WHCS provided me with an environment rich with godly men and women who demonstrated to me biblical principles in living color.
How did WHCS strengthen your faith in God?
I grew up in a solid Christian home, and my parents were very committed believers who made big sacrifices to send me and my sisters to WHCS and Westside Christian High School. For me, attending West Hills helped me make the transition from “I believe in God because my parents do” to “I choose, for myself, to believe in God.” The Lord used my school environment to accomplish this in three main ways:
- Knowledge of His Word: Probably the thing I am most grateful for in this area is the large amount of scripture I memorized during Bible class. I still remember a ton of verses from those years, including all of Psalm 139, which we memorized as a class during fifth grade. It is amazing what you can retain from those early years!
- Foundation for a biblical worldview: For a lot of Christian adults, Christianity is a silo of life that is lived on Sundays. It has little to do with their Monday through Friday. As a child, Jesus was the common thread that ran throughout my entire life. Christianity wasn’t just something my parents did or something I heard about on Sundays. Jesus was a regular part of my everyday life. It formed a foundational mindset that would be developed during my high school and college years: that having a faith in God is not something you “do” (like go to church once a week); it is someone you are, and all of life – whether at work on Monday, a barbeque on Saturday, or church on Sunday – is viewed and lived from the same set of values and for the same purpose.
- Authentic role models: West Hills provided me with an environment rich with godly men and women who demonstrated to me biblical principles in living color. Beyond that, it also provided me with a group of friends with shared beliefs which provided a healthy pressure and accountability to live rightly.
What was one of your favorite moments at WHCS?
It is very hard to pick one. If you’d asked me the year after I graduated from West Hills, I would probably have listed beating our arch rival, Portland Christian, in their gym, at the end of our eighth-grade basketball season, or possibly the amazing music programs we did. But as I reflect on that as an adult, one of the memories that rises to the top of my mind – which I barely noticed as an eight-year old – was when one of my third-grade classmates, Becky, was diagnosed with cancer in her leg. Sadly, she had to have her leg amputated at the hip and went through many rounds of chemotherapy. As a result, she lost all her hair and started wearing a bonnet to school. Several of the moms, including mine, came together and sewed bonnets for all the girls in our class, and for the rest of the year the girls in my class wore bonnets in a show of love and support for Becky. In most schools in the early eighties, a situation like that would have meant humiliation and teasing for her. At West Hills, it drove our community closer together and became an opportunity to show the love of Christ.
How did WHCS prepare you for your career and/or high school education?
West Hills was academically challenging – particularly junior high. But it created graduates who were very well-equipped for high school and college. Of course, going through it, you didn’t know that, it just felt like a lot of hard work! But it became clear to me when I got to high school and about half of my class came from West Hills and the other half did not. There was such disparity in our freshman English class that they chose to divide the tenth grade English classes based on where we went to junior high! In fact, after junior high English, grammar in school was never really a challenge again…including college!
How did WHCS cultivate community?
From my student perspective, there wasn’t a need for the school to exert a lot of outside influence in this area. When a group of people’s common bond is Jesus, unity follows very naturally. The families who met each other through the shared experience of West Hills grew to become a close community because the parents organized play dates, parties, get-togethers, and events. I actually still see this today at West Hills. As far as the school-sponsored activities we did back then, my two favorites – hands down – were the annual all-school skate night and the Spaghetti Dinner!