29 Feb


During the revamp of the Rocky Mountain Conference’s priorities for this current term, attention was given to something that had been on the conference website for some time. Listed as priorities were some items that would need to be embraced and done as individuals, some as a local church, and some as a conference as a whole.

As I worked to refresh and refine this list, I split things out into two separate sections. We now have a separate section for Aspirations and one for Priorities. The Priorities list shows concrete steps the conference organization needs to pursue as those are things that the conference can address directly in various ways.

The Aspirations list also includes things that can be addressed directly, but they are not things that your conference can legislate and make happen just “because we said so!” They require a personal buy-in. They require each of us as members in a local church to respond with prayer and study to see how we can best live out the Gospel commission where we are. Living the aspirations I have prepared, and that the Executive Committee has voted, will help mark our churches in a consistent manner throughout our conference though the circumstances vary greatly from church to church.

My next few articles will unpack these Aspirations, and it’s my earnest prayer and desire that each church member will decide in each of our churches to endeavor by God’s grace to rise to these aspirations, for they, together, represent what a healthy and well-functioning body of believers can do together. All of these Aspirations are written in the present tense, as if they are all happening everywhere right now. I believe they are all attainable, and I believe that these already exist in our conference to varying degrees.

It’s my personal belief that if these are all lived strongly in the present in each of our churches that this conference will be a powerful force for Christ—the kind of force He can use to build us His kingdom here where He has planted each of us.

While the list of Aspirations is not listed in any particular order, the One at the top of the list is there on purpose. That’s where we’ll start because it’s, or rather He’s the most important.

Jesus is Our Highest Focus

Easy to say. And we even mean it when we say it. But, in my lifetime as a Seventh-day Adventist, I’ve noticed we don’t always live that way in reality.

We have entire cottage industries in our faith community devoted to something that each organization feels is really the most important thing. Jesus, yes, but this, too, is the most important thing. In fact, I’ve noticed that some in these cottage industries react as if you don’t really love Jesus or take Him seriously unless you fully buy in and think what they are telling you or selling you is the most important thing, too.

Please don’t get me wrong. I’m not indicting anyone here. Most of those in these cottage industries are all about good things. But there is only One first thing, and His name is Jesus.

Some of you might have heard my take on the Biblical scene we call the Transfiguration. It was that brief, holy, tearing of time and space where Jesus was revealed in His full glory before three rather frightened friends—Peter, James, and John. James and John knew enough to keep their mouths shut at such a time, but Peter blathered on about building three tents or huts or something for each of these three glorious beings to occupy—as if any earthly dwelling would be enough.

Remember who was at that scene with Jesus? Moses and Elijah, as you well remember. Two great heroes and legendary figures in Jewish history. If you had asked most any common Jew of that time who the person from the past they’d love to meet, you’d be hard pressed to find someone who didn’t say Moses or Elijah.

And it wasn’t that there just weren’t many people to choose from in heaven who had once lived on earth, I believe these two were chosen for another reason. The Old Testament is referred to in the New Testament as “The Law and the Prophets.” Moses wrote the books containing the Law, and who better to symbolize the prophets than Elijah?

When the great voice spoke from the cloud of glory surrounding Jesus and His companions, I can’t help but think God placed a specific emphasis on one particular word: “Him.” Instead of saying, “This is my beloved son, listen to Him,” I rather think God said, “This is my beloved son, listen to Him.”

Do you count the significance of that? Who could possibly be greater than Moses and Elijah? What could possibly be greater than the Scriptures themselves? Him. Jesus. The others were certainly good things. But Jesus was above them all.

I recently was blessed to hear a devotional sermon by Elizabeth Talbot, director-speaker of Jesus 101, an official media ministry of the North American Division. Her text was John 4, the familiar story of the woman at the well. Among the things she pointed out was the worship issue between the Jews and the Samaritans. The Jews, of course, only believed you can worship on their mountain, and the Samaritans only believed God could be worshipped on theirs.

Dr. Talbot rightly pointed out that it’s far too easy to make our preference into our principle. Forgetting that our principle is really only a preference, we make our preference the first thing and then we judge others by their fidelity to our preference, our first thing.

