COLUMN: Small school, big dreams

COLUMN: Small school, big dreams

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 “If you can dream it, you can do it here” — Alexander Rurik

Julia Fikse | The Feather Online

A smaller setting allows for more opportunity. Senior Alex Rurik starts on both varsity soccer and tennis teams.

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.

Alexander Rurik | The Feather Online

Rurik is involved in many extra curricular activities such as the worship team.

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.

Julia Fikse | The Feather Online

The Feather Online competes nationally with schools of all sizes, consistently earning highest honors and awards. Rurik stands between Feather advisers Greg Stobbe, left, and Kori Friesen at Columbia University after earning CSPA’s Digital Gold Crown in March 2018.

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.

Alexander Rurik can be reached via Twitter @alexrurik23 and via email.

Follow The Feather via Twitter @thefeather, Instagram @thefeatheronline and Facebook @thefeatheronline.

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By |2019-01-09T09:41:39+00:00October 4th, 2018|Blog, Column, Opinions, Student Life|8 Comments

About the Author:

Alexander Rurik
In addition to visiting all MLB ballparks, senior Alexander Rurik holds a goal to hike in every US National Park. With a lifelong desire to explore the natural world and help others, he plans to pursue a degree in biology and work in biotechnology. Now in his fourth year of The Feather Online and second as editor, Alex hopes to carry on the legacy left by those before him. He maintains a 4.0+ G.P.A, serves as ASB president and has earned four All-League honors between soccer and tennis. Alex welcomes any and all challengers in a game of ping-pong and is always looking to play spikeball. {@alexrurik23} {}


  1. Phillip Christopher October 4, 2018 at 3:21 pm - Reply

    Great article Alex! You are a perfect example of someone taking advantage of the opportunities offered at FC. It is a special place. Keep up the good work!

  2. Hannah Nale October 4, 2018 at 6:23 pm - Reply

    Love the article Alex! Fresno Christian is a place to be so grateful for and you show us why! Keep up the fabulous work!

  3. Kamryn Schultz October 4, 2018 at 7:07 pm - Reply

    Thank you for bringing to light the opportunities and experiences available here at FCS! This is an amazing school and I’m so happy I’m spending my senior year here!

  4. Susan Ainley October 5, 2018 at 7:56 am - Reply

    Year after year, I am amazed and humbled by the student’s ability to create their future. I have always believed in the “Fresno Christian Element”, that something extra that students bring to each competition, performance, project, or cause. A quote I have in my office is “doubt your limits”, and it’s my students who make me believe we can do just that.

  5. Annaleise Anderson
    Annaleise Anderson October 5, 2018 at 8:22 am - Reply

    Great article Alex, it highlights a few of the many reasons I decided to spend my senior year here. FCS has an amazing school atmosphere filled with amazing opportunities!!

  6. Brayden Iest
    Brayden Iest October 5, 2018 at 9:06 am - Reply

    Well said Alex! Way to go!

  7. Mackenzie Beckworth
    Mackenzie Beckworth October 8, 2018 at 12:32 pm - Reply

    Excellent article Alex!

  8. Connor Jens
    Connor Jens November 8, 2018 at 2:03 pm - Reply

    Amazing article Alex!!!

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Fresno Christian Schools - 7280 N. Cedar Ave., Fresno, CA 93720 - 559.229.1695 Facebook Soundcloud Twitter Vimeo Instagram Email SmugMug February 19, 2019 - 12:14 pm