29 Apr


By Sami Hodges – Loveland, Colorado … During the recent home leave to celebrate accomplishments and achievements, Campion Academy’s senior class withdrew to the mountains of Estes Park for a five-day getaway.

To kick off the trip, the seniors pulled an all-nighter in the gym on Tuesday, keeping themselves awake by playing games of basketball, volleyball, and cards, and eating snacks.

“I would say the best part of that night was around 3 a.m. when everyone was feeling delirious,” Tiffany Dien, Campion senior said. “We played charades and the group kept pestering Kevin to act the word out and he did an amazing job. One of the words was ‘Spider-Man’ so we all did the Spider-Man hand gesture and Ireland, in a confident voice, yelled, ‘Superman!’”

Wednesday, the senior class spent the afternoon at Boondocks, an amusement park in Denver, and were entertained by laser tag, bowling, go-karts, and arcade games. After eating lunch at a Mongolian cuisine restaurant, the seniors loaded the bus and departed for the YMCA in Estes Park where a variety of activities, including archery, rock-wall climbing, hiking, arts and crafts, swimming, games, and movies awaited them.

The fellowship and time in the Word is what some seniors will remember. “My favorite part of the class trip was honestly the worship,” commented Ryan Bell, who gave a short sermon on Sabbath morning about the importance of wisdom. “It was neat to hear others teaching, and I realized that you have a deeper understanding of the subject when you teach it yourself. I really wanted God to speak through me, and I wanted to say what He wanted me to say.”

Growing relationships is what some seniors will cherish from the trip. “Senior class trip was a time I grew very close with my class and with God. Within just a couple days, I felt like we all became family, and I knew that every single one of them would be there for me,” shared Bentlee Barry, first year senior at Campion. “I never thought that I would meet people who could just sit down and read the Bible or pray with me. Even if I never see my classmates again, they have impacted who I am and how I appreciate my relationships around me.”

The trip provided a time for seniors to laugh and learn more about themselves and each other.  “My favorite part by far would be our cupcake wars. Gabriel is such a good cook and definitely held the team on his back. I learned that Carol is really good at walking down the stairs in the morning, and Milka loves to go swimming. I also learned that I work really well under pressure when I came to an old man’s rescue at Walmart,” joked Barry.

To commemorate the special relationship of the class, during the final worship of the trip Sharmaine Monreal, Campion senior and Jynaya Wright, Campion senior shared a song they co-wrote entitled 2021.

“Every lyric means something and is based on a memory we made with our senior class,” said Wright. “We love and appreciate them so much and this song was a depiction of the times we’ve had with our class. We wanted this to be a way people can remember our class through music, even when we go to college.”

The lines from the last stanza of the song captured the sentiments of the students:

“I will never be alone
‘Cause you’re my family and I’m yours
And I know you’ll forever be my home.”

–Sami Hodges is a senior at Campion; photo supplied

11 Mar


By Sami Hodges – Loveland, Colorado … “It felt nice to see how my work has paid off,” commented Erin Johnson, Campion English teacher after she won noosa Full on Grant contest.

Johnson beat out nine other nominees for 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.

She was not aware of the contest until receiving a text from a friend who nominated her. “I hadn’t even seen this competition before. My friend found this contest somewhere and filled out an entry for me. She texted me saying, ‘I’m nominating you for this award.’”

Stepping into her classroom you will quickly find a teacher who incorporates unique and creative ideas into her classroom.

“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 commented.

Reflecting on winning the contest and grant award of $2000 Johnson 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.”

Johnson credits her high school english teacher as 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 is a Campion senior; photos supplied

04 Feb


By Sami Hodges – Loveland, Colorado … 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.

Teachers are having to keep up with constantly-updating safety precautions and to 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 table.

One thing is certain: teachers have to be prepared for the unexpected.

Jill Harlow, Spanish and English teacher, describes 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, and we can’t do those things anymore.”

In spite of all the challenges, teachers have stayed positive and continue to make learning as engaging as possible.

“God has blessed us through everything. All of us have learned to adapt. Students are still learning, and 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,” Harlow said.

–Sami Hodges is a senior at Campion Academy; photo supplied

19 Nov


By Sami Hodges – Loveland, Colorado … To add a little variation to 2020’s everyday life, Campion’s Student Association (SA) introduced spirit week, giving the students a chance to loosen up before finals and get creative with their outfits.

Each day was unique and gave many opportunities to put together some innovative combinations. As an incentive to participate, the class with the most involvement at the end of the week would earn a pizza party.

“I liked spirit week,” commented Phoebe Mamanua, Campion freshman. “It was really interactive, and I looked forward to going to school every day.”

To start the week, each person found a “twin” and dressed up in matching attire for the day.  After the twins made an appearance, it was time for Santa. The sleigh bells were ringing with everyone dressed up and ready for the holidays. SA members were all decked out in bells and reindeer antlers. Some even wore Christmas lights to top it off.

