Thirty years ago, Valley Christian High School opened its doors to students for the first time.
Today, the Chandler private school can boast that more than 95 percent of its students go onto post-secondary education — achieved while focusing on college prep classes and faith during their ninth- through 12th-grade years.
Phoenix resident Will Carter transferred to the school a year ago, in the middle of his sophomore year.
Now a junior, Carter said the small school is a good fit.
“I have some friends who have gone to school year. It’s definitely a lot smaller. I also feel here all the students and teachers have a closer-knit relationship,” Carter said. “They seem to care more about what you’re doing in school and outside of school.”
Valley Christian, with nearly 300 students, stands high athletically, as well as academically. And the school’s choir program has received national accolades.
“Opportunity is huge for us,” principal Mark Bistricky said.
Students often participate in more than one sport, plus take part in the arts or clubs, said Bryan Winfrey, the school’s communications coordinator and 2004 graduate of the school.
“I loved it,” Winfrey said of his experience at Valley Christian. “I did choir and basketball and student government. I made lifelong friendships.”
Tara Law is one of those active students school leaders talked about. She is in the choir, cheer, track and field and student government. A junior now, Law said she grew up wanting to be a Valley Christian Trojan after seeing her older sister attend the school.
“My parents had researched schools for my older sister. They felt this was the best one. I really wanted to go to a Christian school,” she said.
As for her active school, “I try to balance it all,” she said. “I want to make the best of my high school experience.”
Spiritual learning is at the center of everything, Bistricky said, from the classroom to the playing field.
“Our spiritual core is what that’s all about,” he said. “They’re all designed to be avenues for faith development, to develop character and to be part of a team.”
During a speech class the first week of the new semester, students sat on the floor with their teacher, Sheri Templeton, and reviewed what students need to know about being in her class for the first time. After discussing attitude and encouraging others, they reviewed the Bible verse for the class.
All students attend chapel weekly. It is organized by students and includes worship and guest speakers.
Students also are required to participate in community service hours, on their own and as a school, Winfrey said. Photos of events students helping others line a wall at the school.
The school also offers a full special education program. Students are integrated into mainstream classes when possible, Bistricky said.
With room to grow — students come from Chandler, Mesa, Gilbert, and as far away as Coolidge and Surprise - Bistricky said a fund-raising effort is under way to build a new worship and performing arts center, as well as softball fields.
“We want to be a distinct high school that can be spiritual, academic, social, really serving the whole student,” he said.
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