08 Jun


By Karrie Meyers – Littleton, Colorado … The Littleton Adventist Church erupted in cheers and shouts of “We know him!” during the first meeting of its annual Vacation Bible School.

Littleton’s sanctuary and other churches worldwide have been transformed into a dig site known as Jasper Canyon, with the theme that God treasures every kid. Mile High Academy students were not only attendees of Littleton’s program, but also served as volunteers. And all were excited to see a classmate and friend starring as one of the actors in the program series.

Josh is a sophomore at MHA and was offered the opportunity to be a part of the filming of Jasper Canyon. Filmed at Glacier View Ranch during very warm weather, Josh recalled how hot it was during the filming of the video, resulting in the team having to take many breaks due to the heat. When asked if reshooting scenes happened often, Josh said, “Oh yes. We had to reshoot because we kept forgetting our lines and laughing.”

Reflecting on the videos, Brad Forbes, AdventSource president, said, “Josh did a great job.” He added, “We intend to engage our kids to help us minister and spread God’s word. For Jasper Canyon, this was no exception. We had more than 110 kids helping us with the program scenes and performing in the music videos.”

The promotional video was produced by the North American Division Children’s Ministries Department and is being shown at churches and youth ministry groups around the world. Each day attendees experience Bible lessons through planned stations in the Jasper Canyon fun-filled curriculum. During the Gemstone Mine portion of the program, Josh was featured talking about his knowledge of granite and how a stone can be turned into something beautiful, like his mother’s countertop.

More than 1,000 churches purchased the English version of the Jasper Canyon kit. More than 200 Spanish-speaking churches have also purchased the program, which has been translated into a Spanish version through the use of voiceover.

“We have even sent a kit to a church in Kenya,” said Forbes. “These digital assets give us the ability to send VBS programs worldwide. And while our VBS programs typically run for one year in the United States, for other countries, it may take years to complete the translation. We are grateful for our partnership with the General Conference, providing all 14 divisions the ability to access our VBS programs for translation and use.”

Being part of a video being used at churches worldwide means a lot to Josh. “It means a lot [be]cause I get to spread the news of God around the world and share what He has done for us.”

To view the video, please visit https://www.adventistvbs.org/all-vbs-programs/jasper-canyon-where-every-kid-is-treasured-by-god.

–Karrie Meyers is Mile High Academy communication director; photos supplied and Connor Kline

25 May


By Karrie Meyers — Highlands Ranch, Colorado …“Will you choose to be the best picture of Jesus you can be?” asked Chris Morris, Littleton associate pastor, of Mile High Academy’s (MHA) eighth-grade graduates during their Oscar-themed graduation service on May 19.

Surrounded by family and friends, the ten graduates celebrated their achievements amidst smiles, laughter and tears. The families were welcomed by graduate Devon who thanked the parents “for all your love and support for these eighth graders. We could not have done it without your help.”

Through tributes, parents were recognized for their patience and love, coming to athletic events, supporting decisions, and for helping draw the students closer to God. Teachers and coaches were also acknowledged for their role-model support and hard work in providing an athletic program despite the middle school not having an official season.

The class selected Joshua 1:9 as their class verse, which led to them welcoming Pastor Morris as commencement speaker. He inspired the students to remember they are leaders and that “God rarely asks the leaders to do things within their capabilities.” He reminded them that God hasn’t called his leaders to fit in but to stand out, making Jesus the director in their lives.

Class president Jack reflected on the class and memories they made this year. “I’ve been so thankful to be a part of this class, and I think it’s been a great year – masks and all. So many people have had a part in making it such a great year, like our teachers who have been outstanding role models in supporting us through the ups and downs of the pandemic.”

“This has been a unique year,” explained Walter Weber, eighth-grade sponsor and middle school teacher. “We were never sure when a student would have to go remote due to family illness, making it difficult for teachers to teach [both] in-person and remote students at the same time. But this class resiliently faced and embraced the challenges. They are amazing individuals who will do great things in upper school. Speaking for the entire middle school teaching staff, we are so proud of them.”

