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
Campion English teacher, Erin Johnson, was chosen as the winner of the Noosa Full On Grants Contest, receiving $2000 to use creatively in her classroom. She was selected amongst the top 10 nominees as showing the “best example of bold, generous, ‘full-on’ efforts that go above and beyond in teaching” and a creative use of the grant funds.
Johnson was not aware of the contest until she was notified of her nomination. “I hadn’t even seen this competition before,” she commented.”My friend found this contest somewhere and filled out an entry for me. She texted me saying, ‘I’m nominating you for this award!’”
Later when asked how she felt about receiving the grant, she said, “It was the most exciting thing that’s happened to me. It made me feel more confident because teaching is a career where we don’t necessarily get a lot of praise. It felt nice to see how my work has paid off.”
Erin Johnson is a teacher who incorporates unique and creative ideas into her classroom everyday. “I really like literature to be as hands on as possible, so I try to take things out of the book and make it come alive. I want to make the curriculum applicable to the class, and I’m trying to find an awesome unit I can reuse every year, but it’s really just trying to see what works for the students. The world is always changing, so the classroom should always be changing too,” she elaborated.
Johnson mentioned her own high school English teacher was a big inspiration for her teaching methods and how she still draws from some of his ideas. She plans to use the $2000 grant money for interactive projectors for each of the staff to use and for premium versions of online education tools.
Sami Hodges, Campion News Team
Head Dean of Women, Molly Santana has set aside time in her schedule as dean to lend her expertise in the classroom. With a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Master’s degree in Special Education, Santana is now the highly qualified teacher of Campion’s Academic Support and Pre-Algebra classes.
After Patricia Torres retired in the fall, Santana was willing to take on the classes because she missed teaching and recognized the need for academic support. “Students who struggle have a place in my heart, often those are the ones who fall through the cracks. Especially in our Adventist school system there should be no excuse for that to happen. There should be someone to take the time, and let them know that someone believes in them,” she stated.
In the past, Santana has worked for a program for adults with mental disabilities and in a classroom for autistic students at a middle school. Santana said, “I love that God created us to be all so different individually, I believe it pertains to our learning. I like to find the way that they learn, empower them to follow that way of learning.”
Her husband, Carlos has also officially joined Campion’s staff doing supervision and working part-time in the cafeteria preparing dinner while he is working towards a degree in theology online. Carlos explained that he is happy to be working with academy students and enjoys “making connections and getting to know everyone better.” He further commented, “I know what it’s like as a teen and can relate to them in certain ways. I also enjoy learning from students and I hope they can learn something from me as well.”
Bentlee Barry, Campion News Team
On Sunday February 21, Campion hosted the annual scholastic awards’ program, Campion Acclaim, following Senior Recognition weekend. The administration acknowledged students with excellent grades and awarded scholarships in front of classmates, staff and parents. Junior and senior students with GPAs of 3.5 or greater, who demonstrated qualities of scholarship, leadership, service, and character, were nominated into the National Honors Society. Seniors inducted into the NHS were given a red cord and gold pin to wear at graduation.
Campion's awards and endowed scholarships were also announced. These scholarships are often given in memory or appreciation of alumni and former faculty. Alumni and friends continue to give every year to recognize students, in honor of their loved ones, who exhibit good citizenship, hold a job to help pay for their tuition, maintain strong academics, have financial need, and demonstrate appreciation for their education experience.
One such scholarship is in honor of Viola Goldsmith Rhodus who graduated in 1943. According to her children, Ed and Venita, she had many wonderful stories about her time at Campion. "Her eyes would light up when she talked about Campion Academy to us," daughter Venita shared.
The whole event is an opportunity to celebrate the legacy of Campion - hard work, excellence, and the network of support. Brooke Eitel, senior, stated, “It is a huge honor to be recognized for all of the hard work I’ve put into academics the past four years. Hopefully being a part of the NHS will help me get scholarships so I can continue my education at a college level.”
Kent Kast, Vice Principal of Academics and NHS sponsor, explained, “I believe it is meaningful to the students to be recognized for their achievements. When we are recognized it makes us want to be even better. It is also a good example to other students of the satisfaction that comes with a job well done. The students are also eligible for scholarships in college that they might not be able to get without a membership in the National Honors Society.”
