PCA News Stories

PCA Wins Hunter Farnham Regional Quiz Bowl Championship

By PCA News Stories

Portsmouth Christian Academy’s Quiz Bowl team recently claimed the regional championship at the New Hampshire Quiz Bowl League’s Hunter Farnham Regional Quiz Bowl Tournament. PCA also hosted the tournament, which attracted 22 teams from aroundthe state.QuizClub PCA Tournament ANDERS (58)_LK edit ALL teams

The Farnham Regional Quiz Bowl Championship, all 22 teams.

PCA’s A team of senior Jonah Abraham, co-captain; senior John Sipp, co-captain, Somersworth; Waterboro, ME; junior Connor Foley,  Dover and Nate Foster, North Berwick, ME won all ten rounds of the tournament to claim the regional championship, which qualifies them for a berth in the State Quiz Bowl Championship next April.

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PCA’s Quiz Club

PCA’s A Team also recently competed in the Pre-Holiday Academic Quiz Bowl Tournament in Burlington, Vermont, competing against a field of 40 teams from Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and New York. PCA placed second overall in a tight playoff game against Essex High School.

PCA’s strong finish at this tournament and several others throughout the fall qualified the team to attend four different national Quiz Bowl tournaments; the PACE and NAQT national quiz bowl academic tournaments, the National History Bee and Bowl Championships and the National Academic Championships.

Gymnastics at PCA

By PCA News Stories

PCA GymnasticsSports have always been a big part of life at PCA and this year there is a new team to cheer on—the Girls Gymnastics team! The team consists of Rebecca Poole (‘16), Lyndsey Longo (‘17), and Veronica Skubisz (‘17).  Gymnastics is a physically demanding sport, full of injuries and heartbreak, but these girls are willing to give their all to win. There are four events in which a gymnast can compete in during a meet:  uneven bars, balance beam, vault, and floor routine. The girls can compete in any number of these events during the high school meets. Gymnastics practice can be very time-consuming as some gymnasts spend 15 or more hours per week in the gym. It’s amazing these girls manage to get their schoolwork done and participate in other extracurricular activities. But for the girls on the PCA team, it’s not a laughing matter. “I’ve been doing gymnastics since 2nd grade,” said Longo. Rebecca Poole said, “I’ve been doing gymnastics on and off for nine years. I love it because it’s challenging and it teaches me to push myself and not give up, even on the bad days or practices.”

While the difficulty and dedication required of gymnastics is evident, so is the reward, especially now that the PCA girls have official recognition. Instead of competing individually, they have teammates to have fun with and a school to represent. Now, they have an audience to play for and people to support them.  And the girls really do like it. As Lyndsey Longo commented, “I like everyone on the team [at PCA]. We are a small team, and we can bond so easily. Gymnastics takes a lot of time and effort and having PCA make it a team and let us share it with everyone at the school makes the effort a relief in the end.”

Gymnastics is a serious sport and PCA is proud to have such talented girls to represent them at meets. As they are a small team, they are always ready to welcome anyone who shares their same love and passion for the sport. Please continue to cheer on these amazing Lady Eagles in their upcoming meets!

Written by PCA Student Jessica Mayes (’16)

PCA Student Caroline Cherry Skates on the World Stage

By PCA News Stories


Team USA 1 and Team USA 2 Fond Du Lac WI 2014 (2) C Cherry 2

Caroline Cherry is currently a senior at PCA. Outside of PCA she is a member of the Lexettes, a junior level synchronized skating team and part of the Hayden Synchronized Skating organization based out of Lexington, MA.

Caroline has been skating since she was 4 years old. She is now in her 10th season on a synchronized skating team and this is her 1st year as a member of the Lexettes. The discipline and work habits she has formed in school at PCA have carried over into her sport. She practices with the team 3-4 times per week and on her own with her private coach 2-3 times per week. She works hard and is dedicated, sacrificing time with her friends to do this, but says it’s all been worth it and that Junior2014_600C Cherry 1she has learned a great many lessons that will serve her well in life.  She is hoping to continue to participate in college.

