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Chenaye Sutton recalls a beautiful moment in a Maranatha kindergarten classroom. The Elementary Assistant Principal was working in her office across the hall from the class when she heard beautiful music. “I was sitting at my desk working and I heard the children just start singing worship songs!” she remembers. “The kindergarteners were singing ‘I’ve Got the Joy in my Heart’!” At Maranatha’s Christ-centered kindergarten program, scenes like these are common. We strive to educate, nurture and train students for Godliness and excellence in our kindergarten classrooms.
The kindergarten teachers lean on Luke 1:80, the child learned and grew strong in spirit, Mrs. Sutton explains. “The kindergarten year is a huge milestone for children — spiritually, physically, mentally and socially,” she says. “It’s so important for these young children to have a strong foundation to grow in Christ. The Maranatha kindergarten teachers do a really great job of developing the whole child. Everything we do is about knowledge and faith, and teaching God’s wisdom is the ultimate goal.”
Academic excellence in the kindergarten classroom is rooted in faith at Maranatha. “Our kindergarten teachers work diligently to give our students a storehouse of spiritual treasure. Our children learn all the disciplines, and academics are important to us. But through it all, we’re presenting Biblical truths.”
Mrs. Sutton points to the integration of nature into the classroom as just one example of the faith focus. “When a teacher brought in caterpillars and the children got to observe from the caterpillar stage to the butterfly stage, the children were just enamored,” she says. “The children are gaining that understanding of who God is, how the world was created and who created it.”
This becomes particularly significant in teaching children how to treat each other, Mrs. Sutton shares. “At the kindergarten level, this is their whole world! So we’re helping them learn how to work together, how to play games together, how to communicate with each other and how to care for each other well.
In many kindergarten classrooms, technology is a key focus. But Maranatha teachers don’t rely purely on technology to accomplish their goals, Mrs. Sutton shares. “I love that our teachers don’t depend solely on technology, but they use it as a supplement for their learning. We vet every app, every item and every tool. The use of technology is structured so it enhances what they’re learning in the traditional sense. Technology is important, but never the priority,” she says.
“Because we have high standards and expectations both spiritually and academically, we’re constantly moving forward and trying new things for our students,” Mrs. Sutton says. Maranatha maintains a low student-to-teacher ratio in kindergarten classrooms so every student’s individual needs can be met. If a student isn’t meeting objectives, teachers step in immediately to make a plan for student success.
“As our children are learning and growing, we’re guiding them in God’s wisdom as well,” Mrs. Sutton smiles. “Our kindergarten teachers are always working to keep God as the center of the picture, bringing their classrooms to life.”
On May 20, 2017, we celebrated our graduates at the Maranatha commencement ceremony. This year’s graduates are ready to impact their world for Christ! As we congratulate the newest Eagle alumni, we explore some of our graduates’ accomplishments and accolades. Here’s the Maranatha Class of 2017, by the numbers.
$1,377,676 total scholarship dollars awarded to students in the Maranatha Class of 2017: Maranatha is committed to a disciplined and excellent educational environment, and our graduates join a group of truly accomplished alumni. Scholarships were awarded from organizations and colleges across the country, honoring students’ excellence in the classroom, on the field and in the community.
28 students in the Class of 2017: At Maranatha, we’re family, and students enjoy a tightly-knit atmosphere and community. With a low student-to-teacher ratio, we remain committed to fostering Christian character in each and every student.
2,240+ hours of community service completed. Voluntarism and community service is one way we develop Christian values in our students. High school students are required to serve each year, and most go well above and beyond their requirement as they grow into people of integrity.
17+ State Championships received during the Class of 2017’s high school years: Faith is the focus of our athletic program, and on the field, our students get to practice the integrity they’re learning in the classroom.
300 roses given by graduates to people who impacted their lives: A highlight of our Commencement is the Rose Ceremony. Graduates give a rose to anyone in the audience who made a difference in their lives, from teachers and staff to parents and grandparents. Family is at the heart of everything we do, and the Rose Ceremony is a truly meaningful time for soon-to-be alumni to say thanks.
Countless memories: MCA graduates share so many special memories together. Bible studies and devotionals, cheering on our Eagles at games, performing in the band, serving together on mission trips, celebrating their achievements on the senior trip and everything in between . . . our graduates share a special bond built through years of Christian community.
