BCACS Mission Statement

Battle Creek Area Catholic Schools, in partnership with parents, community and the Catholic Church, provide students with an excellent education and solid faith formation. Students will know the Faith, share the Faith, and live the Faith.

Monday, June 5, 2017

The last day of school: Ardis Vandenboss & Danielle Orton

Summer vacation is wonderful, but goodbyes are tough. Today's BCACS Blog spends time with two beloved teachers for whom the last day of school is their last day with us.

Ardis Vandenboss
St. Joseph Elementary School teacher Ardis Vandenboss wouldn’t consider her husband’s suggestion of retirement three years ago.

“Up to that point, I had never considered retirement,” Mrs. Vandenboss said. “I truly loved my teaching. Why retire?”

Mrs. Vandenboss has taught nearly every grade of elementary and middle school during her 40-year career, which includes 32 years for the BCACS. She has mentored many teachers, including current St. Joseph School principal Sara Myers.

“She has a great love of teaching, her students, and our schools,” Mrs. Myers said. “[She] has touched the lives of so many, including mine.”

“Ardis has been an inspiration, a mentor, and most of all a friend,” St. Joseph fourth-grade teacher Liz Casterline said.

“Ardis is a huge personality and a gifted asset,” St. Joseph Elementary Administrative Assistant Jeanine Winkler said. “Parents love her tightly-run ship. She provides lots of love, spread out amongst all her students.”

For the last decade, that love included commuting daily from Coldwater, where Mrs. Vandenboss and her husband bought a “ten-cent house with a million-dollar view”. Such a schedule left little time for friends, grandkids, or even having coffee on the deck.

She started considering her husband’s suggestion, which is why this year’s last day of school will truly be Mrs. Vandenboss’s last day of school.

The goodbyes have been tough, especially with her students, who she promised to visit.

“The kids are the ones who are going to be hardest to leave,” Mrs. Vandenboss said. “This group I’ve got now, not only did I have them for two years, but I’ve had a lot of their siblings. In fact, I had some of their parents.”

Mrs. Vandenboss, center, with her final fourth grade class at St. Joseph Elementary School.
Danielle Orton
Danielle Orton didn’t plan to stay when she took a teaching position at St. Philip High School in 2008.

Her plans changed.

“I fell in love with this environment, with these kids,” Ms. Orton said.

St. Philip teachers wear many hats, a norm Ms. Orton embraced. During her tenure, she taught English, literature, Spanish, health, creative writing, even yearbook.

“My dream job has been to teach every subject I have the ability to,” Ms. Orton said. “My dream job manifested itself at St. Philip.”

Inspired by the St. Philip counselors who continued to teach in the classroom, Ms. Orton pursued her master's degree in school counseling, which she recently completed.

“I couldn't picture a better work day than one that involved not only working with our kids in the classroom but also being able to help them dig deeper on a personal level and find their strength,” Ms. Orton said. “I'm happy to have worked at a school that embraces nurturing the mind and the soul.”

This year Ms. Orton’s plans have changed again. She will be moving to Alabama.

“Knowing what I know now about how much you can love your job, I have high expectations for my next position,” Ms. Orton said. “I can't think of anything that I won't miss. I'll miss my St. Philip family.”

The feeling is mutual.

“It’s going to be hard to replace Dani,” St. Philip principal Vicky Groat said. “She has done so much for the students over the years. She has shown so much pride and love for the school. Dani will be a great counselor because of her passion for helping and guiding our youth.”

Ms. Orton, center left, with three of her students.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Senior Spotlight: Hannah Pearl, Tim Minier, Nina Winkler, & Ian Mullis

Hannah Pearl
Hannah Pearl has her eye on the big picture.

She grew up in the Battle Creek Area Catholic Schools, entering kindergarten with her twin sister Emily. She will leave as St. Philip’s Valedictorian, entering the University of Michigan with a scholarship.

“I’m excited to go to Michigan,” Hannah said. “I’m excited to have a big environment.”

