Alums Give Back to MEA

For 115 years, students seeking a quality education with a distinctly Adventist focus have come to the Gallatin Valley of Montana and enrolled in Mount Ellis Academy (MEA) in Bozeman, Mont. Countless numbers of MEA graduates have left these halls to become not just responsible citizens and successful adults; many have also chosen to dedicate their life’s work to mission service and outreach. They have focused on giving back and find meaning by putting their energies towards a higher purpose and cause. Many have found that purpose right here at Mount Ellis.

This past summer MEA alums from the 1960s and 1970s brought their energies to bear on a sidewalk replacement project. For 10 days in July 2016, a handful of lifelong friends labored on campus, tearing out original broken sidewalks, placing forms and doing other pre-pour prep work. Their efforts aided tremendously in the success of the project but are just one example of the time and support given by so many others, including some from a much younger era.

This year's Mount Ellis Academy staff consists of 24 full-time, part-time and taskforce employees. Of those, 12 are MEA alums. Five are full-time employees led by principal and 2001 graduate Michael Lee. He is joined by registrar Erin Tungesvik, development director Kevin Emmerson, chaplain Barry Curtis and athletic director Briana Jenkins. While these five combine their skills with the rest of the faculty and staff, an impressive number of alums contribute to Mount Ellis’ well-being in equally significant ways. 

A recent safety audit of the campus brought the need for new fire escapes to the forefront. Young alum Randy Binder, a 2009 graduate of MEA who recently began his own welding fabrication business, won the project bid in part because he was willing to give back to the school, donating a significant discount on his labor.

Binder says helping MEA in this way was an easy decision. “MEA changed my brother's and my whole life. It was a complete 180-degree turn. It really is the thing that got us going on the right path … and so I feel obligated to help the school and give back to it because it was a total life-changer for us.”

The brother he refers to, Rick Binder, graduated in 2010 and returned to MEA as a taskforce boys’ dean for the 2012–13 school year. He agrees with his elder sibling regarding MEA’s import and adds, “Mount Ellis gave me a community I never would have had. It has stayed in my heart and become part of who I am, and so making the decision to be a part of that community as a staff member was easy.”

The list of alums, both young and young at heart, who continue to contribute to the community at Mount Ellis is lengthy and actively growing. We’re grateful for their assistance and the constant realization of this third element of our school mission statement to "discover, develop and serve."

Featured in: February 2017