Imagine Magazine Fall 2021

Page 1

�imagine� MAGAZINE

FALL 2021

Contents About the Cover: 2021 graduate, Mitchell Curtis finishes the 4x4 relay at a track and field meet. Read more on page 11.



Editor & Director of Public Relations Kayley White Editors and Contributors Diana Bay Cindy Brown Tim Deem Lori Hadley Dave Hogan Brian Mast Printing Ford Press Photography George Horsford Malcolm Yawn

Imagine Magazine is produced by the Office of Public Relations for the parents, friends, supporters, and alumni of Mount Dora Christian Academy & Children's Home. Mount Dora Christian Academy and Children's Home 301 W. 13th Avenue Mount Dora, FL 32757



10 15

2 Letter from the President

13 Arts

3 Development

14 Student Life

5 Social Services

15 The Messick Family Legacy


6 Academics

17 Alumni

@MDCAcademy @mount_dora_childrens_home

10 Athletics

18 Memorials and Honors

/MDCABulldogs /MountDoraChildrensHome

From the President At the end of May, we capped off another incredible year. The Class of 2021 was celebrated for many great accomplishments and was honored for being the 75th graduating class of Mount Dora Christian Academy. The Class of 2021 was comprised of talented students both academically and athletically. Eight graduates received the Florida Bright Futures Scholarship and 35% of the graduating class earned an opportunity to continue their athletic futures by signing athletic scholarships to colleges and universities across the country. All of our Bulldogs’ athletic programs represented us well, and several programs took us deep into state tournaments--We are thrilled to be the home of the 2021 Florida High School Athletic Association 1A Track and Field boys state champions! We look forward to continued academic and athletic success in the 2021-2022 school year. On top of their academic and athletic achievements, the Class of 2021 completed 4,603 hours of community service. The spirit of service is a tremendous attribute of being a student at MDCA. It is our hope that all of our students make service to others a priority as they move into the next chapters of their lives and into the work that God calls them. We welcomed 168 new students to our beautiful 70acre campus as we opened the doors to a new school year in August. Our theme for this year is “World Changers” and aims to build upon our firm foundation of educating, equipping, and empowering our students and Children’s Home participants to be the light God has called all of us to be in this world. Last year, there was collaboration with faculty and staff to refresh the mission and vision statements for Mount Dora Christian Academy and Children’s Home. As staff and faculty returned to campus for pre-planning week, new vision and mission statements

were presented. Faculty and staff engaged in a number of activities throughout the week celebrating the newly created vision and mission statements and ended the week with a prayer walk, covering the entire campus. Faculty, staff, students, classrooms, and office areas were prayed for throughout the prayer walk and a feeling of community could be felt across the grounds of the school. Our Vision: We believe in the power of a Christ-centered community to cultivate faith-driven world changers. Our Mission: Building on our legacy of faith and service, we educate, equip, and empower our community to love God and others, pursue excellence, and impact our world. The “mission” that was established in 1945 has not changed; only the verbiage has been refreshed. We hope you will join us in our work to “Educate, Equip, and Empower” our students, families, faculty, and staff as we strive to be “World Changers” and to be the hands and feet of Jesus in all that we do both on and off-campus. In Him,

Dr. Brian A. Mast President

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The Joy of Giving

Brother Wesley Leonard from the Southside Church of Christ in Orlando was a guest speaker at our church recently. His message was entitled, “Disciples Give Sacrificially.” His thoughts resonated with me and are the inspiration for this article. To put the lesson in context, we must first understand what it is to be a disciple. A disciple is a pupil, a learner, or a follower of a person or a particular field of study. It also connotes one who accepts, adheres to, and assists in spreading the doctrines of another. This dovetails with our biblical point of view of disciples and discipleship. As modern-day followers of God and His Son, we are disciples who imitate their teachings and are obedient to their commands.

So, what does it mean to give sacrificially? Webster’s defines sacrifice as: to forfeit, to give up, to surrender, to do without, or to give something in exchange for something else. There’s a difference between an offering and a sacrifice. An offering can be as simple as dropping a check in the collection plate each Sunday. In order to sacrifice, you have to be willing to give up something of value in order to get something of greater value. If it doesn’t mean anything to you, it’s not a sacrifice. If you give something to God that you don’t want, He doesn’t want it either. God is not impressed with our possessions, our wealth, our accomplishments, good looks, or anything else we have acquired on this earth. We came into this world with nothing, and we will leave with nothing. Everything in creation came from Him and belongs to Him. What does impress God is our faith, our love, and our obedience. We imitate God the most when we give and give sacrificially. The true essence of God is love and the Bible is a history of His love for mankind. His love is most clearly expressed in the Gospel of John, verse 3:16: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” This was God’s sacrificial giving for humanity. He gave up something of great value (Jesus), in order to gain something of even greater value (our salvation). Our challenge as disciples is, what are we willing to give in return? If you would like more information on ways that you can give and support the Mount Dora Christian Academy & Children’s Home, give me a call at 352-729-9015 or send me an email at

Addition to Development Team

Please join us in welcoming Brad Green to the Development Department as our new Church and Donor Relations Officer. Brad hails from Prattville, AL, but lived much of his early life in the Florida panhandle where his father, Jason Green, served as a preacher and youth minister. Brad is a graduate of Prattville Christian Academy and Faulkner University, with both bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Prior to coming to Mount Dora, Brad spent six years on the management team of Chick-Fil-A. Brad and his fiancée, Destiny Whited of Wildwood, FL, will be married in September and plan to live in the Lake County area. "Mount Dora has been a part of my life for several years, from visiting while growing up to being a part of the development office. It is a great blessing to spread the message of the work that happens at Mount Dora with churches and our supporters. Mount Dora makes a difference in so many lives and even in the kingdom of God; these differences would not be possible without the help of so many wonderful supporters!" - Brad Green If you would like to contact Brad to arrange a visit for your congregation, he can be reached at 352-729-9255 or 3 | Imagine · Fall 2021

Benefit Dinners Return

Benefit dinners for Mount Dora Children’s Home are once again being held in key cities around Florida and the Southeast. Due to the COVID pandemic, benefit dinners were halted for more than a year. The Children’s Home typically conducts five or six regional dinners each year. Attending one of the dinners is a great way to learn more about MDCH, meet some of the staff and residents, and show your support with a financial donation. In May, the first dinner since the beginning of the global pandemic was held in Tampa. Single parent Zorilyn Cheverez and high school senior Madison Smith shared their stories of how the Home has helped give them renewed hope for a better future. A second benefit dinner was held in August in Nashville.