This four-year Math and Science Center student was offered scholarships from four different universities, but her mind was made up.

“I want to go into engineering and [Michigan] was the only college I applied to that had the major I wanted – industrial and operations engineering,” Hannah said.

Hannah was attracted to industrial engineering because it is “big picture engineering”.

“I like being able to make processes better,” said Hannah, who just finished an internship at Denso Manufacturing.

There will be one familiar face in Hannah’s bigger environment. Twin sister Emily is Michigan-bound as well.

Tim Minier
Tim Minier chose Alma College for a lot of reasons.

“I went up there and I liked the campus,” Tim said. “They have a decent science program and I want to study biochemistry. That was nice. And they would let me run there, so that was perfect.”

Alma more than “let” this decorated track star run there. They offered him a substantial scholarship to do so.

“That scholarship was alright,” Tim said with a smile.

This Saturday, Tim will run as a Tiger for the last time, competing with his team in the State Finals. This fall, he will run as a Scot, while pursuing his degree.

After that, the future is wide open.

“Biochemistry is pretty broad as to what you can go into,” Tim said. “Once I get my degree, I can go on to be a doctor or I could go into personal training or physical therapy.”

Nina Winkler
Basketball is Nina Winkler’s game, but when it comes to her future career, it’s all about track.

Nina wants to be a pharmacist. She laid the groundwork for that goal her senior year, dual-enrolling at Kellogg Community College, taking AP Biology, and talking to counselors.

“I looked at my track,” Nina said. “I’ve got two classes knocked down already that are on the track to pharmacy school.”

Taking those classes now instead of next year meant this honor roll student had no time for a senior internship, but the end justifies the means.

“I’m getting my pre-requisites out of the way so I can take my PCAT and hopefully get into pharmacy school,” Nina said.

Nina will continue her studies at KCC, but it won’t be all work.

“As far as I know, I’ll be playing basketball [for KCC],” Nina said. “I’m very excited about it. It will be fun.”

Ian Mullis
Ian Mullis has done a lot in the name of math and science.

“I took double math and science courses my sophomore year, AP Calculus BC at the Math and Science Center my junior year, Statistics at Kellogg Community College my senior year, and Computer Networking at the Calhoun Area Career Center,” Ian said. “I wasn’t required to take these classes; I wanted to take them.”


“I enjoy math and science because you can approach a problem many different ways but there is only one answer,” Ian said.

Ian wants to be an engineer – the kind that doesn’t have a desk.

“I want a job that allows me to design, create, and improve things,” Ian said. “I don't want to sit in an office all day. I want to work with my hands and my mind.”

A 2017 Gold Key Scholarship recipient, Ian will begin his studies at KCC.

This is the final “Senior Spotlight” for 2017. It has been an honor to get to know these young adults better. They have made us proud and we wish them best. May God lead them safely on their next adventure. ~ nlvm

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

More circumstance than pomp

The Class of 2017 will graduate the first Sunday in June. The official kickoff, however, was the fourth Wednesday in May, when the seniors, their parents, and the entire school gathered to celebrate the Baccalaureate Mass and Honors Convocation.

It’s more circumstance than pomp. A family affair.

This is my second year as a senior parent, my daughter having graduated last year and my son graduating this year. Of all the senior-related events, this one is my favorite. It justifies the journey and lays to rest any doubts.

Is Catholic school the best choice? Is it worth the financial sacrifice? Can a small school adequately prepare a child for college and career?

Yes. Yes. And, yes.

This year Bishop Paul Bradley celebrated the Mass. Our seniors entered the church before him, two by two, in their caps and gowns. Students, staff, and alumni smiled, while parents crane their necks and snapped the first of many pictures.

Bishop Bradley gave a beautiful homily to the seniors about remembering where they came from and staying connected to Jesus no matter where they’re going. These are messages they have heard all their lives.

Together we shared the Eucharist and crossed ourselves after the final blessing.

