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.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Senior Spotlight: Olivia Woods, Noah Ellinger, Taylor Pessetti & Grayson Obey


Olivia Woods
Olivia Woods is the daughter of medical professionals, but her decision to become a doctor began in Zambia. Her family helped build a school and tend the sick while living there.

“That trip showed me who I wanted to be, what I wanted to do, and how kindness and love can change others lives,” Olivia said. “Helping the Zambians made me realize I want to be a doctor so I can serve those struggling with illness and poverty.”

Olivia returned a woman on a mission.

This high-honor student secured a senior internship at Borgess Medical Center, splitting time between physical therapy and radiology. She will start her studies at Michigan State University this fall. She plans to earn her medical degree from the University of Michigan.

“My mom has taught me that I will never work a day in my life if I'm doing what I truly love,” Olivia said.


Noah Ellinger
Noah Ellinger enjoys biology and chemistry equally.

As a Math and Science Center student, Noah bulked up on chemistry and biology courses. His Senior Capstone on genetic manipulation and human embryos earned him a chance to compete for a $5,000 Diocese of Kalamazoo scholarship.

“I thought it would be a cool thing to research,” Noah said. “I already knew Catholics were against it, but I wanted to see why and to what extent.”

And what will this honor student will study at Kalamazoo College in the fall?

“Either biochemistry, chemistry, or biology,” Noah said.

Noah is an Eagle Scout, a rank only 5% of Boy Scouts achieve according to National Eagle Scout Association. The experience taught Noah about leadership and humility.

“I learned it was okay to ask for help, which I found was a very valuable lesson instead of just trying to do everything on your own,” Noah said.


Taylor Pessetti
Taylor Pessetti embraces leadership.

She’s played four years on the volleyball, basketball, and track team, becoming a captain of all three. She is treasurer of both the senior class and the National Honor Society. Her Senior Capstone on abortion made the final round of the Diocese of Kalamazoo’s scholarship competition.

Taylor also embraces numbers.

She is class salutatorian, a member of the 30+ ACT club, and a four-year Math and Science Center student. She earned an internship at Kellogg’s Data Analytics and Services, where the field of statistics caught her attention.

“I knew I loved math from day one, but they talked about all the stuff you could do with it and I didn’t even know any of it existed,” Taylor said. “I thought I would explore it a little more and that’s what kick-started everything about stats.”

Taylor plans to study statistics at the University of Michigan this fall.


Grayson Obey
Grayson Obey doesn’t know if he will study at the University of Michigan, Michigan State University or Ohio State University this fall.

He does know what he will study.

“I intend on majoring in biomedical engineering because of my interest in prosthetics and prosthetic design,” Grayson said. “This comes from an interest in my father's occupations, as well as the biology and math based classes I have taken throughout my high school career.”

This scholar-athlete has distinguished himself on the field and in the classroom. Recently, Grayson became a finalist in the Diocese of Kalamazoo’s Capstone scholarship competition for his presentation on the morality of stem cell research. Specifically, he highlighted adult stem cell and umbilical cord blood stem cell research.

“Neither of these types of stem cell research results in the harming of human life and has seen real results in helping people overcome illnesses and diseases,” Grayson said.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Seniors "cap" their education by defending the faith

High school seniors are constantly demonstrating their skills, often for scholarships. For our St. Philip seniors, this includes demonstrating their knowledge of the faith.

The Diocese of Kalamazoo Capstone project is a yearlong undertaking, requiring diocesan high school seniors to defend the faith on a subject of their choice. It is a graduation requirement, a diocese-wide competition, and a scholarship opportunity.

“This project sums up not only their education at our schools but especially their faith,” Nicole Krajewski, St. Philip theology teacher, said.

The Capstone journey begins junior year when students pick a topic from an approved list based on the Theology curriculum. With help from teachers and priests, these students research their subject with an eye towards defending the church’s position.

Once the research is complete, students write a thesis paper on their findings, as well as prepare an 8-12 minute presentation on their topic. Students present their Capstones to a panel of school judges for a final grade in March.

Three students move on to the diocese’s Capstone competition held in Kalamazoo in May, presenting alongside finalists from Hackett Catholic Prep and Lake Michigan Catholic High School. The winning presenter receives a $5,000 scholarship, second place receives a $3000 scholarship, and third place receives a $2000 scholarship. All Capstone finalists receive a $500 scholarship.

[l. to r.] Noah Ellinger, Taylor Pessetti, Grayson Obey
Representing St. Philip this year are Noah Ellinger, Taylor Pessetti, and Grayson Obey.

