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.”
Highlights from Maranatha’s Spring Season
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.”
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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.”
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The thread of faith is woven throughout everything we do at Maranatha, Spring Break included. More than 30 high school students, led by MCA Bible teacher and basketball coach Travis Thompson, headed to Texas for the annual Spring Break Mission Trip. “We are called to make disciples of all nations,” Mr. Thompson says, “and we carried that mission statement with us as we served.” (BE great and serve!)
Mr. Thompson grew up in Texas, and utilized his background to develop the robust mission trip itinerary. The students ate meals and stayed overnight at Sky Ranch, a Christian summer camp in Van, Texas. They spent their days serving in the cities of Longview and Tyler, primarily in partnership with homeless ministries.
The entire trip was active service, Mr. Thompson explains. “We were up early and stayed up late serving,” he says. “To me, it was an eye-opening experience for our students. We were constantly depending on God’s grace to serve well.” The students even broke a record for their service. While they served at a food bank, they broke the record for how quickly they assembled box lunches.
A significant aspect of the trip is removing students from their typical, comfortable surroundings, Mr. Thompson says. Showing students a reality starkly different from their own — homelessness — was cause for reflection. “We have so many blessings at Maranatha and in our community. Students got to see that whether you’re rich or poor, hungry or fed, God allows us to be content in all things. Students got to see how even though they didn’t have much, the faith of the people we served carried them through.”
The students participated in a number of activities outside of service too, including visits to the JFK Museum and Holocaust Museum in Dallas. The week wrapped up with an evening campfire, where students shared reflections on their service time.
“We may have ‘Christian’ in the name of our school, but my question is always this: how do we represent the name of Christ as we go to serve?” Mr. Thompson says. “Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians that we are all in ministry. We don’t have to be pastors or missionaries in Africa to practice ministry. We’re called to serve others, and called to show Christ everywhere we go. That’s a representation of what we learn in MCA classrooms and in our churches.”
Mr. Thompson affirms the students for selflessly giving up their breaks in pursuit of serving others. “These kids chose to give up their week of rest to sleep in an unknown place, eat unknown food and serve unknown people,” he says, “And in all of that, we see them thrive!”
“These students got in the trenches with the homeless people we served and were living out the Gospel every day,” Mr. Thompson continues. “I don’t know that I can put into words what these kids have done. They made a lifetime impact on these homeless people. I can assure you that the Christ-like love they showed for these people made an everlasting impact.”
Ultimately, it’s that Christ-like love that defined the mission trip — and defines Maranatha. “As a Bible teacher, it’s awesome to see our kids not only reading the Word, but living it out,” Mr. Thompson says. “We’re all striving to love Jesus more every day, and to take as many people with us to Heaven by loving those around us and sharing in the Gospel (The good news of Jesus).”
Maranatha Christian Academy graduate Anna Hoduski first discovered her pro-life passion as an MCA fifth grader. Today, she’s racing across America to spread awareness and combat abortion. Meet Anna Hoduski.
Anna (right) and her Project If Life team members
Anna as a Maranatha student: Anna attended Maranatha from kindergarten through her senior graduation and loved her time as an MCA Eagle. “My time there built me up in my Christianity in so many ways,” Anna says. She particularly treasured the chance to make Christian friends, study under Christian teachers and develop a Christian worldview. She was encouraged to love God steadfastly, despite what the world is like. “Now that I am graduated, I am happily loving the Lord and still strongly connected with the Christian friends I made while a student at Maranatha.”
How she connected with the pro-life movement: Anna’s dedication the pro-life movement was first sparked as a fifth grade student in Mrs. Steinbrink’s class. “Mrs. Seinbrink had such a heart for life and such a love for the unborn,” Anna recalls. “We did so many arts and crafts about being pro-life and all the scripture we memorized was based on pro-life. She was a wonderful influence on me and changed my life that year.” Ever since, Anna has been hungry to contribute to the movement herself.
From passion to project: “My passion to combat abortion continued all the way into college, but I didn’t know how to make my passion into an action,” Anna says — that is, until she started training for a half marathon. “The Lord laid it on my heart to run across America for the equality of the unborn. Anna’s organization, Project If Life, was born.
Project If Life, defined: “Project If Life is a run across America, from Kansas City to LA and then from Kansas City to D.C.,” Anna explains. Over the course of the 3,000-mile run, Anna is speaking in churches, at youth groups, Bible studies, pregnancy centers and more. The message is simple — “We educate people on abortion, teach them that there is hope and then teach them how to get involved.”