Only a determined effort to keep Jesus as our highest focus will keep us from making other things first. Keeping Jesus first is the only way I know of to protect us from going off on tangents and detours, however compelling they might seem.

I challenge each of us to be so determined—so focused on Jesus that when others look at your face, they will wonder what’s going on inside of you! I promise you that if Jesus is your highest priority, if lifting Him up is the highest priority of your church, that God will bring into your path those who are ready to follow Him. And isn’t that what we all most want?

Until next time,
Pastor Mic

—Mic Thurber is RMC president.

29 Feb


Sue Nelson – Denver, Colorado … The Pathfinder Bible Experience (PBE) for the books of Joshua and Judges, was held at Denver South Hispanic Seventh-day Adventist Church in Denver, Colorado, February 24. Six teams participated in person, including Colorado Springs Pleyades, Colorado-American Indonesian Flying Garuda’s, Greeley Lesem, Longmont Thunder, Loveland Cougars, and Pecos Rocky Mountain Stallions, and the Durango Ironhorse participated remotely from Durango, Colorado.

The PBE got underway with the Color Guard, performed by the teen representatives Clemente Martinez, Jr., Kariany Ortiz, and Jamie Mira. Praise music was led by Daniel Gonzalez of the Redeemed Music Ministry from Colorado Springs, Colorado, and a devotional was led by Andrew Carpenter, Mile High Academy principal.

Nearpod, a teacher-based computer program, was used for interactive lessons. It enabled the teams to see questions, write answers, and submit on a computer or tablet as the presenter controlled the questions in English and Spanish from the platform. This system is also used at the Union and North America Division (NAD) levels.

All the teams’ answers come into Nearpod, which is then sent to a team of judges and scorekeepers to grade and record. Using a code for access allowed the Durango club to participate in the event without having to drive long distance during wintertime.

There were 90 questions total, with a 10-minute break halfway through. Questions were taken from the Andrews Bible Commentary, which is the official commentary for the PBE.

The Loveland Cougars and Greeley Lesem teams won first place finish, and both will be advancing to the Union level of the competition in Lincoln, Nebraska, on March 16. All first-place winners at the Union level will advance on to the NAD level, which is being held this year in Greeley, Colorado, on April 20.

Stacey Rodriguez, Loveland Cougars director, commented, “the kids were so nervous that they weren’t going to do well. So, it was such an encouragement for them to do that well.”

Brent Learned, Rocky Mountain Conference associate youth director said, “it was wonderful to have so many pathfinders passionate about studying and memorizing scripture together for PBE.”

—Sue Nelson is the Rocky Mountain Conference Club Ministries executive coordinator. Photos supplied.

28 Feb


Herbert Hernandez – Northglenn, Colorado … The Northglenn Hispanic Seventh-day Adventist Company in Northglenn, Colorado, celebrated a great blessing by becoming an organized church in the Rocky Mountain Conference (RMC), February 24. Ruben Rivera, RMC Hispanic Ministries coordinator, and Mickey Mallory, RMC ministerial director, were in attendance to facilitate the proceedings.

The Northglenn Hispanic Church started back in March of 2003 with two main families leading the way along with pastor Carlos Torres. They were able to find a small church who was willing to let them use their building and began a wonderful journey.

The Northglenn Hispanic Church is now blessed to meet with their fellow Chapel Haven Seventh-day Adventist family in their church building, and this has been a great blessing towards their growth and stability.

Over the years, the Northglenn Hispanic Church has grown from 15 people to now more than 60 members.

During the Sabbath celebration, people shared how they came to be part of our church and how God has continued to move in their lives. The celebration was filled with praise, testimony, and gratitude. After the service, attendees enjoyed a wonderful meal together as the church continued to share and reminisce about the wonderful work God has done.

One of the original members shared, “God definitely had a plan for us when we first came together, and I cannot wait to see how he continues to lead us in the future.”

—Herbert Hernandez is lead pastor of the Northglenn Hispanic Seventh-day Adventist Church. Photos by Norma Bacahui and Miriam Ramirez.

