New School, New Perspective
Chandra Castañeda is the principal of Sandia View Academy (SVA) in Corrales, New Mexico. She recently sat down with two students who are new to Adventist education. Britney Malaque is a senior and serves as class secretary. She moved to New Mexico from Cebu City, Philippines in July 2019. SVA is her first American school as well as her first Seventh-day Adventist school. Edwin Lozano is 14 years old and is a freshman. This is Edwin’s first year in a private, Christian-based school. Now in their second semesters, Britney and Edwin share about their experience.
How did you hear about Sandia View Academy?
Britney: I heard about SVA after a Texico Conference Asian Convocation celebration at the Heights Church in Albuquerque last summer. After I sang for the church program, I was introduced to you!
Edwin: A friend of my mom’s knew a student who graduated from SVA last year. She said the student was really happy with the school and she told us about SVA.
What was it like starting at a new school?
Britney: I felt nervous because this was a very different environment. I came from a school that had a lot of students. I’m not really used to the family tightness that Sandia View Academy offers and I was also nervous about fitting in.
Edwin: I was nervous because it was an Adventist academy. I didn’t know how it was going to be–I knew it was going to be different, but I didn’t know how exactly.
How was your first day of school?
Britney: I first met students just outside the school building. There were some girls there, and they were very welcoming. They immediately took me into the friend group. Then I met some of the rest of the students at the cafeteria. I guess that it’s been going smoothly ever since then.
How does Sandia View Academy differ from the other schools?
Edwin: Well, in the other schools they don’t teach about God. They don’t pray and they would rather not talk about religious stuff. The teachers here help the students deal with problems. They ask about our problems and the students talk about their problems with each other as well. The teachers in the other schools didn’t really ask about your personal life.
Britney: Those schools weren’t very spiritual. There was little to no room for my spiritual growth. But when I came here to SVA, my spiritual growth has accelerated. I felt that I could breathe because I didn’t have to go to any programs or activities on Saturdays, like I used to at my old non-Adventist schools.
How do you know that you’re growing in your spiritual life?
Britney: When I was younger, my main goal at school was to fit in—even if that meant I had to sacrifice going to church, my beliefs or the food that I ate. But now I’m in a place where I feel free to practice my beliefs. I don’t really care if I fit in with the majority any more, as long as I feel that God is in it and that the Holy Spirit is with me.
What did you know about Jesus before coming to SVA?
Edwin: I know that His mom was Mary and that He died. He prayed a lot, like 40 days and nights. He didn’t sleep, He didn’t eat. He just prayed. I learned here that Jesus is not just someone in the Bible, but someone you can have a relationship with.
How are the academics the same or different?
Edwin: Well, the teachers here focus more on the students because there are less students than in the other schools. There, there are like 30 or more kids in one classroom. So, if one has a problem, they don’t ask the teacher. Here at SVA, there are less students, so if they ask something, the teacher has more time to help them.
What would you say to other students and teachers?
Britney: To the teachers, please realize that the school is a student’s second home. Like God, you’re there to guide us, patiently like Jesus did. Look at us as balls of clay that can be molded into images that would benefit God and benefit society as a whole.
Edwin: To new students, just do your best at the beginning. It might feel kind of weird because you’re not used to an Adventist school, but later on you’re going to get used to it. You are going to see results. You could get a better relationship with God and your family–your parents. You could have mental strength, a better mental state.