Cavalier Feature: Making an Impact
We promise not to abuse the many pun opportunities afforded by this subject
By Marissa Carpenter, Director of Marketing & Enrollment
Each Thursday, the high school student body gathers at 8:55am to fellowship and worship God. Aside from occasional pep rallies, this is the only event that gathers the entire high school together. And standing at the front of them is a group of students who have gathered together each morning of the semester–some days to read the Bible, some days to pray, some days to practice, some days to meditate, and some days to do all of the above. They call this crew Impact.
I myself was once involved in Impact at CVC. (Let’s not discuss how long ago that was.) Along with a handful of other students, I grew into this group that laughed together, prayed together, worshiped together and had as strong of fellowship as one could ask for in high school. But that was when we held chapel in the gym. And now, we have chapel in the, well, chapel.
So for a refresher course, I walk into the high school chapel, and observe as the Impact class takes their spots and gets ready for the worship they’ll lead the students in. The drummer comes in first, practically jogging and then hopping onto the stage. (Stairs are for singers, I guess.) Jeremy Lyzenga, the Impact and chapel coordinator (and high school Bible teacher), tests the microphone by beatboxing into it. The three students in the back of the house adjust the light and sound, and there’s a spasmodic, bright and brief light show. Eventually the full band is up on the chapel stage, prepping for a song, and the drummer starts out with driving toms, a sturdy, yet hollow sound, to begin “And They’ll Know We Are Christians By Our Love.” They continue with practice, working out kinks, figuring out harmonies, and encouraging each other throughout. As they wrap up practice, they gather together in a circle, to discuss who will introduce the speaker, and when they’ll come up to the stage and return to their seats. And they close practice in prayer. Prayer for each other, prayer for the speaker, and prayer for the entire campus.
After practice, I was able to talk with a few of the members of the Impact team: Sarah, Sadie and Beth. All junior girls, and all with a clear love for music and for Jesus. As I talk to them a little more, I learn that one of the singers today is a guest. I ask her how the campus views the Impact team. Without a beat, she responds, “Everyone recognizes them and knows them. They [students] might not know their names, but they know that they’re in Impact. They look up to them.” This is a curious answer, since shortly before that, Impact member/singer/pianist Sadie Elsenbroek responded to the same question with a humble shrug: “Oh, well, they just know we’re in Impact.”
Generally the songs that Impact leads the students in worship go in this thematic order: “praise, confession, surrender,” though singer Sarah Holt admitted that sometimes it’s all praise, and everyone gets very energized through chapel on those days.
That Thursday’s set list included: “They Will Know We Are Christians By Our Love”, “Take My Life and Let It Be”, and “Lay Me Down”, following the usual pattern.
“It is also really great to see students passionate for music and worship leadership, and to see them encourage and stretch each other to become better musicians and leaders.” – Jeremy Lyzenga, Impact Coordinator
I moved on from the students involved in Impact and starting querying the staff for a few answers. I asked Jeremy Lyzenga, the Impact Coordinator (who also functions as a High School Bible Teacher) why Impact is important to CVC and the ways that the class has affected him.
He confirmed most of my suspicions (which I was able to craft having been a student in Impact some 10-12 years ago):
“Impact provides students exposure to spiritual leadership early on. If there’s one thing I try to stress to them, it’s that they are leaders on this campus, and like it or not, students look up to them (literally on stage and figuratively) as they go through the rest of their high school days. It is a chance to instill confidence, and to grow important life skills of communication, and organization along with the theological and musical knowledge & experience that is gained.”
He continued, “As Impact coordinator, I get the immense blessing of starting off every day with these great kids. They are a lot of fun to work with, and they are very teachable, and generally very positive. We approach Impact more like a team than a class in a lot of ways. The environment is one where we can learn from each other, and we do so by a lot of trial and error. It is also really great to see students passionate for music and worship leadership, and to see them encourage and stretch each other to become better musicians and leaders.”