Future Benefit Dinners Pensacola, FL

Saturday, October 2, 2021

Sarasota, FL

Saturday, January 15, 2022

Montgomery, AL

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Jacksonville, FL

Saturday, April 2, 2022

Tampa, FL

Saturday, May 14, 2022 To attend, or to offer your church’s help in promoting a benefit dinner, please contact our Development Office at 352-383-0762.

Divine Servant Award Glenn and Joanne Duncan received the Divine Servant Award at the Tampa Benefit Dinner this past spring. They are members at Pinellas Park Church of Christ and have faithfully supported MDCH for many years. The Duncan's have visited campus, promoted benefit dinners, and raised money through the Change for Children coin can program. The presentation of this award is always one of the highlights of each benefit dinner.

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Bright Futures Ahead

The future looks promising for residents affiliated with Mount Dora Children’s Home. This year’s graduates includes not only three high school seniors at MDCA, but also three former Children’s Home students graduating from college, and two graduates of MDCH’s Single Parent Program.

MDCA Graduates

Graduates from the Children’s Home program were; Riley Barnes, Leah Marshall, and Madison Smith. Riley has moved to North Carolina where she plans to train to be a dental assistant. Leah received a college scholarship to Southeastern Louisiana State University where she will play softball. She plans to major in pre-med and/or nutrition specialties. Madison will be moving to the Orlando area to attend Orange Technical College. She wants to become a certified vet technician and also complete a certification in cosmetology. We’re proud of all three of these young ladies and wish them well in their future plans.

Former Students Earn College Degrees

Three former residents of Mount Dora Children's Home graduated from college this spring and have exciting plans for their futures. They are Jairen Gilmore, Siera Hagan Fulford, and Athena Wagner. Jairen graduated from North Carolina A&T University and is making plans to enroll for a master's degree in computer science. He hopes to eventually earn a doctorate degree and teach at the college level. Siera, the daughter of former MDCH house parents Chris and Tonya Hagan, graduated from Freed-Hardeman University in nursing. It was an especially busy summer for Siera. She moved to Nashville, began work at Vanderbilt Medical Center, and married Bryce Fulford! Athena graduated from Harding University. She is now working on her CPA exam and hopes to earn a master's degree.

Single Parents Graduate

Two of the moms in our Single Parent Program are successfully graduating from the program this summer and fall. All have benefited in multiple ways from the program; including growing spiritually, improving their financial situations, securing training for their careers, and learning to provide more stable homes for their children. These single parents have exciting plans for their futures. Tyanna Strimple graduated this summer from Lake Technical College, receiving her certification as a phlebotomist. She and her two daughters, Nasia and Fiora, have moved to the Gainesville area to be closer to family. Tyanna is buying her own home there and has secured a job in healthcare. Single parent Amica Banks began work as a full-time staff accountant for a property management company, even before graduating from the Single Parent Program. Amica moved here two years ago when her twin daughters, Morgan and Courtney, were only four years old. Amica said the Single Parent Program helped her recover after experiencing a low point in her life. “I was so grateful. We had nowhere to go,” said Amica. “At that moment in my life, when I got accepted into the program, I basically had nothing. To be accepted at that moment was lifechanging for me. I had no clue that a program like this actually existed,” Amica added. “I persuade anyone and everyone (who needs this type of assistance) to apply for this program. It’s a wonderful program. I tell people how blessed I’ve been since joining it.”

Leah Marshall, Madison Smith, and Riley Barnes.

5 | Imagine · Fall 2021

Tyanna and her daughters, Nasia and Flora.

Amica Banks with her daughters, Morgan and Courtney.

The preschool recently participated in an outside review by Cognia and earned Early Learning Accreditation. Cognia is the largest education improvement organization in the world and emphasizes enhancing schools, engaging students, and driving better outcomes for all. Based on a set of rigorous research-based standards and evidence-based criteria, the accreditation process examined the whole preschool institution–its policies, programs, practices, learning conditions, and cultural context. The review process determines how well the parts work together to carry out our school’s vision and meet the needs of every learner. Accreditation isn’t about passing a one-time inspection. Instead, accreditation recognizes education providers that demonstrate and sustain their commitments to continuous improvement and better learning outcomes. The preschool began working on the accreditation process in the spring of 2020. Many hours were spent preparing and documenting the required indicators and compiling selected evidence. The Cognia review team analyzed data, conducted classroom observations, reviewed supporting documents, and evaluated preschool surveys. The team also

interviewed staff members and a group of preschool parents. This accreditation is unique because it was specifically developed for early learning schools. This process has highlighted ways the preschool can improve as well as acknowledged areas where the preschool excels. Cognia provides an explicit set of standards and criteria for accreditation. Meeting and exceeding those standards results in recognition of excellence. The review indicated that the preschool promotes a culture of collaboration, uses researchbased learning, provides a child-centered environment, and has a comprehensive communication system between parents and teachers. Earning external accreditation from Cognia also makes the preschool eligible to be recognized as a Gold Seal Quality Care Provider by the Department of Children and Families. This designation is for childcare centers that have gone above the required minimum licensing standards to become accredited by a recognized agency whose standards reflect quality in the level of care and supervision provided to children. During a year like no other, the preschool earned accreditation and provided a safe, educational environment for MDCA’s youngest students.

New Science Lab is Complete On August 18th, MDCA recognized the completion of the Wishart Science Lab. This science lab will serve our middle school students and will be used by secondary science teacher, Amanda Colwell ('03). About the new lab she says, “We now have the resources that I needed to hit home in my lessons. Sometimes they don’t get it when it’s just books and words. They need to be able to see and touch.”

time Christian, God works in mysterious ways. It’s unexplainable how He brings us here. When I came on this campus, I just knew that if my parents were alive, this is where they would have wanted their funds to go...I know they would have loved this. It would have brought tears to their eyes,” said Chaffin.

