Eighty-four students enjoyed Andrews Academy's annual spiritual retreat, Winter Bible Camp, at Camp Au Sable (January 16-19, 2020). The design for the weekend was to have each student involved in leading out in some aspect of the program so that each would be blessed and grow through the activities, to challenge students to critically think about choices they make, and to develop a deeper relationship with Jesus. The Spiritual Life Committee, consisting of organizational pastors, prepared several interactive Bible activities for the meetings.
On Friday afternoon, time was spent enjoying the outdoors and preparing for the Agape Feast and Communion. Students were able to cross country ski, try out the sledding hill at various times throughout the weekend, hike the nature trail, and commune with God in nature. The footwashing, the breaking of bread, and the drinking of the grape juice were part of a memorable and very meaningful Communion service on Friday evening for all. Following Communion, the guys and girls separated into their own afterglow activities. Throughout the camp out, there were afterglow activities, including the girls' activity on Thursday evening called, "Warrior Princess."
Pastor Thorly James was the guest speaker for the weekend, presenting the theme Ignite. He called students to be on fire for God with a fire that Satan can’t put out. He talked about many aspects of this, including Eutychus falling out of the window, and how he was asleep and half out of the church when he fell. We need to be on fire for Jesus and be involved in the church to strengthen our relationship with Jesus and lead others to Him.
Sabbath afternoon involved everyone hiking out to the Chapel in the Woods in Hartwick Pines State Park, a nearby 49 acre park of old growth pines. The rustic wooden structure provided beautiful acoustics. The spontaneous singing of hymns, gospel, and many other familiar songs, interspersed with testimonials, was a highlight of the Winter Bible Camp experience for many. Parents, your hearts would be filled with joy if you were able to be there and peek in the chapel doors. With joy on everyone's faces, there was harmony all around, and it felt like the group had created their own bit of Heaven.
Throughout the weekend of many activities, students worked up an appetite and enjoyed the food and company of each other. Students took turns cleaning dishes, pots and pans, cafeteria, lobby, and restrooms. Saturday evening included outside activities, indoor games, and popcorn. We are thankful for a safe Winter Bible Camp, as well as a safe trip home on the many miles of snowy Michigan roads. On the return trip, the group on the coach bus had to wait for almost an hour for an accident to be cleared on I-196.
Many students (and sponsors) came back to AA changed, having a deeper relationship with Jesus and with each other. If you were not able to attend Winter Bible Camp this year, make sure that you plan to attend next year. It’s an awesome experience to participate in.
We thank the team of teachers and student pastors that planned this weekend. A big thank you to Pastor Mario Ferguson for working with student pastors and the guest speaker in creating this spiritually-focused weekend at Camp Au Sable. Also a big thank you to the sponsors of the trip: Mr. & Mrs Silvestre, Dr. Heather Ferguson & Pastor Mario Ferguson, Ms. Ivonne Segui-Weiss, Mr. & Mrs. Martins, and Mr. Rick Wright. Their long hours of dedicated service throughout the weekend to make it successful is greatly appreciated.
The forty-seventh annual Feast of Lights was held on Friday, December 13, 2019. It was a spectacular night of music, scriptures, and drama honoring the King of Kings, a retelling of the glorious Christmas story. It spoke to our hearts of His wondrous love.
A big thank you to all of the students who worked diligently in making this such a beautiful program. And a big thank you to the music directors, Elsy M. Gallardo-Diaz & Marcelo Martins.
For a video of the program, please go to Facebook.
The ninth annual Christmas Pops Concert was held on November 26, 2019. This Christmas celebration was presented by the Andrews Academy Music Department at the Howard Performing Arts Center on the campus of Andrews University. A big thank you to all the students and music teachers who worked diligently in making this such a beautiful program.
For a video of the program, please go to Facebook.
Andrews Academy Concerto Night, conducted by Dr. Elsy M. Gallardo-Diaz, was held on Thursday evening, November 7, 2019, at the Howard Performing Arts Center on the Campus of Andrews University. The concerto included music by Faure, Hoffmeister, Lalo, and others. The evening featured Sofia Oudri, Kameron Feliciano, Daniel Palacios-Worley, and Claire Yang.
