Each school day, Northern California Conference (NCC) educators help their students learn more about Jesus. For some children, He is already their Best Friend. Other students are meeting Him for the first time.
During the pandemic, numerous community families chose to send their children to NCC schools so they could receive in-person instruction, which they couldn’t get at the large public schools. As a result, more kids are now learning about Christ and the abundant life that He offers. “Each school year is 180 days of evangelism!” said Albert Miller, NCC superintendent of schools.
Here are just a few examples from this past school year:
Vacaville Adventist Christian School
Enrollment at this one-room school grew by 66 percent this school year, and it’s expected that all the students will be returning in August. Nearly half of the children come from families that aren’t Adventist church members. “This school has been our biggest blessing this year,” said one parent who is new to the school. “I want my daughter to stay, and I’ll send my son when he reaches school age.”
Another parent praised Teaching Principal Nancy Matthews: “She’s an amazing teacher who volunteers to drive my son to school so I can work from home as a single mom and pay tuition.”
Middletown Adventist School
Due to the pandemic, one couple enrolled their two young daughters at the one-room school, despite their desire not to provide religious education for their children. By spring, the first-grader frequently sang “Jesus Loves Me” to herself during the school day, and the third-grader decided she would like to take baptismal classes. “The girls have told Teaching Principal Cyndee Westenrider how sad they are not to be returning next year,” said Miller. “They have shared their love of their school and their new love of Jesus with friends, so we hope that the seeds that have been planted will continue to grow.”
Hilltop Christian School in Antioch
Nearly 70 percent of the students at Hilltop Christian School come from families that are not members of the Adventist church. The parents appreciate the values the teachers are encouraging, such as a recent lesson for the first-graders.
After the class studied about “community,” their teacher, Jeanette Quiroz, talked with them about how they could be of service. “The class decided their ‘homework’ was to clean up trash around their neighborhoods,” she said. “They came back to school the next day saying they wanted to do it again!”
Galt Adventist School
This year, Teaching Principal Jennifer Lalas (pictured far left) held Bible studies with three students—Ava Gifford, Julissa Perez, and Abigail Gifford—who made the decision to be baptized. “My favorite part of studying with the girls was the special connection we formed as we studied God’s Word together,” said Lalas. “This journey has been such a gift, and I know I will be filled with emotion as I witness these girls make their public declaration of faith in Christ.”
Lodi SDA Elementary School
On the Friday before Easter, the seventh-graders participated in an agape feast as part of their study on the life of Jesus. They learned what items are shared in a typical Passover supper and the meaning behind each symbol. They also talked about forgiveness, which made a powerful impression on them, according to their teacher, Lisa Nuss.
“When one of my seventh-grade girls came up to me at the end of the day, with tears in her eyes, and said this was the first time she really felt like Jesus loved her, my own eyes welled up immediately, and I just wrapped my arms around her and assured her that He really does!” said Nuss. “My greatest hope is that they would see a Jesus who loves them, desires to be friends with them, and who they would likewise desire to spend time with.”
By Julie Lorenz