Harris Junior Academy Educates for Eternity

June 28, 2020 | Education | Shannon Whidden

For more than three quarters of a century, Harris Junior Academy in Pendleton, Oregon has existed "to show children Jesus, nurture their love for Him and others, teach them to think, and empower them to serve." The last decade has seen two young gentlemen grow from preschool through eighth grade at HJA. They represent the reason the school exists.

Kenneth Cook and Micah Kellogg have been classmates and friends for as long as they can remember. For many of their years at HJA, they were the only two students in their grade. Together, these friends have seen classmates come and go, but they have been a constant for each other and for our school.

Harris Junior Academy is dedicated to "Educating for Eternity.” Micah Kellogg reflects on his years at HJA and concludes, "It has brought me closer to God by having morning worship every day, classes devoted to the Bible, daily prayer, and pastors who come and talk every Tuesday."

“Keeping my kids in Adventist elementary school has always been important to me," says Sarah Kellogg, Micah’s mom and HJA school board chair. "I went to Adventist schools throughout my elementary and high school years and never thought any different for my own children. My mom also taught for more than 20 years in Adventist schools. One reason I feel it is important to keep my children in Adventist schools is to keep God in the classroom. I will take every opportunity for them to learn about God's love and His amazing plan He has for us. 'Educating for Eternity' is more than just a motto at Harris Junior Academy."

For both families, Adventist education has been an integral part of their lives. Harris Junior Academy is a multigenerational school for many in our church community. Micah's dad, Craig Kellogg, and Kenny's mom, Elizabeth Cook, both attended HJA during their elementary years. "For our children, we felt that attending a school where Christ is at the center would build a strong foundation for their future," explains Elizabeth Cook. "We are grateful that our kids can be educated in an environment where they are not only growing academically but also are encouraged to grow in their relationship with Jesus. We are fortunate to be able to send our kids to the same school I attended."

This spring brought a sudden and unexpected transition to distance learning because of the pandemic closing on-campus learning. Our plans for projects, school outings, the science fair and the eighth grade trip were canceled or put on hold.

Kenny and Micah are finishing up their eighth grade year and their school career at Harris Junior Academy through remote online learning. They are joined in this new reality by two other eighth graders, Natalie and Adam, as well as the rest of the HJA student body. Our students have stepped up and met the challenge of distance learning with positivity and grace, but all agree that not seeing their friends in person every day has been the most difficult aspect.

Kenny reflects, "This was my 10th year at HJA. It's always been a very supportive and helpful place. I like how close I’ve become with my friends in class. The thing I’ve liked the most at HJA is Bible class, because we really go into details in our lessons. I have missed our time together in the class over the last 10 weeks."

Nonetheless, it seems fitting these two would share this history making experience together, just as they have journeyed side by side, over the last 10 years of school. As they leave the comfort of HJA and embark on the next chapter of their education, we pray their experiences at Harris Junior Academy provide a firm foundation for the rest of their lives. Micah and Kenny will be missed and their impact remembered. We will hold onto their stories as a source of inspiration as we continue providing Christian education in our community.