Archives for 2015

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Joining Bel Canto

This blog post features one of our international students and their experience with joining a touring group.

I have been at BMA for a year and a few months, and now I am a senior. I like to sing. I remember when I first came to BMA, people were asking me if I wanted to get in a touring group. I was unsure if I even wanted to stay at this school, so I decided to not get in anything. I was an NTG (no touring group).

As the time goes by, I started to get to know people and became friends with them. Some of them were in touring groups, so I could hear and see more about them. My roommate was a member of Bel Canto, and I remember her always going on tour and having fun. I started to wish I was in Bel Canto. It reached its peak when they performed a concert at BMA. It was amazing! I really liked the harmony and song.

This year, I became a part of Bel Canto. So far I’m loving it! We’ve already had over three tours, and I really have enjoyed it. If I could go back to my junior year, I would totally join and be a member of Bel Canto as I am now. I’m very excited for the future tours left during this year.


Min-Young Sung





–Min-Young Sung, Senior
Featured Photo by Mrs. Musselman, featuring Bel Canto performing during our annual Christmas Concert. 
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Deciding My Future

I found myself caught in the middle of two extremes. Graphic design or Biology.

I’m a senior, and with college decisions coming up I’ve started to feel increased pressure to figure out my life. I’ve been conflicted between choosing a major in graphic design or biology. Recently, I’ve had the chance to go on two different field trips that have made me reevaluate a few things.

Let me explain…

Last week, I went with my Anatomy & Physiology class to the Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. I couldn’t believe that I was actually going to witness a live surgery! The anticipation leading up to the trip had the other five people in the van ecstatic. For the last three years I have wanted to be a surgeon, so this was a big deal for me. We were able to watch the surgeon perform a gastric sleeve procedure. She cut a large portion of the stomach that left a “sleeve” connecting the esophagus to the small intestines. The procedure was about 2 hours, but it felt like 10 minutes. I was enjoying the surgery so much. Afterward, we got to play different interactive games in their hands-on exhibits. The last thing we did was watch a short film on pandas in their large 3D IMAX Theater. By the end of the day, I was inspired even more to pursue a career in Biology.

BUT, that wasn’t all.

I am in the first semester graphic design class, which is one of my favorite classes ever. When Mrs. Musselman told us we would visit the Rodale Institute Publishing Company Headquarters I was so excited. They publish lifestyle magazines like Women’s Health, Men’s Health, and Runner’s World. As I walked through the front door, I felt like I was in a completely different environment. People were exercising in the lobby! They gave us a tour, and brought us to their creative floor. There was art everywhere. I felt a strange feeling as if I already belonged there. A group of five different people talked to us about their products and how they begin their creative process. On a weekly basis I already spend about 10+ hours working on graphic design projects. The idea of pursuing it as a career intrigued me.

So here I am. Trying to decide what to do with my life. I am worried about my future, but I know God has greater plans for me. If I could hear Jesus praying for me in the next room, I would not fear a thing, yet distance makes no difference–He is praying for me.


Sharyl Cubero





–Sharyl Cubero, Senior
Featured Photo by Mrs. Bechtel and Mrs. Musselman, featuring Sharyl’s two field trip experiences.
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Unshakable Faith

This week the blog features a parent’s perspective on her daughter’s experience at Blue Mountain Academy. 

My prayer life for Blue Mountain Academy has evolved twice. As a parent, my prayers for the academy were centered on my child. The theme of my prayers were for her safety, travelling mercies, her studies, her friends, her choices, her teachers, her walk with the Lord, our relationship, and for the reassurance that I made the right decision to send her hundreds of miles away from home because for four years we would miss out on most of her life’s milestones.

My prayers were heavier on the subject of her walk with God because I was not there to monitor it like most Christians who have their children at home can. My trust in God for this journey was put to the test during her time at BMA. While she was at home, I had a form of faith which was coupled with a self-security because I was involved with her spiritual experiences and dictated what she was exposed to and what she should learn and at what time of her life she should learn it. Blue Mountain Academy stripped that control from me and that shook my foundation as the sole proprietor of her Christian experience. It was a rough transition and I often felt unsure, remorseful and a failure. What this experience revealed was that in my absence I lacked faith and trust someone else could continue my work as a parent and most importantly I lacked faith and trust in God to continue His work in her and keep her mind in my absence. I had a form of faith but could not put it to work.

I am now a staff member here at Blue Mountain Academy and have experienced first-hand just how amazingly well the Lord takes care of our children through the lives and ministry of the staff and students. Being stripped of my security was the best thing that Blue Mountain Academy could have done for me as a parent because through that struggle of letting go, I found a faith and trust in God that is unshakable. My conditional faith had to die in order to bring forth the kind of trust that I have not only in God but in the work and commitment this school has for the spiritual lives of its students.

