Traveling the globe: GPA class trips begin

A group of seniors visit the White House and Washington D.C. last year as juniors.
A group of seniors visit the White House and Washington D.C. last year as juniors.

Oh the Places We’ll Go!

From the shores of Puerto Rico to the hills of Kentucky to the lights in Nashville, the Grace Prep senior, junior, and sophomore classes will be traveling all over the world after graduation.
Right after their final day of high school, the Class of 2016 is heading to a new destination where no other senior class has dared to go: Puerto Rico.
Although the beach and tropical theme is sticking with the senior classes, as the past two classes went to Costa Rica, Puerto Rico is new territory for GPA.
“We offer the senior trip to be unique and different because we want it to be a special trip. This requires that we utilize a [trip planner] someone that has expertise in taking us to places that we don’t have such expertise,” said Dean of Students Phil Smith.
Grace Prep has booked class trips with Joshua Expeditions, a non-profit Christian student travel company, since 2013. Joshua Expeditions takes students around the world while adding a day or more of ministry to every trip; one of the main reasons Grace Prep chooses to use them.
The senior trip is unique in that the seniors themselves get to choose their destination.
“I think they chose Puerto Rico, one of which because it was different than what the seniors had done last year, and they liked the idea of some beach time in particular, and water activities,” said Smith.
“I’m looking forward to just relaxing,” said Senior Nathan
Labenz.
While the seniors are headed to a more calm and touristy destination, the sophomores and juniors’ trips will be anything but relaxed.
The sophomores are headed to Cottage Cove, an urban ministry organization free to children and their families in Nashville. This is Grace Prep’s second time to send a sophomore class there.
Last year’s trip to Nashville was a tremendous success.
“I loved working with the kids at Cottage Cove,” said Junior Matt Hudspeth. “We played football, basketball, sang, and ate with them, all while building relationships and teaching them about Jesus.”
The juniors did not just interact with the children at Cottage Cove, but also got to show their appreciation for the hardworking staff.
“It was truly amazing to be able to get to know a group of people so well in such a short amount of time. We became close enough that many workers shed tears when we left. On the last day, we had the opportunity to leave our new friends with a word of encouragement, wishing them luck on their mission to expand God’s kingdom!” said Junior Jay Sedwick.
Fully devoted from dawn to dusk on the trip, the students began their day in prayer for the communities surrounding Cottage Cove.
“Each morning, we walked around the neighborhood that surrounded Cottage Cove and prayed over the houses and families that called them ‘home.’ I truly believe that through the organization’s presence, children and their families will be drawn to Cottage Cove and to the Lord,” said Junior Melody Burris.
It is safe to say that this year’s junior class has a heart for missions. This summer the class decided not to go to Washington D.C., but instead wanted to seek out a trip centered around serving others. This summer, the junior class will be working with Big Creek Missions, an organization based out of Bear Branch, Kentucky. They will have the opportunity to work in areas of construction, community, and with children.
“I’m excited about the juniors having an opportunity to stay in the U.S. yet still push them outside of their comfort zone,” said Junior Class Sponsor Lori Walsh. “I think they will see circumstances they don’t expect to encounter in the United States.”

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