Caroline’s team recently competed against 12 other teams from across the country at the Junior World Qualifier in Fond Du Lac, WI. The top two teams qualified to represent the United States at Junior Worlds being held in Neuchatel, Switzerland in March. Caroline’s team placed first and will be going as Team USA 1 and a team from Chicago, IL known as Chicago Jazz will go as Team USA 2.

The team was selected by US Figure Skating at the beginning of the season to represent the USA at the French Cup in Rouen, France at the end of January. They will also be heading to Nationals in Colorado Springs, CO at the end of February before heading off to Junior Worlds in Switzerland.

See Caroline on the ice and with her team in this video:

Caroline Cherry’s Synchronizes Skating Team

Junior High Lady Eagles win GENH Championship

By PCA News Stories

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7th and 8th Grade Lady Eagles Basketball Team has been anything but ordinary this year. This group of girls who had never played together before banded together at the start of the season with big dreams and heartfelt determination. Learning each other’s rhythms on the court was a big part of their training, alongside the fact that they were still working to master game strategies.

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The season started early in November, and the junior high girls were one of the first teams on the hardwood. Uncertain of what other teams would present, the girls prepared the best they could. Countless shooting drills, reviewing the intricacies of the many transitions in the sport, and simple passing techniques were just a few of the skills the team worked on to improve.

The first game of the season proved to be one of the toughest. Without a full roster, the team trekked down to Seabrook to face off in the season starter game. It was a tough battle and the newness of the team affected their confidence, but a leader emerged during that game. She was willing to drive the team to play a better game. Chyna Bullen, playing point, led the team to a near victory performance. After losing the first game by only one point, the team realized they needed each member to play. Basketball is a team sport and together each member makes the team better.

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From that game forward, the team was determined to work, learn, help, have fun playing, and finally to win. Putting up with their coach’s antics and phraseology the team did just that! The girls defeated each team in the GENH league, raising the hopes of returning to one game that they all sincerely wanted to be in and win—the championship.

Along the way, players rose and faced challenges that grew them as individual players and as a team. Madison Thyng and Aby Matthews proved to have a valuable outside shot.  Cora Hodgdon, Lena Tobin, Clara Kohl, and Katie Raymond became important glue in the rotation. Emma Corson, Maggie Joyce, Lauren Michaud, Adah Keeney, Bailey Ouellette, and Amy Cunningham showed dedication and undeniable heart, which gave the team spunk both on the court and off. Chloe Benelli’s steadfast leadership proved valuable to the team. Chyna Bullen was dedicated to sharing her knowledge and skills of the game with the team and this helped firm up game strategies and improved not only her skills but those of the team as a whole.

DSC_0319Together the girls dreamed and hoped as they faced off against team after team. They ended the league season as the solid number one seed with a record of seven and one and prepared for play-offs. They worked hard and prepared for the tough games to come, wanting to make it all the way to the championship game and win a history making banner. The first game had the Lady Eagles facing off against Wakefield, who proved to be a worthy opponent and tested the fortitude of the team. Two of PCA’s players fouled out of the game and the last few minutes were intense, but the girls fought and won a hard earned place in the championship game.

It all came down to this final game against Seabrook. The team that began the season was now to be the final game the team played in as well. The camaraderie was high amongst the team and the school. PCA fans filled most of the bleachers and cheered their hearts out filling the gym with PCA pride.

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The game was a vigorous and lengthy battle, taking the girls to the brink of their skills and emotions. Down by five with 40 seconds left on the clock, the girls refocused themselves during a quick timeout with prayer. That has become practice for the team in the heat of a game or if they start to feel themselves not maintaining their level of sportsmanship. They stop to recognize who gave them their competitive spirit and opportunity in the first place.

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Determination set in and a fight to the finish that ended the regulation game in a tie! With two seconds on the clock, Chloe secured a much needed steal and pass up the court to Chyna who put down a basket to send the game into overtime.  In overtime, the tie held up until the last 30 seconds of the game where PCA scored another basket which leading them to victory.