For many of these projects, the question is: Where do we get the money? That's where Lisa Chaffin comes in. After taking Lisa on a tour of the campus, she said, “My heart is with that science lab. That’s where I want to help out.” She had a plan, and she knew what her parents would have wanted. They were educators. Lisa and her husband, Lynn, decided to donate funds in memory of Lisa’s parents, Jack and Maxine Wishart.

MDCA would like to thank Lynn and Lisa Chaffin for their generous gift in memory of Lisa’s parents, Jack and Maxine Wishart. There is a bronze plaque that has been placed outside the doorway to the lab with their name.

“It’s beautiful, I know as an educator and as a long-

Lisa Chaffin with her son, Trent, and Dr. Mast

Imagine · Fall 2021 | 6


Preschool Accredited by Cognia


New Secondary Leadership Team

Mount Dora Christian Academy has named Dr. Sara Hill Secondary Principal and Reid Hillin Secondary Assistant Principal. Sara Hill graduated from MDCA in 2004 with a passion for Christian education. She earned her bachelor's degree in Business Administration in 2009 and her master’s degree in Taxation in 2010, both from the University of Central Florida. After working in accounting for three years, Sara felt God’s calling to education and completed her certification to become a teacher. She joined MDCA’s faculty in 2013 as a secondary teacher and coach. She earned her dual master’s degree in Organizational Leadership and Curriculum and Instruction from York College in 2018. Hill was appointed as MDCA’s Secondary Assistant Principal in 2018. She recently completed her doctoral degree in Educational Leadership from the University of Central Florida. Head of School, Dr. Lori Hadley says, “Dr. Hill has been a part of the MDCA community her entire life. Her unique understanding of where the organization has been, the growth that has already occurred, and our goals for the future make her the perfect choice to lead our secondary school.” 7 | Imagine · Fall 2021

About her new position, Hill says, “I am excited to take on the role of Secondary Principal at MDCA. My goal as an administrator is to emulate Jesus’ example of servant leadership and to have a positive impact on others. The past school year was challenging, but we have an amazing opportunity this year to build our community up stronger than ever.” New Secondary Assistant Principal Reid Hillin was born and raised in Nashville, TN. He moved here last summer to work at MDCA. “It was a fantastic first year. The community here made us feel welcome from day one, and we loved it.” Prior to arriving at MDCA, he worked at Lipscomb Academy and Ezell-Harding Christian School in Nashville. His experience in the classroom and on the basketball court at both schools make him a great assett to MDCA. Hillin has his undergraduate and graduate degrees from Lipscomb University in Bible and Conflict Management. His wife, Amy Roberts Hillin, is a 2007 graduate of MDCA. About his new position, Hillin states, “I am thrilled for this new opportunity. Our teachers are remarkable at what they do. I cannot wait to help them educate, equip, and empower our students to live lives of purpose and love in the Kingdom of God. I can't believe I get to come to work and serve these teachers and students each day. It is a gift.”

Darnell Harrison, Secondary PE Teacher: Coach Harrison earned his bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice from Western Illinois University where he played WR/DB for the Leathernecks football team. Harrison coached our Track and Field team last school year, winning the district title, the regional title, and the state championship! His son, Adrian, is attending MDCA this year as a firstgrader.

Bre Holder, Secondary PE Teacher: Bre will be entering her fourth season as the varsity volleyball head coach at MDCA. She was born and raised in Orlando and was the captain of her high school varsity volleyball team. She led her team to the FHSAA state championship finals twice. After graduating in 2014, she earned a scholarship to play volleyball for Ave Maria University and continued to play for four years until she earned her B.A. in health sciences. Alison McCartney, Third Grade Teacher: Alison received her degree from Eastern Michigan University and has been teaching 6th-grade reading and a college prep program called AVID. She has been married for ten years and has a son, Jack, a daughter, Emily, and a cat named Perry. Billy Murfin, Secondary Bible Teacher: Billy attended Southeastern University in Lakeland and graduated with a B.S. in Ministerial Leadership with an emphasis in youth ministry. The Murfin family comes to MDCA from Saint Petersburg where Billy was a deacon over youth. He has been married to his wife, Elly, for 19 years and they have one son, Camden. He and his wife have worked in youth ministry for the last 18 years. Sharon Parsons, First Grade Teacher: Sharon joins MDCA with over 25 years of teaching experience, both public and private. She is an honors graduate of California University of Pennsylvania where she received her B.S. in Elementary Education. She earned an Instructional Coaching Endorsement from Wilkes University of Pennsylvania. She was also the Director of Education for a Sylvan Learning Center.

Jamie Rader, Secondary Bible Teacher: Jamie received his bachelor's in Biblical Studies from The Southeast Institute of Biblical Studies in Knoxville, TN. He is the full-time preacher for Spring Garden Avenue Church of Christ in Deland. His wife, Chris, is the Food Service Director at MDCA, and his children, Jacob & Jordan, are in the 8th & 5th grades this school year.

April Smith, Elementary STEM Teacher: April received her BA in Elementary Education from Harding University. She started her own piano business, teaching up to 20 students. During her time as a piano teacher, she raised her four children. April continued teaching piano until 2015 and then returned to school to become a nurse. After becoming a nurse in 2017, she worked in a rehabilitation center and then as a school nurse. April has been active in her church teaching Sunday school classes, VBS, and women's classes. Patrick Symonds, Secondary History Teacher: Patrick is a Mt. Dora native, growing up here and in the Leesburg area. He graduated from Southeastern University in Lakeland where he earned his Bachelor's in Organizational Leadership and minor in Business. He returned to Mt. Dora after meeting his German wife and traveling with her. The Symonds moved away for six years to do mission work in Germany and have recently returned to the area. Gina Turnage, Fifth Grade Teacher: Gina graduated from Stetson University with her bachelor’s degree in elementary education and her master’s degree in exceptional education K-12. Gina has taught exceptional education in 4th & 5th grades in Orange County Schools and has also taught elementary in Citrus and Volusia counties. Gina and her husband, Larry, have been married for 17 years and have three children: Kyle, Conner, and Mallory. Kathy Van Dingstee, Secondary History Teacher: Kathy has her Bachelor's in Secondary Education from UF and has her Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction. Kathy has been teaching for 37 years, 16 of those at MDCA! She has been married to her husband, Hans, for 36 years. Together they have two daughters, Amanda and Anna, who are both MDCA alums. Imagine · Fall 2021 | 8


Welcome New Bulldog Faculty


The Class of 2021

SCHOLARSHIPS & AWARDS Valedictorians: Hailie Amrhein and Rodney Bryant

The Class of 2021 was the 75th graduating class of MDCA!