Noah focused on human genetic manipulation, a subject he became familiar with during his Math and Science Center studies.

“Genetic manipulation is much more than adding a gene to somebody,” Noah said. “It takes on much more responsibility when you do things like that. [The project] really affirmed my Catholic beliefs and why you don’t do something like that.”

Taylor used the principle of double-effect – a four-step process to determine if something is morally right – to defend the church’s stance on abortion.

“I took a little bit of a science approach, going back to where life is defined as beginning, and I talk about the Catholic Church’s vision,” Taylor said.

Grayson tackled the morality of stem cell research, spotlighting adult stem cells and umbilical cord blood stem cells, which don’t destroy human embryos.

“I believe that it is important for others to be informed and aware of the other types of stem cell research being done and the results that have come from them,” Grayson said.

The Capstone’s true reward isn’t grades or scholarships, but maturity in the faith.

“They are going to have to defend their faith in college or at least live out their faith,” Ms. Krajewski said. “This helps them to know how to find resources to defend their faith [by] helping them learn how to teach themselves.”

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Senior Spotlight: Zach Nelson, Camille Cornils, Ben Swagler, & Jack Greenman

Zach Nelson
Zach Nelson’s dedication has earned basketball and baseball accolades. It also earned an internship in his desired field – geriatric care.

“I knew how hard it was going to be,” senior internship teacher Debbie Evans said. “I made sure [his intention] was authentic and not just something he was comfortable doing because of the personal experience he has.”

“The biggest challenge I faced was all of the places that turned down interns just because it can be a difficult field for an intern,” Zach said.

Zach persevered, finding a placement at Centra Care.

“The most interesting thing is being able to meet all the older people and learn about...what they have done throughout their lives,” Zach said. “This internship has ultimately confirmed what I want to do. I would love to stick with the geriatric field.”

Zach will start his studies at Kellogg Community College, before transferring to Western Michigan University.

Camille Cornils
Camille Cornils is persistent. This multi-sport athlete, tennis captain, and honor student used that tenacity to land a health field internship.

“She had a lot of doors shutting because of what she wanted to do,” senior internship teacher Debbie Evans said.

Camille endured, and Nessels Nutrition opened their doors. This might not have been the hospital placement she wanted, but it ended up being the right placement.

“This internship only confirms my desire to become a nutritionist and pursue it as a career,” Camille said. “The most interesting part of my internship is how much I unintentionally learn. Every session with a patient I learn something new. The most challenging part of my internship is not interrupting the sessions to ask questions.

Camille plans to study health science at Indiana University this fall.

“My ultimate goal is to help people who are struggling with food and proper nutrition,” Camille said.

Ben Swagler
Ben Swagler has energy. It radiates from him on the field and the court and propelled him to the exclusive rank of Eagle Scout.

“I always want to be doing and accomplishing something,” Ben said. “I want to make a difference in this world. I want to make positive impressions everywhere I go. If I can change one person's life for the better I'm a satisfied person.”

Ben thought that difference would be as an athletic trainer, but his internship with Borgess Health Park has him considering other fields, including law enforcement.

Although the future may not be clear, Ben’s next step after graduation is set.

“I have been involved in sports my whole life and I think being involved in those kinds of things builds character,” Ben said. “That's why I plan to attend the University of Spring Arbor to continue my soccer career and finish my general studies.”

Jack Greenman
Jack Greenman is synonymous with running. This decorated track and cross-country athlete has earned MVP honors, competed at the state level, and, one day, hopes to coach.

“I love sports and I want my career to be involved with something I love,” Jack said. “I would love to coach the next generation about everything I know.”

Interning at Minges Creek Athletic Center, Jack works with Ray Yager, personal trainer, and St. Philip’s cross-country coach.

Jack appreciates all his mentors, starting with his family.

“I grew up with three older sisters and two loving parents,” Jack said. “I always say that I have four moms because they are all like a mother to me. My dad raises me to be a great man…and I look up to him. My family taught me to be a great person.”

Jack is still considering where to attend college but wants to study sports management.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Getting the facts from living wax

What happens when you combine history with a dash of Halloween? You get the BCACS Fourth Grade Wax Museum.

Posing as historical figures, fourth-grade students come to life with a press of a “button” on their hands. Laura LaLonde started the wax museum in 1999, which is currently under the stewardship of fourth-grade teachers Elizabeth Casterline and Ardis Vandenboss.

“It is an assessment of the students' reading comprehension, writing skills, and speaking skills,” Mrs. Casterline said. “It is also a creative outlet for students who enjoy demonstrating their learning in a unique way.”