28 Feb


Carey Jordan – Loveland, Colorado … In a letter of Apostle Paul to the Philippians (Philippians 4:6-7), we’re reminded to bring everything to God in prayer, with the promise that His peace will guard our hearts and minds. It’s a powerful encouragement, but what if we could take it further? What if we could create a culture where our children regularly pray with and for each other?

After careful planning, HMS Richards Adventist School in Loveland, Colorado, introduced a new tradition: a deliberate effort to end every Friday chapel with the Big Brother, Big Sister prayer time.

Following the ACTS acronym—Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication—students of varying ages come together in pairs, purposefully bridging generational gaps to engage in intentional prayer. During this special time, students express adoration for God, share personal confessions, extend gratitude, and earnestly present heartfelt requests.

To facilitate this exchange, partners have prayer books to jot down their requests and track answered prayers. As the Friday prayer time concludes, students and teachers sing the short but beautiful song “Into My Heart” as a signal to end their prayer session and return to their classrooms to wrap up the week.

This new tradition not only deepens students’ spiritual connections but also cultivates empathy and understanding among peers. It’s a precious opportunity to spend intentional time in prayer with and for one another.

But this is just the beginning. The plan for next year is to expand the community of prayer to include the older students on the Campion Academy campus because HMS believes it’s their mission to pray for each other.

—Carey Jordan is principal at HMS Richards Adventist School. Photos supplied.

27 Feb


Mickey Mallory – Denver, Colorado … The Rocky Mountain Conference (RMC) Winter-Spring Ministerial Meeting will be held at the Littleton Seventh-day Adventist Church, March 18-19.

Dr. Michael Campbell, Director for NAD Archives, Statistics & Research, will be the guest speaker. He has published numerous popular and peer-reviewed journal articles about theology and religious history.

Dr. Campbell served as assistant editor of The Ellen G. White Encyclopedia (Review and Herald, 2013), and editor of The Journal of Asia Adventist Seminary (2015-2018). He is the founding editor of the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Seventh-day Adventism. His most recent book is a Pocket Dictionary for Understanding Adventism (Pacific Press, 2020).

Some of his other recent books include 1919: The Untold Story of Adventism’s Struggle with Fundamentalism (2019), The Ellen White Pocket Dictionary (2018), and he is currently writing a book on the development of Adventist Fundamentalism.

Dr. Campbell co-hosts with Buster Swoopes, Jr., the “Sabbath School Rescue Podcast” which is available online. Probably his biggest claim to fame is that he used to pastor the Montrose Seventh-day Adventist Church, Montrose, Colorado, in the Rocky Mountain Conference.

The second guest speaker is Bianca Madanat. Bianca is based out of the Washington D.C.-Baltimore Area and works at Adventist Risk Management, Inc. as a Customer Care Representative. She will be sharing insights that pastors and local church leaders can put into place for churches and schools to be safe places of worship and education.

Besides the guest speakers, there will be a number of reports from the RMC departmental leaders.

“I am really excited about our upcoming meeting. It will provide our pastors with opportunities for inspiration, professional growth, and fellowship,” commented Mickey Mallory, RMC ministerial director.

—Mickey Mallory is the RMC ministerial director. Photo supplied.

22 Feb


Jill Harlow – Loveland, Colorado … After 40 years of dedicated service to Campion Academy, Donavan Reeder has announced his retirement. Reeder has served as Principal for the past nine years and, prior to that, worked as a Men’s Dean for 31 years in the residence hall. He steps down as the longest-standing employee at the Rocky Mountain Conference (RMC). As an integral part of Campion Academy for so many years, he leaves a legacy of commitment and spiritual leadership to be honored.

Mic Thurber, RMC president, remarked, “Don’s dedication and commitment have left a mark on Campion Academy, and we are profoundly grateful for the impact he has had on the lives of countless students, staff, and the entire Campion community.”

Reeder’s Campion roots run deep; he was born in Loveland, Colorado, while his parents both worked at Campion Academy. His family later moved to Salt Lake City, Utah, where he attended Salt Lake City Junior Academy. He attended Andrews University and then transferred to Walla Walla University where he graduated with a degree in Communication.