1 Maranatha family: At Maranatha, we are committed to fostering Christian character in every student, just as you would for family. With a scripture-first posture, armed with Biblical values, the thread of faith is woven throughout our academics, athletics and in every facet here. Congratulations to the Class of 2017! We can’t wait to see how you transform our world for Jesus Christ. We’re proud to have you as part of the Maranatha Christian Academy family.
Strong Christian family is at the center of everything we do. We foster Christian values in our students, raising them up to become people of integrity. Being a family means coming together and rising to the occasion — and the Maranatha family recently did just that in acquiring our new strength and conditioning equipment. It all started with just one parent noticing a need and stepping forward to make it happen.
As a longtime volunteer and coach, this parent knew of MCA’s need for new weight room equipment. Over the years, he had been able to witness the strong impact of Maranatha coaches and the drive of MCA students in their athletics. But he soon saw the limitations on PE teachers, coaches and students because of the lack of space, quality and quantity of strength and conditioning equipment.
Having prayed about the strength and conditioning equipment, this parent dove in when he became aware of an opportunity. As Immaculata High School in Leavenworth was closing its doors, the school offered Maranatha the chance to purchase its nearly-new weight equipment at a great discount. Much of the equipment was only a few years old and in great condition.
As soon as he heard about the available equipment, the parent got to work. “When he became aware of the phenomenal opportunity to update our weight room, this parent saw the need, stepped forward to communicate it to the parents and rallied the troops,” says Kelly Wilde, MCA Community Relations Coordinator. “It’s an incredible blessing to have parents who are willing to step forward and take on that volunteer leadership in different areas.” The parent sent emails, made personal asks and, ultimately, encouraged everyone to pray for this opportunity.
What happened next was a testament to the dedication of Maranatha parents. In just three weeks, parents came together and donated several thousand dollars above and beyond the price of the weight equipment! “This allows us not only to cover the purchase of the equipment, but to cover upkeep and maintenance and be good stewards of this investment,” Mrs. Wilde says.
The new equipment includes multi-station universal machines, squat racks, free weights, a leg press sled, storage racks for the weights and new industrial-strength floor mats. Students in Maranatha summer sports camps are already putting the new investment to good use, just weeks after the purchase.
“This is a great example of the greater MCA family rising to the occasion,” Mrs. Wilde says. “Parents saw a need and stepped forward, and their actions back up their words about supporting Christian education and supporting Maranatha. Their dedication helps to make Maranatha what it is with our well-rounded student body.”
This recent accomplishment echoes the dedication of all MCA parents. “The parents of Maranatha are very committed, and all our parents have a strong desire for their children to have a sound foundation of a Christian worldview at home, at church and at school,” Mrs. Wilde explains. “They know this works best when parents are deeply involved and supporting in whatever way they can. That really is what makes Maranatha a family.”
Every class and activity at Maranatha pairs Biblical standards with excellence, and our Music Department is no exception. “There are so many elements of music that help students grow,” says Steve Gordon, chair of the MCA Music Department. “Music builds self-discipline, and music requires that you not only improve your own skills, but that you always listen to and listen for others.”
Music is an excellent way for students to practice being part of the Body of Christ, Mr. Gordon says. “Making music in an ensemble parallels what it looks like to be in the Body of Christ: you’re no more important than anyone else, and yet, no one can play your role for you,” he explains. “You have a unique purpose. If you can function in a music ensemble, you can function in the local church.”
Furthermore, music has far-reaching benefits academically. Students who participate in music consistently perform higher on college prep exams like the ACT, and sharpen their skills in both math and in english. “Students not only have fun making music and gaining musical skills, but they build confidence in themselves and learn the importance of being prepared, practicing and collaborating with their peers.”
In its debut year, the Symphony of Sound allowed students across the Music Department to showcase their musical abilities and talents. All ensembles who were preparing for upcoming music contests performed during the special showcase, including junior high soloists, the high school choir, junior high band, a high school jazz ensemble, a small boys’ barbershop ensemble and an a capella vocal ensemble.
In January, junior high students competed at the Prairie View Festival. “Our choir and ensembles all received superior ratings,” says Mr. Gordon. Eight soloists, as well as the junior high choir and band, participated.
Senior high students competed in contests at the end of March and in April. At the Solo and Ensemble Content in Atchison, nine of 17 performances received the highest marks possible, with other performances earning high scores as well.
Twenty Maranatha students competed in the State Contests in April, receiving near-perfect ratings. Seven soloists and two vocal ensembles participated, both singers and instrumentalists. Eight of the nine events earned the highest marks possible, and the remaining event was just one point shy of a top score.
