Campion Academy is blessed to be connected to a vibrant and dynamic church community. Campion Church has three pastoral positions, and each pastor has a unique impact on our students and families. While Pastor Micheal Goetz continues as lead pastor, both associate pastor positions have recently changed.
Welcome Pastor Mike Taylor
In May, Campion Church welcomed Pastor Mike Taylor to the staff as the Associate Pastor for Family and Discipleship Ministries. Taylor was chosen to fill the position after Pastor Michael Morse took a call to the Washington Conference this past February.
Taylor plans to continue to develop Grow Groups, and connect with students through Pathfinders, Sabbath School, and other family ministries. With a love for math, science, and technology, Taylor is a self-proclaimed nerd, and plans to incorporate his tech skills to strengthen Campion’s ministry.
The Taylor family comes to us from Paw Paw, Michigan, where he was serving as the local church pastor. This is the latest chapter in what has already been a whirlwind of a journey for them; when they first met, Michael was a devout atheist who was enamored with a devout Adventist, Anndrea. She faithfully and lovingly witnessed to him, revealing a loving God who was working in and through her. (He still jokingly refers to himself as a "victim of prayer.")
Almost two decades later, they have been blessed with several incredible opportunities to see the reality of God working in their lives. When they loaded up a tiny U-Haul and went to Andrews University for their bachelor's degrees (Michael's degree is in theology, and Anndrea's is elementary education), they trusted in The God Who Provides.Through their calling into ministry, and their chance to continue their education (Michael at the seminary for his Master’s of Divinity, and Anndrea at Western Michigan U. for Educational Leadership), God continued preparing and equipping them for the challenges ahead. The biggest project He was preparing them for (thus far), however, was in their own family: they are coming to us blessed with 6-year-old Hannah, a set of 4.5- year--old twins, Hayley and Heidi, and ANOTHER set of twins, the almost 2-year-old duo of Hudson and Holly.
Farewell to Pastor Nestor Soriano
Church members came together over breakfast on Sunday to say goodbye and show appreciation for Pastor Nestor Soriano and his family after serving as Associate Pastor of Worship and Evangelism at the Campion Church for six years. Pastor Nestor has accepted a call to serve as the lead pastor at the Hinsdale Seventh-day Adventist Church, in his hometown near Chicago.
Most often seen each Sabbath with a guitar in-hand or at the piano, Pastor Nestor was well-known for leading the worship service through his talents in music. His wife Katherine joined him as a frequent vocalist during the worship service as well. Pastor Nestor also coordinated and led evangelistic series each year at the church.
Campion students were deeply impacted over the years by Pastor Nestor as he served as a mentor in music and discipleship.
Madi Jordan, Class of 2020, accompanied the praise team at church on violin throughout her high school years. “Pastor Nestor has been an amazing mentor in my musical journey, and it is because of his patience, kindness and encouragement that I am the musician I am today”, Jordan shared. “Not only did he teach me how to effectively lead a praise team, he also taught me how to lead people to Jesus through music. He challenges me constantly to step out of my comfort zone and try something new, pushing me to learn new things. I am very lucky to call him a mentor and a friend. He will be greatly missed.”
Andy Obregon, Class of 2021, commented, “Pastor Nestor was someone who had that charismatic charm upon encountering him. His friendly and sensible personality would make you automatically comfortable around him. Playing with him was a blast all the way through my time at Campion. He is a very talented pianist who is very influenced by jazz and is very passionate on how he does worship. I found inspiration for how I would play the guitar by watching him, and I can’t thank him enough for what he taught me. He is a gentleman, an excellent advisor, and a great example of Jesus.”
Campion Academy students and staff wish Pastor Nestor and his family all the best as they follow God’s lead. Campion Church is currently beginning the search process for applicants to fill the associate pastor position in the upcoming months.
At a three-day event, Campion Academy’s graduating class of 2021 celebrated their accomplishment of thriving through it all after more than a year of masking, social distancing, and switching between in-person and online classes. While attendance was limited and by-invitation only, the 29 graduates were able to continue Campion’s traditions of Parent Tribute, Baccalaureate, Class Night, and Commencement in the gymnasium with a crowd of family and friends.
