Aaron Sturtevant, junior
This year was so much fun. Outdoor school was great – so was dorm life. Living in the dorm is always an exciting time and it makes the year go by so much faster because you’re always surrounded by friends. You have a roommate who you get to bond with - have an extremely special bond with - and you always find those friends you kind of click with and hang out with all the time, but you also are able to make friends with everybody else because you’re in such close proximity.
Rochelle Hold, sophomore
I think my favorite part is the fact you can come here and pray whenever you want to because if you go to a different school you probably wouldn’t be able to do that. I like all the fun times. You go to an event and at first maybe you think, ‘oh this is gonna be crazy, I don’t know what to do.’ But then eventually you meet all these people and you have a lot of fun. I remember girl‘s retreat we had so much fun. I went on a hike with a whole bunch of other people and we passed by a creek, got our feet in the water, and it was just an awesome time. When we came back we made little flower things that went on our heads and gave them to the teachers there and it was just a really fun to spend time with God and all our friends getting to know everyone.
Lindsey Schumacher, sophomore
My first year was a ton of fun. I loved all the activities that they did here. And I love the diversity of the school – how many foreign exchange students there are. You get to meet so many people and learn about the different cultures. IT was just so much fun. At the beginning of the year we did the class scramble and that was really fun. We went on hikes. We went to a park and did activities there. It was just so much fun, encouraging, and everyone you meet here becomes like family.
Hana Dockter, sophomore
I think my favorite part about coming here to Mount Ellis Academy is that you really get to know people better than if you were to go to a public school. And your teachers become your friends. You’re just like a big happy family and it’s a lot of fun. My other family members have gone here and they’ve all gotten a really good education. They had a really good time here and told me I would too, and I have. It’s been great.
Colin Vercio, junior
One thing I really loved about this year was the soccer season. When we went to tournament, we all stayed in a hotel and played in a tournament at Walla Walla and that was a lot of fun. It’s one of my favorite things to do every year, I really look forward to it and I’m really happy I get to participate every year. I think it’s awesome that the school offers athletic programs that we can join to stay fit and have fun and we can just hang out with friends. Practices are always a blast because everyone’s just out there having a good time.
Ken Jones, senior
What I like is it’s very outdoor based. I love outdoor school. My favorite was the canoe trip because we were in a new spot every day. We all got in canoes with a random partner and went down the Missouri river over a four day period, stopping at key points along the way. Lewis and Clark went down the same section of the river so we would learn the history of Lewis and Clark and their trip and then along the way we would stop at landmarks like Native American teepee rings.
Bob Zhou, senior
It’s like a big family for me. Because I came from China and in Chinese schools there are like 40 students a class and here there is only like 60 school total. So I can know each student better and the staff can take care of us more so they are all like family members to me.
Mason Peck, Class of 2015
I came from Southern California – 20 minutes from the ocean - and I was surprised when I first came here. I wore my sweats and flip-flops and there was like 6 feet of snow on the ground. I didn’t know what I had coming for me. It was a big change. I feel like the people here are a lot nicer and they’re a lot more accepting of whoever and whatever you are. It’s just a lot betterer!
Maya Nazari, junior
What I like about Mount Ellis Academy is the teachers because they really care. They really want to help you if you’re doing bad in something or they’ll take their time out to help you. In math I had a test coming up and my test scores weren’t the best, and Mr. Ellis realized that. So then he went to me personally to ask if he could help me and if we could work over some things so that I could do better on my test.
Ashley Beardsley, junior
Mount Ellis Academy is a school that includes all their students in activities and the teachers like to help and it’s a great atmosphere.
Samara Cunha, Brazil exchange student, 2014-15
When I came I didn’t expect people to be so nice and also I didn’t expect to learn English so fast. My main memory will be people, because everyone here is really special and they treat the foreign students really well. But my favorite memory is always going to be the snow. I feel like the snow – I don’t know if it’s because I live in a country where there’s no snow – but I feel like it’s a gift of God. When I woke up on Christmas morning and there was snow – it was beautiful.
It’s really small here. There’s not a lot of people and … that’s very good because you get to meet everyone and you end up liking everyone. It’s also good that it’s a small school because the teachers don’t have so many students to care about so they can actually give you special care in each class if you need. It’s a good environment to grow, not only as a person, not only in your education, but also spiritually. But it’s also good for your education because all the teachers care and the deans care about you – about everything you do.
Also, it’s just a safe environment where you can hang out with your friends and have fun and meet new people. And here there’s people from everywhere so it’s good because you get to interact with different cultures. I think that’s really cool.