In addition to the acknowledgement of their academic success, each graduate received a $500 upper school tuition scholarship.

The class presented a gift to the school. Now featured on the gym’s press box is Psalm 119:32 and the MHA Mustang logo. The verse was a favorite at MHA’s previous campus location and the class wanted to make it a part of MHA history once again.

The class appreciates their middle school memories while anxiously looking forward to the next chapter. Wyatt said he will miss the sports and his middle school friends, but is looking forward to making new friends. Max said a favorite memory he will forever take with him was the MHA mission trip to Uganda when he was in the sixth grade. “There’ve never been enough words to describe that amazing experience.” He will also miss playing on the small hoops on the school’s playground.

The eighth-grade graduating ceremony is available on MHA’s website at www.milehighacademy.org/2021-8-graduation/.

–Karrie Meyers communication director for Mile High Academy; photos by Dog Daze Photo and Kurt Fesler

16 Mar


By Karrie Meyers — Highlands Ranch, Colorado… In early March, kindergarteners at Mile High Academy celebrated their 100th day of school by coloring pictures, making craft items, playing with balloons, and enjoying some much-deserved time outside.

Typically, schools celebrate their 100th day of school to help the children understand numbers up to 100, making the number 100 more concrete for them. Some teachers use the number 100 as a way to teach place value. It’s a fun way to engage with mathematics, so that it’s more than just dry numbers.

While many schools celebrated their 100th day of school in early February, MHA students waited till March to mark the occasion because of a COVID outbreak earlier in the year and the decision to move to a four-day school week because of the pandemic.

The students enjoyed the celebration planned by their kindergarten teacher, Alissa Armendariz.

“The best thing we did was have a balloon party,” said Jack, MHA kindergartener.

Kaitlyn, another kindergartener, enjoyed making crowns while Blake said she “liked having the balloons.”

While the kindergarteners enjoyed the balloons, other classes celebrated with a read-a-thon and other events.

“It’s been a unique year to say the least,” said Jocelyn Aalborg, MHA’s vice president of finance and development. “However, we are thankful we could be together on campus to celebrate the 100th day of school.”

–Karrie Meyers is communication assistant at Mile High Academy; photos supplied

03 Mar


By Karrie Meyers – Highlands Ranch, Colorado … Mile High Academy (MHA) students and Newday Adventist church in Parker, Colorado came together to hold Operation Christmas Child (OCC) donation event, a project of the international relief organization Samaritan’s Purse, whose mission is to provide local partners around the world with shoeboxes filled with small toys, hygiene items and school supplies.

Why hold the event in February when the Christmas holiday is just a recent memory?

Katrina White, Newday member and OCC coordinator explains, “We typically run these fundraisers around the Christmas holiday; however, with the busy holiday schedules and the hardships that have hit many families this past year, we decided to host the MHA fundraising event in February, the month where we show others how much they are loved and appreciated.”

Students were encouraged to donate items, such as Legos, dolls and sports balls.

When asked why they enjoyed giving gifts to others, Zuzu, MHA kindergartener, said, “Because it makes kids happy.”

Another kindergartener Ciela explained, ““When we give little kids toys, we see ‘em [become] happy. We give money to them, and it is very nice that we give money to them.”

MHA students were able to donate 188 items to the Christmas drive with the kindergarten class donating 68 items, beating out the other participating grades to win a pizza lunch for their classroom.

The donated items were placed in shoe boxes with school supplies and personal hygiene products before being shipped to children worldwide, spreading love and cheer to those who may need it the most.

Reflecting on the event White said, “This is God’s project, and no matter what, our efforts are to glorify Him.”