In a speech addressed to her classmates, Class President and Student Chaplain Milka Mendonza-Sanchez stated, “We have all had rough patches in our personal lives, and this year may not have been our ideal senior year, but I know that on this campus we’ve been able to grow spiritually, and together we’ve learned how to keep going through the difficulties of life.”
Principal Donavan Reeder commended the class as well, remarking, “I’m so proud of our students this year at Campion Academy. We threw them curve-balls left and right, and they were able to handle every pitch.”
A historically small class throughout their four years at Campion, the class of 2021 was known for their closeness, diversity, and spirituality. Mendoza-Sanchez explained, “Our class is small, but I know that I can take any one of you aside and say ‘Hey, I’d like to pray with you,’ or ‘I need prayer today’ and it will happen.”
With more than half the class able to speak a language other than English, it was unique to hear five different languages during the Friday evening Parent Tribute. The class includes six international students from Brazil and the Democratic Republic of Congo, and many others from Spanish, Indonesian, and Tagalog-speaking families.
Carlos Santana, husband to Head Dean of Women Molly Santana and current Theology student at Southwestern, was the chosen speaker for Sunday’s Commencement. “This class is special; it really is,” he emphasized to the students. “No matter what field you are going into, the class of 2021 is a class full of ministers; you are going to do beautiful, wonderful things for the Glory of God.”
During Commencement, representatives from Union College presented the graduates with a total of $576,000 in scholarships. The highest award, the Presidential Scholarship, valued at $46,000, was awarded to both Tiffany Dien and Samantha Hodges.
While it poured rain outside, the ceremony was capped-off with an indoor reception filled with joyous tears, celebratory hugs, and many photos.
Jill Harlow, Communication Director
Parent Tribute and Baccalaureate
Teachers showed their appreciation for outstanding students by passing out awards, while the Campion Music Department ensembles presented their culminating pieces at the Pop’s Concert and Awards Night on Saturday evening.
The program began with recognition of staff who will be leaving the academy next school year, presented by Principal Don Reeder.
Ekenna Nwankwo, freshman, said, “It was great to be able to see what students did really well, and be able to see some of the staff for the last time.”
Yves Clouzet, Campion Academy’s orchestra and handbells conductor described the concert by saying, “I always enjoy the performances at the Pops Concerts because they allow the Music Department students to enjoy a more low-pressure performance atmosphere and the chance to play lighter music for their friends and family. It is also a bittersweet time because it always marks the ‘last hurrah’ for our seniors in the Music Program. We will miss them so much!”
Along with the academic awards, staff members recognized achievements such as perfect attendance and workmanship, and the deans announced next year’s Resident Assistants. Finally, Randolph Ottschofski, Campion’s athletic director, presented sports awards and Yves and Melissa Clouzet presented music awards.
“I’m so proud of all our music students and what they have accomplished this year amidst so many challenges,” commented Clouzet. “We will always strive to make sure students are able to experience quality music education at this school, no matter what the circumstances may be.”
Ending the night, students were presented with a year-in-review video encompassing the 2020-2021 school year. “My favorite part of the video was getting to look back at all the memories that we've made throughout this rough year,” reflected sophomore Melody Mambo, who created the video. “It was fun getting to see us adapt to all the rules that were established and still making the most of our time. Honestly, it was a struggle at the beginning of the year, but in the end it was all worth it and the result turned out great.”
Jynana Wright, Senior, Guest Contributor
Students enjoyed a fun and relaxed day for the last Student Association (SA) picnic of the school year on Sunday. Students gathered on the field, playing volleyball and competing in friendly matches of “bubble” soccer, in which participants wear an inflatable bubble suit while playing.
After an hour of competition between students, classes divided for a color run. Each class took a turn running a loop around campus while the other classes threw colored powder and cheered them on. “At first, I didn’t really want to get any color on me, but by the end I was covered!” said Brayan Martins, sophomore.