Salutatorian: Ariana Cawthon Mr. and Miss MDCA: Erick Seabrook and Hannah Leto Christian Leadership Award: Landon Dotson and Ariana Cawthon Christian Athlete Award: Landon Dotson and Ariana Cawthon President’s Award: Ariana Cawthon, Mitchell Curtis, and Nikolas Gibson Scholarship money: $3,378,019 Florida Bright Futures Scholarship Recipients: 20% Hours of Community Service: 4,603

MDCA CLASS OF 2021 COLLEGE ACCEPTANCES Advent Health University Algonquin College (Ontario) Ambrose University Auburn University Ave Maria University Benedict College Bethel University Brevard College California State University - Sacramento Campbell University Clemson University Columbia International University Concordia College Culver-Stockton University Daytona College Daytona State College Eastern Tennessee University Flagler College Florida A&M University Florida Atlantic University Florida Gulf Coast University Florida Institute of Technology Florida Southern College Florida State College at Jacksonville 9 | Imagine · Fall 2021

Florida State University Freed-Hardeman University Furman University Gardener-Webb University Harding University Howard University Iowa Central Community College Jacksonville University Johnson University Keiser University LaGrange College Lake Sumter State College Nova Southeastern University Oglethorpe University Ohio Christian University Orange Technical College Pennsylvania State University Presbyterian College Queens University Rollins College Sara Lawrence College Seminole State College Southeastern Community College Southern Louisiana University

Southeastern University Spring Hill College Stetson University St. Andrews University St. Leo University St. Thomas University Stevenson University Tallahassee Community College University of Alabama University of Central Florida University of North Carolina Greensboro University of North Florida University of South Florida University of Tampa University of West Florida Valdosta State University Valencia College Warner University Webber University Winston-Salem State University Wisconsin Lutheran College Wofford College Selected schools of attendance in bold

This year, 35% of the Class of 2021 have signed athletic scholarships to play at the next level! In the worst college athletic recruiting year in history, MDCA pushed through, overcame adversity, and signed 14 studentathletes to play at the college level. The Class of 2021 now holds the record for the most athletic signees at MDCA, as well as the most in both Lake and Sumter counties. Austin Drinkwater Football Wofford College

Hailie Amrhein Softball Ohio Christian University

Leah Marshall Softball Southeastern Louisiana University


Playing At The Next Level

Nikolas Gibson Cross Country Lake Sumter State College

Bladen Bunce Football Keiser University

Hannah Leto Volleyball Columbia International University Rodney Bryant Basketball University of West Florida

Katelynne Sanders Volleyball Southeastern Community College

Erick Seabrook Football Ave Maria University

Jenna Sees Track & Field Harding University

Kavon Ellis Football Iowa Central Community College

Ty'Quan Wiggins Football St. Thomas University

Mitchell Curtis Cross Country, Track & Field Daytona State University

Ryan Wilson Football Presbyterian College Imagine · Fall 2021 | 10


Track and Field Takes State

The boy's track and field team claimed the FHSAA Class 1A state championship title in May, but it did not come without some challenges. Head track and field coach, Darnell Harrison, said, “We started as a small, but talented team. Most of our athletes played other sports, so we couldn’t all be together at the beginning. There was no chemistry or trust at first, so it was tough to get everyone to buy-in. I knew that we had hard-working, smart, intelligent, and respectful kids! The biggest thing we had going for us was our successful distance program.” As the season continued, the team competed in their individual events. They would run, jump, and throw amazing results individually, so other teams did not see them as a threat. “Midway through the season people were starting to notice that we were a good team, and the pressure began. It’s easy to get to the top, but it’s hard to stay there.” Right before regionals, the Bulldogs were faced with some obstacles. They had guys with sinus infections, dropped the baton in relays, and had two guys fall in the 110 hurdles. None of this had happened all season, so it was the team’s first sign of a setback. The Bulldogs held on, despite the mishaps, and pulled off the regional championship! As the state championship approached, they still had guys with sinus infections, and only a handful qualified from regionals. “It wasn’t looking good, but we trusted in our team motto, “we can do all things through Christ”. We just went out there and gave it our all.” Every individual on the team scored in the state meet, and they were all vital to the state championship. Ultimately, it came down to the last event of the night, the 4x400 relay. This event is usually the last one of the day, so athletes are tired from a six-hour day of competing in the hot sun. The boys had to make the top three in this event to have a place in the state championship. Coach Harrison combined two of his best sprinters and two of his best distance runners to make a school recordbreaking team for this event. It all came down to seniors Rodney Bryant and Mitchell Curtis plus Noah Musselwhite and Isaiah Bryant.

11 | Imagine · Fall 2021

“The community of Mount Dora, our school, the kids, their families, our coaches, administrators, faculty, staff, and our amazing athletic director deserved this.

We could not have done it without all of their support. Most importantly, we thank God, to whom we give the glory!” The Bulldogs finished the meet with a total of 45 points. The boys track and field team won the state title in 1983 and 2009, making this the third time MDCA has claimed the championship title.

Baseball and Softball Make the Final Four Mount Dora Christian Academy's softball and baseball teams competed in the Final Four this year, making MDCA the first school from Lake and Sumter counties to have both teams reach the Final Four within the same year. The Lady Bulldogs made it to the Class 2A state semifinals (the final four) in 2016, 2017, and 2019, in addition to this year. Since 2016, the Lady Bulldogs have compiled a 115-40 record. Both teams fell short of reaching the state championship but they finished their seasons strong. The baseball team ended with a 22-7 record and softball 20-9.

