Last Saturday night, Campion Academy students decked themselves out in flannel for fun, films, and food at the annual Student Association (SA) Fall Party, held outside at the campus RV Park.
The party was centered around a short film festival. The school was able to watch both funny and serious videos prepared by the students that focused on the theme fall and rise. “Odalis and her team’s video was my favorite because it had a lot of meaning behind someone going through rough times, and Odalis was a really good actor,” said Lexi Davenport, freshman.
Students lined up for popcorn and cotton candy, a student favorite. SA members prepared games like corn hole, gunny sack races, whipped cream eating competition, and glow-in-the-dark tic-tac-toe. “The games were so much fun, and I liked getting candy for participating even though I didn’t win. Also, I had a five-minute winning streak in the whipped cream competition. It was so fun and yummy,” said Airi Nomura, junior.
The photo booth, a canopy strung with lights and fall decor, was popular as a way to commemorate the night with friends. Andy Obregon, senior, commented, “My favorite part of the party was the picture taking. Most of us seniors like to take our precious time with photos and the whole process of taking one, just ONE photo was the funniest part of that night.”
The last activity of the night was karaoke. Students took turns taking the stage to sing-along to their favorite songs. In what has become a Campion Fall Party tradition, seniors sang Wiz Khalifa’s “See You Again.” Nelly Salinas, senior, said, “I was so happy our entire class sang together. But, it was also sad because I realized that this is my last year with these amazing people who have changed my life.”
Tiffany Dien, Student News Team
Campion Academy was among the first high schools in the nation to reopen for in-person classes on August 9. Now, eight weeks later, they’ve completed the first quarter without a positive COVID case.
School nurse, Jenny Gann, was instrumental in developing the health and safety policies which have helped Campion manage the risk of an outbreak. For starters, mask wearing is required at all times, even outdoors. Gann commented, “As frustrating as they can be, I believe masks and limiting our students coming on and off campus have been the main policies which have kept our students healthier this quarter.”
Residence hall students have only been able to leave campus with immediate family members, and trips off campus have been vastly reduced, which has limited the potential for community exposure. While some of these restrictions can be draining on students, Gann says, “I appreciate that the staff and students have been cooperative, so that we’ve been able to stay open.”
Teachers have had to adapt as well to social distancing and to managing an in-person classroom along with students joining on Zoom. Anytime a student experiences any type of viral symptoms, he or she must stay home or in their residence hall and is able to join classes remotely through Zoom, until they’ve been cleared through testing and/or nurse approval to rejoin their classes.
Erin Johnson, Literature and Geography teacher, comments, “I think the challenge is trying to be creative with the restraints. I’m typically a teacher that puts students in groups, so I have to be creative in getting students to work together without being physically close.”
With all the added precautions and bumps in the road, has in-person education been worth the risk? “Definitely,” said Johnson. “The kids value our spiritual programming and having in-person help from a teacher. Just being able to see each other’s eyes face to face is valuable. It’s hard to have that ‘ah-ha’ moment, or connection, through a screen.”
Principal Donavan Reeder commented, "I am so proud of our staff, students and families. It has been difficult to navigate all of the restrictions. I am amazed at the creativity of our teachers in delivering education with these challenges. Students and families have been understanding and cooperative. Our Spiritual Life team has been faced with challenges for spiritual programming, but the efforts are worth it. We can see God's Spirit moving on our campus as we seek to Know Him and Show Him."
While Campion can celebrate this milestone, the administration recognizes that the fight is not over. Students were able to return home for a much anticipated break last week, but with that, the risk of COVID exposure was increased at the start of the second quarter.
Gann comments, “It is easy to let our guards down because we’ve been safe so far, but diligence in wearing our masks, washing our hands, keeping our distance, all of those difficult things, is extremely important right now.”
Principal Reeder further said, “I am grateful to God for His watching over us as he promised in Psalms 91, and we ask for everyone to keep us in your prayers for the rest of the school year.”