After the color run, SA provided root beer floats and a water balloon fight for students to cool down.
Before the activities began, the current SA officers were commemorated with a speech from Miss. Johnson, and the new members were congratulated as they gave acceptance speeches. New SA Officer, Gwyn Reeves explained, “I really wanted to be in SA because I knew I would love being part of a team that creates awesome events and creates opportunities for memories and fun. And I look forward to being able to do that!”
“Being on SA this year has challenged our team to think of COVID-safe activities. Maintaining distance and wearing masks had to be taken into account when planning, banquet, fall party, or class scramble. We always looked for fun activities that most people would enjoy, and I am proud of our SA team for everything they have done this year to make the year so memorable!” exclaimed Kylie Wehling, Spiritual Vice-President.
Outgoing SA President Ryan Bell highlighted, “It's been great to have a team that came together and share the workload. It's taught me to trust those around me and rely on people to help out. I’ve learned to value teamwork a whole lot more.”
Head SA sponsor, Erin Johnson emphasized how proud she was of her student team this year. “This SA team as a whole has been flexible and innovative. They took what seemed like an impossible task (with COVID restrictions) and not only accomplished it but also made improvements for future years,” Johnson reflected. “I think our biggest accomplishment was the SA Banquet. We transformed the gym and made a night to remember. Even staff who have been here for many years said that it was the best banquet they have seen. I will miss this team tremendously but I am so excited for next year's SA team.”
Bentlee Barry, Student News Team
President: Clark Cinco
Vice- President: Lacy Matondo
Spiritual Vice- President: Kylie Wehling
Social Vice-President: Melody Mambo
Secretary: Regan Garman
Treasurer: Gwyn Reeves
Activities Director: Edward Camas
Communication Director: Keziah Paduli
Outreach Director: Kendra Eickmann
Tech Director: Noah Sturges
After working 11 years both as an Assistant Food Director and the Student Labor Coordinator, Toni Odenthal is retiring from Campion Academy. In these years she was responsible for managing the placement of students and interviewing them to find what job fits best. After school lets out, she plans on being the primary construction supervisor as she oversees the building of her new home.
Over the years, Odenthal worked closely with students, teaching them about becoming better workers, and had a strong impact on many students’ lives.
“Mrs. O made an impact in my life by encouraging me to do what makes me happy and to become who I want to become. She showed me how important self love is and most importantly how my image in God's eyes is the only one that counts. She is such a loving woman and no matter how far I am, I know that I have her on my side,” reflected alumnus Kryssie Starrett.
“Mrs. O, also known as Mama, made a huge impact in my life. She believed in me when I felt that no one else did. She cared for me when I was sick and crippled, and most importantly she pushed me to become a better version of myself. I’m forever thankful that God put such a loving, caring and lively person in my life,” said alumnus Jacqueline Morales.
Many students commented on Odenthal’s ever-present smile and positive attitude. “She has always been a positive and cheerful role model to anyone around her since the moment I met her, always saying nice things to others, and always caring about everyone around her. I’ve seen how much she cares about the students here at Campion,” remarked Jordyn Dennison, Odenthal’s current student worker.
“I will always remember cracking jokes with her in the office and sharing sweets with her after a long day,” Dennison continued. “She has always seen the best in me and others and pushed me to the greatest I could be. She has cared for me like a mother and I’ve cherished every second with her. This campus has been greatly impacted by her presence and will miss her dearly; I know for a fact I will.”
Odenthal gave some final words of advice, “I just want students to know just how much I care about them, as well as knowing even if they're not amazing academically, putting forth effort and working hard in everything they do will definitely pay off. They can always look to God for guidance and there’s so many staff that will do anything for them.”
Bentlee Barry, Student News Team
This past week at Campion Academy several students gave their testimonies in a special Week of Prayer. They told personal stories that dealt with topics such as severe injuries, depression, and sharing the gospel with others.