"Last year was a special year for our MDCA Baseball program for so many reasons. Our Varsity program made it to the Final Four of the State Championship Series in Fort Myers, falling one run short of earning an opportunity to play for the State Championship. As a coach, I have had the opportunity to be around many successful teams, but this Bulldog team was much different. We were unique because there was such a family feeling in our dugout, a camaraderie that is like nothing I have witnessed. I have had super tight-knit teams before, but the 2021 Bulldogs were more than that. They cared for each other, they rooted for each other's success, and they picked each other up when things went bad. Naturally, our Varsity squad played well, but the tightness of the team and the ability to never give up and continue to fight for seven innings made the season a special year." -Coach Jason Sanders

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Their ability to run the 4x4 relay became a secret weapon to help the team win state. The Bulldogs led the race most of the way and crossed the line in 3:23.59, putting them in second place for the relay, and in first place in the State Championship!


Fine Arts Program Grows

This year MDCA's Fine Arts program continues to expand. Mrs. Benton has come on board full time and has added some additional Art electives for middle and high school. Mr. Perkins expanded the music program by holding Band Camp at the end of July in preparation for this year's new marching band and color guard. In Theatre, Ms. Abbate has added a middle school play to this year's spring productions. The elementary play will now be a joint effort between Ms. Abbate and Mrs. Perkins, our elementary music teacher, and will take place in combination with the elementary Christmas program. The secondary play will now become a high schoolonly production and will continue to take place in the fall. This year's High School play will be Cinderella or The Story of Bigfoot. Additionally, the Fine Arts staff is looking to offer new elective courses to all 5th graders in the Spring. It is a great time for students to explore their creative side at MDCA.

Mark Your Calendar High School Play

Middle School Play

Elementary Christmas Program

Spring Band Concert

Friday, December 10, 2021 Saturday, December 11, 2021

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Winter Band Concert

Thursday, December 16, 2021

13 | Imagine · Fall 2021

Friday, April 8, 2022 Saturday, April 9, 2022

Thursday, May 5, 2022

Senior Sophia Kainz first enrolled at Mount Dora School of Ballet at the age of three, the same time that she started at MDCA’s preschool. "I have been blessed to train under Mrs. Kathryn Wheeler, who has been an extraordinary mentor in my life." Sophia has now been dancing for fourteen years. "I enjoy the shared athleticism and gracefulness that ballet has. I believe that it has strengthened my discipline and focus, which has also translated into my academic life at MDCA." "It can be very difficult to balance my school work with my ballet schedule. It is always a challenge when I have my performances and finals in the same week. Ballet has taught me about time management and improved my efficiency. My favorite thing about ballet is being able to express myself in an art form and perform for others." This past May, Sophia played the lead role in Cinderella. "It was a dream come true," said Sophia. This was a great opportunity for her to be able to perform alongside a professional partner from Orlando Ballet. In the past five years, she has spent her summers training in New York City, NY; Nashville, TN; Jackson, MS; and Philadelphia, PA. This past summer, she went to the renowned Kirov Academy of Ballet in Washington D.C. for five weeks. "It was an exciting experience being taught by some of the best Russian teachers and being surrounded by dancers from all over the world." Sophia is looking forward to her next performance in The Nutcracker. She will be performing in December at the community center in downtown Mount Dora. In the future, Sophia would love to pursue dance in college while continuing her studies in science and medicine. "I am thankful for ballet and grateful for the impact it has made on who I am today."

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Sophia Is On Pointe


The Messick Family Continues Their Legacy

“He, who began a good work in you, will be faithful to complete it …..” Philippians 1:6 In 1953, Walter Parks Messick Sr. and Nellie Messick moved from North Carolina to Mt. Dora, FL to fulfill a promise they had made to God. This promise was to give their son, Parks, a Christian education. Parks was immediately enrolled in Christian Home and Bible School, where he remained until graduating in 1965. Parks played basketball for Coach Cletus Stutzman, who was a huge part of his life. During this time, his father, Parks Sr. worked at the school from 1957-1973, serving as Campus Supervisor and as a member of the Board of Directors for 16 years, during one of the largest expansion efforts at the time. He worked on the construction of some of the original buildings and did grounds work. Mr. Messick constructed five of the buildings that are on campus today. He began to plant trees and plants to beautify the campus.

were able to transform our campus into a beautiful and serene garden-like learning environment. This commitment is an ongoing mission, and I give God the credit for all that has been accomplished and will be in the future." - Parks M. Parks later started his own business of landscape and irrigation, but has always continued to help on campus with landscape designs and irrigation. To this day, his family has been proud to see him working when they pass him on the sidewalk, and now his grandkids get to do the same.

Carissa (Messick) Kessinger began attending CH&BS in kindergarten and graduated in 1996. She met, and later married, her high school sweetheart, Ryan Kessinger, a 1995 graduate of CH&BS. They have four children who all attend MDCA. Their oldest son, Riley just graduated in May 2021. Their other children include Colby (9th grade), Carlyn (6th Parks and his wife, Jan, returned to CH&BS from Sarasota, FL grade), and Brayden (3rd grade). "We wanted to have our in 1979 with two-year-old Carissa. Emily and David were born own children attend the school because this is our home. shortly after the move. They lived in an apartment on campus We know the sacrifice it took my grandparents, parents, and before moving into a house on 12th Ave. Ryan's parents to put us through school here and we wanted to raise our own kids in the same type of experiences and "We made the decision to continue our family legacy of atmosphere. Ryan and I decided to do whatever it takes to Christian education for our children. I had a dream of making keep them at school here. The family legacy is so special, but the campus look like a beautiful garden under all those their Christian walk with Christ is the ultimate goal. Having whispering pine trees, so I began making the changes that I Christian examples in teachers is the best thing we can wish could while employed at the school from 1979-1981." for them." - Carissa K. - Parks M. Emily (Messick) Mabry, graduated from CH&BS in 1999. Emily Parks has always done all of the landscaping design on campus and her husband, Jason, have two children at MDCA, CJ (9th) and has also served some years on the Board of Directors as and Hunter (7th). Emily has worked at MDCA for the past 10 well as the P-T-A president for several years while his children years as a lead VPK teacher. were in school. "I LOVE my job. I love working with the kids and getting to know their families and building relationships with them. "Between 1990–2003, it was my honor to serve on the school's Board of Directors. The school experienced another growth period and through the help of many beneficiaries, we

Walter Parks Messick, Sr at a board meeting

15 | Imagine · Fall 2021

Parks, Class of 1965

Cletus Stutzman and W. Parks Messick Jr. looking over the plans for a new entrance to the school.

