The following story, adapted from the Valley Courier (Alamosa’s newspaper) demonstrates how Adventist schools are connecting with their community in unique ways.

Sunshine Christian School, an Adventist elementary in Alamosa, recently organized and presented the 3rd T-Rex Express on the Rio Grande Scenic Railroad (RGRR) to excited amateur paleontologists of all ages. While participants waited to ride the train to the simulated dig site, they could purchase Girl Scout cookies, get a dinosaur balloon tied, have their faces painted, or have their picture taken with Rexie, the friendly T-Rex mascot.

After boarding, Jim Moon, local Adventist pastor and writer of paleontology songs just for the T-Rex Express and RGRR (such as “Can You Dig It” and “Whooly Mammoth”) performed for the guests. As they traveled to and from the dig site, Great Sand Dunes National Park ranger Patrick Meyers gave a hands-on presentation of fossils and bones that have been found in the San Luis Valley and surrounding area. After arriving, participants were able to dig up actual mammoth bones and put them on a large mat with a life-size picture of a mammoth.

Community businesses, along with private donors, provided bags with shovels, dinosaur masks, cookies and toys for each child, including the PALS (Positive Activities Lift the Spirit) kids.

PALS is a community service in Alamosa for kids who face extreme difficulties in life. This program offers opportunities for them to have positive experiences, and Sunshine Christian School is motivated to help provide an educational and fun activity for them—along with other children and families interested in learning more about our world.

“This is a really good thing for Alamosa and the San Luis Valley,” commented Alamosa mayor Cathy Rogers. “I am looking forward to next year.”

Sunshine Christian School has presented other activities that have benefited their neighbors and the valley as a whole. According to Sue Kanen, coordinator for the T-Rex Express, the school plans to continue providing quality programs for the community.

“We believe it is beneficial for us to connect with the community in positive, educational ways,” Kanen said. “I am amazed at the generosity of our community businesses and private donors. When we see the smiles on the faces of the PALS kids, it makes all the hard work and time invested totally worth it!”

Author Mark Bond is communication director for the Rocky Mountain Conference.