Directly afterward – well, after pictures, pictures, and more pictures – everyone gathered in the parish center for the Honors Convocation. Awards, pins, plaques and certificates lined the tables at the front of the room. The buzz of conversation and congratulations fell only when Fr. Simon Majooran called everyone to prayer.

One by one, teachers and community leaders took the podium. They recognized students for academics and service. They gave scholarships and departmental awards. They offered their congratulations.

This is more than a list of names and polite clapping. This is personal, especially when it comes to awarding the BCACS Foundation scholarships. Often it is alumni or family of alumni who founded these scholarships. Often these families present the award themselves, their dedication to the school echoing through their comments. Often we remember those we lost, putting down our cameras to dab our eyes.

The clapping is heartfelt. Every name, every time.

After Fr. Simon closed with prayer, the buzz returned in earnest, as fresh congratulations were said, not just to one, but to all. There’s no inner circle here.

The Class of 2017 was offered $3.1 million in scholarships, a staggering number on the shoulders of 38 kids. But these kids stand on the shoulders of hundreds, stretching back 100 years to St. Philip’s first graduating class in 1917. Most importantly, they stand on the shoulders of Christ.

It’s a family affair.

Convocation highlights are below. Check out our “Senior Spotlight” blogs to learn more about these amazing seniors.

Class of 2017 Highlights:
All together now
The Class of 2017 was offered
over $3.1 million in scholarships.
That's a new record!
  • This class completed over 1,000 hours of community service this year.
  • Twenty seniors completed the St. Philip Senior Internship Program, while others completed internship programs at the Calhoun Area Career Center and the Battle Creek Area Math and Science Center.
  • Seven seniors dual-enrolled in college classes.
  • Fifteen seniors enrolled in AP classes at St. Philip, with more taking AP classes at the Battle Creek Area Math and Science Center.
  • This class received an average 1130 on the SAT; 14 qualify for the Michigan Competitive Scholarship (1200 or higher on the SAT).
  • The average passing score for seniors taking AP tests in 2016 was 86%.
  • All seniors completed a Senior Capstone project, with three moving on to compete in the finals.
  • This class has a senior aspiring to be a priest and another senior aspiring to be a nun.
  • This class has a Kellogg Community College Gold Key Scholar and a Trustee Scholar.
  • Several seniors received athletic scholarships and will continue to play their sport at the college level.
  • We have a senior who won a state-level culinary competition. She will represent Michigan in the national competition this June.
“Oh, the places they’ll go!”
Alma College (1 student)
Grand Rapids Community College (1 student)
Grand Valley State University (1 student)
Indiana State University (1 student)
Kalamazoo College (2 students)
Kellogg Community College (15 students)
Michigan State University (1 student)
Mississippi State University (1 student)
Siena Heights University (1 student)
Spring Arbor University (1 student)
St. Thomas Aquinas College (1 student)
University of Dayton (1 student)
University of Michigan (5 students)
University of Nebraska - Lincoln (1 student)
Western Michigan University (3 students)
Military (2 students)

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Senior Spotlight: Joey Gallaway, Emily Cutshall, Jacob Janofski, & Chelsea Kubasiak

Joey Gallaway
Joey Gallaway has a heart for service and an eye on the stars.

He served an electrical apprenticeship at the Regional Manufacturing Technical Center working with circuits and transformers. Enjoying the work, he decided to pursue his studies at Lansing Community College.

Why Lansing?

“My cousin is up there,” Joey said. “He has had a lot of surgeries. I wanted to go up there to be close to him and help him out.”

Joey also had his eye on the air force, particularly in aerospace engineering. This spring he took the practice ASFAB, the test the military uses to assess aptitude and future placement.

“I got a really good score on it,” Joey said. “After that, I looked up all the jobs and what my score applies to.”

Aerospace engineering was on the list.

After some consideration, Joey decided to enlist now, serving his country and reaching for the stars.

Emily Cutshall
Emily Cutshall got more than she bargained for while interning at the law firm of Tomak, Podolsky & Hultink.

“I got really lucky with my internship,” Emily said.

