“If you can dream it, you can do it here” — Alexander Rurik
In my conversations with other students throughout the Valley, there is a common notion that because of its size, Fresno Christian Schools fails to accommodate the breadth of students’ interests, limiting those who want to achieve because of its size. While our school is small, that difference gives us a unique advantage.
The attendance of Fresno Christian High School rests at just 206 students, with a total K-12 enrollment near 600. We occupy one building for junior high and high school classrooms, and athletics share one field for football, baseball, soccer and softball. Almost all classrooms are continuously packed for use and many teachers instruct several different courses.
All that to say, FC is a small school – one of the smallest in Fresno County. People tend to correlate its overall small size with small academics and small opportunities.
However, I say it is entirely possible for individuals at a small school to dream big and succeed in big ways.
For some students, a small school is exactly what they need to help accomplish their dreams. Instead of being lost amongst the numbers, you have the opportunity to be known and pursue your interests. The analogy of a small fish in a big pond comes to mind.
What distinguishes FC from other schools is the unique opportunity to participate in multiple activities. Students do not have to choose one specific passion. Instead, they can be fully involved in academics, arts and athletics. Here it is not unusual to go from singing the national anthem, to playing in a football game, to helping set up and run 5th quarter, a post-game pizza party.
For example, my classmate Kamryn Schultz, ‘19, is a captain of the girls volleyball team, ASB vice president, an editor of The Feather and sings in choir and ensemble.
Allowing yourself to engage in a variety of activities helps create a holistic, well rounded student. That way when students move on, they are well versed in multiple activities and can pursue personal goals because these experiences help shape their lives.
If you can dream it here, you can do it. — Senior Alexander Rurik
Size is not necessarily an indicator of strength, intelligence or passion. An individual who possesses these qualities is not limited by the size their graduating class or how many AP classes are available.
The students who have walked the hallways of Fresno Christian and earned their diplomas have gone on to influence others in various ways – politics, business, medicine, entertainment, athletics, church and education, amongst others.
The Feather Online competes nationally with schools of all sizes, annually earning highest honors and awards from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association and National Scholastic Press Association, respectively.
Campus choir and ensemble take part in national competitions, including festivals at Carnegie Hall in New York City. They consistently do well against schools many times our size. Athletes on lower division sports teams are still standouts and graduates have competed in Division I, II, III collegiate athletics.
Perhaps the most recent and notable example is alumna Ashley (Newton) Swearengin, ’90, who served as the Mayor of Fresno for two terms: 2009-2017.
“I absolutely believe that small schools can foster big dreams,” Swearengin said. “I experienced that as a high school student at Fresno Christian. Our school was smaller than other schools in the area, but that didn’t stop us from wanting to compete in athletics, music, academics, cheerleading, or student activities. It did mean, however, that we didn’t necessarily have the same level of resources to support our activities.
“That created a great opportunity for the students themselves to provide the leadership needed to fundraise, get creative, and figure out a path forward on our own,” Swearengin continued. “Looking back, that sort of ‘anything’s possible’ environment at Fresno Christian nurtured an entrepreneurial mindset that resulted in believing I could pursue and accomplish big dreams for our community.”
FC high school principal and alumna Amy (DeGroot) Deffenbacher, ’94, graduated without plans for her future. Instead, she took life step by step. Deffenbacher believes attending FC allowed her to gain the perspective of trusting God in every decision, preparing her for every step of the way.
Of course, not everything is optimal. The scope and scale of large schools provides some advantages small schools may not have ranging from more class options to greater athletic competition. Wherever you go, there is give and take.
If you can dream it here, you can do it.
For more columns, check out Journalists aspire to begin Feather broadcasting program and Calvin Crest leaders reflect on experience.@thefeather, Instagram @thefeatheronline and Facebook @thefeatheronline.
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