I was enrolled in the SCCS system from kindergarten through my senior year of high school. Mrs. Triemstra was my kindergarten teacher and my children's kindergarten teacher, too! I loved the science classes at CCHS and bonded with Mr. Kroon. We always celebrated Mole Day, and he taught me so much about his love of chemistry. I even minored in Chemistry in college! I married Clinton in 1999. We have two children, both of whom went through SCCS from kindergarten through high school. Ryne graduated in 2019 and Sophia graduated in 2020.
Looking back at my experiences at Southwest Chicago Christian School, I immediately think of friendships forged in grade school that have lasted for over forty years. Since high school ended, I have been blessed to have met many new friends along the way; however, I am grateful to have such longtime friends that I still hang out with today. When we find time to hang out, we often look back and reminisce about a lot of dumb and embarrassing stories involving pranks, stunts in cars, first jobs hijinks, team sports shenanigans, and feats of sheer adolescent attention-seeking stupidity all for the slightest chance to amuse each other. In my mind, the perceived reward always outweighed any real risks of social embarrassment or potential for physical harm. To those of you who are former faculty and students at CCHS in the early 1990s, thank you for being patient and giving me a whole lot of grace. I still cannot believe the faculty entrusted us to make repairs to their personal cars in shop class. Seriously, just pull out your yearbook and take a good long look. Lots of things have changed since high school; yet in our time shared together as friends, some things today remain nearly exactly the way they have always been. That is a gift.
My time at Chicago Christian High School had a profound impact on my life. The relationships I formed and the experiences I had have stayed with me long after graduation. The school prepared me for the challenges of higher education and helped me discover my passion for education. I am grateful for the opportunities I had at CCHS and the impact it has had and still has on my life.
When I think back to my four years at CCHS, I am flooded with memories of exciting spirit weeks, rigorous academics, lively fan sections at sporting events, friendly faces while walking the halls, and the goofiness that comes with a building full of high schoolers. However, as I consider this time of my life, the thing that overshadows the rest is the example of a Christ-centered community. In this community, there were happy times celebrating various successes - driver's licenses, passing chemistry tests, state championships, and college acceptance letters. There was also an abundance of times that our community was deepened due to an array of losses - teachers sharing they had a miscarriage, the loss of life of a teacher or student’s parent, and scary health concerns. Working through these emotions and fears was challenging as a high schooler. The CCHS community was truly a gift as it equipped and taught me to lean on God through all of these things.
I found community at CCHS the moment I came onto campus as a freshman in 2012. People like Dylan Slager and Brenden Wolinski made me feel like I was supposed to be here. There was never a time when I had felt otherwise. Spreading my time amongst groups like Student Council, Mosaic, and the basketball team allowed me to share my love for the school with others. This community is never stronger than when it is time to play Illiana in basketball. That was the most electric atmosphere that I was blessed to experience. I will never forget closing my high school basketball career, beating them in their home gym for a regional championship! The way we were able to bring joy and unity to this community of people we had fought so hard for, two years prior, will never escape my memory.
It’s hard to believe it’s been almost 12 years since graduating from Chicago Christian in 2011. The more I reflect on my time there, the more it feels like I was just walking upper B hall or eating freshly baked cookies for break in the cafeteria. CCHS helped form the foundation for my adult life, and I believe it played a large role in my success during college and getting established in my career. I felt prepared for my field and I’m very thankful to the teachers, principals, coaches, and mentors who guided me in discovering my talents and interests. And most importantly, all done alongside biblical principles and encouraged a relationship with Christ.