Campion Acclaim was led by Darcy Force, Director of Development and Alumni Relations, Sherry Hay, Registrar, and Kent Kast. Since COVID restrictions are still in place, the event was held in the gymnasium instead of over brunch in the cafeteria to accommodate social distancing. Although the pandemic didn’t allow for as many people to attend, each student being honored could bring two guests to celebrate their accomplishments.
During the service, the Campion staff selected four seniors to speak and light a candle symbolizing the four pillars of NHS. Tiffany Dien spoke about scholarship, Sami Hodges touched on service, Dominick Maldonado talked about leadership, and Andy Obregon finished it off with character.
“I never really thought about being part of the NHS until I came to this event,” said Dien. “It felt surreal to be actually lighting a candle, speaking, and getting our red cords and pins. It means a great deal to be recognized for my achievements and see my hard work pay off.”
Haley Enochs, Student News Team
Classes still begin at their scheduled times, but that is about the only thing which has stayed the same for teachers at Campion Academy. Having to jump back and forth from in-person learning to a virtual classroom, and sometimes a mix of both, teachers are having to adapt in more ways than one.
Campion teachers have had to keep up with constantly updating safety precautions and remain flexible with sudden changes to their everyday routines. One day they could be giving a lecture in the classroom, and the very next day, they may find themselves leading class from their kitchen tables.
One thing is certain: teachers have to be prepared for the unexpected.
Even when classes are in-person, with COVID precautions, there are usually students who have to join virtually due to minor illnesses or potential exposure. Jill Harlow, Spanish and English teacher, described a little bit of what her days look like: “When I walk into my classroom, I’m running around sanitizing the desks, trying to switch on Zoom while students are walking in, and thinking to myself, ‘Ok what am I doing in class today, and what can I do to engage those one or two students on Zoom?”
This pandemic has challenged both new and experienced teachers.
Cindy Santana, who has been teaching at Campion since 2005, has come across many obstacles in the jump between virtual and in-person education. “Just using Zoom was a learning curve,’’ Santana commented. “Teaching for nine hours, grading, and doing the prep on top of all that makes for long days. When everybody’s here, you are a team; you have readers and other teachers to bounce ideas off of, but when we’re all on Zoom, we kind of operate in a vacuum. Sometimes, you feel like you’re going it alone.”
Campion’s chaplain and Bible teacher Nancy Meszaros, in her second year of teaching, has learned to use a variety of presentation tools to keep students interacting, but still recognizes the challenge the socially-distanced classroom presents. “I feel like sometimes my creative juices are no longer there. I want class to still be fun and engaging, but with so many regulations that always change, it’s hard to keep track and can be really draining.”
As the director for spiritual activities on campus, Meszaros added, “Another thing that has been difficult with this pandemic has been trying to find creative activities and programming to reach students spiritually. A lot of activities require mingling and close interaction, so we can’t do those things anymore.”
In spite of all the challenges, Campion teachers have chosen to stay positive and try to make learning as engaging as possible. Harlow elaborated: “God has blessed us through everything. All of us have learned to adapt. Students are still learning, and we teachers are still forming positive relationships with them. Even online, we can laugh or have deep spiritual conversations that bring us together. And there is light at the end of the tunnel; we are all looking forward to being back on campus together in the coming weeks.”
Sami Hodges, Student News Team
Campion Academy was once again rated the number one private school in Larimer County by Niche.com on the annual 2021 Best Schools ranking list. There are currently 32 private schools in Larimer County.
Niche.com, a nationally recognized education ranking site, based this ranking on a rigorous analysis of key statistics and millions of reviews from students and parents. Ranking factors include SAT/ACT scores, student-teacher ratio, and data sourced from the U.S. Department of Education, Niche users, and the schools directly.
What makes Campion so great? We asked current students to share their perspectives.
