Ellen Musselman

Ellen Musselman


My Experience with STEM Club

When I was first asked to join STEM Club, I didn’t really know what it meant to be a member. I knew who else was in the club, where and when it met and who the sponsor was. I didn’t know what we actually did. So I was surprised to see that I was doing something that I loved to do, solve problems.

In the beginning, Mrs. Bechtel, the sponsor, kept mentioning this STEM competition and it kind of just got blown over our heads. Eventually, everyone got serious about it and we got to work. It was a very, very slow process of figuring out exactly what we wanted to do. We had to find a problem in Pennsylvania and solve using the components of STEM, Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. The brainstorming process was long and uneventful until someone threw something interesting on the table. A lamp that can treat SAD, Seasonal Affective Disorder. It was a really interesting idea and everyone started getting excited because STEM clubs purpose actually became real. We kept brainstorming on the idea of a lamp and we soon came up with something that would help treat SAD.

Our first idea was to create a light box lamp. We were on YouTube constantly, trying to wrap our heads around the lamp itself and how we could build it quickly and in a cost effective way. Everyone was working hard to build the light box and then we decided that it wasn’t really what wanted. So back to the drawing table we went. A lot of planning and brainstorming took place and it was getting really close to the day of the competition. We all still wanted to make it to the competition and have something to present.

Eventually we settled on a different design of lamp and added a lot of different components. We decided that the lamp was going to be controlled by a mini computer called a RaspberryPi that will turn the lights on and off and also will control a timer for the lights. We were happy with our design, although, we really were not sure if it would sufficiently treat SAD. After doing some more research and looking into the different types of light, we found out that certain types of light are not appropriate for the night time. Fortunately, we found Dr. Hansler who specialized in harmful types of light. We purchased some of his specialized lights and book of his to learn more and it was more than helpful.

It soon came to the night before the competition and we were all stressed out because nothing was really working. We were about to give up until the lamp turned on and we all jumped in surprise! It was the most amazing thing to see and our spirits were lifted when we arrived at the competition. We weren’t that confident because we saw a lot of hard competition, but hearing that Blue Mountain Academy won first place was actual music to our ears.

We had the opportunity to go farther with our project and it took off! We are still working on making our lamp, now called Lightelligence, now user friendly and cost effective. Also, working with STEM Club has made the opportunity to receive BMA’s STEM Certificate possible and for that I am forever grateful.

Honestly, starting with STEM I was very unsure of myself. But now I realize that it is one of the best decisions because I have the opportunity to work with amazing people, learn amazing things, and help people all around the world!


Chelsey Jimenez

–Chelsey Jimenez, Class of 2016
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Not What I Expected – A Freshman’s Perspective

Eighth grade was comfortable, seventh grade was comfortable, basically my whole life was comfortable. So finding out I was going to a boarding school three hours away from home was WAY out of my comfort zone.

I mean, I just got out of middle school, barely ready to face the world and now I was expected to survive away from home. No freaking way.

So maybe I was being a little dramatic. It couldn’t be that bad, but my subconscious begged to differ. All I could imagine was a cold and unloving place where I would be forced to retreat within myself and live a cold miserable high school existence–as I said a little dramatic.

My whole life I’d been playing it safe. I may not have had the world’s greatest social life, but I had books, Netflix, and two best friends. I was doing great living my comfortably dry and familiar life.

But BMA was not what I expected, like at all.

I was expecting something like The Bratz movie, stereotypes everywhere. Cliques for every type of people–emos, the populars, jocks, and nerds. And I guess if you really needed to you could stereotype some people, but the kids at BMA don’t really see that. Everybody is friends with everybody. No separation of grades (except for senior privileges), no one is judging you for being the world’s most awkwardest and outspoken kid, and no one has a problem that you might sometimes act like a total hippie. People here actually take time to know you.

BMA has showed me that I can’t just hide myself away from the world, and even though I was making progress on my journey to grow myself as a person, BMA gives me more to look at then the same cream­-colored walls of a townhouse in Germantown, Maryland.

I know it’s barely my first year here, but for the first time, in like ever, I don’t feel as though I have to identify as anything. And that’s an awesome feeling.


Chelsea Casseus





–Chelsea Casseus, Class of 2019
Featured Photo taken at S.A.L.T. (Student Association Leadership Training). Chelsea is front row, second from the right. 
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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.


[image src=”http://www.bma.us/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/12_SungMinYoung.jpg” alt=”Min-Young Sung” align=”left” image_frame=”true” wrapper=”true” wrapper_class=”image-bordered” size=”small”]





–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, Class of 2016
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, traveling 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, parent and former Assistant BMA Chaplain
Featured Photo by Julia Viniczay & Sharyl Cubero, Latoya Wright and her children 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.

[image src=”http://www.bma.us/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/11_EsmerKristina.jpg” alt=”Kristina Esmer” align=”left” image_frame=”true” wrapper=”true” wrapper_class=”image-bordered” size=”small”]





–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.

[image src=”http://www.bma.us/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/12_AcostaVictoria.jpg” alt=”Victoria Acosta” align=”left” image_frame=”true” wrapper=”true” wrapper_class=”image-bordered” size=”small”]





–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.

[image src=”http://www.bma.us/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/12_ViniczayJulia.jpg” alt=”Julia Viniczay” align=”left” image_frame=”true” wrapper=”true” wrapper_class=”image-bordered” size=”small”]





–Julia Viniczay, Senior
Featured Photo by Sharyl Cubero, senior.
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