Homecoming: Citation (Young Alumnus of the Year)

August 15, 2014 by Brenton Stacey

Chris Koelma

Chris Koelma is a musical linguist. The composer and bass guitarist’s ambition: to share the universal language through performance and education.

Chris Koelma

Chris Koelma: Avondale Alumni Association’s Young Alumnus of the Year for 2014.

The latter saw Chris employed as music director at Terrigal Uniting Church during his studies. He returned there after graduation while also teaching music at Narara Valley High School.

The former saw Chris leave his position at the church and take leave from the school to record in Los Angeles the debut album of the band St Leonards. Chris completed two tours of the West Coast before returning to Australia in 2010.

He married Mikaela Prout and the two took a teaching opportunity in Buenos Aires, Argentina to “gain more experience with English-as-a-second-language students, live as expatriates in a foreign country and learn Spanish.” During his tenure as head of primary music at St Georges College, Chris developed a new instrumental music program, produced five musicals and managed a team of five staff members. He also completed a Master of Educational Studies through The University of Newcastle, graduating with distinction.

With a sharp downturn in economic stability and security in Argentina, Chris and Mikaela looked for other international teaching opportunities. They moved to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in mid-2013—Chris took a position as head of primary music at Garden International School. The role sees him coordinating the school’s primary music curriculum and its choirs, orchestras, concerts and tours and helping coordinate an instrumental music tuition program. He’s also led workshops at professional development conferences on the use of iPads in the classroom.

Chris only began to play bass in his mid-teens, but he has developed his own style by adding a twist to existing bass expressions. The launch of his debut album at Avondale in 2008 illustrates his ambition: the album raised money for an orphanage and school in India.

The Avondale Alumni Association honours Chris Koelma for using music not to further his own interests but to further the interests of others.—Brenton Stacey, public relations officer, Avondale College of Higher Education

Homecoming: Citation (Alumna of the Year)

August 14, 2014 by Brenton Stacey

Adele Rowden-Johnson

Lavinia “Adele” Young was well travelled by the time she arrived at Avondale College. Born in Franklin, Tasmania, she attended primary school in Queensland and high school in Western Australia before moving to Avondale to study accounting. “My parents thought I needed some assistance with numbers,” she recalls. “I still need help, so I married an accountant!”

Adele Rowden-Johnson

Adele Rowden-Johnson: Avondale Alumni Association’s Alumna of the Year for 2014.

After leaving Avondale in 1964, Adele found secretarial employment at Sydney Adventist Hospital. In 1970, she and husband John Rowden became missionaries in Fiji—John would die in a waterskiing accident five years later.

On returning to Australia, Adele worked as a medical secretary at Dora Creek Medical Centre. Earning a teaching certificate in 1987 began a career in technical and further education, a sector in which Adele would work for the next 10 years. She would also study, graduating with a Diploma of Teaching from The University of Newcastle in 1991 and a Bachelor of Counselling from the University of New England in 1996.

Adele married Les Johnson in 1997, the year she had her first contact with what is now Southlakes Refuge. “I was only meant to stay for a short while, then return to TAFE teaching. God had other ideas.” She left teaching to become the managing director of the refugee and now credits the difficult times in her life as good preparation for the position. “My prayer has always been, ‘Please God, don’t allow those experiences to go to waste!’ He never has, and I pray He never will.”

The refuge has been acknowledged for its contribution to community spirit, winning a Southlakes Business Excellence Award in 2002. It also gave Adele other opportunities—she served as a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the South Pacific’s Domestic Violence in Families Taskforce, for example—through which to share the wisdom of her experiences.

The Avondale Alumni Association honours Adele Rowden-Johnson for her dedication in caring for and raising awareness of women and children who are the victims of abuse or domestic violence.—Sara Thompson, alumni relations officer, Avondale College of Higher Education

Homecoming: Citation (Alumnus of the Year)

August 8, 2014 by Brenton Stacey

Cliff Morgan

Those who know Cliff Morgan know he’s not one to slow down. The outdoor enthusiast and committed exerciser—Cliff ran a half-marathon this year—retired in 1989 but has volunteered, notably as founding director of Volunteers in Action, for 20 of the 25 years since then.

Cliff Morgan

Cliff Morgan: Avondale Alumni Association’s Alumnus of the Year for 2014.

Born in Biloela, Queensland, to farming parents, Cliff grew up wanting to pursue a profession. This led to him studying accounting at the then Australasian Missionary College, where Cliff would be baptised and meet Valerie Hartley, who he married. After graduating in 1954, Cliff would study teaching at the then Queensland Teachers College and at The University of Queensland.

The following years were spent teaching in the public school system and, together with Val, raising three sons. Cliff turned down multiple offers from the Seventh-day Adventist Church to teach in its schools, promising instead that once retired, he would serve the mission of the church at his own expense. Fly’n’builds in Vanuatu and in Fiji in the late 1980s saw this promise come to fruition.

