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
The majority of the seniors were actively involved in the annual Senior Recognition Weekend activities from leading out in worship services to organizing the Saturday-night games. Even with uncertainties due to COVID restrictions, the seniors were able to bring two family members to celebrate the events together.
Friday night, staff members shared memories and advice for each senior. Class sponsor, Teresa Johansen, explained, “It was a night that some of the best advice was given to each senior from the staff at Campion.”
Saturday morning, Bentlee Barry, Tiffany Dien and Ireland Anthony led out Bible Bowl, an interactive Bible trivia game, during Sabbath School that riled up the gym full of competitive students. Senior Spiritual Vice President, Mark Zelaya, commented, “Even though we had to remain socially distanced, the Sabbath School portion of the morning service was really interesting. I noticed all the students were engaged and having fun, especially during Bible Bowl.”
Pastor Jorge Zelaya, father of Mark Zelaya, was the guest speaker and gave advice to the senior class on Sabbath. Sharmaine Monreal and Jynaya Wright performed one of the special music songs accompanied by Melissa Clouzet. There was also another piece sung in Spanish by Milka Mendoza Sanchez, Dominick Maldonado, Nelly Salinas and Andy Obregon. The song held a special connection to the four students because it was a part of their culture that they shared with the school.
On Saturday night, students released their energy and enjoyed each other’s company during competitions of Kahoot, Tic-Tac-Toe relays, Red-light Green-light, and dodgeball, a personal favorite of the students.
Danny Garcia, junior, was relieved to create this new experience with his fellow classmates and said, “After weeks of being apart it was a relief to have the whole school together for an activity and finally be able to spend time with friends and enjoy a night of laughter and excitement.”
Nelly Salinas, guest contributor
Over the first weekend back on campus, Campion Academy participated in our annual Class Scramble. Although it was similar to years past, students and staff took extra precautions relating to COVID-19. Student Association (SA) officers took on the challenge of creating new games and rules to ensure that everyone had fun safely.
For the second year in a row, the senior class of 2021 kept up their winning streak and came out on top. Milka Mendoza, senior, stated, “I was super glad we were even able to still do it, and thankful for the SA officers and the staff who set everything up. It felt so good to win for a second time in a row! I’m super excited to see how our class can continue to make memories despite everything else going on. We did get a little scared of losing, but we pulled it off! It all worked out because we came together as a class.” The other classes didn’t make it easy for the seniors to win; it was a tight race between the seniors and the sophomores, who came in second.
The event was held outside, everyone wore masks, and the new games allowed for social distancing. Some students embraced safety by decorating their masks and finding creative ways to take pictures. Kylie Wehling, SA Spiritual Vice President, said, “Being on SA this year, we had the challenge of thinking of new ways to stay safe with social distancing while still being able to have fun with our classes. Even though a lot of the normal Class Scramble games had to change, such as man-overboard and men-in-a-boat, I think everyone was still able to have tons of fun and enjoy bonding time with their classes.”
In years prior, Class Scramble has been followed up on Sunday with SA Picnic: a series of class competitions put on by the SA officers. This year, unfortunately, the low air quality from local mountain fires put that on hold. Campion is still planning on having this event on a day where there is less smoke and we can ensure the safety of everyone on our campus.
Campion Academy was proud to celebrate the accomplishments of the 39 members of its senior class with a drive-in graduation on Sunday, May 24. The ceremony included speeches, special music, awards, photos, diplomas, and all the traditional aspects of a typical graduation despite the fact that the attendees were mostly regulated to their vehicles. “Campion came through,” affirmed graduate Naomi Boonstra. “They gave us the best graduation they could under the circumstances, and it was amazing. Certainly a day we won’t forget.”
The class sponsors and officers planned out many details to make the event memorable. Entering on the west side of campus, the graduates were greeted by a large banner and staff members who handed them their caps, gowns, sashes and chords. As the vehicles formed a line around campus, families could pose together for a picture in front of their cars. Then the vehicles were directed into Campion’s RV park for the outdoor ceremony, parking the smaller cars in front so everyone could see the stage. The graduates were asked to stand in front of their cars as the traditional Pomp and Circumstance was played and they posed for an aerial group photo.