Emily helped write judgments and orders. She observed real trials, some of which involved difficult circumstances.

“That experience taught me that I am going to have to learn how to stomach things that make me uncomfortable if I want to become an attorney,” Emily said.

Emily conducted a mock client interview, which included drafting a motion she will argue in front of Judge Yost Johnson.

“I had to be professional but also caring and compassionate,” Emily said. “Lawyers must be attorneys and counselors for their clients.”

Emily did so well the law firm offered her a summer job as a paralegal.

Attending Kellogg Community College this fall to “stay fresh”, Emily will study pre-law at Thomas Aquinas College or Hillsdale in 2018.

Jacob Janofski
Jacob Janofski’s future is wide open.

“I have considered so many careers,” Jacob said. “Real estate was last year. Now I’m leaning towards business. I wanted to be a teacher at one point. There are so many.”

When it came to his senior internship, Jacob heard Kyra Rabbitt, director of student services, talking about the Battle Creek Police Department intern program. He thought it would be interesting.

“It was super fun,” Jacob said. “I really enjoyed it.”

He rotated through the station, accompanied officers on ridealongs, worked in the drug lab, observed trails, and participated in active shooter training.

In the end, it wasn’t for him.

“I don’t think I want to be a cop,” Jacob said. “I think I would be too nice.”

Jacob plans to continue his career exploration at Kellogg Community College this fall.

“I just want to figure out what I want to do,” Jacob said.

Chelsea Kubasiak
Chelsea Kubasiak wants to work in healthcare. She isn’t sure where, but she knows where it won’t be.

“Something in the medical field that is not a doctor but not nursing, but definitely in the healthcare field,” Chelsea said.

Taking her father’s suggestion, this honor roll student entered the Calhoun Area Career Center’s 21st Century Health program.

“I loved it,” Chelsea said.

While there, she completed clinical rotations in the emergency room, wound care, occupational therapy, neuroscience, and dentistry.

“I hated all of them,” Chelsea said with a chuckle. “I just keep ruling stuff out. Everything I want to do I go job-shadow and it’s not for me.”

Chelsea will graduate in the top ten of her class. She dual-enrolled at Kellogg Community College during high school, taking classes in anatomy and physiology. This fall, she will continue her studies at KCC, looking for her place in the healthcare field.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

St. Joe students walk for miles and miles and miles...

Rounding the schoolyard
You can see them during morning drop-off at St. Joseph Elementary School – students as young as five and as old as fifth-graders circling the school grounds, stopping only to swipe a card before taking off again.

You will see them again during lunch recess, racking up hundreds of miles within the friendly confines of their schoolyard.

This is Operation Fit, a six-week, city-wide fitness program for elementary students funded through a Battle Creek Community Foundation grant. Ann Gallagher, St. Joseph preschool aide, heads up St. Joe’s effort.

“Our goal as a school and a community is to get kids moving,” Ms. Gallagher said.

Ms. Gallagher tailored St. Joseph’s Mileage Club to fit the grant criteria. Students walk the schoolyard along a specific route. After each circuit, they swipe a personal bar code into an iPad app, which tracks their progress.

Tracking their progress
Eight laps equal a mile and every mile gets students closer to prizes like mileage tokens, wristbands, T-shirts, water bottles, lunch with the principal, even Full Blast day passes.

Participation is voluntary; so is walking.

“They can run, they can skip – I don’t care how they do it as long as they are moving,” Ms. Gallagher said.

On May 3rd, St. Joseph hosted an Operation Fit Family Fun Night with Bronson Battle Creek. Healthy recipe demonstrations and taste-testing were followed by more time on the blacktop.

“We ate first and they were able to walk for an hour,” Ms. Gallagher said. “Some kids did 30 laps that evening.”

Ms. Gallagher tracks miles before school and during lunch recess – times that are open to all elementary students. At the end of the six weeks, the top boy and top girl will receive a Razor scooter.

[l to r] Kolten Etheridge, Ann Gallagher, and Ryan Casterline
Second-grader Kolten Etheridge and fifth-grader Ryan Casterline are neck-and-neck for the top boy spot going into the final week.