In 1993, Cliff and Val joined with the church’s Euro-Asia Division to build churches, clinics and schools in the former Soviet Union. Of the 57 countries the Morgans have visited, Russia has proved most memorable. “The people suffered so much under communism and had few funds, but their faith in God dwarfed mine. Each week Val and I would see or hear of another miracle, so our trust in God grew enormously.”

A visit to the Solomon Islands and to Papua New Guinea in 1995 surprised Cliff. The church’s greatest need in those countries: finding sponsors for local missionaries to grow churches in isolated areas. So began Volunteers in Action, a ministry that has now led to more than 16,000 baptisms across the South Pacific. Cliff credits its success to the dedication of the volunteers and of the donors—and, most importantly, to the grace of God.

The Avondale Alumni Association honours Cliff Morgan for his commitment to the mission service of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.—Sara Thompson, alumni relations officer, Avondale College of Higher Education

Homecoming: Citation (1994)

August 6, 2014 by Brenton Stacey

Anthony Hibbard

Mr Hibbard, as Anthony Hibbard is known by students in high school, is a leader whose passion for mathematics and God inspires those around him.

Anthony Hibbard

Anthony Hibbard: the 2014 Homecoming honour year honouree for 1994.

Anthony’s taught at three Seventh-day Adventist schools since graduation. He began at Blue Hills College in Lismore, to which he returned in 2012, becoming head of secondary school a year later, then moved to Macquarie College. But his longest tenure has been at Avondale School, where he is now head of the mathematics faculty. “I love my job,” he says. Anthony finds satisfaction from supporting his students “explore how mathematics can help them make sense of their world. It’s one of God’s love languages.”

Anthony credits his then Avondale College lecturers Kevin de Berg, Malcolm Coulson, Wilf Pinchin and Lynden Rogers for “modelling what it meant to be a passionate Christian educator. I am indebted to them for helping develop in me a love of learning and an empathy for my students.”

The former saw Anthony receive the Dean’s Merit Award for his Master of Education through the University of New England. The latter saw Anthony and wife Lana volunteer as English language teachers and as underground house church missionaries in Zhuhai on the southern coast of Guangdong in China in 2000 and 2001. “We were baptising people in blow-up swimming pools and in hotel bathtubs and bringing Bibles across the border from Macau. They were two of the best years of our lives.”

Other best years were to follow with the birth of Anthony and Lana’s children Tyson, Chloe and Aren.

Anthony, a former student elder and a head elder at Avondale College Seventh-day Adventist Church, inspires others in their faith journey by putting God first and serving Him rather than self. “My primary goal is to love the Lord with all my heart and to look for opportunities to serve those in my community.”

The class of 1994 honours Anthony Hibbard for his commitment to Seventh-day Adventist education and to the ministry of teaching.—Bianca Reynaud, public relations assistant, Avondale College of Higher Education

Homecoming: Citation (1984)

August 4, 2014 by Brenton Stacey

Mark Vodell

Not many can claim co-founding and directing a humanitarian aid agency as a “hobby,” but this is one about which Mark Vodell is passionate. My* Mission employs more than 30 teachers in remote villages and supports two orphanages in Myanmar. Students and teachers and students from Gilson College in Melbourne, where Mark is principal, visit the orphanages and My* Mission’s other projects to help in teaching English.

Mark Vodell

Mark Vodell: the 2014 Homecoming honour year honouree for 1984.

The Seventh-day Adventist Church in Victoria had planned to close Gilson the year—1996—Mark arrived. The then primary school with two small secondary classes is now a Prep to Year 12 college with more than 1000 students across two campuses.

Mark began his teaching career in 1985, at Carmel College in Western Australia. He would become head of the Social Sciences Department in 1987 and deputy principal in 1994. Between 1990 and 1995, he also moonlighted as a lecturer in economics and industrial relations at the South East Metropolitan Institute in Perth.

Work as a gravedigger and as a carpenter helped finance Mark’s study at Avondale College. He took three years off, initially to serve as a volunteer minister at the Carthage and the Monmouth Seventh-day Adventist Churches in Illinois, USA. Responsibilities included organising health programs, leading Bible studies—up to 14 a week—and preaching sermons. On Mark’s return, he found work at Omni Marketing Australia in Newcastle, for which he became advertising manager. The role taught Mark about sales and management.

Mark graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in secondary education and a Diploma of Teaching in 1984. He has since completed at Avondale a bachelor’s and a master’s degree, with honours, in education. The experience has “shaped my worldview, inspired an inquiring mind and created friendships that span the globe.”

Mark is married to Sharon. The couple have two sons, Luke and Joel.

The class of 1984 honours Mark Vodell for his commitment to excellence in Seventh-day Adventist education across Australia and in his missionary work.—Bianca Reynaud, public relations assistant, Avondale College of Higher Education