A concerto is a musical composition for a solo instrument, or a group of solo instruments, accompanied by an orchestra. The idea of a concerto is that the two parts, the soloist and the orchestra, alternate episodes of opposition, cooperation, and independence in the creation of the music flow. To play a concerto with an orchestra is the dream of any soloist, and at Andrews Academy these dreams became a reality, something that usually only happens at a college level.
AA’s Concerto Night began in 2010 with the purpose to give some of our most advanced music students the opportunity to perform publicly while accompanied by an orchestra, as well as to bring quality music to our student body and to our community. This was AA’s ninth Concerto Night, with 55 students who have participated as soloists. It was a wonderful evening of great music. Thank you, Dr. Elsy M. Gallardo-Diaz, guest soloists, and orchestra.
Andrews Academy’s alumni weekend was October 18-19 2019. Hundreds of alumni returned to remember the fun times at AA and to renew friendships with each other and with our God. Individual class photos were taken and of honored individuals. See Facebook for these pictures.
The weekend started with Convocation in the chapel for the current Academy students. The Senior class, the class of 2020, led in the school song and the pledge of allegiance. Jeannie Leiterman, AA Principal, welcomed everyone to convocation. Mr. Bud Cason (class of ’55) presented the Convocation address. He is an amazing story teller, recounting to the students various fond memories of the Academy and how it impacted his life.
At the close of the program, the alumni who presented career seminars were introduced. After Convocation, the students then went to various classrooms to participate in Career Seminars. One group actually went to an AA alumnus robotics engineer’s business for their seminar. Based on their interests, students were able to attend two career presentations of their choice. It’s a great opportunity for students to explore possible career choices as Andrews Academy alumni shared insights about their careers. Some presenters were able to bring items allowing students to participate in the presentation. They also shared how through our careers we can serve God and leade others to Him.
This is the second year of also having a Career Fair as part of Friday's events. The gymnasium was full of booths helping explain more about various careers, many with interactive activities. Various departments from AU were represented, as well as the community, and alumni. Thank you all for making this a successful opportunity for students to learn more about careers.
Please go out of your way to thank Mrs. Gina Meekma, our alumni coordinator, for an excellent program and for planning the entire weekend. And thank you to a whole host of volunteers for stepping in and helping make this weekend possible. For a short video of creating an AA logo out of metal at the robotics engineering seminar, please go to Facebook. For photos of Convocation and the Career Seminars, see Facebook.
Friday Night Alumni Weekend Vespers (Oct. 18, 2019) was presented by Andrews Academy class of 2000. This class was known for their singing as they led out in chapels when they were students. They continued their tradition as Sarah (Woolf) Canada, Kimberly (Weber) Spare, and Richard Park led out in singing for vespers this alumni weekend. Eileen (Vega) Spruill had opening prayer, and David Canada had the closing prayer.
The class invited Pastor Glenn Russell, former Bible teacher, to present the worship thought, entitled, “Trying to hold onto faith in the midst of a cynical world.” By retelling the story of Joshua and Caleb and the Children of Israel found in Numbers 13-14, he reminded listeners that the Lord is with us and we should not be afraid. The attitude to persevere and have a deep faith will not come from within self, instead it will be from God. We need to follow the Lord completely, stay close to Him, and trust Him completely. Despite our cynical world our faith can be strong in Jesus.
Thank you AA Class of 2000 for presenting the Friday evening vespers. Members of the class stayed after the vespers program for a couple of hours, catching up on what has happened in their lives and that of their classmates. It was a fun evening of sharing and remembering their time together at AA. If the tradition continues as it has, this class upon their next honored reunion weekend, their 25 year reunion, will be organizing, along with the AA reunion committee, the church program for reunion weekend October 2024! Video on Facebook. Photos on Facebook
For SS, there were various tributes, special musics by Orion Strings and an AA vocal group, and mission reports from AA students who went to Cuba. Teacher of the Year Alan Anderson (taught at AA from 1970-2013) was honored, as well as Alumna of the Year, Lynda Popp Swanson (class of 1970). Roll Call of the classes was done by Cleon White and Randy Graves.
The class of 1995 planned the church service. Ethan Jones, Martha (Macey) Daggett, Michelle (Spangler) Hamel, and Heidi (Kunitz) Ray took part in the program. The speaker was Jonathan Bilima, and his sermon was called, "Trust the Process." The Silhouettes and alumni sang "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross." See photos on Facebook. Video also on Facebook.