Martin Luther penned, “Faith is a living and unshakable confidence, a belief in God so assured that a man would die a thousand deaths for its sake.” My kind of faith and trust had died many times for the sake of renewal and reinforcing. God, through Blue Mountain Academy, had allowed both my experience as a parent and now a staff to reinforce my once conditional faith to unshakable.

You can also experience this kind of freedom for uncertainty for the spiritual life of your child. It is to  simply let go and allow God to show you His ability to keep them safe in His care. Then you too will experience this amazing kind of unshakeable faith.

Latoya Wright





–Latoya Wright, parent and Assistant Chaplain at BMA
Featured Photo by Julia Viniczay & Sharyl Cubero, Latoya Wright and her daughter pose for a picture at our Recognition Dinner.
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No Regrets

When I first came to BMA last year, I didn’t know just how attached I would become with the atmosphere and people here.

When I first arrived, I was an outgoing and friendly person, though really hesitant to try new things. Being a transfer student, I resolved to watch people do incredible things, as opposed to actually trying it myself.

This year, I made the decision to get more involved. Watching people enjoy being part of one of the three touring groups that BMA provides inspired me to try out for the gymnastics team, Aerial Aires, this year, and thus far, it has been an amazing experience. Though I have a great deal to learn, I have strived to contribute to the team in any way I can, and I am bettering myself.

I have also assumed the role of sergeant-at-arms for the junior class’s office. Though it may be a minor position, I still would have never imagined that I would be in any type of leadership position say, just a year ago. It was expected that the position would come with a great deal of responsibility, but nonetheless, I feel accomplished about lending a hand in planning our upcoming junior presentation this February.

In short, I have learned firsthand how interesting it is to be involved in the diverse activities offered here at school. I have had no regrets about trying new things, and I strongly encourage others to do the same.

Kristina Esmer





–Kristina Esmer, Junior
Featured Photo by Ellen Musselman. The Aerial Aires team performing a routine.
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Ministering at the Opportunity House

Blue Mountain Academy offers a variety of opportunities to students to serve the community. About once a month, BMA provides interested students transportation early Sabbath morning to the Opportunity House, a multi-service organization that focuses on improving the quality of life for children, families, and adults in Reading, Pennsylvania. Our students assist in making and serving breakfast for them. This past weekend, a group from BMA ministered at the Opportunity House. Here is one student’s account of her experience.

There’s nothing like waking up bright and early before sunrise on a Saturday morning.

Except, most would say that there’s also nothing like sleeping in on a Saturday morning especially for some good, old fashioned Sabbath rest. Generally, I’m an evening person, so I prefer to sleep in myself.

However, I’ve learned over my short but eventful lifetime that God doesn’t rest when it comes to helping us. So why should I rest when it comes to helping others? The price of waking up a little bit earlier is minuscule compared to the reality that I got to help someone who truly needed it.

Making breakfast in the Opportunity House, a homeless shelter in Reading, PA, is always a fun way to help people that are just trying to get back on their feet. I’ve been going to the Opportunity House since my freshman year, and have to say I’ve never regretted losing sleep over it.

Victoria Acosta





–Victoria Acosta, Senior
Featured Photo by Sharyl Cubero, senior. BMA students ministering at the Opportunity House. Victoria Acosta is on the far right.
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If I Could Write a Letter to My Freshman Self…

Hello! I’m Julia Viniczay and I am a FOUR YEAR senior here at Blue Mountain Academy. I can’t believe how fast the past three years have gone and how much has changed. Not only have rules, DDC, and the landscape of BMA changed, but also my perspective on some issues. If I could write a letter to myself as an incoming freshman, I would talk about these three things.

1. Take up that position or go on that trip. Take advantage of every recruiting trip and leadership position you are offered, because it shows that you were approached for a reason—you have something to share with others.

Take the incentive to try new things, like leadership positions, if you have not. The worst that could happen is that you realize that your talents could be used in another way.

2. Be a friend to everyone. In most movies, they show high school as a war between social groups. They also show that you have to find the group that you fit into, so that you can be “yourself.”

You may have similar hobbies and habits as the group you hang out with, but realize that even the people who aren’t like you might have the same goal as you. Everyone is trying to have a great year and get to graduation.

3. Prioritize! If you see a senior complaining about how much work they have, don’t worry. You don’t have to be one of them. One of things that stresses out seniors is the realization of how much work they have to do by a certain date. They think of the big picture and get overwhelmed, sometimes so much that they won’t even start working towards the deadline.