“As soon as I come out the side doors, they are running,” Ms. Gallagher said. “It’s really awesome to see them compete.”

Although they enjoy the competition, both boys enjoy moving.

“I think it’s a good way to get out and run and be more athletic,” Ryan said.

“I love running and you can just run as much as you want,” Kolten said. “And once you get up into those high levels, it feels good to be up there.

As for the top two girls?

“I don’t know how competitive they are with each other,” Ms. Gallagher said with a smile. “They are running together.”

The elementary school has totaled 1804.78 miles as of Monday night. The real victory for Ms. Gallagher, however, is getting more kids to enjoy exercise.

“If I could get a least one kid who didn’t exercise moving, then I’ve done my job.”

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Senior Spotlight: Emma Hayman, Jordan Snyder, Marla Adam & Drew Lantinga

Emma Hayman
Emma Hayman wants to preserve life – animal and human.

An accomplished equestrian, Emma pursued an internship at Southside Veterinary Clinic, where she witnessed a surgery on the first day.

“[Dr. Luoma] told me that most people get super nauseous when seeing the blood during the surgeries,” Emma said. “Blood isn't everyone’s best friend, but I loved watching the surgery and it was a success.”

Emma planned to attend Kellogg Community College before transferring to Michigan State University for her veterinarian degree. A trip to the bathroom during St. Philip’s most recent Career Day changed that.

Passing the gym, Emma stopped to speak with the Marine recruiter. Their conversation sparked Emma’s interest. After more investigation, Emma did an about-face on her college path.

“I decided to go into the military,” Emma said. “I definitely know I want to be a vet and I can still be a vet once I’m done.”

Jordan Snyder
Jordan Snyder’s future begins on the ground floor. Literally.

“It started when I was a little kid,” Jordan said. “I liked rocks. I collected them. My interest in geology has grown since then.”

Jordan recalls bringing rocks home from family vacations, including an assortment of gems from Mammoth Cave National Park. An honor roll student, Jordan has taken plenty of science classes at St. Philip, but nothing specific to geology…yet.

That will change when he begins his studies at Western Michigan University this fall. He picked WMU because, “It’s close enough to home.”

During his time at St. Philip, Jordan ran track and played football. He enjoyed volunteering with his class in the community, especially last May Day at the Alano Club.

“After we were done [working], some of the people talked to us about what they have gone through,” Jordan said. “It was really interesting to hear their stories.”

Marla Adam
Marla Adam wants to enter the family business.

“My dad’s a doctor and my mom’s a pharmacist,” Marla said. “They always talked about it, so I was always interested in it.”

It was Marla’s Math and Science Center classes that sealed the deal.

“I’ve been able to take AP chemistry and anatomy classes and it made me realize I’m actually interested in being a doctor,” Marla said.

How interesting were these classes? Marla delayed her internship to take more.

“I was going to intern with my dad, but I would have to drop two of my classes second semester, which would have been my anatomy class and my bio-ethics class,” Marla said. “We are still doing [the internship], but we pushed it to summer.”

Marla is St. Philip’s National Honor Society president and will graduate in the top ten of her class. She plans to attend the University of Michigan.

Drew Lantinga
Drew Lantinga has played nearly every sport St. Philip High School has to offer – basketball, baseball, golf, cross-country, football, track and field.

When it comes to his future, however, Drew has a one-track mind.

“I applied to one college,” Drew said.

That one college was Western Michigan University. A National Honor Society member and Math and Science Center student, Drew received acceptance into WMU’s Honors College as well as the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

“So I didn’t really need to apply anywhere else.”

Drew is still exploring what type of engineering he wants to do. Currently, he is building a robot he designed for his MSC class, but his interests didn’t start with robotics.

“I liked looking at buildings,” Drew said. “I wondered how they were made, which is civil engineering. Then, I was looking into mechanical engineering, how cars were made.”

This fall his engineering adventure continues.