He met and married his wife Donna while at Walla Walla. Donna also had Colorado roots, growing up in Denver and graduating from Campion Academy in 1980. After college, the couple decided to move to Loveland. As Don had studied communications, he obtained his first job with a video production company in Loveland.

At the time, Thure Martinsen was the chaplain at Campion, and he had been Reeder’s principal at Salt Lake Junior Academy. Martinsen invited Reeder to play on Campion’s faculty football team. After the staff had gotten to know him on the field, he was asked to apply as the Assistant Men’s Dean, and he began officially working at Campion Academy in 1984.

After just two years of working as an Assistant Dean and teaching Speech and World of Work classes, he took on the position of Head Dean of Men in 1986.

Reeder excelled as a Head Dean, maintaining the position for 29 years. Reeder shared, “I had originally desired to be a youth pastor. I saw that I could preach to the youth, but they needed examples of the Christian life lived in the real world. By being a residence hall dean, I would be living with the students and, hopefully, be a daily witness to God’s working in our lives, just as Mark 3:14 tells us that Jesus lived with His disciples before He sent them out to preach.”

Before their daughter, Jessica, was born, Donna Reeder also worked at Campion Academy as an Assistant Girl’s Dean and in the cafeteria until finding her fit in the accounting department where she has continued to work for the past 25 years. Jessica (Reeder) Baker has followed in her parents’ passion for Adventist Education and currently works as a teacher at the Fort Collins Adventist School.

Reeder served as a Vice-Principal in addition to Head Dean under Principal Spencer Hannah. In 2015, Reeder was selected to become Principal at Campion Academy.

At the end of the 2015 school year, Campion Academy was struggling with low enrollment, with around 120 students. Reeder was given a goal to increase that to 150 in his first year as principal and Ed Barnett, then RMC president, even promised to shave his head if they reached that goal. In a memorable event, the goal was reached, and Barnett’s head lost its hair.

Barnett commented, “He was a great leader and soon we were getting our enrollment back up. The thing that impressed me the most with Don was the spirituality on the campus,” he added. Don was a friend that Barnett will always cherish. “What a blessing he had been for the Rocky Mountain Conference!” he added.

Reeder is well-known for keeping the mission and spiritual development of Campion Academy students at the forefront. As principal, he made the mission of Campion Academy clear, saying, “I wanted the students to be trained to go into the world with the message of Jesus.”

Under his leadership, Reeder expanded the Spiritual Life Committee to include the church pastors and HMS Richards principal which began to meet weekly. He also made sure Wednesday evenings were dedicated to spiritual programming (Fusion) to give more emphasis on spiritual development and training.

Other accomplishments included: creating security ID cards for secure entry to the Ad Building; creating new signage throughout campus and in the Ad building; adding a communication director; formalizing the international student program with Dean Helm; adding the Cougar statue to campus with the Stenbakkens and Bob McConnell; and creating the endowments for Student Legacy and Capital Improvements.

In 2019, Reeder’s dedicated service to the ministry of Adventist Education was formally recognized when he was ordained by the Rocky Mountain Conference.

Reeder led Campion Academy through the challenging years of the COVID pandemic, leading with a balanced approach; keeping Campion Academy open for in-person instruction while instituting strong policies to prioritize health and safety.

Among Don Reeder’s friends is the conference’s former Education Superintendent, Lonnie Hetterle, who has been acquainted with Reeder for nearly 30 years. He recollects that, “during that long span of time I have had the opportunity to observe and to work with him in a wide variety of circumstances and situations when he was a boy’s dean, a teacher, an academy principal and as a fellow follower of Jesus Christ. Faithfulness and consistency are two words that clearly describe Mr. Reeder.”

“His desire to rightly represent his Savior has fully influenced all of his decisions. As a new principal he always was willing and, in fact, eager to take counsel and made every effort possible to arrive at the correct and best decision for each situation. His desire to be the very best leader he could be continued throughout his career. He did his best to look at every scenario from the student’s perspective, from the staff viewpoint, and from the school’s perspective but always with a redemptive mindset.”  According to Hetterle, Reeder set the standard for “servant-leadership.”

