Plumas Christian School
The Infamous Pirates

“The Infamous Pirates”

Even though the “Pirates” seem new to Plumas Christian School, they actually began some years ago. When local area churches provided mission trips to Pinon, Arizona, to conduct a Vacation Bible School on the Navajo Indian Reservation, Mr.
Sturley was the opening “entertainment” before the actual Bible lesson time in the VBS.

Although Mr. Sturley came up with many VBS opening ideas (the “Mad Doctor”, the “Toughest Man in the World”, the “Pirate”, etc.) the “Pirates” became his most prominent. He would incorporate Biblical themes into each act. One year on the reservation, John Sturley brought on volunteers-Danny Eschenbaum, Eric Graff, and Michael Herndon, who are former Plumas Christian School students, as a “pirate crew”.

The whole experience expanded their drama, and helped further their friendships. All of this, with a few added ideas, quickly became known as the “Infamous Pirates.” They began performing at schools, churches, and AWANA Clubs. New pirate student crews would be formed as the years progressed.

The “Infamous Pirates” have undergone a few changes over the years. This is the first year where the routine has brought on junior high students. The current students involved are: Jonathan Robinette (high school), Tori Beeson, Jonathan Finch, Robert Hopman, Natalie Kepple, Nicholas Shirk, Risa Nesbit, Victoria Lafayette, Claire Kepple, and Seda Hamlin. Even though they are young, they have shown great enthusiasm to the opportunity and ministry of the Pirates. With musicians like Natalie Kepple, the routine uses the tune “Pirates of the Caribbean”, which she plays on the concertina. However,
the original words have been replaced with Christian lyrics. These lyrics were thought to have been written by John Sturley, but he honestly is not positive about that. As far as the students’ performances are concerned, they impersonate historic pirates!

The “Infamous Pirates” have been performed through the vehicle of the Middle School Drama Club. They have appeared at numerous schools including: Awana clubs, Sunday Schools, Good News Clubs, VBS programs, and other Christian schools. They have traveled to Redding several times, as well as Red Bluff, Oroville, Yuba City, Portola, Chester/Lake Almanor, Graeagle, and of course Quincy. The Plumas Christian School Drama Club has performed 10 times in five months during the first semester of this school year.
John Sturley hopes to see the “Infamous Pirates” expand, grow, and become even more successful than before. It has been known as a Plumas Christian School ‘original’, and been encouraged by many audiences. Mr. Sturley also hopes to eventually have a student take over “Captain John”, who is currently being played by John Sturley. So far, no students have desired this. However, the basic goal is to provide a unique ministry-fun program, historically factual, and spiritually impacting for anyone who would desire the “Infamous Pirates” to perform. The Pirates are looking for ways to improve and upgrade on costuming, etc… Mr. Sturley hopes they can continue forward, but still hold on to the original God-honoring concept. John has upheld prayer as being a big part of their ongoing practice each time they perform.

When each pirate volunteer was interviewed, they each expressed a love for the fun times had throughout this over-all experience. They love watching John Sturley and learning from him as a leader and mentor. The Pirates have brought them closer together created unforgettable memories for each participant. Mr. Sturley has greatly enjoyed being with all the pirate students through the years. “The ‘Infamous Pirates’ has
provided a time where I can interact from a different setting with students than my usual on-site principal role. For me, this is one big reason that I can see why God led me into the ministry of Christian education in the first place: I love the students, I love being with them, and I love getting to know them personally and individually. It is my heart and desire that through all their experiences at Plumas Christian School, they will be molded
and shaped by the Master into being successful people-success as defined by the Word of God, with a living connectedness with our loving Father and Creator!” It is Mr. Sturley’s belief that God has blessed “Pirates” over the years. It is also his desire that “Pirates” not only blesses each audience, but that each student participant experiences new growth in their walk with Christ as the living Savior, because of their participation. “God is the most wonderful Person you could ever know. He is worth every moment of time invested in getting to know Him. John 17:3 as well as Jeremiah 9:23, and 24 are treasured verses that speak towards this end”.

Plumas Christian School Students Present Ongoing Pirate Assembly

Students in the Plumas Christian School’s drama class have been presenting a special “pirate assembly” to various Christian schools in the north state as well as schools in southern Oregon. The students portray actual, historical pirate characters in a presentation that includes factual information, music, drama, and much audience participation. This year’s student cast includes Brianne Turner, stage manager, Cara Robinette, Ashlee Johnson, Natalie and Claire Kepple, Seda Hamlin, Victoria Lafayette, Nickolas Shirk, Jonathan Finch, Robert Hopman, and “the captain”, Principal of PCS, John Sturley.
The “Captain” of the crew, Principal John Sturley, portrays Charles Johnson, a man who published a book about pirates in the early 1700’s. No one knows for sure who Charles Johnson really was, but his book has since been proven to be very accurate with people like Robert Lewis Stevenson using material from Captain Johnson’s book for Treasure Island.
Individual students portray historical pirates primarily from the “Golden Age of Piracy” (1690-1730) in the Caribbean. And yes, there were female pirates who were very fierce according to reports of the times! Among the historical people portrayed include Anne Bonney and Mary Read- both reportedly fierce with a gun or sword- (portrayed by Seda Hamlin, and Victoria Lafayette) who sailed with Captain “Calico” Jack Rackham- Jack is not very famous as a pirate but his flag achieved notoriety as it had a skull with two crossed swords underneath; Annie DeLaVou (portrayed by Claire Kepple), a French Caribbean pirate, Gracie O’Malley (portrayed by Natalie Kepple), an Irish pirate commanding three ships and pardoned by Queen Elizabeth herself; Governor Anthony Eden (portrayed by Nicolas Shirk), a friend and confident of Blackbeard who allowed him to conduct his “business” without government interference for a time, John Rose Archer (portrayed by Robert Hopman), one time quartermaster of Blackbeard, and William Whyte, pirate with Calico Jack.
Replicas of pirate flags, Spanish doubloons, guns and swords of the times, jargon of the times, information about the pirate code from pirate Bartholomew Roberts, and numerous other pieces of information round out the presentation. Each student briefly tells about their character during the performance. At times, after the assembly presentation, individual classes invite the “pirates” to come into their classroom to ask questions and view “up close and personal” the doubloons, guns, concertina (the instrument played by Natalie Kepple during the performance), and learn more about pirates in general, including modern-day pirate incidents off the coast of Africa.
The PCS “Pirates” have been in operation for some time, predating the Disney popular pirate movies, with various sets of students doing the performance through the years. The current set of PCS “pirate” students are in their second year, having performed the pirate assembly numerous times last year and now this current school year. Through the years, “pirates” has been performed in various locations including Quincy, Graeagle, Chester, Red Bluff, Yuba City, Oroville, several locations in Redding, Klamath Falls, and Grants Pass. Everywhere it has gone it has been enthusiastically received, with students from the audience sometimes desiring autographs and asking the “pirates” when they go to sea next! (The performance is primarily for elementary students, although it has been done for middle and high school students if the school we are visiting so requests.) Any interested parties desiring the “pirates” to provide a program for your church Sunday School or special event, or a “non-religious” presentation for classroom interest, please call Plumas Christian School (283-0415) and ask for John Sturley.