Kylie Wehling, a Junior at Campion Academy, shared her story of a severe injury she suffered and how God led her through it. “Speaking for Week of Prayer really made me step back and look at all the times God was there for me, even in my darkest moments,” Wehling remarked. ”Sometimes, we forget that God works miracles in our lives every day.”
The student testimonies were received with high regard from students. Isaac Avila, junior commented, “I liked this quarter’s Week of Prayer because I got to hear from my fellow peers and classmates which made the service more relatable to me.”
Students learned about how God helped their peers deal with some extremely hard circumstances. “I know the speakers, they are my friends, but when they gave their talks I saw them in a different light,” said Jynaya Wright, senior. “They are usually always so happy and positive, but hearing their testimonies made me realize that they have their problems too.”
Wright explained how even though her friends went through some hard times, they gave their struggles over to God. “It was a huge inspiration to me to keep going even though we face troubles in our lives because God’s got your back.”
“I never thought I would share my story because I never thought it was important. But as I have heard my fellow students' testimonies throughout the year and saw the impact they had, I realized I wanted to help others too,” explained Bentlee Barry, senior. “It can be scary to share God but when you lean on Him and let Him speak through you, it becomes much easier! I feel even closer with God since sharing my testimony; it has changed my relationships with those around me and most importantly with God.”
The student testimonies were streamed live and can be viewed on Campion Academy’s Facebook page.
Jayce Treat, Student News Team
After 16 years of teaching at Campion Academy, Patricia Torres retired this school year. She was the learning resource director as well as an ELL teacher, showing students strategies to be more successful and independent with their work. She hadn’t originally planned to retire this year, but she was needed by her family as a care-taker.
“I miss the students so much; it’s hard to express,” said Torres. After being away from campus since September, she reminisced on her experience here, “I knew God wanted me there and with every student, I would pray that I would be able to bring them closer to him.”
Torres taught study skills class to the freshmen class to provide them with tools they would need to be successful academically. Melody Mambo reflected, “She always helped me with my organizational skills and helped me stay on top of things. She had a contagious smile on her face that always brightened everyone's day. I’ll definitely miss her presence, and know she beneficially impacted many students.”
Senior Amira Davis worked with Torres as an international ambassador, joining her in making the new students feel welcomed. “I loved her enthusiasm and passion for the international students,” Davis said. “She really looked out for us and cared about when we were struggling. I’ll always miss her smiling, kind face.”
Torres was most well-known for the time she would take to work with students one-on-one to meet their individual needs. “She never gave up on me even though it was hard sometimes. She always pushed me to go forward, always teaching me different strategies so that I could do better in school,” said Emily Gama, senior. “I would always talk to her as a friend and I miss that. She kept it confidential and gave me advice when I needed it; she was trustworthy.”
Staff member Jill Harlow worked closely with Torres in the ELL department. “Patricia always inspired me with her close walk with Jesus that came out in every interaction she had, whether with students or staff members. She prayed constantly for her students,” said Harlow. “Her compassion and patience with students who struggled was unparalleled and we miss her greatly!”
Torres shared some final words of advice for the students, “No matter what you do, ask Jesus to help you and keep your eyes on Him. Before you know it, everything you dreamed of will come true, that's what working at Campion and Jesus has taught me.”
Bentlee Barry, Student News Team
After 18 years of teaching at Campion, Dan Philpott is retiring from teaching at the end of the school year. He has been the teacher of many classes over the years such as Algebra II, Geometry, and Industrial Arts, encouraging students to do their best academically. Philpott plans to work in a warehouse, building and designing cabinets.
In his time here, he encouraged and helped many students and made an impact on each of their lives in different ways. “I’ve always struggled in math my whole life,” stated Jynaya Wright, senior. “And so, when I came to Campion that was actually one of my biggest fears: falling behind in math. But when I got to Mr. Philpott’s class, I wasn’t scared anymore, because I knew that no matter how many times he had to explain something to me, he would never give up on me. One of the reasons that I have confidence in math today is because of Mr. Philpott.”