As students have returned from the break, Campion plans to continue the second quarter as they did the first: with diligence.
Jill Harlow, Communication Director
The Men’s Residence Hall students and deans enjoyed a device-free weekend bonding with each other on campus.
The central theme of the weekend was leadership. Jayden Anggormas, senior, said, “Each and every one of us are leaders, and we must let God influence us to be the best leaders.” In a mens-specific service, Pastor Goetz gave a sermon explaining how we can be better leaders, and the students watched several videos on the topic for vespers.
Before church on Sabbath, the guys enjoyed a competitive game of Bible trivia. “My favorite part of the dorm retreat was the Bible trivia that we had before Pastor Goetz’s sermon,” commented Kevin Perez, senior. “I enjoyed working with my team to try to find the answers for the questions, and although we tied, it was still fun.”
On Saturday afternoon, the guys broke into several different groups for a photo scavenger hunt. They were given a sheet of paper with riddles on it that they had to solve. When they solved the riddle, it explained the type of picture the group had to take at various locations around campus.
On Saturday night, the guys played a round of capture the flag in the dark. “I definitely loved playing capture the flag with all of the boys in the dorm,” explained Angel Villalobos, junior. “All the strategies and plans the boys would come up with surprised me and made me want to give it my all. It was a great time of togetherness!”
Jayce Treat, (Text and Photos) Student News Team
The Girl’s Residence Hall partnered up with the Campion Church Women’s Ministries to bring a special service, “Lemonade,” to the academy girls and ladies in the community. On Sabbath, the guest speaker, Pastor Jen Woody, focused on the theme “Sweet Sufferings” and talked about how God can turn disappointments into blessings.
On Sabbath afternoon, in a session called “Anything Goes,” Pastor Jen answered anonymous questions that girls had on their hearts about God, life, and relationships. “I really enjoyed the fact that Pastor Jen was comfortable with our questions and didn’t filter anything,” Melody Mambo, sophomore, explained. “She made us feel safe and I’m glad that we got answers to some questions we wouldn’t normally ask.”
The girls also enjoyed the “Hope Rocks” activity by painting inspirational and creatively designed rocks.
The residence hall girls ended the retreat on Saturday night with pizza and karaoke. Amira Davis, senior, commented, “Karaoke was a good way to end the night along with dancing with the other girls. It was fun, and I got closer with people I don’t usually hang out with.”
Tiffany Dien, Student News Team
Photos: Sami Hodges
Campion Academy’s brand new drama class, titled Illuminated, gave its first performance of the year during chapel on Wednesday, September 16. The class wrote and constructed every aspect of the play themselves, which was about trusting God, even amidst rough circumstances.
2020 has been a year of many disasters and disappointments, including the COVID-19 pandemic. Illuminated wanted to convey the message that through it all, God is with us and will always listen to us.
“I think the most important message we wanted to get across was to always communicate with God no matter what,” explained Sami Hodges, lead actress in the play. “I wanted the audience to understand that even though there are so many distractions, if they are able to keep connected with God, whether it’s through prayer or a spiritual conversation with a friend, it will make it much easier to navigate through life knowing He is always by our side.”
The drama students physically represented emotional struggles in the play with black boxes labeled with words such as fear and anxiety. At the climax of the play, Jesus, as portrayed by Francisco Cortez Echeverria, knocked away all of the black boxes piled around the main actress.
“The most important aspect of the play to me was the symbolism,” commented Daniel Garcia-Mencia, junior. “With the struggles that teenagers and adults alike may be going through, especially with all the chaos that is around us, we just have to trust in God and know He’ll be there to guide us through it all.”
Illuminated’s next performance will be in November and will be live-streamed on Campion’s Facebook page. The class is being taught by Erin Johnson this year which has been reinstated at Campion after a five-year hiatus.
