Service Across Cultures

Submitted photos Highland Adventist School students are part of a group of students and adults from West Virginia who spent 10 days on a service trip to Honduras. They volunteered in Jonesville, Honduras, and in surrounding villages.

ELKINS — Four students from Highland Adventist School spent their spring break in Honduras, reaching out to serve others in what was described as an eye-opening and life-changing 10-day trip.

From helping with classroom construction at a school to conducting health screenings and eye clinics, students stayed busy and made meaningful impacts in impoverished communities, said Highland Adventist School Principal Cheryl Jacko. They also hosted popular vacation Bible school activities for children in the evenings, as well as revival services.

The local students and chaperones were part of a group of 15 West Virginia students and 10 adults who made the journey to Jonesville, Honduras, Jacko said, explaining they volunteered there and in surrounding villages — areas where clean, running water; easy-to-navigate roads; and internet access are not part of everyday life.

She said HAS students have taken part in similar service trips in the past, with visits to Costa Rica, Panama, Cuba and Puerto Rico. This was the second time HAS students have visited Honduras.

“Every other year our school participates in a mission trip outside of the United States. These trips are outstanding Christian-service, cultural and leadership-training experiences for our students,” she said. “The benefits that these kids get — it’s amazing.”

Lori Prendergast, a senior at Highland Adventist School, distributes gifts to children waiting in line for the health clinic during a service trip to Honduras.

She said the experiences truly show real-life cultural differences between the United States and other countries.

“They come back, and they say, ‘I can drink out of a water fountain.’ … They can’t believe how much stuff we have here and how little some people have in other cultures.”

The students were expected to take on leadership roles, Jacko added.

“Our students led both the preparation for and the activities of this trip. They did a fabulous job. It is exciting to see the maturing, growth and cultural awareness that happens on a mission trip like this,” she said. “We are very proud of our students. … Their leadership skills blossomed.”

Jacko, who went on the trip as one of the chaperones, said it was a great experience overall, and the student reactions were very positive. Jacko said one student decided she wanted to be a teacher, since working with the Honduras children was so rewarding. Others mentioned the strong friendships they quickly developed with students from another culture.

Emily Hostetler, a junior at Highland Adventist School, checks a patient’s height and weight in the health screening clinic in Honduras.

In addition to service work, the group was able to spend one day sight-seeing in the area.

“It was a life-changing trip,” Jacko said. “It’s a lot of work to put those things together, but it’s worth it.”

More information about Highland Adventist School is available by calling 304-636-4274 or visiting

Highland Adventist School students and students from other West Virginia schools take part in a construction project during their service trip to Honduras. Pictured here are HAS senior Cody Arbogast, HAS seventh-grader Chase Workman, HAS alumna Heath Eva and students from other schools.