“His willingness to listen, to encourage, and to lead with compassion was always present. He was an excellent example of professional leadership. I never saw a time when Don’s ego affected his decision making and I also am unaware of any decision he made without spending time in prayer and listening intently for leading from the Holy Spirit. Don loves his God, his church, his school, and his family deeply. Campion is certainly what it is today in a large part due the influence of Don Reeder,” Hetterle added.

Diane Harris, RMC Superintendent of Education, commented, “as Don steps into this well-deserved retirement, we can reflect on the incredible journey that he has had at Campion Academy. His compassionate spirit has created an environment where students not only learned academically but grew spiritually, and Don’s impact on the Campion Community will be cherished for generations to come.”

In retirement, as during his career, Reeder is turning to God for direction: “I am watching where God is leading for me to serve Him,” he shared. “I would like to camp more, golf more, and visit family and friends more.”

—Jill Harlow is Campion Academy’s communication director. Photos supplied.

22 Feb


Cathy Kissner – Pueblo, Colorado … Are you prepared to serve your community in whatever needs come your way?

A training course in Hands Only CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation) and AED (Automated External Defibrillator) brought together fourteen church members of the Pueblo First Seventh-day Adventist and three from Canon City Seventh-day Adventist Church congregation to the Pueblo Outreach and Education building to meet the challenge, January 7.

During the training, a great deal of laughter and fun was had by all. The practice time was very important, and all participants passed the program. Several attendees stated, “now I know how to do this correctly.”

Hands Only CPR meets the new standards of CPR. During and following Colorado Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (COVOAD) guidelines, the purpose of CPR became more focused. CPR is to get the blood pumping through the victims’ body until paramedics arrive on scene and perform more advanced life support. The equipment of Mini Anne mannequins and practice AEDs were purchased by the Rocky Mountain Conference (RMC) Adventist Community Services (ACS) department for the training activities.

Why CPR and AED training, one might ask. According to Healthline.com, every year 805,000 Americans have a heart attack, and 605,000 of them for the first time. “Approximately, 12 percent of people who have a heart attack, will die from it,” statistics show.

You could be the person who saves someone’s life because you knew how to do CPR and use an AED machine, commented the training team of Brandi Martinez of the Pueblo First Church and Cathy Kissner, RMC ACS Director.

—Cathy Kissner is the RMC Adventist Community Services Coordinator. Photos supplied.

22 Feb


Catie Fairfield – Lincoln, Nebraska … Union College held their annual basketball tournament in Lincoln, Nebraska, February 14-18. Eight academies, including Campion Academy, played in the tournament. After three days of both intense and friendly competition, Andrews Academy in Berrien Springs, Michigan, took first place for both boys and girls teams. On the evening of February 14, both Campion Varsity teams won their first game. February 15, the teams fought hard, but unfortunately lost the two games they played.

Union held shooting competitions that evening. From the Campion Academy girls team, Grace Garman and Catie Fairfield were chosen for the free throw and three-point contest. Ekenna Nwankwo and Shawn Ferguson shot for the Campion Academy boys team.

On February 16, the teams played their first official bracket game. The boys game was extremely close until the last fifty seconds, when Sunnydale Adventist Academy in Centralia, Missouri, scored and pulled ahead. The girls were set against some of the harder teams and lost as well. Overall, Campion Academy players displayed some incredible skill, teamwork, and positive sportsmanship despite the losses. Union’s Black Choir performed songs before introducing the speaker for a Vespers program. After the speaker, Campion Academy students led out in a spontaneous “Vespers Deluxe” which is an after-glow featuring worship music. Students from all the participating academies gathered together and worshiped God through their music, and thought it was a great way to open the Sabbath to be united as Seventh-day Adventist Christians after a hard day of games.

On the afternoon of February 17, Union College hosted an oasis community event consisting of snacks and board games. It gave participants a way to relax and experience community in a college setting.

The final games were played on the evening of February 17. Both Campion Academy teams played exciting games against Maplewood Academy in Hutchinson, Minnesota, and both won, taking fifth place overall. At the end of the evening, there was an awards ceremony where Campion students Dominic White and Catie Fairfield were both awarded the All-Tournament Award for their teams.