–Karrie Meyers is communication assistant at Mile High Academy; photo supplied

19 Feb


By Karrie Meyers — Denver, Colorado … Following an invitation by the RMC Administrative Committee, Paul Negrete accepted the position of associate superintendent of RMC education at the end of January and will begin his position on July 1.

“God has blessed Paul with many gifts that will, in turn, bless the schools and communities in our conference,” Diane Harris, RMC superintendent of education said. “His passion for Adventist education is contagious. His K-12 experience not only compliments the strengths already found in the department but will also serve as a valuable asset as we develop ways to better serve our schools.”

Negrete brings a track record of education successes that span 24 years. He began his career teaching at East Valley Adventist School in Baldwin Park, California, where he taught at the fifth through eighth-grade level for six years, later becoming the teaching principal. Following East Valley Academy, he transferred to San Gabriel Academy in Southern California where he occupied multiple roles, including head principal, a position he has held for the past 11 years.

He now joins RMC with a proven track record of meeting high expectations and a keen understanding of the importance of meaningful communication between teachers, parents and the community.

During his time at San Gabriel Academy, he oversaw the implementation of changes at a systemic level, a transition that happened six years prior to the North American Division initiative for the same changes.

Negrete credits this experience as giving him a unique understanding of how to transition and implement such changes within a large system. “I am grateful God has had a place for me in Adventist Education,” Negrete said. “I’m looking forward to the opportunity of working with superintendent Harris, who not only has a deep love and understanding for RMC education, but also a vision for where it can go.”

“Our work as educators is to continue to better understand His [God’s] plan for education and His ideal for the world we live in. My hope is to help bring many young people to Christ through the ministry of education so that they, in turn, can contribute to the preaching of the Gospel and be ready for Christ’s soon return,” Negrete added.

Negrete earned a bachelor’s degree in history and political science and a master’s degree in education administration and leadership from La Sierra University. He and his wife, Cindy, who supports and partners with him in the ministry of education, have two daughters, Natalie and Giselle. Natalie is completing her third year at La Sierra University, and Giselle is a high school sophomore.

–Karrie Meyers is communication assistant at Mile High Academy; photo supplied

20 Jan


By Karrie Meyers – Highlands Ranch, Colorado … On January 14, 2020, Mile High Academy student Mya Peña lost her life in a murder-suicide, the victim of domestic violence. On the one-year anniversary of this heartbreaking loss, the Denver community, Peña family, friends, and Mile High Academy students and staff gathered to honor Mya’s legacy, remembering not only a kind-hearted individual, but also creating awareness about domestic violence and mental health.

They gathered on January 14 in downtown Denver where local artist Austin Zucchini-Fowler painted a mural in remembrance of Mya at the corner of 21st and Lawrence streets. This location holds significance as it is near the area where Mya frequently served food to the homeless.

Attending the gathering, Andy Nash, Littleton church lead pastor, reflected on the event, “It was very meaningful to see so many students and families come together for Mya and her family. As parents ourselves, we especially want Audra to know that her beautiful daughter will remain in our hearts until the day Mya herself is with us again.”

To commemorate the anniversary, Mya’s mother Audra Peña teamed up with local businesses, churches, Mile High Academy, friends and family, collecting donations to distribute to the homeless community. Food, water, coats, gloves, hats and blankets were brought to the downtown mural where volunteers distributed them to those in need.

While time, memories and friendships have helped with the loss, there will always be a hole in the school community.

“The loss of a friend is like no other loss. There’s no way of just ‘getting over it,’ but it’s possible to get through it with the support from others. Having created so many memories helps make everyday a little easier,” Emily Raymond, classmate and Mya’s best friend, said.

MHA planned to mark the anniversary by hosting a day of events in her honor. Unfortunately, due to an ongoing quarantine, upper school students weren’t able to be on campus; however, they shared stories about Mya and prayed together for Mya’s family during an online time of reflection.

