April 7, 2023

A Playground and a Greenhouse in the Arctic

Alaska’s Arctic Light Academy is making inroads, changing lives at ‘the end of the world.’

Francine Lee, North Pacific Union Conference Gleaner
A new greenhouse and a playground have changed the possibilities for the Arctic Light Academy and Tutoring Center in Tok, Alaska, United States. [Photo: North Pacific Union Conference Gleaner]

The past few years have been very busy at Arctic Light Academy and Tutoring Center (ALATC) in Tok, Alaska, United States. Arctic Light Ministries (ALM), an independent nonprofit ministry based in Tok that runs the school, received a grant for playground equipment from Versacare, an independent foundation that supports Seventh-day Adventist ministries along with a select few other humanitarian efforts through financial grants.

Before the center had access to the grant, its play equipment consisted of a few balls and a couple of bats. With the much-needed funds, ALATC added two huge tires for climbing, built a large swing set, and constructed a fort with two slides. The COVID-19 pandemic delayed the arrival of the slides, but finally, to the great joy of the children, all equipment is now in place, ministry leaders reported.

Teaching practical life skills to children is a major emphasis of ALM. In 2022, ALM was awarded a grant from the Alaska Department of Natural Resources for a greenhouse. In addition, Versacare blessed ALM with a second grant for all the required equipment, potting soil, and bedding materials for inside and outside the greenhouse.

“Gardening commenced even before the greenhouse was completed,” school leaders reported. “Buckets were utilized for tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, squash, and eggplants. When the greenhouse was finally ready for use on July 1, 2022, green beans, beets, carrots, and other seeds were planted directly in the beds. The harvest was enough for the group to preserve tomato sauce and freeze broccoli, cauliflower, and green beans.”

The fresh produce was used in school lunches and shared with the Tok church family and ALATC school families. Students also sold plants to the community and crafted flower baskets to beautify the center and church grounds. “ALM will continue to improve its plant offerings to the community and the quantity and variety for eating, sharing, and selling in the coming years,” ministry leaders said.

In October 2022, ALATC students traveled to Kentucky to visit the Creation Museum and the Ark Encounter, which features a life-size replica of the ark of the flood mentioned in the book of Genesis. The group then went to Cincinnati, Ohio, where they were hosted by Clifton Seventh-day Adventist Church while they visited the Cincinnati Zoo and Newport Aquarium.

“It was a fantastic trip for children living in rural Alaska, some of whom had never been out of the state,” school leaders said. “ALM greatly appreciates the support and prayers that made this learning opportunity possible.”The original version of this story was posted on the North Pacific Union Conference Gleaner news site. Francine Lee teaches at Arctic Light Academy and is a member of the Tok Seventh-day Adventist Church.