Top, left to right: Fancy Drill Exhibition by the Orion Pathfinder Club from Toronto, Ontario, Canada, & K-9 demonstration by Sergeant Chad Fickle and his dog Ace. Right: David Yaegley as Goodloe Harper Bell. Bottom, left to right: Mayor Mark Behnke presenting a proclamation from the City of Battle Creek to BCA board chair Dan Grentz and a Sunday morning family walk. Pictures courtesy of Brenda Baker.
The pioneer school of the Seventh-day Adventist church officially opened on June 3, 1872, with Goodloe Harper Bell as the first teacher. Some of the original students of Mr. Bell included John Harvey and William Keith Kellogg, E.C. Loughborough, and James Edson and William White. The school had several locations in the early years and is now located on Parkway Drive off Limit Street.
This original 12-student school in Battle Creek grew into the second largest parochial school system in the world, with over two million students in primary and secondary schools, colleges, and universities in 212 countries. As the flagship school of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, BCA now enrolls a diverse student body, which is represented by five countries and where English is a second language for many of the students.
The anniversary celebration began on June 2 with the annual alumni golf outing at the Medalist Golf Club in Marshall. That evening over 200 alumni and guests attended a banquet and awards ceremony at Sherman Lake YMCA Outdoor Center in Augusta. An alumni choir and band provided outstanding music throughout the weekend. Friday’s activities included a Fancy Drill Exhibition by the Orion Pathfinder Club from Toronto, Ontario, Canada; a K-9 demonstration by Sergeant Chad Fickle and his dog Ace of the Battle Creek Police Department, and a Burmese Cultural presentation.
Battle Creek Mayor Mark Behnke spoke briefly to the alumni assembled at the Battle Creek Tabernacle on Friday evening about the history of the Seventh-day Adventist church and school and their ongoing involvement with the city of Battle Creek. He then presented the BCA board chair Dan Grentz a proclamation from the city that read in part, “Therefore, on behalf of all the citizens, we do hereby proclaim that Battle Creek Academy be recognized for the 150th anniversary and the contributions that they continue to make to the Battle Creek community.”
Former vice president of education for the North American Division, Larry Blackmer, spoke for the Sabbath morning church service. Blackmer also served for seven years as associate superintendent in the Michigan Conference. In his sermon he emphasized the importance of not only Christian education, but Seventh-day Adventist Christian education in preparing young people to be future leaders of the church. For Sabbath evening vespers, David Yaegley presented a one-man play on BCA’s first teacher, Goodloe Harper Bell. Currently serving as the director of young adult and camp ministries for the Washington Conference, Yaegley wrote the play, titled “God’s Goodness Through 150 Years of Battle Creek Academy.”
On Sunday morning BCA alumni and current students partnered with Leila Arboretum for a seed-planting activity and a Family Fun Walk from the Arboretum to BCA across the street. Former BCA Kindergarten teacher Nicole Mattson closed the weekend with a devotional in the Chapel of the Pines, the outside worship area recently erected on the grounds of the school.
Alumni and guests who attended were thrilled with the weekend activities and the opportunity to celebrate such a grand occasion. Alumna Mary Jane High, BCA’s class of 1969, says, “Reuniting with people we haven’t seen in a very long time was just a little taste of what heaven will be like!” BCA principal Ranjan Fernando and a large group of volunteers worked many hours to make the weekend such a success.
Charlotte Erickson is a member of the Battle Creek Tabernacle