Social distancing was maintained as class members and staff went to the stage for speeches, songs, and to receive their diplomas. During his address, class president Nolan Eickmann said, “I’m not going to lie, I didn’t know how this was going to look, but standing up here, this looks pretty awesome.” Nolan’s mother and Campion’s interim chaplain Wendy Eickmann was the keynote speaker.
Campion Academy’s class of 2020 is a high-achieving class. Between them, they were awarded a total of $2,785,750 in scholarship money from Seventh-day Adventist universities across the nation. With 39 graduates, that is an average of more than $70,000 per student. Nineteen of the students received College-preparatory or Advanced College-preparatory diplomas. Twenty-two students graduated with honors with a 3.5 GPA or above, and nineteen were inducted members of the National Honor Society.
The weather forecast had called for a high chance of rain, but thankfully it held off until the very end of the ceremony as students were receiving their diplomas. Confetti cannons were shot off at the end of the celebration, adding more decor to the wet cars. As the vehicles exited, the attendees were handed cupcakes and juice boxes through their car windows, so even the usual refreshments were included.
“The drive in graduation was extremely organized and very well thought out by the staff,” commented graduate Megan Michalenko. “I can tell how much the staff members cared with the planning and execution of the graduation. Everyone had a smile on their face!”
Another graduate, Bela Cinco, explained, “Honestly, it was so much better than I had pictured. In some ways it was better than a regular graduation, it was unique and fun. It’s a graduation we’ll never forget, and one that will go down in history”
Valedictorian: Weston Humphries.
Salutatorian: Ashley Herber
President’s Education Award: Ashley Halvorson, Ashley Herber, and Erick Maldonado.
The requirements for the President’s Education Award include: Having a 3.5 GPA or above, receiving a 85 percent on either the Reading or Math section of the ACT, and having a composite score of 85 percent on the ACT.
Female Student of the Year: Madeline Jordan
Madi has served as class secretary her junior and senior years. This year she has served as our student Chaplin and done a wonderful job. Musically, Madi has been 1st chair violin in the orchestra, and has helped to lead out in many worship services in our school and church. Madi’s love for Jesus and others shows in her life. She is motivated, a good student, genuine, and has a character of gold.
Male Student of the Year: Erick Maldonado
Erick has been a leader on this campus in many ways. He has led out in worship with his singing and guitar playing; he loves playing soccer and basketball; is a good student; has served as an R.A. in the dorm and is a role model for underclassmen. Erick has been a spiritual leader on our campus. It has been fun to see him grow while attending Campion.
Principal’s Award: Jeremy Matondo
Each year the Principal selects an outstanding senior who typifies characteristics of honesty, character, hard work, and general contribution to the school. Jeremy came to us three years ago from the Democratic Republic of Congo and quickly became an active part of our student body. Jeremy constantly strives to do his best in everything he does. He has been a quiet leader and served as an R.A. in the dorm this year. One of the most exciting moments was when we witnessed him giving his life to God in baptism. It is my privilege to give Jeremy a plaque and a reward of $100.
Caring Heart Award: Beverly Onsoe
The Caring Heart Award is given in recognition of leadership and personal commitment to witnessing and service activities. This award is sponsored by the North American Division and is accompanied by a Bible and a $500 voucher to the Adventist school of your choice.
Campion may have uncovered a new tradition worth continuing by allowing the senior class one last chance to make a lasting impact on fellow students. During the week of May 4th-8th, Campion hosted its last Week of Prayer for the academic year. This particular Week of Prayer was unlike any other, not only because it was held virtually through private zoom calls and was live streamed on Facebook, but because it was hosted entirely by the senior class. Chaplain Mrs. Eickmann and Technology Director Mr. Eickmann also worked very hard behind the scenes to make transitions between activities, speakers, and prayers seamless. Though current circumstances should have held the school back from gathering to learn about God’s Word, the message was clearly broadcast: focus on Jesus.
Mrs. Eickmann challenged the seniors to host all of the meetings from beginning to end. Responsibilities were distributed during senior Bible classes. Whether tasked with creating questions for Kahoot (an online quiz game) which brought many laughs to participants, sharing a favorite memory from years at Campion, or delivering a personal message reflecting Christ’s character, each and every senior had a part in ministering. Sydney Halvorson, a sophomore at Campion says, “Having the seniors host Week of Prayer was really cool. It gave us some insight into what their personalities are like, and it was nice to hear some of their favorite memories at Campion.”
