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inside Redirection Leading from the Bench The Heart of Worship Growing Pains Change of Plans, Change of Heart Doing Hard Things


Significance is a word we use a lot at Hillcrest. It’s in our motto and our mission statement; it’s hanging on our walls and, in one form, it’s the name of this magazine. Significance is a relatively easy word to define -- just consult any dictionary. However, measuring significance is not such an easy task.

figure A


Balloon: Insignificant

When we talk about preparing students for a life of significance at Hillcrest it has nothing to do with the size of their bank account or shape of their body. It has nothing to do with athletic stats or G.P.A. It’s not even about what college they get into or career path they choose. Each of these things carry a certain level of importance, but in themselves, they can never tell the whole story. The key to true significance lies in another word: purpose. Think about this: a hot-air balloon without any passengers is nothing more than a bag of warm atmosphere. However, when called upon for a great purpose--the safe transport of people--its significance is made abundantly clear. The same is true for us. A life lived without God-given purpose lacks significance. Thankfully, we can all find purpose in Jesus Christ. Significant is a quick look at how Hillcrest has been used by God to prepare students to fulfill His purpose. In this edition you’ll read about students who have experienced loss, disappointment and resolve. These experiences are all significant as mankind understands its longing for a perfect and whole world. At Hillcrest, students are taught that God’s perfect creation proclaims all creation significant and purposeful in His design. When loss, struggles and disappointments are experienced they ought to refocus our attention on the Creator rather than the created. The following pages contain the stories of Hillcrest students who have been mentored to understand and apply God’s work in their life. Enjoy this publication and feel free to contact us if you would like to set-up a tour, or visit more on the opportunities awaiting you at Hillcrest Academy. 2 SIGNIFICANT • SUMMER 2011

Balloon: Made significant by purpose

ISSUE TWO/SUMMER 2011 WAYNE STENDER | Editor RYAN ERICKSON | Design SIGNIFICANT is a student-focused publication of Hillcrest Academy. Have comments or questions? Write us at Visit us online at Twitter @HLAtweets



CONTENTS 4 Redirection

10 Growing Pains

Meet Marisa Monacelli. She’s known for a while what career path she was destined for after high school--or so she thought. Find out what changed her mind on page 4.

They say that when life throws you lemons, you should make lemonade. Jake Jones has had enough lemonade to last a lifetime. Read his story on page 10.

6 Leading from the Bench

12 Change of Plans, Change of Heart

Grant Stroud has never met a sport he didn’t like to play, and he seems to be good at every one. Read about the mid-season event that led him into a new leadership role.

Have you ever had some big plans that just didn’t work out? Christina Hardie knows that feeling. Find out her response to a major change of plans in her life.

8 The Heart of Worship

14 Doing Hard Things

Åsmund Rong has learned a lot about what worship means during his time at Hillcrest. His experience organizing an all-school worship night with several dorm friends is recounted on page 8.

What does Annie Boyum do when there just don’t seem to be enough opportunities to serve others? She thinks up her own. Read about it on page 14.


REDIRECTION BY MARISA MONACELLI “The American doctors sent her back because they said that they cannot help her.” These were the heart wrenching words I heard come from a hopeless mother talking about her innocent, young, sick daughter. As I stood outside the tiny shack that this mother, daughter and family called home in the Dominican Republic I began to think. During that whole missions trip to the Dominican Republic I was thinking. How can I help and use the gifts I have been given to make a difference? I knew that I had a gift for academics, especially in science and math. I also knew that I loved kids from my experience counseling at camps and taking care of my 4 SIGNIFICANT • SUMMER 2011

younger siblings and neighbors. However, I had never thought of my heart for children, especially those in need, as actually another area of giftedness from God. I always knew that I wanted to make a difference, but I didn’t know how. Now I know that I want to make a difference in the lives of kids. Growing up I would often stress over what I would do when I was older. My parents would tell me not to worry because my grades could get me anywhere I wanted to go. Once I started figuring out who I was and what my goals in life were, various career paths began to emerge. The job I was