The traditional Shydepoke flag football game of Alumni weekend occurred at the AU field on October 19, 2019. The female AA alumni and the female AA students game was won by the alumni 6 to 0. The alumni took an early lead in the game and kept the lead.
The male AA alumni and the male AA students game was very exciting, with the alumni taking the initial lead and keeping the lead, but it was very close throughout the game. The alumni won the game 19 to 12. Everyone had a lot of fun on a perfect evening for a football game.
The Doug Newberry most valuable player award went to Sam Taylor, and the Lydia Chong most valuable player award went to Lizzy Lubbert. These awards are named after two PE teachers from the 1980s.
Some Shydepoke history: In 1960 the Andrews Academy Shydepoke tradition began when Knobby Mauro was principal. At that point, there was only one game for the males. In the 1980s, the female and then male games became a tradition. The name “Shydpoke” was chosen, a term from the south meaning a “get-together social event.” Also during the time Mauro was principal, a challenge was presented to the students to come up with a name for the school teams. Gordon Johns, from the class of 1966, came up with the name “Acumen.” His goal was to scan the dictionary for a unique and meaningful name and only got to the “ac” of the dictionary when he came up with this name. The acumen name means “the ability to make good judgments and quick decisions, typically in a particular domain.” He won a $10 prize for this.
Thank you coaches, referees, announcers, concession stand volunteers, and fans for making this a fun and successful alumni event.
Photos on Facebook.
Graduation weekend started with Class Night on Thursday evening, May 23, 2019. This was a time to celebrate and recognize numerous achievements of the class. The program opened with prayer by the class pastor Joshua Huslin, and a welcome by the president, Justin Flores. Maia Hamstra presented the class gift.
Two musical selections were presented. Ashley Jankiewicz & Minseo Kang presented Rewrite the Stars. A second selection, Wayfairing Stranger, was given by Tyler Ronto.
Each member of the class of 2019 took the opportunity to thank their parents for all they have done and to give a rose as a thank you for their love and support. As their picture was shown and their recorded tribute was played, seniors came to the front to collect roses to give to their parents. This was followed by a tribute to sponsors for all their hard work throughout the four years of working with the class.
Next was People’s Choice Awards—a series of awards voted on by the class to recognize unique contributions of class members to the class. A large portion of the evening was the presentation of awards to individuals for their achievements while at Andrews Academy. There is a whole spectrum of recognition such as spiritual, academics, music, physical education, leadership, responsibility, etc. The Alumni Legacy pin was given for two (or even three) generations of AA alumni within a family.
Freshmen, Sophomores, and Juniors pay attention: work hard in school. Numerous seniors were given college scholarships ranging from $10,000 to $48,000 and sometimes even four years of free tuition (more than $100,000 value). Andrews University and other organizations gave well over $3.1 million to Andrews Academy graduates. Andrews University representatives encouraged each senior to follow the direction that God leads them throughout their life and gave a gift to each senior at the conclusion of the program. Kristijan Milovanovic concluded the program with a benediction.
Following the program, a reception and senior artwork display was held in the commons. These were just some of the highlights from a very full evening of celebration.
Thank you to the Junior officers who worked behind the scenes preparing for the reception and taking care of many details.
Friday evening’s program at Village Adventist Church, Consecration (May 24, 2019), is the student’s opportunity to commit and consecrate their lives to Christ as they leave academy and begin their place in society as an adult.
Mr. Greg Almeter had the opening prayer for this program. This was followed by a musical selection by Melissa Buck. Joshua Huslin introduced the guest speaker.
The homily was given by Pastor Andrea Jakobsons, one of AA’s Bible teachers when the class were freshmen. Her homily was illustrated by the visual of taking steps forward or backward as we journey through life. Based on Proverbs 14:9, “The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways,” she shared three major points. As you decide what steps to take, remember three words: me, grow, from God? Is the step I am taking in life me, is it the passion I have in my life that God has created in me? Will I grow from this step? And is this from God? Remembering that He will call you for something you will like and be passionate about. She invited seniors to stand to show their desire to consecrate their lives in Jesus as she prayed a prayer of consecration.