Staff members also appreciated working with him. Steve Eickmann, staff member at Campion, explained, “One thing I like about him is that he is a good teacher and he’s always calm and respectful with students and is patient with those who struggle in his subjects. He knows a lot of tricks and I’ve never seen him lose his cool. He’s been a good friend over the 15 years I’ve known him.”
Senior Ryan Bell has gotten to know Philpott a little closer than other students as he has been living with him this year at Campion. “I have enjoyed seeing the hard-working side of him, but despite the work, he always has a sense of humor that makes everything more enjoyable.”
“Mr. Philpott has made my school experience a lot of fun. Being in his geometry and industrial Arts class definitely has its challenges but in the end, Mr. Philpott always helps us out and is one of the most patient people I’ve ever met. I’m going to miss his still, quiet energy on campus next year and it’ll be weird without him, but what he taught me that I’ll always remember is to “GETTER DONE.” We appreciate you and we’ll miss you Mr. Philpott!” Melody Mambo, sophomore, exclaimed.
Haley Enochs, Student News Team
After three decades at Campion, Pastor Joe Martin has stepped down from teaching.
Known as “Pastor Joe” by the students, he was actively involved on campus. Martin worked as director of the Literature Evangelism (LE) program for 28 years and taught Junior Bible for his last three years at Campion.
“You could see his determination even in the way he walked down the street. No one on the LE team could keep up with him,” said Kelby Eickmann, a Campion alumnus who worked closely with Martin for two summers and two school years in Literature Evangelism. “Pastor Joe impacted my life by demonstrating what passion for Christ looks like. He put his love for God and other people into action. He didn't simply claim to have a desire to serve God; he really lived it. He is relentlessly stubborn and can sell books to anyone,” Eickmann added.
Martin grew up Catholic and joined the Marines at the age of 17, later serving in the Vietnam War. He commented on how he had his “fair share” of worldly ways but later had an unforgettable encounter with God. “I wanted something more to life than I had,” he reflected. “When God revealed himself to me, everything changed. I recognized how God could use young people, and it opened the door to a new ministry for me. It was such a joy to watch students grow spiritually, and I wanted them to know God for themselves, not just to pass the class.”
Grant Velbis, who graduated from Campion last year, shared his experience in Martin’s Junior Bible class. “Pastor Joe’s class helped me see that there is so much evidence and reasoning behind the things we believe as Adventists. Just how he lived his life inspired me because he lived with such passion and conviction for Jesus. He didn’t just ‘talk the talk;’ he lived out everything he believed. That is something I would like to have in my life.”
Martin’s goal for the students he taught and worked with was to help them grow in their relationship with God. Shelby Waller, a junior this year, reflected on the impact of his Bible class. “He taught us directly from the Bible, and he encouraged us to build our own relationship with the Lord. It was up to us how much we wanted to learn, and that motivated us to take notes and to learn more.”
In addition to his teaching, Martin’s influence encouraged students in their personal spiritual journey and he even baptized some of his students.
“Pastor Joe’s class influenced me a lot during my junior year; it was very interesting, and I just couldn’t help but pay attention,” said Susan Wang, a 2019 Campion graduate and international student from China. “I really liked how he taught Revelation in a way that we have hope after we die. Pastor Joe also reminded us to be thankful for waking up in the morning, daily life, and for receiving help from others. I was really moved by this and so I decided to get baptized. I did Bible studies with him on Tuesday and Thursday mornings before I got baptized, and even continued to do them into my senior year,” Wang added. ”He gave me a space to share my day and struggles, and he would encourage me with Bible verses and life advice.”
Martin was well-known for taking the time to talk with both students and staff members, spontaneously offering to pray with them. “Joe Martin prayed with me through many challenges and encouraged me in tough times,” noted Principal Don Reeder. “I also saw that (because of his influence) more students would begin to pray together, and staff would pray with students. Joe Martin focused our attention on the importance of prayer and developing a good relationship with God. I will miss him.”
Sami Hodges, Student News Team