Moving on from the festive atmosphere of Christmas, next on the agenda was “Wacky Wednesday.” From mismatching socks to a full pineapple suit, Campion took “wacky” to a whole new level.

“I really enjoyed Wacky Wednesday,” said Jonathan Pineda, Campion senior. “I wasn’t planning on dressing up, but when I saw how crazy everyone was going, I decided to join them. It shows how much people enjoy spirit week, being able to dress up differently from normal.”

What better way to follow Wacky Wednesday than with character Thursday. With countless varieties to choose from, students dressed up as characters from many venues, one group even choosing characters, including minions, from Despicable Me. The majority of the Brazilian students dressed up as M&Ms.

What better way to end the week than with a burst of school spirit? A part of Campion could be seen on almost every person in the form of T-shirts, hoodies, sports jackets, or other Campion merchandise.

“I loved how creative people got during spirit week,” reflected Edward Camas, junior. “I think it helped a lot of people gain energy and inspiration to make it to home leave.”

Sami Hodges is Campion Academy senior; photos supplied.

04 Nov


By Sami Hodges – Loveland, Colorado … Campion Academy welcomed Apostle John, Peter, Judas, a leper, a blind man, and finally, a Roman centurion during their week of prayer.

Army Chaplain and award winner Dick Stenbakken became each individual to enact six key elements of the Gospel story and to help students better understand Jesus’ character through the experiences of first-person presentations.

“I’ve never seen Mr. Stenbakken’s performances before,” Haley Beckermeyer, Campion sophomore commented. “They personally made me look at my life in a whole new light. They showed me how to see the Bible characters from their point of view rather than just reading the story. I felt like I could really experience the characters, like we lived in the same time period.”

Although never officially trained in drama, Stenbakken pointed out that all preachers and teachers have to “dabble in drama” at some point in their lives.

“I’m a visual learner, and many other people are too. So, when you see the character, the hammer, the nails, and the leprosy spots, it makes an impression that just describing it can’t do,” Stenbakken explained.

Not only are these drama performances influential to the audience, but he described how the presentations have changed his own life very deeply. “In order to develop a character, I need to get the story behind the story. I have to dig way deeper into the biblical text, as well as the historical and cultural background. As I immerse myself in the character, the message that character has comes alive. When it comes alive to me, then it does the same for the listener.”

Students found the presentations realistic.

“I think it was cool to see what the characters in the Bible might have actually looked like. It was very interactive, relatable, and Mr. Stenbakken really captured my attention with his presentations,” Kylie Wehling, Campion junior said.

Stenbakken had this final message to the audience: “Study the Bible and enter into it as an actor of the story; then, read it again from a different point of view. Suddenly the story will become very real and personal instead of something on paper. That’s the ultimate way of encountering God.”

–Sami Hodges is a senior at Campion Academy; photos supplied

01 Oct


By Sami Hodges – Loveland, Colorado … Campion students gave their Sunday, normally a free day to enjoy teenage activities, to improve their campus and the campus of Glacier View Ranch, along with various other outreach projects in the surrounding area, during their annual Community Service Day

Students at Campion Academy cleaned up their campus by cutting down dead trees, doing yard work and agriculture and tearing down a deck behind the girls’ dorm.

“This experience taught me how to be more thankful for the staff and what they do for us,” reflected Odalis Mata, Campion senior. “I know the staff are all busy as teachers and parents, so they don’t exactly have time to do things like gardening, yard work, and things like that. For me, Community Service Day was like a ‘thank-you’ from us to them so we could help get things done around campus. “

Other service projects included painting at Glacier View Ranch, passing out GLOW tracts with Literature Evangelism, picking up trash along the highway, and volunteering at a community member’s horse barn with general clean up.

Reflecting on the day, students realized the importance of taking pride in the work completed.

“I was able to come together with students I don’t necessarily talk to as much, and we just helped out together. I think we were able to work together to make the campus look better and know that we did it ourselves,” Brisa Maldonado, Campion junior said.

–Sami Hodges is a senior at Campion Academy; photos by Jill Harlow, Tiffany Dien, and Darcy Force

17 Sep


By Sami Hodges – Loveland, Colorado… Campion Academy student leaders joined peers from Mid-American Union for the annual spiritual conference aimed toward improving their leadership skills by discovering their personal gifts.

The meetings, with class presidents and spiritual vice-presidents invited to participate, are normally hosted at an academy in the Mid-American Union; however, due to coronavirus restrictions, the conference was held September 10 through September 12 online.

The focus of the gathering was to help the student officers discover their spiritual gifts and learn more about their personalities and passions.

