SIDNEY — People attending the annual Faith Banquet at Christian Academy Schools (CAS) Sunday afternoon learned about a current student’s experiences on a mission trip and a former student’s work in politics, including her current duties with a U.S. presidential campaign.
Ninth-grader Aly Baughman talked about her mission trip to Honduras this summer and noted that it wasn’t what she expected a Third World country to be. Told not to drink the water, she was amazed at all the American businesses there, Burger King, Wendy’s, Dunkin Donuts, and Pepsi. “There was a lot of Pepsi,” she said. The presence of officials with guns at the airport as well as at various checkpoints was a little unnerving. After working during the day, they held vacation Bible school in the evenings for the children and on the third day, gave them all children’s Bibles in Spanish. They immediately took them and started reading. “We knew we were making a difference in the lives of the children,” she said.
Prior to going to Honduras, she sometimes struggled with her faith. She now believes in miracles after an incident involving a robbery that occurred at the mission where they were working. “Although there is a lot of corruption in the police department, the owner of the stolen property was rewarded with his possessions, minus the money, due to a lot of faith in God,” she said.
The alumnus speaker for the event was 2007 CAS graduate Maggie Toal. Toal is now director of operations for Gov. John Kasich’s presidential campaign. She is also a graduate of King’s College and has a master’s degree from Capital University. She previously worked in the governor’s office and also for Congressman Jim Jordan in Washington, D.C.
Having attended CAS from kindergarten through graduation, she was asked to talk about how a Christian education had prepared her for life in the workforce. She said “the best people I have met and the ones I’ve learned the most from have been the ones who have strong convictions.”
Toal talked about her time in Washington, D.C., living in a one-bedroom apartment with three other girls. Not always agreeing with the views of her roommates, she once had a big argument with her roommate from San Francisco who was very outspoken. Feeling really frustrated, Toal called her father and received a voice message back telling her to “remember that all discussions of politics are just shadows of substance. The most important thing is that you love the people you are with. You may disagree and they may be wrong, but the only thing people will remember is your love and respect. They will remember you showed them love because Christ loved you first.”
“That’s the foundation for Built to Serve … God’s love for us,” she continued. In comparing that to CAS, Toal said, yes, her dad is wise, but her point was that she was so passionate about what she believed because it was built on that foundation of the education she received at CAS.
She was not always sure that a Christian education would take her where she wanted to go in life … with the small classes. She was afraid it might hold her back. Maybe she hadn’t been exposed to enough or that she wouldn’t be able to talk intelligently. But she found out that it was exactly the opposite.
She believes that with the theme “Built to Serve,” the many CAS students will benefit from the school and its teachers.
Quoting Luke 6:48, “He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck the house but could not shake it because it was well built,” she believes that is the value of CAS.
Toal’s father also talked about how he believes the strong foundation the school gives to its students and related an experience he had when one of his sons was in the second grade. The son had struggled in first grade at another school. When talking with the administrator, he told him that they needed to make a commitment that his son would be successful. When he could not make that commitment, they looked to CAS to teach their children. CAS said they would commit to working with their child to make him successful. Four of their five children have since graduated from CAS, with their remaining son currently a sophomore at the school.
The program started with Christian Academy’s Show Choir, Voices Eternal, singing the national anthem, followed by the invocation given by fourth-grader Isaiah Abbott. Desserts, along with tea and coffee, were served by the students.
The tables were decorated for fall and the centerpieces were Mr. Potato Head with instructions to “put him together.” Sheryl Ditmer, art teacher, then explained the significance of him with I Corinthians 12:12: “The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ.”
Superintendent Mary Smith welcomed everyone and CAS Board President Todd Miller explained this year’s theme is “Built to Serve” and presented mementos to retiring board members Edwinna Thomas and David Schwieterman. Schwieterman was recognized as being the first board member who was also a graduate of CAS.
Voices Eternal also sang an original song written by Maureen Joines titled “Built to Serve” and ended the afternoon with “Only Hope.”
The writer is a longtime contributor of stories to the Sidney Daily News.