In addition to small ensembles, students from the Music Department traveled to the Large Ensemble contest in April. The full concert band and full concert choir participated in this significant event, with both groups receiving superior ratings as well.
Furthermore, the Junior and Senior High bands prepared this spring for their outstanding performances for the MCA community. They each held concert and award evenings in May, and their music created a festive environment during the May 20 Graduation.
These recent accomplishments simply add to the legacy of excellence within the Maranatha Music Department. Twice in the past six years, the band has been selected to play for the prestigious Music Educators Association Convention in the state of Kansas. Just three bands are selected each year. In 2018, the choir will travel to New York City for its third performance at world-renowned Carnegie Hall. The students will perform the Easter portions of Handel’s Messiah on Easter Sunday. The band also travels every four years to Washington, DC, to perform.
This year, students were able to grow musically and in their character. “Music helps our students build community and connection,” Mr. Gordon says. “When we make music together, something knits our hearts together, and we practice being part of the Body of Christ.”
The year was 1986 when Galen Wagner began his Maranatha career. Since then, more than 900 students have passed through the doors of his classroom, all of them impacted by his passion for the Gospel. As Mr. Wagner completes his final year at MCA and prepares to retire, we celebrate his commitment to our community and dedication to our students.
“I love teaching,” Mr. Wagner says. “In the 31 years I’ve spent here at Maranatha, I’ve never had a bad day.” Mr. Wagner is chairman of the Bible Department, and has taught in the Bible Department for 20 years after teaching fifth and sixth grades for his first decade at Maranatha.
“What I’ve always loved most is teaching the Scriptures to the students,” he smiles — and that’s always been the core of his focus as an educator. “We begin every class with prayer and we invite God into our classroom. If we saturate our students with God’s word, that sets the foundation for how they perceive life and how they approach life.”
Mr. Wagner has taught more than 31,000 hours of classes taught at MCA, reports Mark Schultze, Maranatha Superintendent. “He has certainly modeled for our students a life of dedication and service to Jesus,” he says. Mr. Schultze points to Mr. Wagner’s nearly 20 mission trips to Russia and Italy to train pastors, as well as his faithful continuation of teaching as a cancer survivor.
In 2012, Mr. Wagner was awarded the MCA Apple Award for Teacher Excellence, and this year, he received the Career Service and Achievement Award from ACSI (the Association of Christian Schools International). But the defining moments of his career have always been moments when he is mentoring students, Mr. Wagner says.
“I’ve enjoyed the personal relationships I’ve gotten to build with students over the years, and I’ve been blessed in that respect,” Mr. Wagner says. “One particular year, there was a group of eight young men, and we met once a week after school to pray and share a relationship. Those young men have really stepped up and grown in their faith.” The group graduated nearly 10 years ago, but Mr. Wagner still stays in touch as their mentor. “They are all doing great, and it’s just been a joy to have been part of their lives.” Mr. Wagner has many similar stories, and he reflects with much gratitude on all the students he’s gotten to teach.
Mr. Wagner may be departing the classroom, but he plans to remain as engaged as ever in learning. “I’m going to retire to a life of learning,” he shares. Mr. Wagner plans to continue working on writing his own translation of the New Testament, from Greek to English. He looks forward to reading and playing music as well.
Teaching runs in the Wagner family: Mr. Wagner’s wife is also in education, and she will retire this spring too. Together, Mr. and Mrs. Wagner look forward to spending time together, as well as with their grandchildren.
“It has been a blessing to do what I love to do: to teach the Scriptures to students who love the Lord, alongside teachers who are also called to this mission, and with all of the parents headed in the same direction,” he smiles.
Maranatha Christian Academy exists to educate, nurture and train students for Godliness and excellence, so they’re equipped to transform their world for Jesus Christ — and part of that training happens through our athletics program. “For us, faith is the core of our athletic program,” says Dave Keener, Athletic Director and Dean of Students. “We look not only at the results on the scoreboard, but the results of how we exhibit Christ in our athletic competitions. It’s so much more than our efforts: it’s our attitude, our actions and our reactions.”
Maranatha’s Athletic Department offers the most athletic options of any school in its class (2A) in the state of Kansas, Mr. Keener says. “This allows more chances for student participation in athletics, and opportunities for students to practice their sportsmanship,” he says.
Athletics are the “classroom of competition,” Mr. Keener explains. “Our students get to practice the integrity they’re learning in the classroom. For example, how do you handle it when the umpire makes a bad call? The coaches really tie our athletics into real life situations. Something may be unfair, but do we respond by complaining, or working harder to overcome? This is the core of who we are as athletes, because it’s the core of who we are as Christians.”
