A Foundation to Build Upon

John and Sydney Horner – My New Life Story

Meet John (’14) and Sydney (Steele ’15) Horner. They both graduated from New Life Academy. After meeting in middle school, they started dating in high school and got married in June 2017. “I had a huge crush on him the first day that I started at New Life Academy in seventh grade,” laughed Sydney. “I saw him walking down the hallway and fell in love the instant I laid my eyes on him. I kept it a secret for almost two years. At the end of eighth grade I had told my friend that I liked John but told her not to tell anyone… However, she told John and that is when he started texting me. From there, the rest is history!” 

John and Sydney - building on a faith foundation - new life academy alumni

New Life provided John and Sydney both with a solid foundation in their faith and helped guide them in growing their relationship with Christ. Sydney notes the role models she had during her time at NLA and the bible classes she had with Mr. Simmons, Mr. Schrader, and Mrs. Welander. She appreciates these teachers and their classes because they infused faith and the Bible in everything they talked about. “They really instilled that He’s the way and the only way,” said Sydney. 

“When you grow up in a Christian family and in the church, you almost take it for granted because it’s all you know. Once you get out into the real world, you realize the foundation that you have built in faith is countercultural,” said John. “It’s so important to have a set of morals and beliefs that you build your life around and to be able to look back and recognize where that came from.” John and Sydney both appreciate their parents’ decision to prioritize Christian education and immerse them in a Christian environment on all sides – family, church, and school. 

For both John and Sydney, Camp Forest Springs was one of their most powerful experiences at New Life. Camp Forest Springs is an annual trip for 6th graders that focuses on God’s love and sacrifice for us on the cross. Being leaders their senior year helped them to affirm their faith and provided opportunities to lead younger students and be a positive example. John loved being able to get to know people on a deeper level and is still friends with some classmates from New Life. 

Other memories come from playing sports at New Life Academy. John played baseball while Sydney played softball. They remember going to state and their relationships with coaches and teammates; the community was so evident playing sports and being a part of a team. Lifelong friends and relationships were made at New Life.  

John’s freshman year, he played basketball, and their entire team got buzzcuts. One of their teachers, Frau Thomas, had cancer, and John and his teammates all shaved their heads to support her and raised money. “It was amazing to see the community rally together and show their support,” said John. “I’ve never seen the gym so full. It was packed full of people.”  

John and Sydney are still involved and active at New Life. John joined us this year for the 23rd Annual NLA Golf Classic. Serving on the Development committee and coaching a New Life basketball team while in college, John enjoys being a role model and someone approachable that students can talk to and look up to. He hopes to one day be able to mentor NLA students in some capacity.  

Their daughter, Baylee Elise, was born in September 2018. John and Sydney are already saving and planning to send Baylee to New Life as soon as she’s old enough because of their experience and how much they value Christian education. “We love it here,” said Sydney. “We’re definitely planning on sending our kids someday.” horner New Life Story