PCA history was made February 2, 2014, as the girls secured a long desired title as league champions! When asked what she was thinking at the end of the game, Coach Monahan said, “A Vince Lombardi quote was rattling around in my brain: ‘All right mister, let me tell you what winning means, you’re willing to go longer, work harder, give more than anyone else’ and we celebrated in that moment, knowing we did just that. We fought and won, not for ourselves individually; but for our school, for our fans, for our team and most importantly to give God the glory.”

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Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.

 – Colossians 3:17

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Successful Refinance Further Strengthens PCA

By PCA News Stories


We are pleased to announce that we have been successful in re-financing the long-term debt that made the previous enhancements to our beautiful campus and programs possible!  The re-financing was finalized on Friday, September 20, 2013 and will result in principal and interest savings over the 30-year term of the bond issue.

Qualifying for such a substantial investment with our new partner, Bank of New Hampshire, is a strong testimony to the financial viability of PCA and the confidence the bank has in the future of the school.

We look forward to working with the Bank of New Hampshire and the PCA community as we continue to fulfill our mission and as we expand and build on our vision for the future.  There will be an opportunity to share the exciting things in store at PCA in the coming months.


PCA Quiz Team Wins 1st Place in State

By PCA News Stories

Great teamwork, preparation and focus – that’s what it took for Portsmouth Christian Academy’s high school academic competition team to claim this year’s State Championship for the New Hampshire Quiz Bowl League.

At the League championships, held at the Legislative Office Building in Concord on April 7, the PCA Eagles defeated all seven top-ranked teams competing for the coveted banner. The Eagles are Niko Townsend, senior and captain, Dover; Byrnese Knapp, senior, Somersworth; John Sipp, junior, Somersworth; and Jonah Abraham, junior, Waterboro, ME.

PCA-2013QuizbowlteamThey are the senior competition team of PCA’s 25-member Quiz Club, coached by Donna Capern and Dr. Raymond Gamble. “We all seemed to be at the top of our game and were able to stay focused and determined,” says captain Niko Townsend, acknowledging that the team faced tough matches against excellent teams on their way to the win. They all agree that team synergy was a major factor in the win. “I will always remember quiz bowl for the extraordinary camaraderie it instilled in us,” says senior Byrnese Knapp. Junior Jonah Abraham agrees. “The sense of togetherness is what I enjoy most,” he says, and he considers it a major factor in their success. Junior John Sipp points out that the team’s practice and preparation also contributed to the win. “But behind all that work and practice stood our shared enjoyment of learning, and of being able to both satisfy and demonstrate this passion in competition,” he says.

New Hampshire Quiz Bowl League tournaments challenge teams of high school students from public and private schools all over the state in a series of fast-paced, Jeopardy-style battles of wits. Students depend on fast recall and buzzer responses to accurately answer several hundred questions from every area of knowledge. “I’m proud to have worked with so many talented, motivated students who love to learn, love to work toward a goal and love to have fun doing it,” says coach Donna Capern. “We’ve set our sights on the state championship since we first joined the League seven years ago, and it took all of our past and present teams to build toward this achievement. We’re a small school competing against much larger schools, but our students have the heart and the ability to compete successfully,” she says.

“I was tremendously impressed by the dedication of this group, which started practicing together weekly in September,” says coach Dr. Raymond Gamble. “They got off to a good start by winning the Seacoast Regional Tournament last fall, reached a very impressive level of performance at the MIT competition in March, and then surpassed their previous best at the state finals. That performance involved valuable contributions from all four members of the team. What stood out perhaps the most was the extraordinary amount of anticipation, successfully projecting the connections that a question would make to be able to answer correctly before the question was finished.”