Girls Soccer Team Highlights: The Junior High girls celebrated a big win at home on April 18 against rival Summit Christian Academy. “They’ve really worked hard and improved over the course of the season,” Mr. Keener says. The High School team is enjoying a strong season as well, with a key win against Van Horn, 4-1. One Senior student is celebrating 73 goals scored, setting an MCA record for goals in a career. The girls are playing in the regional championship game as well.
Boys Baseball Highlights: The young team, led by mostly freshmen and sophomore students, celebrated three shutouts this year. “The pitching in particular has been really outstanding,” Mr. Keener shares. “It’s been great to watch these guys, as young as they are, competing and playing really well.” A big win this season was a 10-0 defeat over Barstow. The team advanced to the regional championship falling to a very experienced Troy team.
Boys Tennis Highlights: The 2017 season is the team’s best in 10 years, Mr. Keener shares. “They’ve been playing against some tough competition and showcased some great individual efforts,” he says. A key victory this year was an early-season win against Kansas City Christian. ‘We’re very excited about the tennis post-season,” Mr. Keener says. The team finished third in state this year.
Boys Track Highlights: The team celebrates a senior sprinter who has won every meet so far. This student has qualified for state finals every year of his high school career, and is expected to do so this year too. “MCA always competes against schools much larger than ours in track, and it’s always good experience,” Mr. Keener says. “Our coaches are looking forward to the upcoming Regionals.”
Girls Track Highlights: The Girls Track team is also celebrating a senior sprinter’s accomplishments, having won every meet. While the team is typically led by distance runners, sprinters have led the 2017 team. The team is doing well, and preparing for Regionals.
This season, students had the opportunity to grow in both athleticism and in their faith. “Athletics is an important part of our school, and yet, athletics does not define who we are,” Mr. Keener says. “The successes we’ve had this season demonstrate that even a small school like ours provides the opportunity not only for participation, but for excellence.”
Now in its eighth year, the annual Maranatha Spring Art Show highlights and celebrates our students’ hard work. Faith is woven throughout every aspect of Maranatha, and the art program is no exception.
“My favorite part of my job is seeing students grow artistically,” says Danielle Williams, Maranatha art teacher. She began her career teaching students animation and animation software programming on the East Coast. Mrs. Williams has also taught at the Kansas City Art Institute, instructing students in drawing, painting, graphics, sculpture and more.
Students often come into the art classroom not considering themselves artists, Mrs. Williams says. “Students have the attitude that they’re not artistic — but they’re comparing their work to Rembrandt and Da Vinci,” she shares. “Every artist finds their own place and develops in that place. At the end of the year, we look at their work from the beginning and see the difference. Students really become encouraged and excited to learn.”
The Maranatha art curriculum complements much of what students learn in their other courses, even History and Math. “Art supplements what they’re learning in their core classes. I teach students that art is involved in everything. They may be studying anatomy in Science, for example. Through figurative drawing in art, they’re also learning about the human body, about proportions and limbs.
Faith is at the heart of every lesson Mrs. Williams teaches, she explains. “I tell my students that God is the supreme artist,” she says. “God has granted us this gift of creation, and through art, we get to see how diverse God’s creativity is. Every aspect of our world is characteristic of our creator.”
This theme extends to the annual Art Show, held this spring at Country Club Bank’s Shawnee branch. “The bank is generous to let us install student art all over the bank,” Mrs. Williams explains. “Because the art is up for a whole week, customers can see and enjoy it. It’s a great way for the community to see what we’re doing in the visual arts department at Maranatha.” During a past art show, the bank president even purchased a student’s watercolor as a gift for his daughter.
Furthermore, the show is an opportunity for parents to engage with their child’s creations. “Sometimes students think their parents won’t care about their art or won’t like it. But parents are often blown away by their student’s ability! It’s a great way for parents to see what we’re doing and how their child is succeeding.”
The show, which took place the last week of March, featured a wide variety of projects. Mediums included ceramics, drawings, paintings, folk art, mixed media and even book binding. The week culminated in a special Spring Art Reception, with student musicians also present and performing solos. “The Art Show gives others the ability to see student work. We’re often our own worst critics, but others are able to see the beauty in the work.”
“I tell my students to remember that everything we do, we do to God’s glory,” Mrs. Williams continues. “As 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, we’re called to glorify God in what we do, and we should be grateful that we’ve been given the ability and the gift to create art.”