Jayce Treat, Student News Team
Photos by Bentlee Barry
Fifteen Campion Academy students and sponsors immersed themselves in nature over the weekend on the annual Outdoor Club backpacking trip.
For several students, this was their first backpacking experience. Jared Marcenaro, a junior, said, “It was a lot of fun and I definitely would go again. I was going in blind and had no idea what to expect. Using the restroom in the forest was definitely a challenge I had to overcome. Since I’m from Kansas and there are no mountains, it was cool to see first hand how huge the mountains really are. I now understand the significance of the phrase that God moves mountains because he really is so strong and powerful.”
The backpacking trip was originally scheduled for the weekend of September 11th but was postponed to September 18-20 due to snow. In another turn of events, on the day they left, the sponsors of the trip were informed that there was a fire near the planned location, a mountain range in Wyoming. They had to quickly change plans and relocated to Peaceful Valley in the Indian Peaks Wilderness near Glacier View Ranch.
The students hiked about 15 miles total over the weekend, which included going up to Coney Lake, camping by a river, and witnessing a moose near camp.
Airi Nomura, a junior, said “It was a lot more fun than I expected. The hike was hard but the view and sense of satisfaction definitely made it worth it. I was exhausted and my legs hurt a lot, but my friends were there and everyone helped each other out. I definitely want to go on another one, but maybe the hike could be a bit shorter and the days a bit longer.”
They had worship on Friday night and on Sabbath during which the group talked about how the plans people make will not always be the plans God has for them. Jillian Harlow, a sponsor, said, “Personally, I love doing outdoor activities and getting away from the rush and stress of life. I am able to grow and reconnect with God, and I love introducing students to that experience as well.”
Bentlee Barry, Student News Team
Campion Academy students competed in a night of class festivities last Saturday. Typically held outside on a Sunday, the annual class-competition event, the Student Association (SA) Picnic, had been rescheduled for Saturday night in the gymnasium due to the smoke and poor air quality. SA members planned creative activities for students to enjoy with a glow-in-the-dark theme.
Sandra Arlt, junior, said, “I thought it was really smart that we could do it inside, it was nice not to get eaten up by the bugs. I think the fact that we did it Saturday night was cool as well because it meant no sun burns. It was a fun time and I made really cool memories.”
The night started out with a slightly altered game of tug-of-war; classes chose just five students to pull the rope to allow for social distancing. Despite the slippery floor, seniors quickly took the lead.
In a new game, students had to jump down a glow-stick hula hoop path and battle it out in a game of rock-paper-scissors with other classes. In an unusual turn of events, freshmen got first place in that game. However, seniors took back first place in the annual mini bike relay race. SA ended off the night with a game of musical chairs and sing-alongs.
Even with the change of time, venue, and added safety precautions, Campion students made the most of the night. Nicole Dominguez, sophomore, commented, “I thought it was amazing and so different. I personally think it was better than last year. I truly had so much fun with all my friends and got to talk to people I don’t usually talk to.”
Photos by Sami Hodges and Bentlee Barry
Campion Academy’s international students have faced a variety of challenges with returning to school due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. Students from Brazil were able to return home during the quarantine period, but now are faced with closed borders and are having difficulties returning to the U.S. Students from China were not able to return home at all due to the travel restrictions that began in February.
Giovanna Balgamon, along with nine other students from Brazil, has started the school year online. She said, “Starting school online was discouraging. I think all of us hoped that things would be back to normal by now.”
Eager to return to Campion in-person, the Brazilian students have had to get creative in finding a way to fly into the U.S. Carol Silva, senior, along with Duda De Oliviera, junior, were able to get to Campion Academy in early August. In order to do so, they had to take a flight from Brazil to Mexico, and stay in Mexico for 15 days. After that, they flew from Mexico to Colorado. Silva said, “Although it was tedious and frankly very tiring, I am beyond grateful to be able to spend this year growing with God and being around all my friends. I am appreciative to all the staff and the students for following the rules to keep our campus safe.”