While the teams may have gone into the tournament hoping to place higher, everyone still enjoyed their time spent at Union College, both on and off the court.

Ekenna Nwankwo, a Campion Academy senior, expressed, “I enjoyed the tournament because I was able to meet new people. I got to see a lot of basketball games that were close scores, and I even got to play in some myself. It was a good last tournament experience with my friends.”

Watch the recorded games at https://www.youtube.com/@unioncollegeutv

—Catie Fairfield, Campion Student News Team. Photos supplied. 

21 Feb

Colorado Springs Adventurers and Pathfinders Pedal to Success at Bike-a-thon

Ruth Lagos – Colorado Springs, Colorado … Many Pathfinder clubs in the Rocky Mountain Conference have started fundraising efforts for the upcoming International Pathfinder Camporee in August 2024 fueled by the shared purpose of their faith and community. The Colorado Springs Pikes Peak Adventurer and Pathfinder Clubs gathered at Prospect Lake in Colorado Springs, Colorado, for a bike-a-thon last Fall, on a bright morning in the warmth of the Colorado sun.

The Adventurers and Pathfinders collectively conquered 334 miles with enthusiasm in their hearts and determination in their pedals. They surpassed their initial goal and raised over $5,300 towards their ultimate target of $30,000. One young Adventurer, just eight years old, and four Pathfinders even achieved the remarkable feat of cycling 50 miles in under 10 hours, fulfilling a major requirement for the prestigious Cycling honor.

But the event was more than just a fundraiser. It was a chance for the Pathfinders to unite in support of something they cherished, while enjoying some exercise and the beauty of the outdoors.

The day began with a prayer and encouraging words from their leaders, many of whom belong to our supportive Colorado Springs Central Seventh-day Adventist Church family. With high spirits and spinning wheels, the Adventurers and Pathfinders embarked on their journey around Prospect Lake’s 1.25-mile loop. Their mission was twofold: to achieve the 50-mile mark for the Cycling honor and to gather funds for the Camporee.

A well-deserved picnic lunch break provided a moment of rest and delicious treats, refueling the young cyclists for their continued pedaling adventure. By the end of the day, the bike-a-thon was a resounding success. The Adventurers and Pathfinders, though exhausted, were brimming with excitement about the upcoming Camporee. The funds they raised will ensure they have everything they need to make the most of this extraordinary experience, covering costs like admission, food, transportation, sightseeing, and outreach activities.

The Colorado Springs Central Church gives a heartfelt thank you to everyone who supported the bike-a-thon, especially the families and friends who donated and cheered on the club members. They want to give a particularly powerful and meaningful “thank you” to the generous Colorado Springs Central Church family. Their financial contributions, made not just with open wallets but with open hearts, fuel the Pathfinders’ journeys and dreams.

The Colorado Springs Central Church is deeply grateful for their unwavering support, which plays a vital role in shaping the lives of these young members of their community. The dedication and hard work of the Adventurers and Pathfinders are truly commendable, and they are excited to see what they accomplish at the upcoming International Camporee and beyond.

—Ruth Lagos is the Pikes Peak Adventurer director and Pathfinder Club deputy director at the Colorado Springs Central Seventh-day Adventist Church. Photos supplied.

15 Feb


Karrie Meyers – Highlands Ranch, Colorado … The second annual FIRST LEGO League Middle School Robotics Tournament was held at Mile High Academy (MHA) in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, February 11. The tournament brought together eight teams for a day filled with creativity, competition, and camaraderie.

Sponsored by Adventist Robotics, FIRST LEGO League, Mid-America Union Conference (MAUC), Rocky Mountain Conference (RMC), and MHA, the event marked a significant expansion from the previous year, doubling the number of participating teams. The teams in attendance this year were:

  • Brighton Adventist Academy Blackhawks (Colorado)
  • HMS Richards Adventist School Cougars (Colorado)
  • Mile High Academy Robostangs and Roborenegades (Colorado)
  • Minnetonka Christian Academy Royals (Minnesota)
  • Omaha Memorial Adventist School Angels (Nebraska)
  • Vista Ridge Academy The Minors and EnginEagles (Colorado)

Carisa Carr, MAUC’s associate director of education, commented, “Thank you to Rocky Mountain Conference and Mile High Academy for hosting the Mid-America Union Robotics Tournament. Witnessing teams demonstrate creativity, critical thinking, and collaboration was wonderful to see throughout the event. This event truly fostered an environment where students across our union had opportunity and where innovation and teamwork flourished.”