James Stuart, Science teacher since 2004
Our lives are a story. And I want it to be a great story, not just for me, but for everyone. At Mount Ellis Academy, teaching is more than a career, it’s a lifestyle. The program is not just something that we put on for the kids; it's who we are; it’s how we live. We are constantly looking for new ways for students to experience a full and abundant story, because we desire the same for ourselves. We seek a fully engaged experience with their environment and with each other. We have strong academics, yet it is balanced with the social and physical aspects of life. We also invite the constituency and the local community to be part of our story through mentoring and other interactions. I guess what makes Mount Ellis Academy so special is that we try to embrace the complete, rich potential of our story that God has given us to live.
Gene Dotolo, Class of 1973
Many people view their high school years as a time they'd rather forget; embarrassing moments, acne, bad choices, breakups, mistakes, some more serious than others. I regret my dating gaffes and awkward social skills; yet attending Mount Ellis Academy was integral to my life and remains a happy memory for me. Mount Ellis Academy lived up to its mission statement by providing me an opportunity to know God, develop as a person and share my talents in service for others. I have lifelong friends who were roommates, dorm mates, and classmates 40 years ago. We shared our difficult teen years together, laughed together, mourned together, complained to each other, and cheered for one another. At Mount Ellis Academy I learned how to drive a car, ski down a slope, wax a floor, paint a building; and earned a high school diploma.
I cannot express enough the invaluable influence of the teachers and faculty members of Mount Ellis Academy. They taught during the day and many times became our surrogate parents after hours. Growing up takes a lifetime; but, Mount Ellis Academy helped guide me through the teen years, and set a solid foundation for adulthood.
I had the opportunity to attend a Bible Conference at Camp Mivoden, while I attended Mount Ellis Academy. I attribute that conference as pivotal in my spiritual growth and relationship with God. Prior to the conference, I thought God's love and acceptance of me was based on my performance, which was not very reliable. At the conference I learned that nothing can separate us from the love of God; and He is for us not against us. This was like a light bulb going off in my head; and just what I, a struggling teenager, needed to hear.
Mount Ellis Academy delivered on its mission statement in my life. I grew spiritually, developed my talents, and as an individual I learned how to serve others. I would recommend Mount Ellis Academy for students wanting a solid foundation to build the rest of their lives on, wanting to establish life-long friendships, wanting to know God better, and being able to accomplish these in beautiful natural settings, as well as in-door classrooms.
April (Cummings) King, Class of 1965
I grew up in a small Eastern Montana farming area, the same place my parents were both born and grew up. After attending public school for eight years my mother wanted her children to have a broader view of the world than we would get by staying in our small community. We were the only SDA family in the area. My older brothers had attended Mount Ellis Academy several years before my time. One of the things my mother thought was important was for all of her children to meet other Adventist kids and to have a variety of social events we could take part in as these two things were not available where we lived. One of my brothers and I met and dated our future spouses at Mount Ellis Academy! I also formed many lifelong friendships that are still important to me today.
(Bozeman would be considered a small place by many but to a country girl from Eastern Montana, it certainly seemed like the 'big city' to me!! I have lived in and visited many large cities since that time but Bozeman is still a special place!!)
When we attended church it was a long drive to and from so church attendance did not happen very often until I went to Mount Ellis Academy. So I did not go to Sabbath School as a child and while my parents read the Bible stories to us, I did not really learn the stories nor the SS songs that most SDA kids grow up learning. While at Mount Ellis Academy I learned a great deal about the Bible and church history, etc. that I would not have learned had I continued in public high school.
Mount Ellis Academy was the beginning of a lifelong journey that has taken me to many parts of the world, the beginning of many lifelong friendships, and Mount Ellis Academy provided a safe place where I learned to take responsibility for myself and learned to make the decisions about what I wanted for my life.
Darren Wilkins, Class of 1989 and former Mount Ellis Academy principal
ount Ellis Academy has played such a huge role in my life that it's almost impossible to articulate. It's like asking a fish about the water. I just have to go stream of consciousness and let the adjectives flow.
It is a school that has an absolutely unique character. If it were an animal it would be a wolverine. Totally oblivious to the fact that it is small. Willing to try crazy things to accomplish a goal. Gritty. Adventurous. Tough. All heart. Most importantly, full of faith. Mount Ellis Academy will try things that no other school will because there is such an unshakable confidence in God's leading. No need to play it safe.
The unique character of the school has sunk deep into my soul. Moonlit ski runs with buddies mix a daring cocktail of beauty, brotherhood, and fun. Choir tours, Bible classes and mission trips planted seeds of meaning and faith. As principal I got to build my faith muscles as God brought victory out of defeat over and over.
What has Mount Ellis meant to me? Everything. In many ways I grew up at Mount Ellis Academy and then my children did too. Those mountains are imprinted on my soul. What a blessing.
Students should go to Mount Ellis Academy because it's like the Rosetta Stone. There is only one. Totally unique. There are lots of great schools that are mostly like each other. There is no other school like Mount Ellis. If you want high school to be an adventure like no other, you have to go to Mount Ellis Academy.