set on for a long time was working in a research lab to help find cures for diseases. I was determined to major in biochemistry and become a scientist, working on children’s diseases specifically. But after the missions trip to the Dominican Republic, God began working in my heart, redirecting my career goals. I still want to help kids in need, but I want to actually work with them, not just behind the scenes. I realized that while I may be able to address the physical needs of children by working in a lab far away, I would be neglecting their spiritual needs. That is why I am going to major in nursing in college, specializing in pediatrics. I will get to use my talent

in science and my love for kids to fulfill my calling to help children. Many nurses also help with research in labs. Ideally I would be able to work on cures for kids diseases, and then actually administer those cures to kids and see them get better. I am excited to start on the journey this fall towards achieving these goals and living out the calling that God has placed on my life. There will be many challenges on the road ahead, but I trust that God will be faithful. With His blessing I’m going to do all I can to help the kids I so desperately want to save.




Sports have always been a big part of my life. Since I was young, I remember spending countless nights outside shooting baskets, imagining making the game winning shot in the high school state championship game. Those dreams changed October 15th, 2010. On October 15th I suffered a severe knee injury returning a kickoff playing football for the Hillcrest Comets. I tried to make a cut carrying the ball, and my knee collapsed. Halfway through my senior year of football I started the long process of recovery, punctuated by what felt like hundreds of doctor appointments. An MRI found that I tore the ACL in my left knee. The injury would require surgery, forcing me to miss the remainder of my senior football season. As if that wasn’t enough, I discovered that I would also miss the entire basketball season. After my injury, I realized that I would never be able to live the athletic dreams I had as a boy. That was tough for me to accept. I was very frustrated and didn’t understand why God would let something like this happen to me. What good could ever come from this injury? The day for surgery came and went. After the surgery I started working on recovery and rehabilitation. Basketball season had started, and for the first time since Kindergarten, I would not be playing. Although I could not participate on the court, Hillcrest’s basketball coach, Gregg Preston, made me feel as much a part of the team as if I was playing. I learned more about basketball as an injured player than I did when I played. Coach was mentoring me to understand the game in a deeper and better way. He also taught me, as well as all the other players on the team, how our lives are not significant

because of how many points we score in basketball or how much money we make. Coach stressed that our lives are made significant because of the work of Jesus Christ. Not being able to play because of my injury was very difficult throughout the season. However, being injured gave me opportunity to share my faith in Christ in ways that I couldn’t have if I were playing. One of the highlights of the season was when I was able to pray before a game. Before home games, a Hillcrest varsity basketball player prays over the loudspeaker before starting lineups are introduced. This night I prayed, asking special prayer for a player on the other team who was going through some health problems. This player was also forced to sit-out his Senior season. Praying for him was something we as a team wanted to make sure we did before that game. While I stood on the sidelines during halftime, the mother of the injured player sought me out. She thanked me for the prayer and visited with me about how much she appreciated it. Later in the year the Basketball team gave this player a Bible and a card. Hopefully that gift will help him through his hard time. If he doesn’t know the Lord, maybe this gift will help him understand Christ’s love. I now feel like I can answer the question I asked God everyday after my injury. The question, “What good could ever come from this injury?” has been resolved with the help of teachers and coaches at Hillcrest. These mentors, along with my family, have taught me my life is significant through Jesus Christ, whether I am on the sidelines or playing on the field.




“…Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 5:18b-20

pray and talk about what genuine worship looked like. As a result we began to dream of an all-school worship night. For what seemed like months, we met to practice as this joint passion developed. Then we were given the opportunity to make this dream a reality.

I've been involved in worship ministry for several years. Coming to Hillcrest, I expected this ministry to continue. Family and friends have told me about the spiritual growth that happens at Hillcrest. Needless to say, I expected the same.

Saturday, January 15th we organized a worship time following Spiritual Formations Week. We wanted this event to be entirely student led and happen outside of the school day. The goals was not for it to be mandatory, but something that students would choose to attend only if they really wanted to be there. As we started to play and lead our student body in worship, nothing extraordinary happened. We were enjoying singing together, just as in chapel or in church.

