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8-20-15 Mile High Academy Opens With a Celebration of God’s Goodness
by Carol Bolden

Ribbon cutting at Mile High Academy Grand Opening. Photo by Kelly Waller
“If you want this facility for your kids, you’ll have to work out the details,” prayed Toakase Vunileva, principal of Mile High Academy in Denver, Colorado, as she stood in the parking lot of Colorado Christian School, a facility for sale off the C-470 and University Avenue. That was November 2014.
   Nine months later, on August 16, after maneuvering through the buying, renovating and moving processes, the new Mile High Academy held its grand opening with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and praise to God. The ceremony involved representatives from the building committee, Centura Health leadership, RMC leadership, the school board, and the graduating class of 2017.
   Relatives of Vunileva from flew in from Tonga and sang a worship song to the God who has done great things, the MHA choir, under the direction of Leandro Bizama, lifted up their voices while representatives gathered to cut the ribbon and a string ensemble made up of children from Mile High Academy played.
   Eric Nelson, VP for administration for Rocky Mountain Conference dedicated the building and staff to communicate Jesus to the students and called it a day of “immense gratitude”.

  Welcome sign to Mile High Academy grand opening. Photo by Kelly Waller
   Parents, students and other visitors toured the school with its cutting-edge design – study rooms with walls that can be used for writing, stools that move according to the need of the kinesthetic learner, desks that fit together for group projects or move apart to work individually, Smart Boards that remember what is written on them or display information from the internet -- and so much more.
   Seeing the bank of gray-painted lockers, I pictured myself back in school. How much better would I have done, how much more would I have learned with all these advantages?
   Participating in the event, students wandered the school looking excited to see their friends and to start the school year in this new and wonderful place. Never before had they had a bright orange lounging chair that could be used on three sides. Nor had they enjoyed world-class photography on their walls.

Kids ride the train as part of Grand Opening celebration for Mile High Academy. Photo by Kelly Waller
   Walking through the campus, the mood changed from one area to another -- serious and worshipful during the opening ceremony, a back-to-school-night feel as parents checked out rooms and talked to teachers, and joyful celebrating with small children riding the train in the parking lot, jumping in the bounce house and eating shave ice on what turned out to be a hot day.
   When MHA entered the scene as an interested party in purchasing the property, another private school was already in the buying process, Douglas County had announced that they were acquiring it and Highlands Ranch had declared a moratorium on any more private schools. Vunileva’s prayer was answered in miraculous ways.
   Even though the details involving a move to new location were on Vunileva’s mind since last January, it was on August 10 when the MHA staff began moving in to the elementary section of the building. Transferring more than 60 years’ worth of items from the “old” school and into the “new” school, is a huge undertaking. Luckily, the staff didn’t have to do it alone.
   Don Reeder, principal of Campion Academy in Loveland, Colorado, brought his staff down to help on Tuesday. Reeder said that, “they [Campion staff] knew that we were in a push to get ready for school to start, but they figured that Mile High’s push was greater.”
   The rivalry between the two academies has, at times, been fierce, but MHA and CA put that aside and had fun working together as a team.
   The teachers shared more than just labor, though. During lunch, there was discussion of having the two schools work together on community service projects and social activities. It was made clear, however, that the goodwill between the schools would be put aside during the famed CA/MHA basketball games!
   Vunileva was emotional as she thanked Reeder and the entire Campion delegation. “It means so much to us that you would take a day out of your prep time and come help us. I look forward to a time that we can repay the favor and help you,” she said.
   “It was really great to have both schools working together,” said Amy Rasco, MHA alumnus and parent of a current MHA 7th grader. “Having Campion here today has made a big difference.”
   As MHA and its leaders can list numerous miracles that made it possible to arrive at its Grand Opening, the students and their parents and guardians can complete the story with their own, personal experiences leading to Adventist education at MHA.
   Mile High Academy is one of four academies in the Rocky Mountain Conference and is among 109 in the North American Division.
North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists
9705 Patuxent Woods Drive
Columbia, MD 21046-1565 USA
Telephone: 443-391-7200
Fax: 443-391-
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