“The leadership conference helped me as a leader as I was able to find ways to communicate with my school, especially with the other leaders,” Abby Waworoendeng, Campion freshman class president, said. “I was able to grow closer relationships with them and work to make our school the best it can be.”

Short icebreaker activities and trivia games kicked off the event, followed by worship talks from Benjamin Lundquist, Oregon Conference Young Adult Director, using examples from the Bible to highlight leadership qualities. Friday night vespers and Sabbath worship was led by Rocky Mountain Conference Associate Youth Director Jessyka Dooley, who talked about the story of Esther.

During the meetings, participants watched presentations about styles of leadership, ways to utilize their passions and formulate their goals for campus ministry.

The academies were assigned the task of developing and presenting their goals for the year, and then discussing their plan on its implementation into daily life.

“All the different schools have different ways of being leaders, but at the end of the day, you could tell that God was the one leading them and their academies,” Milka Mendoza-Sanchez, Campion senior class president and student chaplain, said. “It felt really nice to come together as leaders at Campion and discuss how to improve as a school and make our campus better.”

–Sami Hodges is a senior at Campion Academy; photo supplied

03 Sep


By Sami Hodges – Loveland, Colorado …After two days of “surviving” in the mountains, the weather forced the senior class to return to Campion Academy campus to complete the annual Senior Survival weekend, a time to bond and fellowship as a class.

The seniors arrived at Glacier View Ranch on Thursday, August 27, and set up camp by constructing shelters using only thick plastic, duct tape, and paracord.

Once camp was set up, Nancy Mezaros, Campion Academy chaplain, led worship, which was followed by bonding time.

“Our entire class was able to be completely open with one another,” said Jayce Treat, Campion senior. “Everyone was completely honest and didn’t hold anything back.”

Then seniors enjoyed hot chocolate and cider while singing together around the propane lamps which substituted for a campfire due to the fire-ban.

On Friday, the students made pancakes for breakfast and gathered for worship while overlooking the mountain scenery. Then it was time for the survival activities to begin. The first activity demonstrated the basics of survival. Next was a hands-on orienteering experience. Lastly, the seniors got to participate in the infamous trust fall.

Heavy rain arrived in the afternoon, causing the seniors to abandon GVR and head back to Campion.

Wanting to make the weekend special for the class, the staff created ways to continue Senior Survival on campus. Instead of returning to the dorms, the seniors camped out in Hankins Hall with the guys upstairs in the chapel and the girls in the Student Center below. Meals were served in the Home Economics room instead of the cafeteria, and the seniors did outdoor activities Sabbath afternoon. The class ended the special three-day event that evening with communion.

“I think even though we had to change plans,” Erica Franklin, Campion girl’s dean said, “the seniors still got to experience the key elements of Senior Survival. As a class, they grew closer and got to share both personal and spiritual moments.”

Despite the change in location, seniors were still able to bond and strengthen friendships through the experience.

“I learned you can trust your friends, even though it may not seem like it sometimes. Senior survival showed me people really do care about me,” Jennifer Florez, Campion senior said. “It was one of the best experiences of senior year so far. “

–Sami Hodges is a senior at Campion Academy, photos by Sami Hodges

25 Aug

Church worship “different” as students return to Campion

By Sami Hodges – Loveland, Colorado… Campion Academy students were welcomed back with a special worship service and a prayer of dedication for the new academic year on Sabbath, August 15.

Campion church holds a campus dedication the first Sabbath of every school year where students get involved, this year with music and the children’s story. Faculty members were introduced to the wider faith believer congregation and Lonnie Hetterle, education superintendent for Rocky Mountain Conference, gave a prayer of dedication over the pupils and educators.

Erin Johnson, English teacher at Campion, said, “I really enjoyed the service because it reminded us why we are here. While we are doing God’s work, we need a lot of prayer.”

The students who had to leave campus and their faith community abruptly last spring when coronavirus closed in-person education, experienced their first in-person worship service at Campion with their friends and teachers after nearly five months.

“I love our church community, but our full community includes Campion students,” Micheal Goetz, pastor of Campion said. “It’s only been half of us for the last four or five months. It felt whole again. You could tell the energy and enthusiasm was different.”

Due to the current pandemic restrictions on large gatherings, Campion has begun to hold two services. Most of the first service seats are reserved for students and teachers in an attempt to give space for the academy to enjoy worship together as a campus family.

“The two services are fun because there are fewer people in each service. I get to look into more eyes when there are fewer people,” Goetz said. “But it’s sad at times when I’m in a service and I wish that those in second [service] could hear the singing in first, or that the students in first could meet and connect with some of the great people in second. I want everyone to experience it all.”

“Church was definitely different because of coronavirus, but it was enjoyable,” Sophomore Haley Beckermeyer said. “Being able to use our Bibles interactively and play games at Sabbath School was really fun!”

Sami Hodges is a senior at Campion Academy; photos by Darcy Force