Teams arrived early, checking in by 8:00 a.m., and wasted no time in setting up their stations and fine-tuning their robotics for the day’s challenges. Throughout the morning, teams nervously awaited their turn to meet with judges and present their required innovation projects, which included sharing and answering questions regarding their researched, coded, and engineered projects while showcasing their problem-solving skills and creativity. And, when not presenting to the judges, the other teams focused on last-minute adjustments to their robotics and took advantage of two practice rounds to test their robotics before the official competition began.

After a quick lunch break followed by the opening ceremonies, the real competitions commenced. Teams faced off in intense 2-minute and 30-second matches, where their robots were tasked with hitting several key challenges. Judges closely observed each team’s performance, scoring them based on their robot’s efficiency and success in meeting the challenges.

Throughout the competition, teams had the opportunity to fine-tune their robots between matches, aiming to maximize their scores and performances. After completing three rounds of competition, judges convened to review the points awarded and discuss the results of the innovation project presentations.

“I enjoyed seeing all the teams and their creative problem-solving approaches,” said Mel Wade, director of Adventist Robotics. “I look forward to seeing even more teams next year!”

The judges’ deliberations lead to the announcement of several prestigious awards. Here is a recap of the awards and recipients.

  • The Core Values Award:Recognizes a team that demonstrated extraordinary enthusiasm, teamwork, and respect. (Minnetonka Christian Academy Royals)
  • Innovation Project Award:Celebrating a team that displayed creativity through research and effective communication. (Brighton Adventist Academy Blackhawks)
  • Robot Design Award:Acknowledging the team that used outstanding programming principles and solid engineering practices to develop a robot that is mechanically sound, durable, efficient, and highly capable of performing Challenge missions. (Vista Ridge Academy EnginEagles)
  • Robot Performance Award:Celebrating a team that scores the most points during the Robot Game. (Vista Ridge Academy EnginEagles)
  • Champion’s Award:Celebrating through the most prestigious award the team that embodies the FIRST LEGO League experience by fully embracing the FIRST Core Values while achieving excellence and innovation in both the Robot Game and the Innovation Project. (Mile High Academy Robostangs)

Ultimately, the points awarded during the tournament determined which teams would receive invitations to advance to the next level of competition at the FIRST LEGO League in Florida in May. The event concluded with the announcement that Mile High Academy Robostangs, Vista Ridge Academy EnginEagles, and Minnetonka Christian Academy Royals emerged as the top contenders, earning their invitations to represent their respective schools in Florida.

Owen Fritz, a member of the MHA Robostangs, reflected on his second year competing, emphasizing the importance of understanding the rules and the thrill of representing his school in Florida. “I’ve learned so much over the past two years. Heading to Florida with my Robostang team is a great opportunity to showcase our skills and teamwork.”

This year MHA had volunteers not only from the community but also invited the school’s upper school robotics team to volunteer at Sunday’s event. When asked if middle school robotics is preparing the teams for the upper school robotics elective, MHA student Adelaide Eno said, “When volunteering at a competition like this you sort of get an understanding of how different the middle school and upper school competitions are.”

Eno went on to say, “However, middle school robotics is teaching the students vital skills for taking it to the next level. I think that no team can truly succeed if they don’t collaborate and push each other to grow. What we’re seeing in FIRST Lego League is just that: it is teaching our students how to think outside the box, to problem solve, and to work together. These things are all essential to our U.S. team as well, and middle school robotics gives students a diverse set of tools to use when they begin competing in high school.”

The live portion of the tournament was streamed. If you would like to view, please click here.

—Karrie Meyers is the marketing and development coordinator at Mile High Academy. Photos supplied.