$2K and a car: “I had no idea where the funds would come from or where we would get a vehicle, but God told my team and I to go, so we did,” she says. God’s provision came through $2,000 and a vehicle, and Anna and her team launched their project on July 23, 2016. They held their launch at Maranatha, where Anna’s pro-life passion began. “Most of the people who came out to support us were Maranatha friends and family. Maranatha has proven to be a family to me.”
The Project If Life team: Anna, as the runner and speaker, isn’t going it alone. The crew also includes writer and web content manager Sarah-Marie Hoduski, trainer Nicholas Hoduski and project manager Megan Maier. Sarah-Marie and Nicholas are Anna’s fellow MCA grads, while Megan is a college friend. “With this team, we have successfully completed running across Kansas, Colorado and more than half of Utah,” Anna reports.
How her Maranatha experience cultivated her character: “Maranatha did not just teach their curriculum from a Christian worldview, but taught me the importance of possessing and developing a Christian worldview myself,” Anna says. After graduating, she worked with many non-Christians, and her faith was put to the test. “But so many of the lessons that I learned from my Christian teachers and my Christian friends helped me to stay true to the Lord. Even today I see how much I have been blessed because of my Christian education and my Christian background. I am so thankful for the friends I was surrounded with and for the godly atmosphere I was so privileged to grow up in,” Anna says.
The Maranatha legacy: “I can hardly count the blessings that I have encountered from having been raised by so many Christian people and brought up with so many Christian friends,” Anna says. “I love that I still hang out with my friends that I’ve had since kindergarten or first grade. We still build each other up in the Lord and are still growing together into who our Savior wants us to be.” And prospective Maranatha parents, Anna wants you to listen up — as an alumni, Anna cannot recommend Maranatha highly enough. “If anyone is considering whether or not to send their child to Maranatha, know the answer is that they should,” she shares.
At the Webb home, it’s certainly a full house. Maranatha teacher Travis Webb and his wife Kristy have a total of 11 children, 10 of whom were adopted. Their oldest son, Nathanael, is 20, with four-year-old Isabella rounding out the group. Strong Christian family is at the center of everything we do at Maranatha, and that same heart extends to the Webb family.
Mr. Webb and his wife, Kristy, met while they were college students at Baylor University, and soon discovered a common calling to adopt. “We’d both considered adoption even before we met, and when we started dating, it was something we discussed fairly early on,” Mr. Webb says.
Their Christian faith was a driving force behind the decision to adopt, Mr. Webb continues. “Adoption is used in scripture to explain our relationship to God, and it is a symbol of the spiritual reality of what God has done for us,” he says.
In part because of the time they’d each spent in Africa, they started their family with adoptions in Ethiopia and Liberia, later adopting two foster children in the United States. Several Webb children attend Maranatha, and the MCA community had rallied around the entire Webb family.
“At Maranatha, the faculty has done an amazing job of coming alongside our kids and treating them just like every other kid here,” says the Cultural Geography and Ancient History teacher. “We’ve been very fortunate.”
The Webb family has appreciated Maranatha’s PETS program — that’s short for Prayer, Encouragement and Treats. MCA parents spend a year rallying around a specific teacher and that teacher’s family. “Every year I’ve been at Maranatha, families have come alongside me as a teacher and supported us, with things like gift cards and favorite coffee . . . it’s been a blessing to us.”
Informally, a group of families with a heart for the Webbs have banded together to offer support. “They pretty regularly bring us dinner, or groceries we can turn into dinner. Because of the number of kids we have to feed on a regular basis, it’s a big blessing that they’ve endeavored to do this for our family,” he says. The group has even give the Webbs holiday dinners for Easter and Thanksgiving.
“We know other families who have adopted in places not quite as open as Maranatha, and it’s been more challenging for them,” Mr. Webb says. “I’ve been fortunate that Maranatha has accepted our family.
As a Cultural Geography and Ancient History teacher, Mr. Webb often has occasion to talk about family and cultural differences in his classroom. “We talk about the definition of family in different cultures especially, and I always incorporate the idea that these are important subjects for the students to talk about with their parents,” he explains. “We study history and geography, but ultimately that’s for the purpose of knowing who God is, why we’re here and understanding the Gospel and our role as his creation.”
In and out of the classroom, Maranatha offers a compassionate, Christian family environment. “We are thankful for the opportunity to have adopted and to share our journey with the Maranatha community — and hopefully, our family is a visible representation of what God has done for us through Christ.”