Students Dedication | 11th anniversary hike for Living Oaks Middle School Academic Alliance Middle School

By Ashley Huizenga

August 23rd 2019 marks the 11th anniversary of local middle school known as: LOMSAA’s “dedication hike.” The students, staff, and families join together in communion and prayer to start the school year strong.  The hike is meant to connect and deepen relationships, making for a safe and supportive educational environment for the coming academic year. LOMSAA director, Laurie Gourley shared:

“All members of the family are invited on the hike- even the family dog! This hike is such an important tradition for our families.  We enjoy bonding as a community before school starts and focusing on blessing the students, families, and community.  Our teachers and staff enjoy this relaxed time with the students, taking time to talk with each other as they hike the mountains in Newbury Park.”

This dedication hike impacts the children in various ways.  The unique experience supports growth on a personal level.  Ryan Melling, a returning student shared:

“What I appreciated most about the hike was that I got to make friends before the first day of school.” Ryan describes the outing as being “intimate and helpful in making close connections.”

The students’ emotional development is supported by the school through such connections made by the students, staff, and parents. Ryan also that he particularly enjoyed partaking in a treasured ritual of his faith:

“I liked taking communion on the top of the mountain.  I loved the beautiful view; it was my first time taking communion.”

Ryan isn’t alone in his fond reflections of his family’s participation in the annual dedication hike.  Jayden King is also a returning student to the small in class size, yet impactful middle school;

“The dedication hike last year launched me into my new school in a very welcoming and enjoyable way.  I made new friends and had an awesome time.”

LOMSAA is a private middle school with a modest size. The faith-based middle school prides itself on offering support to the family unit as well as to children developing their faith, helping them become independent thinkers, and encouraging academic growth with emphasis on individual needs as well as being a body that also gives service to the community. One parent stated,

“It’s important for us to pray for our community and seek different ways we can be out serving others.”

The purpose of the hike is to unite parents and staff alike to better achieve the common goal: to further the educational and spiritual development of the student.  A staff member of LOMSAA contributed their thoughts on the hike explaining that meeting the parents before school starts is a huge advantage.  While hiking up the mountain, they have an opportunity to hear the parent’s concerns and expectations for their child.  LOMSAA Director Gourley also stated:

“Coming together as a body of believers truly unites us as we enter a new school year.  When you are on the same page, have the same focus, and recognize each other as important members- everything functions better.”

Through sharing tradition, developing bonds in hiking adventures, and making social connections, families and staff step into the future together bringing forth: a positive launch for all to the upcoming academic year.  LOMSAA’s ties to the community are strong with families who have lived here for over 30 years.  The LOMSAA student body participates in outreach and values teaching students the importance of serving locally working together.

LOMSAA is a fully accredited Christian middle school supporting children, grades 6-8.  The school’s primary focus is for students to deepen personal conviction and own their faith.  The school offers unique life skills classes as well as meeting state academic requirements.  LOMSAA is a 5 day a week, in-class program that combines both teachers as well as welcomes parent involvement to maintain communication and support for students.  The 23rd, of August LOMSAA will celebrate this coming school year and will be looking forward to seeing how students will be impacting those around them in their community. For questions regarding the school, how to apply, or how students may serve, please contact : Laurie Gourley [email protected].

Ashley Huizenga is married and a mother of five who has grown up in Thousand Oaks.  She specializes in working with children. With an investment strongly devoted to her children, Ashley shares her passion for supporting families and their rights to have a role in education.


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