Central Christian and Beyond
Environment Impacts Character
When you spend eight years of your life somewhere, that place is going to have a significant impact on your character. Even more so if those eight years happen to be from the ages 10-18. I spent fifth grade through twelfth grade at Central Christian School. As you can imagine, those eight years were extremely formative for me as they are for most children. I truly believe that my most vital characteristics were developed during that time as a direct result of the Central Christian environment. There are countless lessons I can share from my time at CCS, but two character traits, in particular, stand out to me as a direct result of those eight years. The two character traits in question are the ability to embrace challenge and the ability to resolve conflict.
Everyone deals with difficult circumstances differently. But developing a strong ability to embrace difficult situations or circumstances and to persevere despite all odds – will set you apart in life. I didn’t recognize this ability in myself until I went to college and noticed a stark difference between those who would shy away from challenge or throw in the towel when things got hard and those who saw challenge as opportunity. This ability has given me a significant advantage in every area of my life.
I remember forging this kind of mentality early on at Central Christian through the challenging curriculum. In 9th grade, geometry was so hard for me. I hated going to that class and feeling like I could barely understand the material. Rather than having the option to switch to a different class that was easier, or having a teacher who gave me a passing grade for “trying my best”, I was surrounded by the support and encouragement not to just “get through” but to dig deeper, have more focus and learn the material until I had mastered it. And I did. The same things happened in Algebra 2 (clearly math was not my strong suit – hence my degree in communication studies). I cried in class one day because of how difficult the material was for me to grasp. Yet again, no one looked at my weakness and offered an easy way out, but instead looked inside me and saw the strength that was there even though I was blind to it. Teachers took extra time to help me and encourage me until I was able to understand. The process of struggling through challenges to achieve a result taught me to pursue difficulty and embrace it, not shy away from it for fear of failure.
In my life post-CCS, I cannot count the times this has empowered me mentally for success. Because of this mentality, I was able to take on a heavier class load through college to graduate early with my BA in Organizational Communication Studies. I was able to work tirelessly to secure internship experiences for myself all three summers in between my college years to get job experience, make connections and build my resume which would ultimately land me my dream job post college in the field I had studied. This mentality has helped me work hard to save relationships and not just give up on them, which leads me to the next vital skill I learned at CCS – conflict resolution.
The other invaluable skill that was developed as part of my character through my time at Central Christian is a strong affinity for conflict resolution. Had I attended a larger school, it would have perhaps been easy to leave a friend group and get a new one when relationships were trying or when conflict occurred. However, the smaller class sizes at Central Christian created an atmosphere where conflict had to be resolved. I attended classes from fifth grade until twelfth grade with the same core group of about twelve people, give or take a few. You better believe we had conflict – we went through so much change and so many hours of our early lives were spent together every day. This meant, early on, we had to learn to resolve conflict well, to practice authentic forgiveness and move on.
In my post-CCS life, this skill has been a blessing. It wasn’t until I realized how many of my peers were quick to walk away from friendships and relationships due to minor conflicts that I really appreciated this skill that had been developed in me. My very closest friends in life are the ones I made in college my freshman year. We walked through seasons of conflict and all of us chose to fight for our friendships. Instead of throwing in the towel, we had meaningful and difficult confrontational conversations that ultimately forged a strength in our friendships. I believe I played a key role in encouraging my friend group to embrace confrontation in order to pursue peace and I have the lessons learned at CCS about conflict resolution to thank for that. You see, I’d learned to seek to understand more than to seek being understood, out of love for the others.
Overall, much of who I am today is a result of those eight years at Central Christian School. I was fortunate to go through such an impressionable time in my life within a high quality environment. These two character traits and many others have empowered me to approach life with a positive outlook, trusting in the Lord and loving people along the way. For this, I am forever grateful.
Samantha (Biever) Reynolds
Graduating Class 2014