Graduation 2016: Our Faith Integration Story

I just completed my fifth year of teaching at San Jose Christian School, and yesterday we celebrated with graduation. Each year, our graduates do most of the program themselves, telling the story of their experience. 

Since it was my fourth year leading this evening, I decided that I was interested in doing something new. A little over a month ago, I gave my 8th graders our school Throughlines, the spiritual and academic goals we have for our students. Each Throughline fits under one of the three categories of our tagline: "A love for God. A desire to learn. A commitment to serve." I asked each student to write a story of how they learned or experienced a Throughline in each of those categories. I was amazed by their heartfelt stories. Over the course of the past month, those stories turned into speeches that they shared at graduation. Here is their story. 


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Everyday at SJCS we pray together. Whether it's in the morning, afternoon, or on a field trip, we pray, thanking God for all He has done for us. Having people who love the Lord so much always surrounding me has created a community unlike any other. In 8th grade Bible, our class was lucky enough to get to know two pastors. During our forty-five minutes with them, the class got to ask questions that were on our minds, questions that we couldn't quite understand or figure out on our own. We got to hear their perspectives regarding the Bible and learned more about God's plans for us later on in life. Having those pastors talk to us about God's love for us and everything we had questions about was a great expeirence I had during my time at SJCS, overall bringing me closer to God. - Chloe

Over my three years at SJCS, I have developed a strong relationship with God. When I look back over the years at SJCS, I can clearly see a change in faith. I have become closer to God and have a better grasp on my ideas of faith. The 7th grade spiritual retreat especially helped me. We left our technology behind and were able to get in touch with nature and God. It was fun to have a few days off to get closer to God and our class and to see life through our eyes, instead of our computer screen. I don’t like to admit it, but when I spend a lot of time on my laptop and other technology, I start moving away from God and put a barrier in our relationship. This trip helped me open my eyes to the problem of letting technology interfere with our bond with God. Without God we are literally nothing, and just spending a few more minutes on my laptop is not worth wrecking a relationship with God. Nowadays in our society people gradually lose the grasp on their faith, and SJCS has really helped me to get hold of it again. Overall, SJCS has helped me make a permanent change to not let our gadgets, or anything, get in the way of our relationship with God. - Anna

I feel that in my whole experience at San Jose Christian School, I’ve found an even greater appreciation for the arts, and now I see them in a new light. There’s no exact age when I started to like art, but I would say I’ve wanted to improve at it more since the start of middle school. Our class trip to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland really struck a chord within me. It made me feel even more inspired to create and to make things for other people’s enjoyment. I also made me feel more inclined to make things beautiful and inspired by God. To be more specific, seeing The River Bride and reacting to it with my friends made me realize that any kind of art or hobby can make people happy. It can have a big affect on you. The passion people bring into it is amazing. It also can bring my gift out and use it to entertain and inspire people. Not only have I realized that I can create and apply what people have made to my own life, I have also found that it’s something I might want to do in the future. Art might have been a passing hobby for me if I didn’t feel the need to do it for others and my enjoyment.  Now I know it’s something that will stay with me since I feel I can use it for the good of others. Thanks to the experience and opportunities San Jose Christian has given me, I have a better idea of how I feel I can incorporate the arts in my life. - Lana

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Staring at San Jose Christian, I was always told that I had a huge imagination. From those little books we would write and illustrate in elementary school, I’d think and think and think about what I could possibly write about. My elementary teachers never knew what would come out of my mouth. Coming into sixth grade English in 2012, I felt prepared for the work ahead of me and it really influenced on how I write today. Those “pesky” worksheets that Mrs. Medeiros made us do in class really accented my writing in grammar, style, and authenticity. In seventh grade English it became a lot harder, and I lost strength in myself to strive for better. That all changed within this final year at San Jose Christian with Mrs. Medeiros where my writing in grammar, style, and authenticity has grown because of her teaching. More recently, I have been heavily considered becoming an author, an editor, a journalist or maybe all three. This thought sprouted while reading The Hunger Games, annotating and writing a huge essay on how Suzanne Collins makes a comment on American society. I hold high standards for myself now after going through her classes and I feel very prepared to go into my freshman year of high school with a strong head start into 9th grade English. - Vasiliki

Pitching in slow-pitch softball is harder than it looks. You have to get the ball the right height and the right distance so that it lands directly on the plate. When I pitched for the SJCS Tigers, I did not always hit the plate, but as my fellow teammates and the coaches watched me, they saw some really small differences that I did whether or not I got a strike. They told me the small differences that I did, and I learned to adapt to those things. For example, one of my tricks is to drop my shoulder when my arm is down and to give the ball a small fick with my fingers when I let it go. Now, if I do those things, I have a higher chance every time I pitch to get a strike. I learned I had to adapt to each time I pitch, and that even the slightest amount of difference can change whether you get a strike or not. All of this taught me that you can learn to see what you are doing wrong and change to make it right. - Danielle

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    This year in Bible, we did a presentation that where we each had specific roles. There was the note taker, who was Jared in my group, the leader, who was Lana, the speaker, who was Ashtin, and me, the quizmaker. We got time in class to discuss who would be good in which role. We decided fairly quickly by discussing what our gifts are and what we were comfortable with. We all supported each other, and Lana really helped us keep track thereby fulfilling her ‘job’ description. We gave each other daily grades, and the project went really smoothly. When we presented, we all did very well in our parts and sometimes supported Ashtin, the speaker, if he needed help. We all learned that we had gifts in a certain area and worked to improve these gifts. Working in groups is something that we do everyday at San Jose Christian, and I’m confident this will help me in my future. By practicing our roles in groups now, we’re preparing to be professionals who know how to organize projects and make everything run smoothly. At SJCS I became better at group projects and keeping things organized, while considering my gifts and the gifts of others. - Carmelina

San Jose Christian School has changed and shaped my life. Teachers and staff show me acts of kindness and love everyday. They seek to act like Christ, which has inspired me to do the same. For example, when I worked with Ms. Veurink, she showed her love to me through her patience as she went through things step by step with us. Mrs. Bost always read to us and always made us feel like we were in the story. I’ve enjoyed listening to Mrs. Coetsee’s stories from her life in Africa and the wisdom she gives us from them. The positivity of the San Jose Christian staff in the office and in the classroom day-to-day made attending SJCS even more enjoyable.  I hope in the years to come I convey the caring and principled ways that SJCS has taught me. - Justin

Treating the world with respect comes in many different forms. For example, in sixth grade we made a home for worms who devoured waste and trash and disposed it out in the form of soil. Everyone was assigned to make a suitable home for worms, beings who can devour unwanted waste such as banana peels and dispose their excrement as soil instead of dumping the “trash” into the waste bin where it rots and takes up space in landfills. This both gives us more healthy soil and doesn’t waste our banana peels. In Life Skills we also learned to farm and garden. By choosing vegetables and fruits instead of killing cows and pigs for our “needed” bacon and ham, we let animals live in a long food chain instead of a short one due to demands. We saw how gardening gives us more feeding options that last a long time. These experiences taught me that we have more options than just one path in stewarding our resources. - Ricky

During my seventh grade year we would write about the top stories in the news and it gave us a better understanding of what was really going on in the news. The teacher, Mrs. Coetsee, then encouraged us to watch the news so that we wouldn’t hear the news in an abrupt way but in way the was educational and understandable. The issues that were being addressed at that time focused a lot about what was going on in the Middle East, but after those classes I would always leave with a better understanding of the world. When we see the problems in the world we all comprehend them in different ways, but in all ways we see how we can better act to glorify the Lord in all we do to help our counteract the things in the world. - Dwyer