Mya’s best friend Emily reflected on the day’s events, “Her [Mya’s] memorials give us a chance to remember her life, not her death. I’m thankful so many people cared about Mya. Seeing how many people loved and cared for her has helped me grieve, encourages me to give back to her and try to live a meaningful life for her.”

Audra Peña, Mya’s mother, was grateful to MHA for all the love and support shown to her family over the past year.  In an email to MHA she said, “Thank you again for everything! You all are such a precious blessing to my family and I. Mya would be so honored. We cannot express our appreciation enough!”

She has created the foundation Mya’s World whose mission is to provide a place for young people struggling to come to terms with domestic violence and mental health, or struggling in a relationship or needing a place to call for help.

To follow the foundation as it continues Mya’s legacy of helping others, please visit https://www.facebook.com/MyaWorld-102439001318533.

–Karrie Meyers is Mile High Academy’s communication assistant; photos supplied

16 Dec


By Karrie Meyers — Highlands Ranch, Colorado … Mile High Academy’s gymnasium was void of musical instruments and singing voices; however, that didn’t stop the students from spreading holiday cheer online.

The virtual event airing on December 14 began with a greeting from Brenda Rodie, MHA’s vice-principal of operations, reminding them that while things look a little different, there is one thing that hasn’t changed–“the love of a Savior who came to this earth to save us, and the promise of His soon return.”

MHA decided not to offer band or choir this year because of the COVID precautions implemented. Finding alternative means of musical instruction, lead to performances from table harps, handbells, boomwackers, ukuleles, a piano solo and kitchen utensils. Students couldn’t wait to record their masterpieces, showcasing their hard work for the community.

First-grader Andrew commented, “I love learning to play the harp. I play the piano too, so it makes me feel really musical.”

“It’s been fun watching these little ones start with what sounds like a beautiful mess, [that] with a little practice, eventually turns into a Christmas song,” said Kate Kamarad, first grade teacher. “Their faces light up when they all play together.”

The evening continued with a drama reading presentation featuring upper-grade students, their message, that no matter the hardships that become us, there was a great Man who died and rose again.

The gathering concluded with a special “Go Mustangs” message from interim school board chairman Brodie Philpott, and Michael Armstrong, vice-principal of academics thanked God for the gift of His son and asked for “help as we navigate life right now.”

Reflecting on the program Jocelyn Aalborg, vice principal of finance and development said,

“We are thankful we could provide the MHA community with a Christmas program during this unique time.”

To watch MHA’s virtual Christmas program and see photos of the kids’ artwork, please visit https://www.milehighacademy.org/2020-virtual-christmas-program

Karrie Meyers is Mile High Academy’s communication assistant; photos supplied

04 Nov


By Karrie Meyers – Highlands Ranch, Colorado … Relationship building and helping students discover the joy and fulfillment of a life with Jesus is at the center of pastoral involvement at Mile High Academy.

During the school week, you can often see pastors from MHA constituent Denver area churches playing games at recess, eating lunch and praying with pupils, and learning real life experiences through Bible classes taught by Pastors Andy Nash and Chris Morris.

“It’s been a lot of fun having the pastors here on campus,” said Claire Philpott, fourth-grader.

To show appreciation during pastor appreciation month in October, MHA assembled “Dinner on Us” baskets and signed candy posters from the students.

“It was a fun surprise receiving the gifts,” said Jamey Houghton, Franktown Seventh-day Adventist Church pastor. “Our family enjoyed reading the messages. I’m so glad that we have an Adventist school close by for the kids at the Franktown church. I know our families are grateful for the Christian education and wonderful teachers. I’m thankful to be able to partner in ministry with MHA in preparing our kids for Heaven.”

MHA recently held a special week of spiritual emphasis with Pastors Daniel Birai and Seth Day from LifeSource Adventist Fellowship sharing with students about the character of God and how during hard or challenging times, God is always there providing love and support.

Rebecca Berg, MHA’s upper school teacher and chaplain reflected, “The beautiful messages brought to us during our week of prayer reminded me and our students of God’s unshakeable love.”