I have a passion to worship Jesus Christ through music, and I wanted to share that. As the school year started I began to share my heart for worship with my South Korean, American and Norwegian classmates. We began to


a testimony of his desire to proclaim the essence of worship. This song's message is very much the same message we had felt in the months leading up to the worship night. As we stood on stage praising God I was paralyzed. I felt inadequate and unworthy of the responsibility that had been placed upon me to lead the student body into worship of Jesus Christ. However, as we closed the worship time I found myself realizing that the message I had wanted to communicate to the student body, God gave me instead. As the night progressed, many students were led to share their testimony or read scripture. The band also did something unusual. At one of the worship services in my church in Norway, the church was invited to join the band on stage to sing a song. The band and I felt led to do the same during this worship night at Hillcrest. So, with no prompting but from God and each other, we invited the student body on stage. Everyone barely fit next to us as we began singing Heart of Worship by Matt Redman. Mr. Redman wrote this song for his church in England. It was written following a time in their church where they didn't have music as part of their worship service. As the pastor for Mr. Redman's church worked through a series on living a life of worship, Mr. Redman felt called to write Heart of Worship as

In the weeks after this event, I sat down to define my own thoughts about worship: Worship is not limited to the songs we sing or the music we play. We are called to a life of worship. Whatever we do, we should do to glorify God. (1 Cor 10:31, NIV). We have got to understand this profound truth, and live by it. Worship is not about seeking some kind personal experience. It is not my job to feel Gods presence or to be moved by the Spirit when I worship. It’s not about me at all. The whole idea of worship is to give worth to God as a response for what he has done for us. We are to glorify God with our lives, the talents he has given us and to do our best in what we do. With this concept of worship, music becomes merely an expression of worship.



Completely closed. That’s how I would describe myself when I arrived at Hillcrest my Junior year. I wasn’t going to let God work in me in any way. As school moved from opening week into daily chapel and bibleclasses, I shut-down. Each class period would open with prayer, but my mind would wander, thinking of what a waste of time and pointless activity I thought it was. My focus when I arrived at Hillcrest was on what people thought of me. I put all my energy into creating an image of myself based on what I thought people liked. I worked to be unpredictable and funny. I soon found that in creating this image I lost the respect of everyone. Some people thought I could never be taken seriously, they didn’t trust me in important situations. The very thing I was working to become I became. I decided to attend Hillcrest after some tough family times. After growing up in a Christian community in northern Minnesota, my family moved to Florida. I was 8. A job opportunity for my dad in Florida slowly led to me watching my family tear itself apart. Frequent arguments involving my parents and my sister drove me to tears, as I would often fall asleep at the foot of my brother’s bed. Through the tough times I watched my sister move out and my dad turn to homosexuality. My mother, brother and I banded together in support of the remaining family we had in our house. It was difficult for me to stomach the emotional rollercoaster I was on. I was constantly working to be strong in support of my mom and brother. I closed myself off from my classmates at school emotionally, but was always striving for close relationships. I went about building those friendships wrongly and was

quickly pushed away. So, when I came to Hillcrest I just let loose. After a year and a half at Hillcrest I took a look at what God had blessed me with. I thought of those whom God had brought into my life to influence me at Hillcrest, and I broke down. On December fourth, two-thousand and ten, I opened my Bible for the first time without any direction. I found myself simply reading for about two hours. I moved from reading to praying. As I sat in my dorm room I closed my prayer after an hour by repenting for my ignorance towards God and the things I had done. At Hillcrest’s annual spring semester Prayer Day we opened letters we had written to ourselves from the beginning of the year. A worldview group called AXIS had come to our school during the first week and prompted us to recall aspects of their presentation on Christian Worldview. They instructed us to write a letter to remind ourselves of the lessons we learned throughout the week. As I sat in the room with my friends at the spring Prayer Day, I had no idea what I wrote. After looking at my letter I was filled with frustration. The letter I wrote to myself had pictures and some jokes in it. It had nothing to do with the AXIS presentation. It made me angry that I didn’t take my faith seriously at the start of the year, but it also led me to realize how much I had grown from that point. As I look back at who I was, I know that I never want to be like that again. I will stick to my faith no matter what happens next for me in life. I know I will do what I can to spread Gods word, and use my story to help others. SIGNIFICANT • SUMMER 2011 11

