Campion Academy welcomed 155 students this week, starting a school year that is highlighted by a return to nearly-normal activities. Campion is once again offering a full music program, varsity sports, field trips, and other pre-COVID programming, while maintaining one of the most effective defenses against outbreaks: face masks indoors.
Students expressed their excitement with the easing of COVID policies. “When I heard about the lifting of some of the restrictions, my mood for the year drastically changed in a positive way,” commented Noah Sturges; “I’m really looking forward to this year!”
After being on-hold last year, try-outs for JV and Varsity volleyball and soccer began this week. Love Pickle exclaimed, “I am overjoyed that sports are back for my last year.”
The music program will once again include a large choir, select choir, bells, and orchestra, with more performances on the schedule than last year. “I am looking forward to seeing more music events around and outside the campus,” said Jackie Kobagaya; “Being able to experience a more normal school year is a true blessing.”
The staff officially welcomed students back at the annual handshake event on Sunday evening, which included actually shaking hands with a few hand sanitizer stations in-between. The Student Association officers planned a fun-filled evening which included worship and class competitions to ease the back-to-school jitters.
Kylie Wehling, Student Association Spiritual Vice-President, announced the theme for this year: Radiate. “As Christians, we are called not only to represent Christ and reflect him, but to radiate the message of His Living Water, hope, and salvation,” Wehling explained. “To radiate as a student body this year means to not only glorify God on this campus, but to let His Light shine beyond the walls of this school, into our communities, our homes, and in the lives of those we meet."
The Campion Church pastors concluded the event by leading in a time of prayer and dedication of our campus. The circle of students and staff was notably larger than it has been in recent years. Principal Donavan Reeder concluded, “God has given us 155 students, which is more than we’ve had in the last few years and even more than we had anticipated. We look forward to seeing how God will touch the lives of each of these students this school year.”
Jill Harlow, Communication Director
Campion Academy welcomes Shannon Brown to the staff as registrar, guidance counselor, and freshman Bible teacher. Brown will move into her office to begin prepping student schedules and planning for a smooth transition to the new school year on her official first day: July 1st.
Brown comes to Campion with a plethora of experience in Adventist academies and is highly qualified for her new position. She holds a Master’s degree in School Counseling, and an Education Specialist degree in Psychology. She has worked at four academies, including eleven years as registrar, and has taught Bible, Spanish, Psychology, and History classes.
The daughter of an academy principal, Brown grew up mostly in California and graduated from Monterey Bay Academy. She completed her Bachelor’s degree at Washington Adventist University, and graduate degrees at La Sierra University.
She met her husband, Darren Brown, a Colorado native, while her father, Tim Zytkoskee, was working as principal at Mile High Academy. The pair has since worked at Holbrook Indian School, Conroe Adventist Academy, Highland View Academy, and most recently, Dakota Adventist Academy.
Brown said they have been watching out for openings at Campion Academy for several years in order to be close to her husband’s family and because of Campion’s positive reputation. “This is a school we have always hoped to come to,” explained Brown; “The community is something I’m looking forward to; it seems like a place with a good team that works together and is welcoming. I love teaching, but I also love being in the office, and this opportunity gives me a bit of both.”
The Browns enjoy reading and spending time in nature with their two children, Abigail (12), and Benjamin (10), their dog, and three cats.
Mrs. Brown looks forward to meeting students and parents on move-in day in August!
Jill Harlow, Communication Director
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 Fil-Am 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