June 21, 2022

Battle Creek Academy Celebrates 150-Year Anniversary

In the U.S., several hundred alumni and guests gathered for the celebratory weekend.

Charlotte Erickson, Lake Union Herald, and Adventist Review
Top, left to right: Fancy Drill Exhibition by the Orion Pathfinder Club from Toronto, Ontario, Canada, & K-9 demonstration by Sergeant Chad Fickle and his dog Ace. Right: David Yaegley as Goodloe Harper Bell. Bottom, left to right: Mayor Mark Behnke presenting a proclamation from the City of Battle Creek to BCA board chair Dan Grentz and a Sunday morning family walk. [Photos: courtesy of Brenda Baker]

Several hundred alumni and guests gathered in Battle Creek, Michigan, United States, June
2-5, 2022, to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Battle Creek Academy (BCA).
The first school established by the Seventh-day Adventist Church, BCA officially opened on
June 3, 1872, with Goodloe Harper Bell as the first teacher. Some of Bell’s original students
included John Harvey and William Keith Kellogg, E.C. Loughborough, and Ellen White’s
sons, William and James Edson. The school had several locations in the early years and is
now located on Parkway Drive off Limit Street.

The original 12-student school in Battle Creek grew into the second-largest parochial
school system in the world, with more than one million students in primary and secondary
schools, colleges, and universities in 212 countries. As the flagship school of the Seventh-
day Adventist Church, BCA now enrolls a diverse student body, which is represented by
five countries and where English is a second language for many of the students.

The anniversary celebration began on June 2 with the annual alumni golf outing at the
Medalist Golf Club in Marshall. That evening, more than 200 alumni and guests attended a
banquet and awards ceremony at Sherman Lake YMCA Outdoor Center in Augusta. An
alumni choir and band provided outstanding music throughout the weekend. Friday’s
activities included a Fancy Drill Exhibition by the Orion Pathfinder Club from Toronto,
Ontario, Canada; a K-9 demonstration by Sergeant Chad Fickle and his dog, Ace, of the
Battle Creek Police Department, and a Burmese cultural presentation.

Battle Creek mayor Mark Behnke spoke briefly to the alumni assembled at the Battle Creek
Tabernacle on Friday evening about the history of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and
school and their ongoing involvement with the city of Battle Creek. He then presented the
BCA board chair, Dan Grentz, a proclamation from the city that read in part, “Therefore, on
behalf of all the citizens, we do hereby proclaim that Battle Creek Academy be recognized
for the 150th anniversary and the contributions that they continue to make to the Battle
Creek community.”

Former vice president of education for the North American Division Larry Blackmer spoke
for the Saturday (Sabbath) morning church service. Blackmer also served for seven years
as associate superintendent in the Michigan Conference. In his sermon he emphasized the
importance of not only Christian education but Seventh-day Adventist Christian education
in preparing young people to be future leaders of the church. For Sabbath evening vespers,
David Yaegley presented a one-man play on BCA’s first teacher, Goodloe Harper Bell.
Currently serving as the director of young adult and camp ministries for the Washington
Conference, Yaegley wrote the play, titled “God’s Goodness through 150 Years of Battle
Creek Academy.”

On Sunday morning, BCA alumni and current students partnered with Leila Arboretum for
a seed-planting activity and a Family Fun Walk from the arboretum to BCA across the
street. Former BCA Kindergarten teacher Nicole Mattson closed the weekend with a
devotional in the Chapel of the Pines, the outside worship area recently erected on the
grounds of the school.

Alumni and guests who attended said they were thrilled with the weekend activities and
the opportunity to celebrate such a grand occasion. Alumna Mary Jane High, BCA class of
1969, said, “Reuniting with people we haven’t seen in a very long time was just a little taste
of what heaven will be like!”

The original version of this story was posted by the Lake Union Herald.