It all starts with a historical celebrity wish list.

“Some [students] already ‘know’ who they want to be, but we remind them that it is done in a lottery fashion,” Mrs. Casterline said. “They have to have two or three choices because we don't want any repeats.”

Athletes, activists, princesses, and presidents are popular picks, but there can be surprises. This year’s museum had its first Phyllis Wheatley, the first published African-American poet.

"A lot of people didn't know who Phillis Wheatley was until I told them about her," Krystina Brutsche said.

After some research, students write and commit to memory a 1-2 minute speech.

“This seems like a nearly impossible task for some kids, but I never had a student who was unable to accomplish it,” Mrs. Casterline said.

Students then dress the part, often using wigs, makeup, props, and displays.

"A lot of us put a lot of detail into our costumes and speeches," Gabby Melges said.

Teachers mark one hand of each student with a black circle. Still and silent, students wait until a visitor presses their “button”. Once pressed, these wax figures come to life, giving their speeches, before resuming their frozen positions.

“The confidence the students gain through this experience is amazing,” Mrs. Casterline said.

"It was great learning how to say a speech in front of all those people," Alonso Campos said.

“I liked how we stayed frozen in between saying our speech,” Mary Sui said.

"My favorite part…was telling people how important these people are to our history," Breanna Ingraham said.

"I liked when people told me that they love my character," said Caleb Sebright.

Cameras clicked, visitors listened, and future BCACS fourth-graders got some ideas.

“We definitely tell the third-graders to look at the museum carefully because it will be their turn next,” Mrs. Casterline said.

We can’t wait!
Our 2017 Wax Museum

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Senior Spotlight: Flora Sung, Ava Strenge & Kameron Haley


Flora Sung
Flora Sung has more than a dream for her future – she has a calling

“I want to become a Catholic sister,” Flora said.

Born in Myanmar, Flora came to the United States in 2011. English is her third language, learned while attending Michigan schools. Flora wants to continue her studies at Kellogg Community College.

“I believe education is one of the most important things in my life,” Flora said.

Dedicated to God and her studies, Flora continues to work on her English, as well as learn Spanish, during her internship at St. Joseph Parish.

“I know with God everything is possible,” Flora said. “I want to have a happy life of prayer, community, and service.”

“It has been such a wonderful extension for me...to really explore the faith formation path as a career choice for a student in such an open and supportive way,” senior internship teacher Debbie Evans said.

Ava Strenge
A two-time state champion cross-country runner, Ava Strenge knows how to stay in peak condition. Her plan to be a dietitian is a natural one.

“I am very passionate about this topic and want to educate others on the best way to fuel their body,” Ava said.

Serving her internship at Minges Creek Athletic Club, Ava helps clients meet their health goals by designing meal plans. This opportunity has developed Ava’s communication skills. Self-described as quiet, Ava works hard to make sure clients get the most out of their weekly meetings with her.

“[This internship] helped teach me how to communicate more effectively in a professional setting,” Ava said.

A gifted scholar-athlete, Ava plans to study nutrition and dietetics as well as run cross-country and track in college. She has been accepted at the University of Michigan and Mississippi State University but hasn’t made a final decision yet.

Kameron Haley
Kameron Haley has distinguished herself as an athlete at St. Philip – experience she plans to draw on as a physical therapist or athletic trainer.

Interning at Physiotherapy Associates, Kameron has been making connections between injury, surgery, and recovery. Some of her work involves assisting with clients, one of whom was her father.

“It was fun working with my dad because it was someone I knew and someone I knew what happen to,” Kameron said.

Kameron knows relationships will be a big part of her intended career.

“Being in this internship has made my people skills a lot stronger,” Kameron said.

An honor roll student, National Honor Society member, and heavily-decorated volleyball, basketball, soccer, and tennis player, Kameron plans to begin her degree at Kellogg Community College, where she will play volleyball. She wants to finish her degree at Western Michigan University, where, hopefully, “I would also like to still be playing volleyball.”

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Building a better bridge

When Tina Sprague became the St. Joseph Middle School science teacher, she inherited science kits from the Michigan Department of Transportation. Mrs. Sprague liked what she saw, but needed to complete MDOT training to keep the kits.

So, she took the training.

After Christmas, her eighth-graders took on the Bridge Builder kit. This civil engineering project involved physics, geometry, algebra, computer-aided design (CAD), teamwork, and the scientific process.

