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Summit Christian Acadamey Teenagers Doing Something That Matters: Senior Mission Trip
September 1, 2012
Jessie Lambert, SCA senior,
with a student from Operation Dream.
By Jessica Root
Intern Reporter for the Tribune
Teenagers dream of their senior year of high school from the moment they start their freshman year. It’s a wonderful time. Many doors are being opened, and endless opportunities lie ahead. Senior year is also a time for fun, including events like prom and senior trips.
“Seniors take senior class trips. What’s cool about ours is it’s sanctioned by the school and held during the school year,” Sarah Coats, Director of Development at Summit Christian Academy (SCA), said. “They do it to better society, which is what our mission is.”
The typical senior trip entails a group of teenagers traveling to a beautiful vacation spot, whether that is somewhere like Colorado or somewhere like California. For the seniors at SCA, their senior trip redefined beauty.
“Not everybody gets to go on a mission trip through church. We made it part of the experience at SCA,” Emir A. Ruiz Esparza, Secondary Principal & Director of Operations at SCA, said.
39 seniors, practically SCA’s entire class of 2013, traveled to Milwaukee, Wisconsin for their senior year mission trip. They left on August 16 and returned on August 24.
“I took the photo of the class right before they left for the mission trip,” Coats said. “On August 28 I took their class photo and it was like they were a different class.”
Mission trips change people. Often times, people come back to their hometown from a mission trip and experience a mission trip “high”. SCA realized this and decided to move the senior year mission trip from the end of senior year to the beginning.
“When we saw what God was doing in the graduates lives after the mission trip we thought that we could use that spirit in the next seniors to lead in their senior year. That’s why we moved the mission trip to the beginning of senior year,” Esparza said. “Now when they come into their senior year they’re committed to making a difference and leaving a legacy.”
The SCA seniors teamed up with Operation Dream, an organization that helps inner city kids stay out of trouble in Milwaukee.
The SCA seniors were divided into three groups that would serve the community in different ways. One group fixed up a house in the inner city, the next group put on a carnival for the inner city kids and the final group held a theater camp for the inner city kids.
Jessie Lambert and Easton Parks, SCA seniors, were part of the theater group. The SCA seniors taught voice, improvisation, poetry, movement and puppetry for the inner city children. Lambert was a counselor, which meant she had a group of kids that she took care of during the day, and she also taught a movement class. Parks actually got to teach an improvisation class as well as a voice class.
“It was eye opening as a teenager doing something that matters,” Lambert said. “Most teenagers aren’t taking care of kids in the inner city. It reminds me that I can be used for a better purpose even though I’m only 18-years-old.”
At the end of the week, the kids in the theater camp performed on a small stage at Marquette University. This day was also Lambert’s 18th birthday.
“They were the longest days of my life, but they were the most satisfying,” Lambert said. “My 18th birthday was the best most frustrating day of my entire life.”
After what she thought was the longest day of her life, Lambert returned to the church where the SCA seniors were staying and was greeted with a surprise party.
“I was yelling at kids and stopping fights all day, but I loved the day because people were giving me cards for my birthday. It was really sweet! The whole day was a rollercoaster though,” Lambert said. “I instantly started crying when they yelled surprise. I felt so special. It showed how much love you can have amongst a group of people.”
Parks had never taught kids before, but after his experience he has a newfound respect for teachers.
“I have a new respect for teachers and the time they put in. It takes patience to teach a class and determination for the kids to learn,” said Parks. “If I’m going to share my faith, I have to be as passionate about it as I’d want anyone else to be.”
Lambert was touched most by the kids she had the opportunity to work with. She realized that even though inner city kids are usually generalized into one group, they each have their own personality and a story as to why they are the way they are.
“Seeing each kid grow each day and become more comfortable with us was an amazing feeling,” Lambert said. “It was really hard to say goodbye.”
Though the majority of their senior trip was mission work, the SCA seniors also had two “fun nights” at the beginning of their trip. They went to America’s largest water park, Noah’s Ark. They also camped for two nights and did activities like hiking and cliff climbing.
“This trip challenged me in more ways than I thought it would challenge me,” Parks said. “We went cliff climbing on the Wisconsin Dells at Devils Lake. I had never actually been free cliff climbing before, and it was really hard. It challenged me physically. On the other side, it was mentally challenging teaching class and dealing with the kids.”
The SCA class of 2013 wants to use their mission trip “high” to start a revolution their senior year. They want to spread what they learned to the SCA underclassmen and SCA elementary school kids as well as the entire Lee’s Summit Community.
“Life is a mission trip,” Lambert said. “When you go on the mission trip
things can change if you want them to. My class and I are now connected
on a deeper level, and we can’t wait to share that with everyone.