They chose to join [Impact] because they wished to lead Central Valley Christian Schools’ students to a closer walk with God. For the students, this is an example of choosing Others over self. For the staff, it’s an example of helping cultivate responsible Christian adults, both onstage and off.
Still wondering how and when this class started? I asked the same of Dan Ruiter, Impact guru (former coordinator) and sound tech whiz (official title: Auditorium Director). He gave me a relatively straightforward answer: “It would be about 13 or 14 years ago that we put it into a class structure. [Former principal] Gary Adams said his previous school did this. I said I’d like to try it out too. The rest is history.” As a part of that history, I’m amazed at how students are given the opportunity at Central Valley Christian to be involved in so many things, from sports to plays to clubs to Impact.
At a recent meeting wherein a few directors, principals and the superintendent gathered, Dan briefly gave an overview of his recent trip to an audio and tech conference in Southern California. He recalled how as he told strangers and old friends alike about the programs he helped with at Central Valley Christian, they kept coming back (to his surprise) to the same term: “vision.” Indeed, while having three students running audio and visual (and really, really large soundboards) and eight students playing music every week, can sometimes lead to crossed eyes and a slight tension headache, the vision continues. The ability to have high school students come of their own volition, and get involved through music, tech, and leadership, is something that must be grounded in vision. Multiple students mentioned that it was difficult to join Impact because of the daily time commitment–they had no time left in their schedule for study hall, yet they chose to join because they wished to lead Central Valley Christian Schools’ students to a closer walk with God. For the students, this is an example of choosing Others over self. For the staff, it’s an example of helping cultivate responsible Christian adults, both onstage and off.
Some Thursday morning in the near future, if you visit our chapel, you can take part in this vision yourself.
Q&A WITH IMPACT STUDENTS
What is your favorite part of Impact?
Being able to serve God on stage. At school I’ve always been a part of the crowd and listened to worship but being on stage is a whole different type of worship where you get to use the gifts God gave you to help others worship him. – Nathan Cortez
My favorite part is the people and that we get to play music. (Two things I love.) -Sadie Elsenbroek
Getting to play music with my friends and for my friends. – Bradin Chea
What’s the biggest challenge with Impact?
My biggest challenge with Impact was probably getting up in front of my peers. – Travis Lemstra
The biggest challenge of Impact is that it takes up a period in which I could have a study hall. – Nick Moll
Why did you join?
I joined because I love music and people and God. I also just enjoy leading people. – Sadie Elsenbroek
I joined Impact because I can use the gift of being able to play drums positively. – Nick Moll
I wasn’t planning on joining because my schedule was already full, but when Sadie told me she was the only returning member and they needed more people, I thought “why not?” and joined. – Beth Girard
Why do you think Impact is important at CVC? How does it affect others and you?
I think Impact is important because it is great for students to grow closer to God through worship. It affects others by growing closer to God and it has helped me get closer to God as well because I get to learn and study new worship music. – Bradin Chea
I think Impact is important because it helps us develop a further relationship outside of our classes. In our classes they try to incorporate God in what they teach and we can honor God by worshiping him not only at church but at school. It has affected me to look at worship a different way and how to go about choosing music and tying it in with the message and the importance of that.
– Nathan Cortez
How do you plan the order of worship, select songs and invite speakers?
We plan speakers a few weeks out through a circuit of preachers from the churches attended by our student body, we give them our theme and plan our songs according to the nature of their teaching. – Sarah Holt
Well it’s kinda like trial and error. We see the message for the week and we try to revolve songs around the message for that week. – Travis Lemstra
How can the CVC society pray for the Impact class and CVC student body?
CVC should pray that we are all clear-headed and are doing what we do for the right reasons. They should also pray that through the music we play, students and teachers will grow closer to Christ every week. – Beth Girard
The CVC society could pray for the potency and potential for our messages to reach the student body and for the student body to receive and understand further God’s love for them. – Sarah Holt
This feature was originally published in the Spring 2017 issue of The Cavalier magazine, a quarterly publication sent to our past families, current families, donors and alumni. Click here to update your alumni information!
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