Ryan, Class of 1995

Carissa, Class of 1996

Their brother, David attended CH&BS, but transferred to another school for his high school years. He now works next to Parks, carrying on the legacy of their family business. The Messick siblings have had cousins on both sides of the family that have attended CH&BS. Their cousin, Shane Huckeba, graduated from CH&BS in 1990. What did it mean for you to graduate from the same school like so many of your family members? Emily: At the time I graduated, it didn’t mean as much as it does now. Now that I work at the school and my children attend, it means the world to me. When I am walking on campus, I think about how I could be walking the same path that my grandfather walked at one time and it gives me chills. The fact that CJ and Hunter attend MDCA and walk those same paths that their great grandfather, grandfather, mother, aunts, and uncles have makes it even more special. What is one of your favorite memories from being a student at MDCA? Emily: There are so many...I would say cheering and basketball games, chicken suppers, and the friends I made throughout the years. I still get flashbacks every time I walk by the gym before a basketball game and hear the balls bouncing and shoes screeching on the floor. I loved getting to see my Dad on campus so often, too. I always assumed he was there to see me because he would always bring me lunch and goodies, but then I graduated. When I returned to work at MDCA he was still here all the time. So, I guess I wasn’t the only reason he was on campus so often, but I still say I was top on the list! Carissa: My favorite memories are the old playground and pool (even though I hated that they made us take swimming lessons as our P.E. during elementary), the stream, chicken suppers, and chapel. I also love my memories of the basketball

Emily, Class of 1999

David, Class of 2001

games and eating atomic fireballs, popcorn, RC Cola, and running around with our friends. I have memories of singing in chorus as a junior and senior and noticing Ryan as more than just my buddy while on chorus tour. Most importantly, I remember the dearest friends that I have made at school.


Working at MDCA is like working with family. I love that my class knows my boys and my dad from seeing them on campus, and I love how they shout hello to them and get so excited when they see them. The close-knit family feel that MDCA has is irreplaceable, and I wouldn’t want to teach anywhere else. I have friends who I have known since childhood at MDCA, and I have new friends that will last a lifetime because of MDCA." - Emily M.

How do you feel knowing that your own children will one day graduate from MDCA? Emily: The feeling is indescribable. Knowing that they will be third-generation MDCA graduates means so much to me and my family. Having our boys at MDCA has always been a priority to Jason and me. Not only does my family have history at the school, but Jason's grandfather, Paul Noe, is in the school's hall of fame for all of the volunteer work he did over the years of his life. We knew we would make any sacrifices needed in order for them to attend. CJ and Hunter have both attended MDCA since preschool and are currently entering 7th and 9th grade. It will be an emotional day when they are high school seniors and walk down the aisle alongside my preschool graduates. Carissa: Being a part of CH&BS/MDCA means continuing my grandparents' desire to see their children raised in Christian education with a strong foundation academically and spiritually. It means a great deal to us to still get to see some of the same families that we have known all of our lives. So many of these people have been solid leaders and examples to us. Recent graduate, Riley Kessinger, says, “It's amazing and an honor to follow in the footsteps of my parents and grandparents and to keep the alumni going strong.” "I am grateful to continue to be able to contribute to a place that has been such a big part of my life and the lives of my family. As my dad’s promise was completed, all three of my children received their Christian education, too. My oldest grandson just graduated from MDCA, achieving thirdgeneration alumni for our family. As I spend time on campus now continuing to do whatever I can to advise and design, it gives me great joy to be greeted by my six grandchildren attending my old alma mater, and a daughter leading her classroom with the same commitment to give back to the lives of others." - Parks M.

Parks, Jan, Emily, David, and Carissa

Carrisa, Riley, and Parks at Riley's graduation

Parks and Emily at the 2021 MDCA Staff Dinner

Imagine · Fall 2021 | 16


Alumni Updates

Class of 2010 Jeannine Yawn married Drew Amann on May 1st. Bryan Kilts and his wife, Kristina, welcomed their newborn, Carter, on August 13th. Class of 2011 Josh Hooper and his wife, Lily, welcomed their newborn, Adah, on March 9th.

Class of 2013 Davis Brown is engaged to Thabile Tshatedi. Josef Alleyne has returned to MDCA as the defensive backs football coach. Chase Miller married Kate Touscany on July 31st. Class of 2014 Kris Wohlers graduated from Stetson Law and received his Juris Doctor. Madison (Cooney) Johnson, graduated from the Florida State University’s Law School and is now a Juris Doctor. Christina McKinney married Jacob Muzzarelli on February 21st. Jonathan Foster graduated from the University of Florida Law School. Chris Newkirk graduated from the University of South Florida. Class of 2015 Kaylee (Hayes) and Ben Dale ('14) welcomed their second child, Greyson, on April 1st. Hayden Welter is engaged to Brittany Villafane ('16). Eric Harrison is engaged to Emilee Burford ('16). Christopher Perkins married Lilly Nava on June 18th. Matthew Conod is officially an Airline Transport Pilot. Class of 2016 Paloma De Leon graduated from Stetson University with a degree in Psychology.

Ja-Mia Walker is engaged to Tommie Beck. Parker Sexton and Ben Johnson swore in with the firefighter oath and received their badges. Logan Bridgeman completed the Appalachian Trail on August 3rd. Leah Germain graduated from the University of Denver with a degree in Communication Arts. Class of 2017 Lacey Sexton graduated from Florida Gulf Coast University with a Bachelors in Psychology. Athena Wagner graduated from Harding University with a degree in accounting. Jairen Gilmore graduated from North Carolina A&T University. Siera Hagan graduated from Freed-Hardeman University with a degree in nursing and married Bryce Fulford on June 10th. Cassie McWhirt graduated from Faulkner University with her Bachelors of Science in Health and Rehabilitation Psychology. Jessica Trentham graduated from the University of Central Florida with a degree in nursing. She also married Brady Walrath on July 11th. Class of 2018 Melody Coe graduated from Law Enforcement Academy. Sophia Akel graduated from FSU Magna Cum Laude with a double major in Economics and Philosophy in three years. She is now off to FSU Law School on a full academic scholarship. Class of 2019 Avery Davis and Trey Clifton ('17) are engaged. They both graduated from Harding University Spring 2021. Avery earned her degree in accounting, and Trey obtained his degree in Bible and Family Ministry.

