PCA News Stories

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!”

Congratulations Class of 2013

By PCA News Stories

graduationpicThe successful fulfillment of our mission statement is best manifested in the quality of students that graduate from the Upper School.  On average, our graduates attend PCA for over nine years before graduating, while 7 from the class of 2013 actually attended for their entire 13 year elementary-high school experience.

This year’s class distinguished itself in many ways as can be seen by clicking on the links provided below.  Thanks to the efforts of the students, parents, and staff/faculty our graduates are well-prepared for what lies ahead:  a challenging post-secondary regimen, sensitive social and behavioral decisions, and an understanding of what is expected of them as they move into society and become contributing members of it.  It is a blessing for all of us who have had the privilege of working with the families of the graduates.  It is what we live for.  Our prayers go with each of them and our thanks for enriching and blessing our lives while they were in our care.

Fosters News Article – PCA Grads Asked, ‘How Will You Serve?’

Seacoast online article – Portsmouth Christian Announces Top Students

PCA’s Ironman

By PCA News Stories

Chip Pease Saco River RallyYou may know Chip Pease best as a history teacher in the Upper School.  Did you know that he is not only a faculty member, but also an avid athlete?  He has run in over 20 triathlons including the Lake Placid Ironman.

This summer Chip swam, biked and ran his way through a full distance triathlon inspired by his desire to train and compete while simultaneously raising money for PCA.  That’s 2.4 miles of swimming, 112 miles cycling, topped off with a 26.2 mile run!  What an amazing athletic feat for a very good cause.  Specifically, the goal was to help purchase an AED heart defibrillator for the Upper School and an ice machine for the PCA Athletic Department.

On July 8th, initially the weather forecast called for thunderstorms, but when it changed to only rain and clouds it was determined that he would go.  The race began with a 2.4 mile swim in the Saco River.  Rain came down in buckets halfway through, but the storm passed, the swimming portion came to an end, and it was time to transition to cycling around two loops on either side of the Saco River. “I felt pretty comfortable on the bike, and was able to do a bit of aeroing, which helps with time.” Chip said.

Just over nine hours into the triathlon, Chip began the 26.4 mile run.  He says, “I wasn’t really thinking about overall time at this point, because I wasn’t sure how the run would go. In the end though, the run went well.”

“Running is my strength, so for me the key is to get into a rhythm. I felt good on the run, and this segment there were only a few splatters of rain, and no downpours.” Chip was pleased that all three legs went so smoothly with no real surprises.  “There were no flat tires, or injuries, which is what you hope for.” Chip Pease completed all 140.6 miles and crossed the finish line with a time of 14:04:45.

“I’m thankful for the support that I was able to raise for PCA.”  A new AED heart defibrillator has already been purchased for the Upper School, but it’s not too late to support Chip’s efforts with a monetary donation.  The triathlon has been completed, but you can contribute at First Giving toward the purchase of an ice machine for the PCA Athletic Department or by check to PCA with Triathlon in the memo line.

If you would like to read more about Chip’s story you can read his blog.


PCA Remembers 9/11

By PCA News Stories

Tom McGuinness

September 11, 2001 has special significance for all Americans, but the attack on the World Trade Center has special significance for PCA.  Tom McGuinness, the co-pilot of American Airlines Flight 11, was the father of two PCA students, daughter Jennifer and son Tommy.  Both children went on to graduate from PCA.  Tommy and Jennifer’s husband (Seth McQueen, another PCA grad) are currently flying for American Airlines.  Tom would be proud!

Jennifer McGuinness depended on her dad’s faith to nurture her own.

We always believed in God, but my dad did most of the digging,” Jennifer says. But when she was 16, her father, American Airlines co-pilot Tom McGuinness, became a casualty of the 9/11 terrorist attacks when his hijacked plane flew into the north tower of the World Trade Center. In that instant, 16-year-old Jennifer and her 14-year-old brother, Tommy, lost their father and spiritual leader. And their mother, Cheryl McGuinness, lost her husband of 18 years. Jennifer and Tommy had to embrace what their dad had taught them about trusting God and letting Him lead them. “We had to put what we had learned growing up into practice if we were ever going to survive this,” Jennifer says.

Jennifer had to choose not to allow the horrible acts of 9/11 to destroy her life, dreams and love for God. Watching her mom inspired Jennifer. “My mom has chosen to not let the challenges in her life harden her heart.”

The days following 9/11 were an immense challenge for Cheryl. The stress of single parenting, combined with the grief of being a widow, seemed unbearable. “In the beginning, there were some days when all I could bring myself to pray was, “God help me; please help me,’ ” Cheryl says. She had to take every decision, every thought and every problem to God‚ every day. “Many days, I didn’t think I would live to see another season . . . but [God] was my partner. I didn’t carry it alone.” God brought people and circumstances into her family’s life. They helped the family heal.

Jennifer recalls how God’s grace came in many different forms. “It wasn’t just one thing that helped me and my brother to thrive, but a lot of things: great friends, youth group, knowing who to talk to, staying involved in activities. We tried to fill up our lives with people and activities that would help us to grow up successfully.”

Ten years later, Jennifer describes her family’s story as one of hope, perseverance and deep abiding joy. They trust God every day and take responsibility for their faith.

Cheryl acknowledges, “Letting go of the past and pressing through the present takes an incredible amount of strength and perseverance. God is our rock — we know that now more deeply than ever before.” 

-excerpt from Thriving Family (the online magazine of Focus on the Family, Remembering 9/11)


Students Compete in the NH Solo & Ensemble Music Festival

By PCA News Stories

Fine Arts

Seven PCA students recently went to the New Hampshire Solo and Ensemble Music Festival at Plymouth State University to perform either vocally, on the piano or on the violin. It was a tremendous opportunity for the students to display their talents in front of professional musicians and to benefit from their feedback.  Those who participated were Maeve Joyce, Tim Lam, Wayne Lam, Amelia Poole, Joseph Stevens, Julie Stevens, and Samuel Stevens.  They did a spectacular job, and they were rewarded with six superior ratings and one excellent rating from the judges! Congratulations to all!