As he looked through the pages of the 1992-93 Central Christian yearbook, the past came rushing back to Matt Finnestad. Matt was part of the first group of students who enrolled at CCS when it opened its doors in 1992. This group of pioneers set the tone for the school, picked the school colors and mascot. He remembers choosing with his classmates black and white with purple accents as the school colors and the students suggesting that their mascot be the Bulldogs. However, Culver was already the Bulldogs, so they settled on the Tigers.
Matt graduated from CCS in 1995 and stayed in Central Oregon, married his wife Casey and later welcomed their children, Dara and Gabe. Although Matt and Casey always dreamed of sending their children to Central Christian, it wasn’t possible until Dara was entering high school. Matt remembered touring the school with Mrs. Phillips and as she was explaining all the benefits of enrolling at Central Christian, Matt laughed and said “Oh no, I don’t think you understand. We fully intend to send Dara here. You don’t have to sell us on it."
Matt continued, “I really wanted them to go to Central Christian and felt it was important. When we toured and were reading the mission statement, I was super encouraged and remember telling Casey this is solid, it’s still solid. Sometimes when you haven’t had anything to do with an organization for several years, you come back and wonder what has this place turned into because it is not what you remember. But that wasn’t the case. I would say it is more Christ-centered now as that has continued to stay the focus of the school.”
Gabe in 11th grade this year added, “I really like our faculty a lot. I think that during the pandemic a strong bond was developed between the teachers and students, and we became a tight-knit community. I really appreciate that we pushed through to stay open which required a lot of work by the administraton and faculty. It brought a maturity and built camaraderie; we all feel close to the school.”
Dara, a 2022 graduate of CCS now attending George Fox University and majoring in Art and Design said, “It wasn’t the education, it was the faith that I was establishing without even realizing it.” My school experience was an intimate, immersive, faith-based environment with people that I trusted, all shaping each other. I could have learned all the things somewhere else, but it wouldn’t have shaped my character the way Central Christian has.”
Dara continued, even though I am passionate about art, I don’t know that I would have pursued it as a career. “My classmates believed in me and affirmed that art is something that God has called me to do. Over the years, everyone has been so supportive, even my friends who were going to be engineers and doctors supported encouraged me. I don’t know if I will ever have this kind of community again. It was so rare and unusual. I really appreciate the chance to be part of this because it gives me a framework to create my own community when I get older, whether it is a family, or a group in college. This type of community is attainable.”
Thank you to the Finnestad family for continuing to be part of the 30-year legacy of Central Christian School and our mission of educational excellence within a Christian learning community!