Barry Curtis, Class of 1984 and current Mount Ellis Academy chaplain/pastor
As an alum: I grew up in Wyoming and my parents both graduated from Campion academy in the south and you know, Mount Ellis Academy was closer to where I grew up and we just felt like we knew Mount Ellis Academy better. We felt like it was more like how we grew up. It was Montana. It felt more like home.
It was definitely a place of opportunity. I tell students all the time that if you’d told me I was going to be a pastor when I was a student here I would’ve laughed at them – and I would have. But I had a lot of opportunities. I had teachers that led AYA groups and took us around the conference visiting churches. I look in my yearbook and I see pictures of myself and the girl who is now my wife and a good friend who is now education superintendent in Washington conference all together on an AYA team leading out in vespers programs and doing church services in Montana There was just a lot of opportunities to own your faith and share your faith. It’s a big burden I have as a staff member here is to keep that kind of thing going for students. To provide opportunities for students to find their gifts and use their gifts in ministry.
At Mount Ellis Academy there’s a sense of SDA family and common values. You get to know people for who they really are. I think in bigger schools kids feel competitive with one another like they have to put on airs and be something they’re not and I think here kids are able to just be who there are. And I believe that is one of the things that’s good is there’s not that pretense. There’s not as much, you know, the thing you see in teen culture where everybody’s wearing a mask and putting on a certain character – I mean, it happens to some extent, but by in large it’s just real. It’s real kids just being themselves. I think that matters because you get to know who the person really is. There’s no surprises later on. Just normal people being real.
As a parent: It’s always great when your kid gets good grades, but when a kid gets good grades at Mount Ellis Academy you know they really earned them. You know that the teachers challenge them. Hannah (Barry’s daughter) is a high honors student and has all those kinds of credentials with her, but they mean something. It means that she worked hard for them and that she earned them. That’s a big plus. I think that’s one thing parents want is they want academics. They want their kid to excel in those kinds of areas. But one of the things that I admire most about what I’ve seen in Hannah at Mount Ellis Academy and I think the Mount Ellis Academy feel has a lot to do with it is, you know, a willingness to serve other people. You know we have a big Ski the Summit event and Hannah loves to snowboard and every time we’ve done STS she’s looked for kids that were new to skiing or snowboarding and spent big chunks of her day on the bunny hill with those kids helping them learn how. And you know, she can snowboard any run on Bridger Bowl and enjoys getting out there and tackling tough stuff and doing new things and going down a black diamond or whatever. But she spent big chunks of her time during those events helping other kids learn how to snowboard. And I just see that as a servant heart. I love seeing in my kid the willingness to sacrifice her own independence when what a lot of kids would want to do is just go do their own thing but she’s willing to sacrifice that in order to help somebody else have a fun day. And she finds that to be more fun than just doing her own thing. And, I think that’s Mount Ellis Academy, it’s just part of the feel that we get here.
As a staff member: We have an incredible balance of manageable size, family feel, and yet excellent staff. That makes a big difference. I mean we have top notch teachers, very creative people that are willing to do things outside of the box and do things differently. And they can do different and creative things because of the size of their classroom, the size of the school. They can do a lot of things that bigger schools can’t. The lure of Montana, the reputation that the school has; it draws people that are quality and that have those kind of gifts. Staff who are highly creative, adventurous and willing to take risks, and with a smaller classroom size – teacher to student ratio – they’re not just buried in assignments to grade for 121 students in one class. They’re actually able to do creative things and maybe more detailed complex projects with students too. You know, I watched Lukens’ kids do their SSR videos (in English), I sat in on a few of their final projects, and those are time consuming things to have students show a video, give a presentation and explain it all. You can’t do that with larger classroom sizes. And so here’s a guy that naturally is outdoorsy, likes to take some risks, enjoys the Montana way of life, so he’s an outside of the box kind of person to begin with. And then he has a small enough class that he can do some very interestingly creative things in an English class where they’re actually doing more video production kind of projects. So it’s different – it’s creative and it’s something you couldn’t do as easily at a bigger school.
In many ways the staff is very diverse. I don’t see a cookie-cutter, lockstep kind of staff gathered together but there are certain common values that everybody shares. One of the initial draws here I think is the outdoors and just the Montana country living kind of feel they know they’re going to have here. Which means they’re adventurous. They’re willing to take risks. Montana just naturally draws those kind of people. And yet, like I said, there’s a diversity too. We can sit around a table and argue different things and find very different opinions around the table. I think we have a common passion and love for young people. We have an eager desire to educate them and we all like the wilds. We like that Montana way of life. We have our faith in God and our walk with God in common and our love for nature and those kind of things in common.