“I love how it feels like a second home. When I’m here, I get homesick but my friends always cheer me up. They keep me going and are the reason why I came back. Campion is a school that's more than a place for you to learn, it's a family.” - Blet Htoo
“I like how it’s easy to get along with people and you can make a lot of friends.” - Tiffany Kolibu
“I like how Campion tries to make it possible for us to stay here (with in-person education during the pandemic) and I’m glad to live in the dorm because it allows us to be closer with our friends.” - Chrishella Kalawo
“I’d probably have to say the greatest strength of Campion is the spiritual environment, I just really enjoy how I can be in a place where people are my same age and who believe the same thing I do. They influence me to want to know God more and keep me consistent in my beliefs.” - Odalis Mata
“One of the things I really value about Campion is the inclusion of spirituality into everyday life. Teachers have worship and prayer before every class, which puts God first. Not only is spirituality incorporated into academics, but vespers and worship services allow everyone to grow closer to one another, and people form bonds here that will most likely last a lifetime.” - Sami Hodges
“For me, the best part about Campion is the amount of help the staff members give you. In other schools, some teachers don’t care if you fail or succeed, but here the teachers go above and beyond to make sure you succeed. They will give you their phone numbers, meet with you outside of class, and work with you when you are behind or struggling. It just goes to show how God is working through everyone on this campus.” - Haley Enochs
“I think a strength of Campion is the personal atmosphere. You can make so many connections here, and the staff really care about the students. I think what makes people want to come back are all the friendships they make here.” -Nelly Salinas
“My favorite thing is the dorm life because I love how my friends and I interact with each other and still hang out even with COVID policies and with masks. We still make it work and have fun!” - Mark Zelaya
“Campion excels at providing an environment where students can grow socially, physically, mentally, and spiritually.” - Jayden Anggormas
-Campion Academy Student News Team
As Campion students enter the last weeks of the semester and finals are approaching, it's easy to become overwhelmed and stressed.
Having stress isn’t always a bad thing; in fact, it's proven to be beneficial. However, stress becomes dangerous when it is uncontrolled and at a high level. It can easily sneak up on teens, and when not managed appropriately, it creates a snowball effect.
All teenagers are different, stress for some may be triggered differently than others. In high school, one of the most common sources of stress is academics. Teens often worry about meeting academic expectations either made by themselves, parents, or even teachers.
Sandy Eickmann, a professional counselor for over 20 years, shared some tips on how to cope and minimize stress levels.
Eickmann's biggest tip for dealing with academic stress is to not procrastinate. “The first step is to just get up and do it. Don’t let yourself have time to make excuses,” she said. This may seem easier said than done, but it's quite simple. When you first get told about an assignment, start it immediately. This will save much stress and anxiety in the long run.
“Secondly, you need to discipline yourself. Set a specific time and goal. For example, if you need to get an assignment done, tell yourself you're not allowed to watch TV (or check your phone) until you finish it,” Eickmann added.
Some teenagers suffer with test anxiety. “During the test, make sure to breathe in deeply and exhale quickly. While taking a test, don’t focus on what others are doing, just focus on yourself,” Eickmann explained.
During finals week, Eickmann encouraged students to get a good night's rest and eat healthy nutritious meals. “This will give you the energy and focus you need,” she said.
Teens under stress may change their eating or sleeping habits and avoid normal daily activities. As students it's important to pay attention to your fellow classmates. If you notice behavioral changes in a friend, such as becoming agitated or depressed, make sure to check on and encourage him or her to seek help.
Remember you're not alone. Get together with friends to work on homework and prep for tests. Don’t be afraid to ask your teachers for help; Campion teachers genuinely care about the success of each student!
Bentlee Barry, Student News Team
On Tuesday, October 13, the Campion sophomore English class changed their styles for a fun alter-ego project based on the play, “The Importance of Being Earnest.” The students were tasked with creating an “alter ego” of themselves, and then dressing up and acting as that person for the day.
“Since we are reading ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’, which is centered on a man who creates an alter ego for himself so he can have an excuse to go to town, I thought it would be fun for the students to experience that for themselves,” explained Erin Johnson, sophomore English teacher. “I wanted them to apply an old story to their lives in a creative way,” she said.
Students changed various aspects of themselves, such as the way they dressed, their hairstyles, or the way they talked. Some students took it further than others; one of them even shaved his head. “It was crazy how everyone did so many different things,” said Haley Beckermeyer, sophomore. “The village students went all out, and even some of the dorm students went crazy.”
Many students thoroughly enjoyed dressing up and altering their personality. Melody Mambo, sophomore, said, “It was a fun time because I got to experience my friends in a way I have never seen them before.”
While they had fun doing this for a day, students experienced the meaning of “The Importance of Being Earnest” in real life. “I learned how difficult it is to be someone that you’re not, and how much better it is to just be who you truly are,” shared Faith Evert, sophomore.
Jayce Treat, Student News Team
Photo by Erin Johnson