving to camp.  “I thought for sure I would reach my breaking point,” says Healy.

“But we did it!” adds her teammate Emree Culver. “We made it back. And even though we walked a lot farther than the other groups, we had a lot of fun.”

“We really did,” agrees Healy. “And I learned I can walk a lot longer than I thought I could.”

The Senior Retreat

Having come to their final year of high school, the senior class retreats for whitewater rafting and camping. The trip fosters meaningful bonds and gives the class time to focus on leaving a legacy, visioning for their future beyond PAA and reflecting on their belonging to each other and to God.

Beyond PAA

As students experience character development centered on the life and teachings of Jesus, they continue to grow and better know the core values of a Christ-centered and character-driven life. 

They find courage by facing their weaknesses and wrestling with fear.

They discover that true leadership means knowing they are always a leader of one and a servant to others.

They commit to integrity as they strive to be honest with themselves and with others.

And while curiosity gives them interest in the world around them, concern is what compels them to be intentionally active in the welfare of others.

To this end, they are prepared to face challenges beyond PAA and to live a Christ-centered and character-driven life.