Join Our Alumni Network

On Facebook: Search for “MDCA Alumni” or type into your browser. Then, click the blue “Join” button and answer the questions. On our website: Then, fill out the form to join our Alumni Network. We would love to know what is going on in your life! Let us know about graduations, awards, a wedding, a birth, job changes, promotions, etc. Please email your news to 17 | Imagine · Fall 2021



Memorials February 2, 2021 - July 31, 2021

John and Nancy Allen Mr. and Mrs. J. Wiley Cutts Dwayne Hawkins Mr. and Mrs. Robert Thornhill Mr. and Mrs. Charles W. Blanton Mrs. Jean Bracey Mr. Michael Daniels Capital Automotive Goup, LLC Earkie Milner Carolyn Smith Marguerite Atchison Mr. and Mrs. Jeffery Helms CDK Global Mrs. Sue Gage Mr. and Mrs. Everett C. Smith Mr. Robert Atchison Mr. and Mrs. David W. Hensley Rays Baseball Club, LLC Betty Morris Chuck Smith Sam Ayers Mrs. Phyllis Ingram Wayne Hill Luella Aldine Bruce Spring Hill Church of Christ Mr. and Mrs. Ben Vick Mr. and Mrs. Fredrick Loftin Ms. Joan M. Brown Mr. and Mrs. Steve Cargle Stuart Church of Christ Kathy Barnett Mark Clayton Mr. and Mrs. Larry R. Brown Tom Collins and Sue Collins Sue Spurgeon Mrs. Virginia C. Henley Mr. and Mrs. Timothy J. Deem Mr. and Mrs. Russell A. Line Ms. Martha Hall Mr. and Mrs. James R. Gatewood, Jr. Helen Barton James L. Cline Mr. and Mrs. Jim Massey Patricia Jo Karr John Stafford Mr. and Mrs. Ben Vick Mr. and Mrs. Mike L. Sanford Mr. Mark Prindle Mr. and Mrs. Charles Killian Mrs. Jonnye Towery Billie Bates Ida Jeanette Cook Lonnell T. Hogan Mr. and Mrs. Billie J. Queen Lester & Ruth Starling Mrs. Teresa S. Lahti Mrs. Debbie Benoit Ms. Fran Mitchell Mr. David Samples Mr. and Mrs. Ben Vick Florence Boatright Della Blaine Cooper Gloria Ingram Mr. and Mrs. Everett C. Smith Philip Starling Mrs. Linda Boatright Airport Road Church of Christ Mr. and Mrs. Jack McDonald Mr. Jack D. White Mr. and Mrs. Ben Vick John Benjamin Born Aileen Craig Edith Jackson Doris Noblitt Sam Stephenson Mr. and Mrs. Darrell S. Cooper Ms. Anita Whitaker Ms. Donna Bailey Mr. and Mrs. John Burkett Mr. and Mrs. James M. Adair Mildred Boyd Joe Craig Debbie Jacobs Julie Ann Norman Cletus Stutzman Mr. and Mrs. Bill Champion Mrs. Cheryl Hardy Ms. Bobbie Martin Mr. and Mrs. Knox Norman Mr. and Mrs. John Burkett Mr. and Mrs. Charles Conley Ms. Emily Ingram Mr. and Mrs. Douglas Tillery Howard Reed Oliver, Jr. Mr. and Mrs. Ben Vick Ms. Amy E. Jordan Mr. Dan Singleton Deborah P. Jacobs Mrs. Darlene Oliver Donna Sutton Mr. and Mrs. Jack McDonald Mr. and Mrs. Vince V. Spires Mrs. Donna Marie Bailey Norman Parrish Mr. and Mrs. Charles H. Faust Mr. and Mrs. Vernon Means Mrs. Melinda Sutherland Ms. Crystal Lafalce Mrs. Mary S. Parrish Van Tate Mr. and Mrs. Robert Thornhill Ms. Anita Whitaker Barbara Jarrett Pam Patton Mr. and Mrs. Rick Ricard Mr. and Mrs. Ben Vick Mr. and Mrs. Willard W. Whitaker Mr. and Mrs. Frank Allen Ms. Alicia L. Solomon Mary Terry Monty Boyd Mr. and Mrs. Dale Yoder Thomas F. Jett Lynn Praay Mr. and Mrs. Andrew H. Limbrecht Mrs. Adrian H. Boyd James L. Cribbs Mr. and Mrs. James C. McDermott Mrs. Peggy Stephens Robert Terry, Jr. Orvel & Mildred Boyd Mr. and Mrs. James T. Cribbs Tim Jones Ann Pritchett Mr. and Mrs. Andrew H. Limbrecht Mr. and Mrs. Garry D. Allison, Jr. Stephen Cribbs Stuart Church of Christ Mrs. Sue Gage Walter Uebele Mrs. Adrian H. Boyd Mr. and Mrs. James T. Cribbs Margaret Lambert Herb Pruitt Luella Aldine Bruce Mrs. Melba Meriwether John Cronin Mr. and Mrs. Gerald W. Ledgerwood Mr. and Mrs. Ben Vick Mr. and Mrs. Steve Cargle Orvel Boyd Mr. and Mrs. Steve Ising George Limbrecht Elsie L. Pylant Tom Collins and Sue Collins Ms. Amy E. Jordan Ralph Denney Mr. and Mrs. Andrew H. Limbrecht Mr. and Mrs. Theron L. Golleher Ms. Martha Hall Mr. and Mrs. Vernon Means Mr. and Mrs. Robin B. Leonard Marguerite Limbrecht Mr. and Mrs. Craig Kelly Patricia Jo Karr Don Bracey Bob Dowling Mr. and Mrs. Andrew H. Limbrecht Mr. Marion Pylant Mr. and Mrs. Charles Killian Mrs. Jean Bracey Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Wilke Marie Mancill Basel Queen Mr. David Samples Peggy Brown Harriet Dowling Mrs. Virginia C. Henley Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth M. Jackson Mr. and Mrs. Everett C. Smith Mesa Church of Christ Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Wilke Elizabeth "Beth" Mathis Diana Queen Ray Vines Luella Aldine Smith Bruce Barbara Fugerer Mrs. Sue Gage Luella Aldine Bruce Spring Hill Church of Christ Mr. and Mrs. Darrell S. Cooper Mr. and Mrs. Louis L. Bell Sr. Glenn E. McCallister, Sr. Mr. and Mrs. Steve Cargle Beverly Volinsky Doris Butts Mr. Jeremy Fugerer Mr. and Mrs. Kasey Oakley Tom Collins and Sue Collins Mr. and Mrs. Robert N. Sell Mr. Ray F. Butts Mr. and Mrs. Anthony J. Kapsak Mr. and Mrs. Rick Ricard Ms. Martha Hall Majorie Waits Carolyn Cardwell Mr. and Mrs. Pat McNair Mr. and Mrs. Tim Rowell Patricia Jo Karr Ms. Nanette Griscti Beville Road Church of Christ Ms. Arlene Reynolds Sidney McClure Mr. and Mrs. Charles Killian Ms. Joyce V. Phipps Janella Cawthan Billie Jo Walker Gaskins Mrs. Janetta McClure Mr. and Mrs. Billie J. Queen Donna Walker Mrs. Virginia C. Henley Mrs. Kelly McClure Brian McCown Mr. David Samples Mr. and Mrs. James L. Moon, Jr. Jack & Edith Chaffin Wilma Joyce Hall Mrs. Mary S. Parrish Mr. and Mrs. Everett C. Smith Carolyn West Mr. Huston D. Ashley The Estate of Wilma Joyce Hall Ms. Frankie Walden Jeannie Reed Mrs. Bettye Liddick James G. "Chappy" Chapman Kay Wild Hansen Merl McCurry Mr. and Mrs. Jack McDonald Mary Alice Wise Luella Aldine Bruce Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth Acker Lecanto Church of Christ Roberta Reinhardt Mr. and Mrs. Paul J. Deem Mr. and Mrs. Steve Cargle Debbie Pullen Harris Charles McDonald Stuart Church of Christ Mr. and Mrs. Timothy J. Deem Tom Collins and Sue Collins Mrs. Janet Dill Mr. and Mrs. Robert D. Aversa Marty Rodriquez Ms. Alicia L. Solomon Ms. Martha Hall Jerry Harris Mr. John Calhoun Mr. and Mrs. Everett C. Smith Leta Woodham Patricia Jo Karr Mr. and Mrs. Robert Holmes Central Church of Christ Nellie Rose Mr. and Mrs. Robert N. Sell Mr. and Mrs. Charles Killian Jean Harvey Mr. and Mrs. Patrick Ciniello Mr. and Mrs. Ben Vick Barbara A. Wright Mr. David Samples Ms. Janet C. Arthur Mr. and Mrs. Timothy J. Deem Stewart Arnold Schlachter Mr. Gerald W. Wright Mr. and Mrs. Everett C. Smith Mr. and Mrs. Thomas G. Coons Mr. and Mrs. Matt Faneuf Mrs. Teresa S. Lahti Bettye Zumbrun Mr. Jack D. White Mrs. June Craun Mr. and Mrs. Jack McDonald Martha Shepherd Mr. and Mrs. Josh Crim Doris Chastain Mr. Bert Harvey Mr. and Mrs. Robin Pruitt Ms. Janet S. McTee Ms. Trudy Fahn Mr. and Mrs. Ben Vick Mr. and Mrs. Ben T. Martin Don Mckee Mr. and Mrs. Gary J. Robinson Ms. Martha W. Harris L.B. Chastain Mr. and Mrs. Justin A. Myrick Dr. and Mrs. Stephen Gandy Mr. and Mrs. Joe Spivy Ms. Deborah Jones Mr. and Mrs. Ben Vick Mr. and Mrs. Francis B. Semmes Robert O. Messer Shade Simpkins Mr. and Mrs. William Lambert Wyman Clark Ms. Dorothy Sibert Mr. and Mrs. Chester W. Fetner Mr. and Mrs. Frank Allen Mr. Harry Ringwalt Mr. Willis E. Smith Mr. and Mrs. Kenney Smith Mr. and Mrs. Charles Lipford Lecanto Church of Christ Gary Clayton Mr. and Mrs. Fred E. Sutton Annette Miller Dan Slaughter