change of plans, change of heart by Christina Hardie I was totally intimidated the first time I drove up to the Hillcrest “castle”. I quickly discovered that, behind what I thought were scary brick walls at Hillcrest Academy, were people who really care about students. I found these people to have a genuine faith in God. I had roommates from China and Norway, and it was a fantastic experience getting to know their cultures as I acquainted them with mine. As I spent my Sophomore and Junior years at Hillcrest, I found myself frustrated with what I saw as insignificant activities. Homework assignments, cleaning tables in the cafeteria and going to sports practices every day were a few of the pointless ventures. Through my time at Hillcrest, God began to teach me faithfulness. I learned that I needed to be faithful with little things before He would entrust me with greater things. Colossians 3:23 was a key verse, teaching me that, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” My senior year was met with excitement and disappointments. I’ve wanted to attend the U.S. Naval Academy for the past few years. In November of my Senior year I was accepted and granted


the honor of attending, following graduation at Hillcrest. This was a convincing door that I felt God had opened for me. All of this changed during Thanksgiving vacation. Our Senior class took the annual Dominican Republic mission trip over Thanksgiving vacation. The goal was to share the Gospel and support the church in any way we could. While we were on the trip, I tore my ACL playing basketball. The surgery and recovery time necessary to repair my ACL made me physically ineligible to attend the Naval Academy. Not only was my future in the Naval Academy postponed, but my injury excluded me from participating in my Senior year of sports. I was completely disappointed. I couldn’t shake the feeling that God was being unfair, getting my hopes up for my future, and then allowing this to happen. I was reading through my Bible one night in the dorms and came across a passage in Jeremiah. Jeremiah wrote “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and future.” After reading this I woke up from the selfish and closed feelings I had toward God’s plan. I changed from being

focused on what I wanted, the plan I had created, to opening my heart and allowing God to exercise His better plan for me. I’ve found that my injury has given me more time to invest in the lives of people around me. I’m more conscious of waiting on God and being attentive to His prompting.

I’m fully convinced that God is using every experience I’ve had at HLA to draw me closer to Him, and I feel better prepared to follow Him as He leads. It’s completely comforting knowing that no matter what struggles or trials I go through, nothing happens outside of God’s plan, and He will use it for His purpose.


DOING by Annie Boyum


I came to Hillcrest looking for opportunities to minister to others. As school started it seemed like Satan was distracting me from my focus by telling me that I was lonely and homesick. I spent the first few weeks of school reading my Bible and praying, causing Jesus to truly become my best friend. I began getting involved with any kind of outreach organized at Hillcrest and found joy in loving and helping others. When winter came, activities and outreach seemed to slow down, but the Holy Spirit was still moving and began to activate some students’ hearts. A Bible study was formed with me and several friends. Starting in September we met every Monday night.

want the movie to portray Christians as unrealistically “perfect” people. One member of our Bible-study took it upon herself to address what I saw as the biggest questions. She went to the local public high school and spoke with them about showing a movie. She discovered that there were dates available in March and that the school would allow us to use their auditorium for the event. The group decided to show the movie To Save a Life. A local youth group had purchased rights to show the movie publicly and stepped forward to join us in the outreach. Following some detail planning, the March 31st outreach date was set.

Three students in the weekly Bible study felt a calling to do something hard -- something that could impact the entire community for Christ. We started to think of outreach ideas that would be effective at reaching other students our age. Finally, the group decided to do a communitywide movie night where we could present the Gospel.

Big snow flakes were falling from the sky as we arrived at the auditorium. Throughout the school day students across various communities were meeting in prayer for good weather and a good turnout. Both prayers were answered as the snow dissipated and 300 people were in attendance. It was amazing. Throughout the night the Bible-study group met with students and had multiple opportunities to share the gospel.

Answering the question of what we would do only seemed to open up more complex questions. Where

When I arrived at Hillcrest, God had placed a desire in my heart to minister to others, but I had no idea

would we have the movie night? What movie should we watch? When should we do this? These were some of the daunting issues we faced. The group wanted to find a neutral venue where people from any town and any school district would feel comfortable going. We also didn’t

how he would eventually bring that to fruition. Despite some frustration and roadblocks along the way, I can look back and see that He was and still is exposing me to His refining fire, using every experience to bring me closer to Him and make me a significant asset in the body of Christ.







Significant Issue 2 - Summer 2011  

A student-focused magazine from Hillcrest Academy, a private Christian High School with an emphasis in worldview education in Fergus Falls,...

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