Campion Academy began the school year with a new spiritual program intended to make students an integral part of local churches now. This program is the result of ongoing visioning by Campion’s chaplain Nick Clark, other teachers, Campion church pastors, and students who were tasked with analyzing and improving the current program.

Remington Hill, a sophomore at Campion who sat on the committee, explained, “Our goal was to make sure kids were building a relationship with Jesus while they were at Campion.”

Campion has not been immune to the nationwide trend of dipping enrollment (though the 2015 numbers are slightly above last academic year with 135 registered students), but neither are they passively waiting for change. Principal Don Reeder stated, “We’ve been given the opportunity to question why we exist. We’ve reminded ourselves that we’re here to support the mission of the church.”

In turn, Campion Church, located on the school campus, is ready to support the academy. Lead pastor Micheal Goetz believes that a campus church is a training church. When students graduate and spread out across the churches, they will be prepared for service and leadership. “If we don’t train them, who will? And if we don’t do it now, then when will be the better time?”

To get students to watch less and participate more, Campion’s Bible teachers are intentionally including real-world experience in their curriculums. Freshman Bible class focuses on introducing students to Jesus and His character, and the following years add responsibility as students are trained to give their testimonies, serve as junior deacons and deaconesses, give Bible studies and preach.

Senior Chezney Barry, student chaplain, said, “It’s good to have speakers talk, but when you have small groups it helps students engage more. We’re going to choose student leaders who will lead Bible studies for Sabbath school. We want to get kids more involved spiritually.”

Other leadership opportunities include SWAT teams (Students With A Testimony), who for the past two years have led worship services at other churches. In addition, midweek programming includes Sparks, a joint worship service for the guys’ and girls’ dorms, and Fusion, small groups designed to put faith into action.

Since the spiritual program is a priority, Campion has taken a bold step in blocking out Wednesday evenings for spiritual growth, a decision that doesn’t sit well with some students involved in sports. With no games or practices scheduled, student athletes are worried their team performance will suffer. Barry, a dedicated athlete, thinks God is pushing students out of their spiritual comfort zones. “It’s a huge sacrifice because sports mean so much to people,” she said. “I prayed about it a lot, and I began to realize how I need to be able to set aside time for spirituality.”

Campion believes their plan will not only encourage authentic Christianity in their students, but also lead to lifelong commitment as community and church members.

Jenny Sigler is a member of the Campion Church.