Jocelyn Aalborg, MHA’s vice principal of finance and development added, “Our churches have remained dedicated to our school even during leadership and financial struggles. We’re excited to have several new pastors joining our community and look forward to building a stronger relationship with them. Our goal is that area churches will see MHA as an extension of their ministry.”

— Karrie Meyers is Mile High Academy’s communication assistant; photos supplied

21 Oct


By Karrie Meyers – Highlands Ranch, Colorado … Mile High Academy students learn skills for life in elective classes.

Students can choose classes including: art, woodworking, life skills, outdoor survival, drama, yearbook, strategy games, robotics and Spanish.

Life skills class was formed with the purpose of providing students with an opportunity to develop skills needed for everyday life as well as problem solving and decision making including: how to look for a job, write a resume, fill out an application.

Pupils also discovered how to cook and how to integrate vegetarian options into the recipes and the importance of a well-balanced meal. They made guacamole, tortillas from scratch, quesadillas, banana nut bread, smoothies, spring rolls and mashed potatoes.

“I really enjoyed life skills because I got to learn how to cook – and eat it,” Mitchell Nudd, seventh-grader said.

MHA strives to provide students a well-rounded education, including unique elective class options for upper and middle school.

“Keeping the students involved and excited about leaning is a priority at Mile High Academy,” said Brenda Rodie, VP of operations, admissions and records. “The world as we know it is constantly changing and providing instructional and interactive elective classes help the students develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills that stay with them for a lifetime.”

Woodworking is offered to upper school students teaching how to safely use hand and power tools.  Their first project was to make birdhouses. The students were tasked with creating their plan, cutting and building as well as painting. The birdhouses are almost complete, and they will be selling them to family and friends.

“I enjoy the experience of helping the students learn a hands-on skill and giving them the opportunity to plan and execute their own project from start to finish,” Brian Howard, woodworking teacher said.

Robotics is also a popular elective. The class of twelve is in its initial design phase of this school year’s robot. They are currently raising funds to attend a Florida robotics competition in April 2021, with an upcoming drive-in movie to be held on November 7.

— Karrie Meyers is Mile High Academy’s communication assistant; photos supplied

21 Oct


By Karrie Meyers – Highlands Ranch, Colorado … Mile High Academy students walked during the 2nd annual walk-a-thon fundraiser for MHA’s annual fund.

The event took on a different look, due to the ongoing pandemic restrictions causing the daylong event to be divided in 90-minute block schedules for each cohort, with the event expanding over two days.

Laughter and cheers could be heard as the classes raced around the soccer field during the gathering held at the end of September.

Faculty, staff and volunteers were on the sidelines, cheering the students and passing out prizes including: sunglasses, stress balls, stickers and ice cream.

Participants wore a blue tie-dye 2020 walk-a-thon t-shirt, encouraging them to remain #MHAStrong.

Following Douglas County health guidelines, parents were allowed on campus to volunteer with helping count laps, handing out prizes and fellowshipping with students and teachers.

“As a parent that has always been heavily involved in volunteering on campus in years past, this year has proven to be a huge adjustment. With limited access to be able to be on campus this year due to COVID restrictions, I was ecstatic to learn of the opportunity to volunteer in-person for the school’s annual walk-a-thon,” Abby Helm, parent of three students, said.

“I felt a sense of normalcy helping with the event, and the excitement of my children seeing me back on campus volunteering was nothing short of heartwarming,” she added.

Pizza parties were awarded to the classes who raised the most donations through the competition.  Individual awards were also awarded. The walk-a-thon was able to raise around $16,000 for the annual fund.

“The MHA team worked hard to develop a plan for a safe, fun event, one the students could enjoy while taking pride in helping the school raise money,” said Jocelyn Aalborg, MHA’s vice principal of finance and development.

— Karrie Myers is Mile High Academy’s communication assistant; photos supplied