Seven more Brazilians are going through the same process as Carol and Duda. They arrived in Mexico on August 24th, and plan to be at Campion by the 9th of September. The remaining two students from Brazil will continue with online classes until the borders open.
Chinese students Gregory Lang and his brother Jarrod started at Campion last year and are now entering 10th grade. Jarrod Lang said, “I first heard about COVID-19 in February when the outbreak began in China. My family was then already prepared for us to stay here and sent over 400 hundred masks immediately. In March, the outbreak hit the U.S., my brother and I immediately began donating and handing out masks to Campions staff.”
Both Gregory and Jarrod Lang stayed with Campion’s Alumni President Codi Jahn and her family for the summer. Jarrod Lang said, “They are very good people and have strong relationships with God. I was never sad or depressed during this time. My brother and I both love the U.S. and are very grateful to be here. During the summer we were able to get more in touch with God, and learn about his grace. Codi and Caleb Jahn took very good care of us and my family is extremely thankful!”
Although new international students were not able to enroll due to visa restrictions, Campion Academy still has 17 international students coming from Brazil, China, The Democratic Republic of Congo, and Japan.
Campion Academy welcomes new Acquainting Agriculture class instructor Doug Hoos, who will work alongside Program Director Russell Branham. Hoos’ gardening roots go back to 1973 when he attended a summer-long gardening course in Loma Linda, California. Now retired from a land surveying company, he likes to garden and relax in his free time.
“I was looking to get involved with more extensive gardening, but after my wife retired, we kind of discontinued that and had other plans for this summer. But COVID-19 came along,” Hoos explained. “So, I was praying for some place to do some gardening and saw the Campion newsletter come out saying they were re-starting the program at Campion. The timing seemed to be right.”
Hoos shared his goals for this program: “[I’d like] students to learn simple, very low cost methods they can take home or anywhere in the world to use to garden.”
Gregory Lang, sophomore, said, “During Agriculture class so far, I learned how to plant vegetables and how soil could change the development of the plants. It is a fun class. Mr. Hoos is a kind man, and he has the passion to make this class a good learning experience.” Acquainting Agriculture is open first and second semester to students in all grade levels.
Produce is available for sale to the community on a limited basis. Currently, the program offers zephyr squash, green beans, emerald okra, crimson okra and lots of basil. Carrots, beets, brussels sprouts and radishes are not quite ready yet. The Agriculture class will be growing mostly root type vegetables through the winter as well.
While varsity sports have been suspended throughout Colorado due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Campion Academy has found a way for students to continue playing sports. Students have formed several different flag football, volleyball, and disc golf intramural teams that will compete against each other. Last Thursday the students enjoyed some friendly competition during the first volleyball and flag football games.
COVID-19 has caused the cancellation of several events, so intramural sports are a welcome addition. “I think it’s a great way to replace what would’ve been our soccer season,” explained Andy Obregon, senior. “Although some of us don’t usually play the sports that the intramurals offer, it’s still a great way to keep ourselves busy.”
With the new social distancing regulations, it has been harder for students to spend time together. “Probably the thing that has stuck out to me the most about intramurals so far is how it’s bringing people together and creating stronger bonds, especially with the newer students this year.” said Collin Velbis, junior. The intramurals give students more opportunities to socialize and bond with one another.
A lot of students don’t have much free time, but they enjoy playing sports to relax. Isaac Avila, junior explained, “It’s a nice breather to distract from all of our hard classes.”
Unlike the usual sports at Campion, anybody can join the intramurals. “It’s more accessible than regular sports, so everyone has an opportunity to have fun,” explained Randolph Ottschofski, Athletic Director. “We also get to play some cool sports that we don’t normally get to.” Groups of students may form their own teams that will compete against each other for a championship. Ottschofski plans to add more intramural sport options later in the fall.