Dr. Engstrom’s Official Installation as PCA’s Head of School

by Danielle Brackett (’17)  Written for the Talon

Dr. Engstrom, with the mace of the school in hand, is prayed over at the conclusion of his Installation ceremony.

This past Friday, an all-school assembly was held to officially install Dr. John Engstrom as PCA’s Head of School. Although Dr. Engstrom has been serving as Head of School since mid-summer, the installation ceremony was a chance for the school to come together and recognize his appointment.

As the staff and faculty of the school marched in, followed by the Board of Directors, representatives of different parts of the school, and Dr. Engstrom himself, the entire student body looked on. Voices and Orchestra students performed “O God Our Help,” the lyrics of which said, “O God our help in ages past, our hope for years to come, be thou our guide while life shall last,” reflecting Dr. Engstrom’s duty. Mrs. Gretchen Nobles then began with a few words of prayer.

Special guests included the Millers, the founders of PCA. Mrs. Betty Miller spoke about the founding and early years of PCA and much of the history of the school. Then Mr. Dennis Runey, former Head of School, shared the story of the search for a new Head of School and the selection of Dr. Engstrom.

To conclude the ceremony, Mr. John Carpentier, the chairman of the Board of Directors, gave Dr. Engstrom the charge from the Board, and presented him with the mace of the school. Then Mr. Morse prayed while the school principals, Pastor Miller, and the board laid hands on Dr. Engstrom. The installation was a chance to recognize Dr. Engstrom in his new position, his leadership talents that will drive the school to a new level of excellence in the coming years, and God’s hand in bringing him to PCA.

The mace has been used by academic institutions as a traditional symbol of authority since the 17th century, when the custom was inaugurated at Oxford and Cambridge Universities in England. The Portsmouth Christian Academy mace was specially created by Edward Wilson, a PCA grandparent. PCA’s mace is made from mahogany and birdseye maple; it is topped by a bronze medallion with an eagle symbolizing the school verse, “but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar with wings like eagles; they will run and not be weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)