Memorials February 2, 2021 - July 31, 2021 Joyce Chaney Mr. and Mrs. Jon Bratcher Eugenia Forman Dr. and Mrs. Brian A. Mast Steven Hayes

Mr. Gerald L. Smith Joel S. Kelly, III Mr. Joel S. Kelly, Jr. Caroline Massie Mr. and Mrs. Edward M. Davis

Dr. Brian Mast Mr. and Mrs. James W. Carr Cheryl Mast Dr. and Mrs. Brian A. Mast Dr. James E. Moore

Mr. and Mrs. Allan Boress Mr. Michael Greeson Mr. and Mrs. Robin B. Leonard Slate & Julie Moore Mr. and Mrs. Jack McDonald

Luke & Lena Reynolds Mr. and Mrs. Jack McDonald Harold & Anola Stutzman Mr. and Mrs. Bert Thomas

Imagine · Fall 2021 | 18

Non-Profit Org. U.S. Postage PAID Mid-Florida, FL Permit #57120

Educate. Equip. Empower. 301 W. 13th Ave., Mount Dora, FL 32757 Phone (352) 383-2155 Fax (352) 383-3112

Save the Dates: SEPTEMBER Early Dismissal 1 6 Labor Day - Offices Closed 24 Chicken Supper

JANUARY No School - Teacher Workday 3 MLK Day - Offices Closed 17 28 Chicken Supper

OCTOBER 1 Grandparents Day - Early Dismissal 8, 11 Fall Break Homecoming 15 29 Chicken Supper (Chick-or-Treat)

FEBRUARY 9 Early Dismissal 21 President’s Day - No School Chicken Supper 25

NOVEMBER 11 Veterans Day Program 22-26 Thanksgiving Break DECEMBER 3 Chicken Supper (Light Up MDCA) Elementary Christmas Program 14 20-31 Christmas Break

MARCH 14-18 Spring Break Chicken Supper 25 APRIL 15 18

Good Friday Easter If this copy of Imagine Magazine is addressed to your MDCA Alumni, please update their contact information by emailing

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