The class pastor, Joshua Huslin, on behalf of the class, accepted the challenge Pastor Andrea Jakobsons presented, and challenged the class to evaluate their lives as they make these steps in their lives. Ryan Masengi presented a second musical selection. Curt Vanderwaal had the benediction.
The Consecration service was an inspiring service that indeed focused our attention on consecrating our lives with Jesus. Following the service, many pictures were taken of friends and families. Many smiles were seen as seniors marched in for the first time of graduation weekend wearing their graduation gowns.
Graduation Sabbath School was held in the Andrews Academy chapel (May 25, 2019). This experience gave the parents of the seniors the opportunity to return in a creative manner their views of the senior’s childhood and to admonish, advise, and assist seniors as they make the transition from academy into adulthood. The Ronto family and friends led in song service. The Coffen family had the welcome. Each senior introduced their parent before their parent’s part in the service. Scripture and prayer was led by the Yoong family. Special music was presented by Liebelt family. The Hamstra, Lonto, and Woolford-Hunt families each had parent tributes and shared words of blessings on the seniors. The call for offering was led by the Byrd Family, and the Choi family had the offertory. Angela Newton had the benediction.
This program is always such a personal and interesting time of sharing together. It’s interesting to discover how many families move to the Berrien Springs area or refuse job offers elsewhere for the purpose of having their children attend Andrews Academy. It is often during programs like this that parents share how pleased they are for making this choice and for the wonderful experiences their children have had while having their high school education at Andrews Academy.
Sabbath morning of Graduation Weekend (May 25, 2019) was Baccalaureate service, a service to have a worship experience where you can praise your Creator and thank Him for the wonderful things He has done for you.
The service began with call to worship by Pastor Endi Stojanovic, followed by the congregational hymn, Praise Him! Praise Him! This was followed by prayer by Kevin Shelley. Joon Kang had the offering call, and the AA handbells presented the offertory. David Randall had the scripture reading. Jihoo Choi and Gabriel Palacios-Worley presented special music This Is My Father’s World. The organist for the entire weekend is Dr. Logan.
Pastor Mario Ferguson, AA Bible teacher, presented the sermon God’s Poetry. As you may ask what is next in your life, remember that God has an answer for you. When Jesus sought His disciples, He looked for those who had a willing heart. When He calls you, He will qualify you. So please remember no matter how deep you are in whatever you are in, God is able to rescue you. His Grace is sufficient!
For a video of Pastor Ferguson’s closing appeal, please go to Facebook.
The sermon was followed by the benediction by William Scott. The prayer response was The Lord Bless You and Keep You.
Sunday morning of graduation weekend was Andrews Academy Commencement (May 26, 2019). After the class marched in, the AA board chair, Fares Magesa, began the program with the invocation, followed by class president, Justin Flores, who gave the final address to the class. Special music was presented by strings and conducted by Dr. Elsy M. Gallardo-Diaz.
Dr. Arlyn Drew, parent of a senior, presented the address. It was a combination of advice for the class, and deep, and for many, new, theological insights on the story of Esau and Jacob at Jabbok. She made the significance of the story come to life as she acted out portions of this story. In having the graduates behind the pulpit and the audience in front, she did a masterful presentation talking directly to the seniors as well as directly to the audience throughout her talk. Graduates and the audience gained a much deeper understanding of God’s deep and passionate love for us.
The Silhouettes presented the second special music, Goodbye My Friend, conducted by Mr. Marcelo Martins. Carrie Chao, senior class sponsor, presented the Class of 2019. Mrs. Leiterman then gave the Charge to the Class and the conferring of diplomas. As each student’s name was read, their senior picture was displayed in the background as they walked forward to receive their diploma. Seniors also received a personalized copy of the book Steps to Christ from the Michigan Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.
After all the seniors received their diploma, they transferred their tassel to the other side. Mrs. Leiterman introduced the new alumni—the class of 2019, and then introduced the new senior class of 2020. We all sang the commencement hymn Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah. This was followed by the benediction by Mr. Leonard Morant.
Congratulations, graduates, on your accomplishments! May each of you keep God first as you venture out in your next phase of life.
After Commencement, seniors gathered with friends and family to congratulate each other, as well as a group toss of their hats.
Throughout the weekend numerous open houses were held. These are always a fun time to share stories, congratulate and encourage each other. Thank you to the many families who generously shared for these occasions.
It was a fun and spiritually inspiring graduation weekend!