PCA’s win at the New Hampshire Quiz Bowl League Regional Championship earlier this year qualified the team to take on other regional winners and top teams at the State Championship. This year, the team also competed on New Hampshire Public Television’s Granite State Challenge, in the Knowledge Master Online competition, and at the MIT Beaver Academic Tournament, where they recently qualified to compete at the PACE National Scholastic Championships in June.


PCA Chooses the Next Head of School

By PCA News Stories
May 20, 2013

Dear PCA Parents,

It gives me great pleasure to announce that Dr. John Engstrom has been selected to become the next Head of School at Portsmouth Christian Academy.  Dr. Engstrom is currently serving as the Head of School at the Seoul Foreign School in Seoul, Korea and will complete his contract there after the 2013-14 school year. He will assume his new responsibilities here on August 1, 2014.  Dennis Runey has accepted the Board’s request to remain as Head of School for another year.

I have included Dr. Engstrom’s biographical sketch below, as well as a link to an introductory video made by him and his lovely wife, Alice, that shows their lighter side.

I could not be more pleased that God has called John Engstrom to our school and that he has heard and responded to that calling.  He possesses a wealth of experience, is wise and compassionate, has a great vision for PCA, and desires to take the school to new levels of greatness.

We are in the process of preparing a transition plan to be presented to the Board of Directors and Dr. Engstrom.  Our mutual goal is for a seamless transfer of responsibilities, and to that end, John and Dennis will be in frequent contact throughout the next school year.  We are also hoping that he and Alice will be back in this area at least once before August 1, 2014.  If so, we intend to host a reception where you will have an opportunity to meet and welcome them.

The stability of another year with the same leadership team, and Dr. Engstrom’s commitment to at least five years at PCA, assures the school community of consistency and continuity in the years to come.  I look forward with great anticipation to the Engstrom era.

God is good,

John Carpentier

Chairman of the Board of Directors

Dr. John Engstrom Bio

EngstromJohn Engstrom was born and raised in the Midwest of the United States and graduated with a BS in Chemistry from Wheaton College in Illinois. He was trained as a chemistry teacher and coach and after graduation, became a teacher and coach at The Stony Brook School in Stony Brook, NY.  In 1973, John earned a Master’s Degree in Liberal Studies and in 1980 was awarded a Master’s Degree in Chemistry, both from the State University of New York at Stony Brook.  While on leave from Stony Brook, the family lived and worked in Zweibrucken, Germany and Kodaikanal, India.

In 1989, John completed his doctorate at Columbia University in Science Education and was appointed the Head of School at The American School in Switzerland (TASIS), where he served for four years. In 1994, he became the President of Minnehaha Academy, a Christian day school of 1200 students in Minneapolis, Minnesota. During his years at Minnehaha Academy, the school raised $20,000,000 for various capital projects designed to upgrade and expand its facilities.  Finally in 2009, he was appointed Head of School at Seoul Foreign School in Seoul, South Korea.

John has been committed to teaching throughout his career, completing several decades of classroom teaching before coming to Seoul Foreign School.  He has been a leader in improving technology in the classroom so as to more actively engage students in their learning. John’s other interests include the integration of Christian Faith and initiating a well-functioning Development Office. John and his wife Alice have three adult children living in Chattanooga, Tennessee; Seoul, Korea and Groton, Massachusetts.
Engstroms Video Trailer

PCA Takes First Place at State Math Contest

By PCA News Stories

mathteam2013Portsmouth Christian Academy placed first in Class S at the 41st annual State Math Contest sponsored by the New Hampshire Teachers of Mathematics. This event is held at Plymouth State College and is open to math students from schools throughout the state.

Portsmouth Christian’s team of ten high school students, coached by math and science teacher John Bonneville, tackled a series of both individual and team questions in categories ranging from Recreational Math to Advanced Math.  Senior Boyce Xu was recognized at the meet for outstanding performance. Six of the ten students on PCA’s Math Team will be getting certificates for a perfect score in at least one category.

PCA’s full Math Team of 20 students also competes in the Southeastern Math League, where they earned first place for the season by the fifth of six meets.  “They worked to potential during the sixth and final meet as well. This was our strongest regular season yet,” says Bonneville, who has coached the team for two years.

