Five students from Land O’ Lakes Christian School claimed national awards at the 39th annual American Association of Christian Schools National Competition held at Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina.
The contest, held from April 12 to April 14, drew approximately 1,800 competitors from 29 states. Participants earned the right to compete by capturing the top awards in their state contests.
The students represented nearly 200 Christian high schools. They competed in 76 categories in the areas of Bible, music, speech, art and academics.
Three students from Land O’ Lakes Christian School won first place awards in the competition and two others finished among the top five.
Tommy Campbell took first place in Topical Preaching and first place in Original Persuasive Oratory.
Ruth Zhang took first place in Calligraphy, third place in Algebra/Geometry and third place in Advanced Math.
Emily Mengel took first place in Printmaking.
Paul Wei took second place in Extemporaneous Speaking and Logan Juday took third place in Accounting.
The Bible competition included Bible quiz teams, preaching and teaching. The academic competition included academic testing and a science fair. The music students challenged each other in solo and group competitions, in both vocal and instrumental music.
Speech contestants competed in such categories as debate, dramatic interpretation, original oratory, acting and other categories.
Art students displayed their works for judging.
The Land O’ Lakes Christian School students were thrilled and surprised by their impressive showing.
“I was not expecting to win. The other people were extremely good. I thought I would be blessed just to place. Even at state I wasn’t expecting to win,” said Campbell, a senior.
In the Topical Preaching category, he preached about faith, with his remarks aimed at encouraging people to “have faith and trust God” in their decision-making.
For Original Persuasive Oratory, he focused on generational values.
“It was about how the generation that our grandparents grew up (in), during their time, they were taught to have manners and people didn’t put so much value on material possessions and people valued the family unit, things like that — and how our generation lacks a lot of that today,” he said.
Campbell plans to attend Pensacola Christian College and to major in Bible Pastoral Ministries. He said he’ll go wherever God leads him, but he hopes that will be to be a pastor of a church.
Even though he claimed the top prize for in the preaching category, Campbell said he discovered something surprising.
“I’ve been working really hard at this for a few years now and I always thought that the ultimate joy and happiness would come from when I finally won. But now that I’ve actually won best in the nation … I realized that I’ve had the same happiness all along and that actually came from just being able to be used of God. I already had the ultimate happiness,” Campbell said.
Zhang, a junior, did an elaborate work to win the top prize in Calligraphy.
She’s interested in pursuing a degree in architecture and has identified Cornell University as her ideal school. A native of China, she has been living in the United States for two years.
She also placed in the top five in two mathematics categories. She noted that the mathematics exams at the national level were more difficult than those at the state competition.
Mengel depicted a skyline in her Printmaking entry. “I love being up high because you see everything,” she said, explaining her fascination for skylines.
Like her school mates, the sophomore was delighted by her first-place finish. “I didn’t think I was even going to place, so it was a big shock,” she said.
Juday, a senior, said he previously competed in photography but decided to give accounting a try this year, after being encouraged by a teacher.
“I didn’t know I placed first until I got to the state competition and they called my name. I had no idea,” said Juday, who took third at nationals.
Paul Wei, a junior, won second in Extemporaneous Speaking. “I was very excited,” Wei said. It was his first competition and he plans to compete again, he said.
It was a great bonding experience for students, Wei said.
Published May 4, 2016