Junior, Ireland Anthony, agreed that hearing from seniors was unique and a blessing. “I really loved the fact that it was all about the seniors this Week of Prayer because it’s their last one at Campion!” She continued to say, “something that stood out to me was that I have never heard some of the quiet seniors speak before, and they did a really good job.”
Mrs. Eickmann expressed, “I was super pleased with how Week of Prayer went. I was blessed every single day by those who presented. The seniors made me proud of how they stepped up, were real, and shared from their hearts. They inspired me! I loved having the seniors host it.”
Having seniors present the last Week of Prayer for the school year may become a new tradition at Campion Academy. The delivery of testimonies and memories allowed students to turn their eyes away from the worries, cancellations, and uncertainties this year has brought them and simply focus on Jesus.
Delanie Kamarad, guest contributor
Greetings fellow Campion students! As you may know, my name is Grant Velbis, and I am a Senior at Campion Academy. It has now been weeks since we left school. How many exactly, I’m not sure. I sort of lost track. I do know, however, that it’s been a very, very long time! As a means to hopefully provide you with some entertainment, news, and encouragement during this period of isolation, I have been tasked with writing an article for this newsletter. I thought very hard about what I could share with you all, and then it hit me. What could be better for a newsletter than an interview! Get some people together and ask some tough questions. Unfortunately, because of the quarantine, there weren’t many options. So, I gathered everyone I could think of into my storage closet, and began the following interview:
Grant: “Hello Campion Academy, my name is Grant, and here in my storage closet, I am joined by Grant and Grant. How are you guys doing?”
Other Grant: “Meh.”
Another Grant: “I’m doing fantastic!”
Grant: “Wow, there’s a big difference between the moods of the two of you! This has certainly been a trying time for all of us, and I can easily understand your response, Grant. Tell me, why are you so downcast?”
Other Grant: “Well… It’s been hard, you know? This whole quarantine business has been so stressful. All of my family has been crammed under one roof and there is hardly any space. I can’t even find time to think. Someone in my house is always being loud or obnoxious. Also, I miss my friends. I miss going places. I get so bored and lonely, I just don’t know what to do. Not knowing what is coming in the future has me worried, as well. Who knows what could happen in crazy times like this!”
Grant: “I see. You definitely have some valid points there, Grant. It’s very easy to become sad, lonely, frustrated, angry, and all of those negative emotions. Now, despite all this, Grant, you are smiling, happy, and look like you’re doing great! I understand that you are in the same boat as Grant, as far as being cooped up at home with your family. How are you so joyful in the midst of all this?”
Another Grant: “Well, Grant, I’m glad you asked me that! See, I completely understand where Grant is coming from. With all the discouraging things happening, it can be very easy to slip into negative thinking. But, despite all the bad things, there are so many good things that have occured because of the quarantine!”
Other Grant: “What do you mean, Grant?”
Another Grant: “Well, for me, I’ve gotten to have so much quality time with my family! Whether it be games, movies, reading together, or going on walks, we’ve been able to connect in so many ways we wouldn’t otherwise have been able to! With all the extra time on my hands, I’ve been able to dive deep into the Bible! Reading God’s word is the best way to be encouraged during tough times, and with the quarantine, I’ve had so much extra time to do it! You see, there are always ways you can flip the negative and turn it into a positive! As far as being lonely, and worried about the future, God promised to always be with us, especially through the hard times. He will guide us through. We may not know the future, but he sure does, and He will take care of us.”
Grant: “Wow. That was so inspiring, Grant.”
Other Grant: “I know! I already feel better, thank you!”
Another Grant: “You’re welcome, guys!”
Grant: “Well, with those profound words from Grant, I think it’s time to say goodbye. But before we sign off, I’d like to share this Bible verse with you: God says to us, ‘And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’ Matthew 28:20. Thank you all for joining me, and goodbye!”
(P.S for everyone wondering, no I haven’t gone crazy.)
(P.P.S at least not yet.)
