TURLOCK — Not everyone who goes to a Christian school is Christian.
“We have a widely diverse group as far as churches are involved,” said Adam Bennett, a senior in high school at Turlock Christian where he has attended school for 14 years.
Turlock Christian is a private kindergarten through 12 grade campus that serves just fewer than 600 students, including its preschool. Established in 1969, the school draws students in a variety of ages and from a variety of faiths with parents often desiring for their children’s education to have some faith based component. Often mistaken to be affiliated with Monte Vista Chapel, the nondenominational church at which Turlock Christian rents property, Bennett estimates that only a quarter of Turlock Christian students attend Monte Vista attributing this to the school’s teaching roots.
“The school was not founded by a church. It was founded by teachers who wanted to teach at a Christian school,” explained Bennett.
Bennett’s experience of attending the school since preschool is rare as he estimates only six to eight students in his year have attended Turlock Christian since preschool as he has. Being a long-term student has afforded Bennett more than a deep sense of community at Turlock Christian as it has also proved beneficial academically. With a smaller student to teacher ratio and the ability to maintain relationships with teachers who taught him in the past, Bennett’s time at Turlock Christian has been meaningful.
“You get the family aspect since we are such a small school. You receive more individual attention than I would think you would get at a public school and you really know everyone in the crowd and on the team when you’re cheering on a basketball team for instance,” said Bennett.
While the family environment has been comforting, Bennett does have reservations about leaving Turlock Christian as he prepares for college at Grand Canyon University in Arizona this fall. As a niche environment with a small student population, the number and quality of services that students receive is somewhat compromised. For example, this is the first year that Turlock Christian has a debate team which is a mainstay on most campuses.
“I know I’ve built relationships with friends and teachers even from elementary school and they care about us. It might have jaded me to some things about the real world,” said Bennett.
However, the small-style campus has not stopped students such as Bennett from taking advantage of the opportunities that are available. As the class president for four years, homecoming king and a participant in several activities including drum line, drama and the inaugural debate team, Turlock Christian has been Bennett’s second home. While there may not be as many clubs and extracurricular activities on campus, the school does utilize its unique quality of faith-based education to its advantage by not only teaching about the Christian religion, but empowering its students.
“They have instilled faith in us and that will help me as I face new challenges,” said Bennett.