In mid-September, all Arrowhead Christian Academy students and faculty journeyed into the gorgeous mountains of Forest Home for our annual Upper School retreat. Everyone looks forward to this time of year, as we all get a chance to strengthen friendships, encounter nature, and most importantly, grow closer to God. For our new students, they would get a chance to experience something new and interact with their peers and leaders outside of school. And, just like every year, the retreat was an enormous success.
“All, right, so you all know how to say I love you and I miss you in Chinese. Congratulations!” With a wide smile on his face, ESL teacher Nate Prior taught all of ACA six Chinese words so they could sing along with him in the talent show. The whole chapel could be heard singing with gusto “Wǒ ài nǐ,” as Wallace Li led everyone in a sway.
But Mr. Prior wasn’t the only one to show off his musical talents. Freshman Eric Xiong and sophomore Billy Tao both beatboxed as freshmen Anna Rui, Karen Shen, and Shirley Song sang “Tornado,” a Chinese pop song. Adam Wang also showed off his vocal range and passion for singing, stirring the crowd with his rendition of “A Thousand Years”.
Jerry Zhang stuck his neck out and became the first student ever to co-host the talent show. Thanks to his poise and wit, the show became a huge success for international and domestic students alike.
The retreat ended up being a spiritually uplifting event for all of ACA. As guest speaker Marcus Corey spoke to students with honesty, passion, and humor, everyone was able to connect with God on a much deeper level. He also praised the international students for their strong performances in the talent show, remarking, “China really took over that talent show last night. How cool was that!”
The chapel services made an especially deep impression on our international students. “Sometimes I don’t really pay attention in chapel at school, but here when we get together and pray together, it is so amazing and I am so glad I get to be a part of this,” said sophomore Crystal Xiao after the last message, during which all students were challenged to live a life following Christ. Students really enjoyed the chapel music as well, shared with us by Grove Worship from Garden Grove, CA.
Colors flew everywhere as students were able to participate in the annual Tye-Dye Wars. Students were splattered yellow, green, blue, and red as they chased each other with little cups of colored dye. No student was safe, even those who opted to stand on the sidelines, hoping to avoid taking an extra shower that day. Students also got the chance to work together in the hockey stick relay, and to try their hand (and feet) at “bubble soccer”.
The 3-on-3 basketball tournament also showcased our students’ (and teachers’) athletic abilities. Calling themselves “CBA” after the Chinese Basketball Association, seniors Ryan Chao and Richard Yang teamed up with sophomore Tyler Peng to challenge the field. They won their first game with sweet shooting and slick passing, but were ultimately defeated by the “old guys,” Mr. Curiel, Mr. Prior, and Mr. Triemstra.
From learning Chinese words, to making new friends, to getting closer to God, everyone experienced something at the retreat that will stick with them forever. Only 360 days until the next one!