“The bridge-building one was really cool,” Mrs. Sprague said. “There was a lesson online where the kids can learn about bridge load, what types of bridges are best for what, and the different kinds of bridges.”

After the lesson, Mrs. Sprague gave each student a piece of thin balsa wood and an apparatus that held a bucket. They filled the bucket with sand until the wood broke. Next, they laminated two pieces of balsa wood together, testing it again vertically and horizontally.

Using these results and a basic CAD program, students designed their own box bridges. The computer virtually tested the strength of their digital bridges, after which students improved their designs.

“Then they get to build the bridge that they designed on the computer,” Mrs. Sprague said.

Students had to meet certain criteria using only the materials in the kit. Over the weeks they built, glued, and pinned their box bridges together.

“They all started out on an even playing field,” Mrs. Sprague said. “It all depended on their design. Some of them used all [of the material], some of them ran out because they didn’t think about how much it was going to overlap or the extra cuts that they made that were wrong.”

When the bridges were finished, the eighth grade invited the first grade to watch the testing. Students hung the bucket apparatus on each bridge, filling them with sand until they broke, delighting their young audience.

“[The bridges] held a lot more than I thought they would hold,” Mrs. Sprague said. “The kids were amazed, too. They didn’t think they would be as strong as they were.”

Afterward, students wrote up reports, detailing the scientific principles they used, the challenges they faced, and the conclusions they drew.

“I loved doing the bridge project because we learned how to make a bridge stronger by just changing a few simple things,” eighth-grader Nick Meyers said.

Best of all, Mrs. Sprague successfully supplemented the eighth-grade science curriculum with a hands-on activity, much like the Math and Science Center kits the sixth and seventh grades enjoy.

“This was my guinea pig class,” Mrs. Sprague said.

Next up is the Magnet Levitation kit, where students will build levitating foam vehicles.

“That’s what I’m going to research over Spring Break,” Mrs. Sprague said.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Senior Spotlight: Meagan Casterline, McKenna Haley, & Kailee Redmond

Welcome to our “Senior Spotlight”. Every Thursday until graduation, we will highlight different members of the Class of 2017. Read more about their internships, their aspirations, and where they plan to “grow” after graduation.

Meagan Casterline

Meagan Casterline has been planning to be an event planner for some time. Landing a meaningful senior internship was tough until she contacted Jennifer Darling.

“[Meagan] was one who was a little disheartened, but this was a God placement,” senior internship teacher Debbie Evans said.

Ms. Darling not only took Meagan under her wing but has asked her to fly to New York City to assist in a World Connect fundraising event for poverty assistance.

“I'm excited and nervous about being so independent during this wonderful opportunity,” Meagan said. “I knew I wanted to do event planning as a career before, but having this internship really confirms it.”

A National Honor Society member and high-honors student, Meagan spent high school “on the run” as a four-year member of both the varsity track and cross-country teams.

Meagan plans to study Hospitality and Tourism Management at Grand Valley State University this fall.


McKenna Haley

McKenna Haley wants to train service animals. Currently interning at DogZone, McKenna’s responsibilities include working with dogs one-on-one as a handler.

“The most challenging part has been unlearning everything I thought I knew about working with animals,” McKenna said. “It is also the most interesting part because I love everything about communication. It never fails to amaze me when everything comes together and both the dog and I work together.”

McKenna credits her internship with focusing her diverse interests into a future goal.

Those diverse interests have kept McKenna busy. A National Honor Society member and high-honors student, she’s played varsity tennis for four years, varsity volleyball for two years, and JV Basketball for two years. Recently, McKenna rose over $700 for the Accelerated Cure project, which funds Multiple Sclerosis research.

McKenna is leaning towards Central Michigan University but hasn’t finalized where she will study Animal Behavioral Science this fall.


Kailee Redmond

Kailee Redmond’s senior internship says a lot about her.

When patient/client confidentiality made interning with a speech pathologist impossible, Kailee created her own internship. Currently, she is researching pre-school language acquisition at Our World for Children daycare.

“She’s taking it very seriously,” senior internship teacher Debbie Evans said.

An honor-roll student, varsity soccer and volleyball player, and active volunteer, Kailee is no stranger to working hard and being persistent.

“I have high expectations for myself,” Kailee said. “I want to go out and make a difference. But, I also want to be successful in what I do.

Kailee plans to attend Kellogg Community College, before transferring to Western Michigan University to earn her masters in Speech Pathology. Concurrently, she will pursue her certification as a doula.

“My goal is to help as many people as I can,” Kailee said. “There is no limit to the knowledge I want to obtain.”