“They brought their teamwork and work ethic to the State Meet, where every one of the team members scored in double digits,” says coach Bonneville. “They finished the race.”

The team meets weekly to work through various kinds of math problems. “It’s always a team effort,” says Bonneville, who notes that communication was key to the students’ ability to earn perfect scores on the team questions at each of the regular season meets.

PCA Athletes of the Year

By PCA News Stories

This year’s “Female Athlete of the Year” is Abra Roberts, a senior, who started the school year on the Varsity Volleyball team where she was awarded Co-MVP of the team and was named to the Granite State Conference All-Star. She finished her Volleyball career with 551 kills, 683 digs, and 164 aces.  She was a team co-captain and an outstanding leader on the court.

For winter track, she was the team co-captain and 2nd leading scorer on the team.  She also won the Mighty in Spirit award.

In Spring Track, she was again a co-captain and won the Mighty in Spirit award. In addition, she was named a Granite State Conference All-Conference athlete.  She now holds the school record in Javelin. She came in 5th in the NHIAA Division 3 Discus Throw and was the 2nd leading scorer on the team.

Abra accomplished all this while maintaining Highest Honors and being a member of PCA’s State Championship Math Team.

athlete of the yearThis year’s “Male Athlete of the Year” is Tommy Longo, a sophomore. Tommy is a unique “four season” athlete who competed in Soccer and Cross Country Running in the fall, and he followed that with Winter and Spring Track. In Soccer he pushed himself harder and harder with each game and practice becoming one of the best all around players on the team.  His spirit of humbleness, hard work ethic, and positive attitude both on and off the field was instrumental in the team’s growth throughout the season. On the Cross Country team he was typically the 2nd or 3rd leading runner.

In Winter track, Tommy was a Co-Captain and he is a member of 3 school records:  4x400m, 4x800m, and distance medley. He won the Mighty in Spirit Award.

In Spring Track, Tommy was again the team Co-Captain and Mighty in Spirit award winner.  He is a member of the new school record in 4x400m relay.  Tommy has the unique distinction of being the only athlete in PCA history to achieve Conference Qualifying Standards in all running and hurdle events (from 100 through 3200 meter runs as well as 110m and 300m hurdles).

Background information:
Some of the criteria for winning these awards included participating in a sport for all 3 seasons, accomplishing outstanding achievements within their particular sports, and being leaders and positive role models for their teammates.

PCA Lower School Students Run With Vision

By PCA News Stories

funrunOn the last day of school, PCA’s Lower School students raised money for World Vision Educational Projects in Africa by enlisting the help of others to sponsor them for a one mile fun run.

Abigail Monahan, PCA’s Physical Education teacher, says it is one of her favorite activities of the year. She enjoys seeing reading buddies partnering together, watching the older students encourage the younger, and everyone moving in heart healthy exercise.  Even more awesome is watching the students put their faith into action.  ‘A favorite hymn of mine sums up my desires for the students to wholly love the Lord and use their bodies to glorify Him. A few of the lyrics which gave us our theme for the fun run this year are:  “Take my life and let it be consecrated Lord to Thee. Take my feet and let them be swift and beautiful to Thee.”  It is incredible to see them feel burdened to bless others in simple and eternal ways.’

Our 2012-13 theme verse for PCA, Proverbs 4:23, came to life as we watched an expression of God’s love coming from our students as they worked to help meet some tangible needs of children in Africa. The educational projects aren’t costly, but the life lessons of how to be grateful and how to look to the interests of others first are priceless.

A big thank you to all who donated water, cheered on the students and helped with the organization of the run!  We are happy to share that the students raised $830.77 through this year’s Fun Run for World Vision Educational Projects in Africa! Mrs. Monahan shared, “I love watching the students take ownership of their cause and see their heart hurt and hope for these children in need. What a great opportunity to be a blessing and give praise to God for another wonderful completion to this school year!”