Grant Velbis, Senior, Guest Contributor
At the end of August, the senior class of 2020 left for a highly anticipated four-day trip to Glacier View Ranch in the mountains. Senior Survival has been a tradition at Campion for many years, and a key moment for bonding. The theme for the weekend was trusting in others, yourself, and God. The journey up the mountain was challenging because the bus only took us so far, and then we had to take our packs for the week and hike the remainder of the distance. Once we made it to the campsite, our next challenge was making a shelter. We were provided two tarps for rain protection, stakes, and twine. Many chose to sleep in hammocks but some were brave enough to sleep on the ground.
Each day consisted of many challenging team-bonding activities. Our class was split into three groups which separated typical friend groups. The activities were challenging mentally and physically. They required us to put trust in our teammates. Each night after the activities were completed, a campfire was built and everyone gathered around. A short worship was given by our chaplain Mrs. Eickmann, and then the time was given over to the class for discussion. Some nights we would go around and tell funny stories, or we would share our greatest struggle. Even people who were typically quiet opened up. We repeated the saying, “What is said on the mountain, stays on the mountain.” Grant, a four year senior, shares, “Everyone was open and honest. We had such a good time telling stories, laughing and crying together, and getting closer to each other and to God. It’s definitely something I’ll never forget.”
For some students, there was one activity that was dreaded. The trust fall is a group activity where one person climbs onto a rock, while the rest of the group stands in a line ready to catch him or her. Mrs. Eickmann sat at the top and prepared the person who would be falling. She encouraged us to let go of one of our fears and give it to God. For some it was easy to let go and fall, but for others it wasn’t so easy. Ashley Halvorson, a four-year senior, shared, “My favorite part of the trust fall was seeing the trust being built in our class. When it was my group’s turn, there was one person who was scared to fall and everyone began encouraging her. It was silence and then all of the people started yelling things such as, ‘we believe in you,’ ‘we will catch you’ and then she fell. It was inspiring to see the positive impact our class can make on people when we work together.” The entire class participated in doing the trust fall, thanks to the encouragement of the groups.
Senior Survival was such an amazing opportunity to get away from the stresses of school and even personal stresses. Leaving everything behind and focusing on bonding with our class is what made the time so special. Getting to hear from everyone and their stories is something the senior class will never forget. The bonds formed in the mountains will continue to strengthen as the senior class continues their last year of high school. Graduation may be harder because of the new friends made, but I am sure none of the class would change that.
Megan Michalenko, Senior, Student Editor
Photos by Dean Helm, Caleb Wehling, and Kayla Gonzalez
Chris Johnson, a recent graduate of Campion Academy, found himself working in a place he’d never expected—a nursing home. Granted, the Green House Homes at Mirasol, in Loveland, Colorado, aren’t your typical nursing home, but Chris had no experience and wasn’t even sure what the job entailed when he agreed to give ASSIST a try.
ASSIST is a grant-funded program managed by Southern Adventist University that pairs students with senior citizens to build relationships and offer assistance. Campion has participated in the program since 2008.
Chris spent two hours a day, five days a week with the residents, talking with them, going for walks, watching TV, or reading to them from the newspaper. “It became a natural friendship over time; it wasn’t like I was working,” he adds. “Some of the elders were really sad to see me go. One of them said, ‘You’re like a grandson to me.’”
“My last job [at Campion] wasn’t working out, and this was the last job available for me,” says Chris. “If you came to me before I had the nursing home job, I would tell you I didn’t want it. But once I got there, it was way more enjoyable than I thought.”
During the 2015-2016 school year, Campion was one of 151 schools qualifying to receive the ASSIST grant. “Over 1,900 families committed to Seventh-day Adventist Christian education will be impacted by as much as $2.4 million in tuition assistance… And, through a practiced attitude of service on the part of the students, as many as 2,700 senior citizens are served currently through this grant,” Southern’s website reports.
Working for ASSIST has provided an average of 10-11 Campion students with meaningful jobs each year, and in turn, the ASSIST grant provides 80% of student wages. Campion fundraises the remaining amount.
Student Labor Coordinator Toni Odenthal explains that student jobs like ASSIST “allow Campion students to work off part of their school bill and also teach them the skills needed to be good workers and thrive in the workplace.”
“I grew socially by doing this,” Chris adds. “I kept a relationship with a house full of people, which is something I don’t usually do. I’m usually not a talker, but over there I learned to enjoy it. If I ever do any volunteering, I’d look to help with elderly again.”
Jenny Sigler teaches English at Campion Academy