Some years ago, Illiana Christian was my arch rival, first when I was an opposing athlete and then as a coach. Anyone who knew me in those days could attest to how much I disliked Illiana — and the color green. Fast forward several years and I still don’t care for the school color, but it is safe to say that I have grown to love Illiana. It’s a challenge to find just the right words to describe all the amazing things that go on here at Illiana, but I’ll give it my best shot.
I will start with the life-giving faculty. These teachers are absolutely tremendous, so I wish you could see them interact with students like I do. Far above and beyond the academic excellence in the classroom, Illiana’s teachers give life to many students. They pray with and for their students, write them encouraging notes, and tell them in person how much they are loved by God. They enthusiastically encourage students to get involved in clubs or extra-curricular activities by expressing what they see as special gifts or talents that students themselves don’t always recognize. They walk alongside students who struggle to fit in, helping them to find a place to belong. The teachers here take the initiative and reach beyond the classroom to touch hundreds of lives every school year. What a blessing.
Next, I would like to highlight the many Illiana traditions that never change and continue to make an impact in students’ lives. What do we have that so many schools like ours have done away with? It takes time, energy, and dedication to keep these traditions alive, but we have done this at Illiana. We still send students out on career opportunity appointments to investigate possible future jobs or college majors. This happens because of committed parent volunteers. We still take a senior class trip every October to Washington, D.C., even though many other schools have done away with this kind of trip.
And why do we do this? It is an incredible bonding experience for the senior class, an unforgettable highlight of their high school career. We have maintained the strong tradition of our chapel committee, eight seniors and two faculty sponsors who organize three chapels a week for the entire school year. For many students, this is the most meaningful part of their week. Chapel themes are tied in with our daily devotions in homeroom, another fantastic tradition. Students remain in the same homeroom for all four years, allowing the homeroom to become a school “family” to most students. Homerooms undertake a service project together once a year, and, once again, have an unforgettable experience together. And the traditions go on and on and on.
Finally, I would like to comment on the musical production “Annie” performed here earlier this month. Hands down, this was the best high school musical I have seen in my 31-year career. It exemplified the body of Christ with many parts working together in unity as over 120 students were involved either on stage or behind the scenes. One of the quirky hallmarks of Illiana is how the sets crew and our own amazing Jim Kamphuis, Illiana’s art teacher, transform the very limited facility of our old gym into a phenomenal setting for a perennial powerhouse production. You have to see it to believe it. Many audience members enjoy the scene changes as much as they enjoy the actual performance.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so if you would like to see our school for yourself, please feel free to contact me. Come, experience Illiana Christian High School. See what I get the privilege of seeing every day minus the color green.