This is an example of procrastination, and as an underclassmen you should be practicing the skill of prioritizing your time. You may say you have time to learn how to prioritize, but if you start now it will develop over time. In prioritizing, try to set certain goals for free periods and study hall for what you’re going to get done in a certain class. This will help you not feel overwhelmed and realize that you are working towards the goal of being finished by the deadline.

Julia Viniczay





–Julia Viniczay, Senior
Featured Photo by Sharyl Cubero, senior.
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My First Trip to New York City

Shannon Smith is an international student from Bermuda. This weekend BMA sponsored a trip for all of international students to visit New York City.

The trip to New York City was a very exciting trip for me. Having never been there before, I couldn’t wait to finally see the “city that never sleeps” for myself.

We went on a bus tour on one of those buses with the open tops, which was very cool. I liked that a lot. Then we went on a ferry where I got to see the Statue of Liberty for the first time!

Afterwards we experienced the different cultures in New York and went to have lunch in Korea Town. Can’t say that I like Korean food though…

So I can surely say that the trip was well worth it. Just wish I had tried New York pizza for the first time as well…maybe next time.

Shannon Smith





–Shannon Smith, Senior
Featured Photo by Karen Schneider, a sponsor on the trip.
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FOCUS Week – Staff & Student Perspectives

A Staff’s Perspective

This year for FOCUS week we wanted to try something a little different. Guided by the inspiration of the new staff on the chaplaincy team we chose to give each day a different style.

We began by having the services in the boys dorm chapel. Our primary theme was “Called to Know.” This is the overall theme for the spiritual emphasis at BMA this year.

On Monday we began with a program specifically designed to be focused on worshiping our God. For the entire time we were together we sang and read scripture that helped us to FOCUS on who God is.

Tuesday we were blessed by the testimony of two of our new staff members, Rachelle Walkowiak and Mike Archibeque. They FOCUSed on how they came or are still coming to “know” God.

Throughout the week we placed a question box in the hallway for students to ask questions. Wednesday we had a panel of distinguished guests: Dixie Perez, Latoya Wright, Pastor Kris Eckenroth, Alex Bolanos and John Musselman. They addressed the questions submitted by the students. It truly was a fun and interesting night.

Thursday we were again blessed by the testimony of two of our new staff. We heard and were blessed by Jennifer Cook and Alex Larracuente’s testimonies.

Friday as we wrapped up the week, we held our Vespers service in the Hamburg church fireside room. A huge thank you goes out to them for allowing us to use this room. We began our worship service with music and testimonies and ended it with a foot washing and communion service.

Overall the week was a blessing and allowed the students the opportunity to spend time together FOCUSing on Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice.

Ever Perez

–Pastor Ever Perez, BMA Chaplain & Pastor

A Student’s Perspective

I assist in the Chaplaincy department, so I got to help out with preparing for FOCUS week. We put a lot of hard work into it. Many people were praying so that the Holy Spirit would manifest Himself among the students during this week, which I know He did.

It was different. It wasn’t the usual FOCUS week with only preaching and some sleeping students–it was live and very intimate, which the students really liked. We did it in a different location than we had in previous years, with a different setting, and different programs every day.

The first day was all about worship. We had different praise teams, different special musics, and students got the opportunity to truly worship and share the talents that God gave them, and show Him how much they love Him.

Tuesday, we presented the new dean Mikey Archibeque and the new staff member Rachelle Walkowiak. We got to learn how they came into a relationship with God, and what the believe about being Seventh-day Adventist.

Wednesday we had a panel where students submitted questions to be answered by some of our BMA staff. I personally believe that through these questions and answers, we got to learn a lot more in depth about the Bible, and how to keep and maintain a Christian life.

Thursday Dean Alex Larracuente, and new English teacher, Jennifer Cook shared their testimonies about how they came to know God personally.

Friday was so special. We moved to a new location, new setting, shared testimonies and communion with each other. The Spirit for SURE was there. Student shared how God had answered their prayers during FOCUS week, and how God had changed their life in so many different ways. After a great worship and special music, you could see how the students were truly touched. Then, to conclude our program, we participated in communion by first washing our feet (representing the cleansing of our sins), then we ate bread and drank grape juice (representing Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins). Friday night was definitely the most special. We had special prayers from students, and many testimonies, and the Holy Spirit was definitely felt there that night.

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his son, purifies us from all sin. 1 John 1:7 

Edgar Galvez

–Edgar Galvez, senior
Featured Photo by Ellen Musselman. The photo shows a glimpse into Wednesday night of FOCUS week.
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