A highlight every year for 6th grade students at St. Viator Parish School is to leave their familiar confines in warm, sunny Las Vegas, and travel four hours up into the San Bernardino Mountains, outside of Los Angeles, for a camp that immerses them in outdoor education and science.

Amanda Hodges with her friend at Science Camp

The tradition goes back nearly 30 years and the 6th graders always look forward to it. They return each year to Pali Institute, an outdoor education center located near Lake Arrowhead in California. Its mission is all about experiential learning and providing students with learning experiences that go far beyond the classroom walls.

This year, two of the students enrolled in St. Viator’s Micah 6:8 Program — Amanda and Adrian — made the trip. The Micah Program is the only inclusive program of its kind at a Catholic school in the state of Nevada and takes its lead from the Book of Micah, in the Old Testament: “To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

At Science Camp, students experienced hands-on science experiments, team building activities, communication strategies and life skills. They participated in hikes, archery, rope courses and dissections while encouraging and helping each other, especially with Adrian and Amanda.

Adrian, another Micah student, tries archery.

“They were able to attend science camp alongside their peers,” says Mrs. Angela Sligar, a Specialized Instructor in the Micah Program. “They learned and experienced science through all of the activities and hands-on experiments. The class was great to include them in all activities and the Pali Science Camp staff was great with our special needs students.”

Luke Silvestri was the first student in the Micah 6:8 Program. His parents helped form the program 11 years ago, wanting Luke to experience a St. Viator education just as his four older siblings had. The Viatorian Community has supported the program financially every year, along with members of the parish.

Amanda learns to shoot with a bow and arrow.

Students in the Micah Program participate in a wide array of extra-curricular activities at St. Viator, including sports, student government, cheerleading and choir, to name a few, as well as religious formation. Attending science camp, with the rest of their classmates, ranks right up there with the rest of those memorable activities.