Mountain Home Youth Excels in His Junior Year of High School

February 21, 2023

MOUNTAIN HOME, ARK. – Emmanuel Westra, son of Michael and Rachel Westra, members of the Mountain Home Seventh-day Adventist Church, has had many impressive and exciting experiences during his junior year. He received state-wide recognition by Governor Asa Hutchinson for solving a football game scheduling problem for the 2022-2023 school year. 

The Mountain Home High School (MHHS) athletic director, Mitch Huskey, enlisted the help of the MHHS math teacher, Garret Rucker to solve the scheduling problem. Rucker passed the problem on to his students. Westra worked on this challenging solution in his free time while riding the district school bus and then at home during the weekend. On Monday, he turned his solution in to his math teacher who said it was correct. He then created a program so his solution was accepted by Huskey, and then by the Athletic Directors Conference members at the state level.

Later in the spring semester of 2022, Westra participated in the governor’s state coding competition for Arkansas students. To his surprise, his team advanced to the qualifying finals. Only 16 teams of over 200 participating high school teams qualified. At this point, a personal Sabbath conflict appeared for him as the competition was scheduled for Saturday, April 30. Westra explained his situation to the teacher, but the teacher could not make any scheduling changes. He was told that if he did not participate, it would limit the team’s competition and possibly cost them scholarship funds, as well as a possible state grant. 

Westra contacted Johnny Key, the Arkansas director of Education (and former state senator from Mountain Home). Key referred him to Anthony Owen, the State Director of Computer Education who listened to his scheduling problem. After consideration, Owen understood his religious views as he has an Adventist member working in his office. Owen arranged for the MHHS team to compete on Friday. The team could then stay over and attend the awards session without him being present. 

Then came an unexpected surprise and blessing. The scheduling for next year’s competition (2023) was rescheduled for a Friday so that any Adventist participating would have a chance to participate in the coding competition in the future. Westra stepped out in faith and, having the courage to do so, allowed him to use his math abilities and talents as a chance for God to reveal His power for those who claim His promises based on faith.

His other extracurricular scholastic endeavors included competing nationally in the Future Business Leaders of America National Leadership Conference in Chicago in which his team was recognized for a Gold Champion Chapter Award. Overall, a team of three students competed in the team event, the first national placement achievement in 20 years, and placed in the top 10 of their events. Westra competed in the Business Calculations category and placed number six in the event. 

In addition to his school activities and recognition, Westra has begun running the live streaming and audio for the church services and recently accepted the responsibility of publishing the church bulletin for the Mountain Home church. Recently he and his family started a youth-based group that gathers monthly. This regular Sabbath event will give young people and others a chance to participate. The Mountain Home church is blessed to have this family in our church family.

By Cheryl Ozols