Brittany Richart Helps with Tsunami Recovery Work in Japan


Story in the Victor Valley Daily Press on August 12, 2013

By Rene De La Cruz, Staff Writer

VICTORVILLE • Less than a year after getting her driver’s license, Brittany Richart was hip-deep in debris from the Japanese tsunami.

“I looked at an open field and didn’t think much about it, until they told me there was a school, hospital and entire neighborhood that once stood there,” said Richart, 16, a Victorville resident who recently returned from a five-week trip to Japan.

Richart, who had never been overseas, visited the island nation at the suggestion of a family friend who works at Okutama Bible Chalet, a camp and retreat center situated 30 miles west of Tokyo.

A 9.0 magnitude earthquake struck northern Japan in 2011 and triggered a massive tsunami that killed thousands of people. Richart said almost two years after powerful waves swept away cars, homes, buildings, trains and boats, many people who don’t live in Japan think life is back to normal — but it is not.

“I spent time in Minamisanrik tearing out debris and mudding out a house,” said Richart, a junior at Apple Valley Christian School. “I also helped by cleaning cucumbers for a farm.”

Richart said she met an owner of a metal tank shop, whom she knew as Mr. Moto, who sent his family and workers to higher ground after the tsunami warning sounded.

Richart said as Mr. Moto waited at the shop for his other workers to return, he climbed a pole inside his building before flood waters rushed in and lifted him to the ceiling.

“Just as his head hit the ceiling with little room to breath, Mr. Moto thought that it would be his last day on Earth,” Richart said. “That is when the water slowly began to recede.”

According to Richart, Mr. Moto reopened his shop as soon as possible so that his employees could work and put food on the table.

Aside from her tsunami work, cleaning bathrooms at the retreat center and learning about Japanese food and culture, Richart climbed Mount Fuji, the highest mountain in the country at 12,389 feet.

“We arrived at the top at 2 a.m., hours before our goal of watching the sunrise,” Richart said. “It was about 30 degrees and none of the shops were open at the top, so we had to huddle together with about 20 other climbers in a small bathroom to stay warm.”

She said climbing up and down the mountain was beautiful but the sunrise was strange. The sky turned a pink hue before turning orange, Richart said.

“After I came back home, I also realized that every person in the body of Christ plays a significant part in the larger picture, and that we should not take the gospel for granted,” Richart said. “Watching the hunger of the younger kids at the camp as they asked questions was awesome.”

Richart said she was impressed by the Japanese culture, including the respect shown to elders and the way people express their gratitude.

“I’m glad to be home, but I did leave part of me in Japan,” Richart said. “But as much as I’d like to go back, I know I’m also needed here in the U.S.A.”

Rene De La Cruz may be reached at 760-951-6227 or at

AVCS Girls’ Basketball Team Wins State Academic Title!

AVCS Academic Award

Story in the Victor Valley Daily Press, August 13, 2013


There’s an old saying that patience is a virtue.

Apple Valley Christian athletic director Rick Huff’s patience with the CIF state office was rewarded with another state academic championship.

The Warriors’ girls basketball team was one of 29 state academic team champions for the 2012-13 school year announced by the CIF on Aug. 9.

“I knew we would really be close,” Huff said. “It’s really exciting.”

Since 1996, CIF has rewarded a team in each sport with the highest collective GPA based on an unweighted 4.0 scale. Each section has an academic champion for each sport, and the winners are forwarded to the state office for consideration.

Huff said he expected an announcement in June. But CIF kept pushing back the date when it would release the names of the winning teams.

Finally, word came Aug. 9 that Apple Valley Christian had won its fifth state academic championship — tied for second most in the state. AVCS and Forest Lake Christian each have five titles, while Los Gatos leads all schools with seven.

The school will receive a banner in recognition of the accomplishment.

“We focus on the Lord and then them doing their best in whatever it is,” Huff said. “They’re working hard and being made accountable. They’re great girls who are very diligent and competitive in the classroom and out on the court. We focus on what we do well and that focal point is academics. They’re really bright kids who work hard in class.”

The 2012-13 team was comprised of Johanna Barbour, Carolina Carrazedo, Alanah Conrad, Lana Gomes, Brittany Richart, Krisandra Sanchez and Christina Seaton. They had a cumulative GPA of 3.94 and were coached by Gary and Kathy Giovannetti.

Huff said he had hoped for two titles this year, but the girls volleyball team just missed out. The Warriors had a 3.92 GPA while the winning school, Alex Pilibos Armenian School in Los Angeles, finished with a 3.95 GPA, which was the highest for any girls sport.

“Our coaches focus on mentoring the kids for their lifetimes — how can we reach this kid and prepare them for that next stage of life,” Huff said. “Academics is a huge part of that.

“I’m really proud of the kids.”

Mark A. Peinado can be reached at 760-951-6274 or at