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COLORS Gold – generosity and elevation of mind Cardinal – royal, majesty, sovereignty, and justice MISSION STATEMENT BORDERS THE SHIELD Erudita Prudentia: Academic Excellence Claritas Artium: Artistic Expression Insignis Athletica: Athletic Distinction


SYMBOLS WITHIN THE SHIELD Cross: Christ, Christianity and Christian Service Acorn: antiquity, strength, and continuous growth Bible/book: revealing of God’s word or timeless truth Keys: unlocking, opening, explaining and freedom Lion: dauntless, courage, bravery, strength and valor Olive branches: peace, concordance, and harmony

hearts for service

New student orientation.


To dedicate ourselves to Christ in the pursuit of academic excellence, artistic expression, and athletic distinction, while growing in knowledge and wisdom through God’s abundant grace. OUR PURPOSE


As an independent school, Oaks Christian School provides an exemplary, college-preparatory education for 5th through 12th grade students in a Christian environment. Oaks Christian seeks a diverse student body consisting of intellectually, artistically, physically and spiritually gifted young men and women who are interested in refining their God-given talents.

For each of our students, we want to:

The educational experience at Oaks Christian seeks to develop each student’s mind, body and spirit to the fullest potential through challenging academic training, artistic exploration, athletic development and spiritual mentoring by the finest Christian teachers and coaches in the nation. Oaks Christian strives to develop in students a lifelong love of learning, an abiding faith in Christ and personal integrity. We are a community based on trust, mutual respect and compassion and we hold all members of the community accountable for upholding these values.



• foster an understanding of the sovereignty of God which provides a framework for the application of knowledge; • provide a comprehensive and college-preparatory education through diverse learning experiences within an engaging community; • provide a challenging learning environment that fosters critical thinking, personal responsibility and persistent effort; • promote physical fitness and refined character through teamwork and God-honoring competition; • develop an understanding and appreciation of the arts and encourage good stewardship of artistic abilities; • encourage a passion to love God and others through lives that reflect virtues taught and modeled by Christ including justice, wisdom, courage, service, reconciliation, grace and humility.

ADMINISTRATION Rob Black Head of School Mike Parkinson Chief Operating Officer


Jason McMaster Associate Head of School for Academics, Arts, and Strategic Development Dee Dee Mayer Associate Head of School for Spiritual Life John Huffman Vice President of Advancement Karen Coyle High School Principal Garett Freeman Middle School Principal EDITOR Maria Cowell Director of Communications and Media Relations


GRAPHIC DESIGNER Blanca Schnobrich PHOTOGRAPHY Brandy Lazar, Steven Guo, Blanca Schnobrich, Maria Cowell, Cornerstone Photography, Karla Chouhan, High School Yearbook Staff, Susi Matzke, Kim Kelly, Leslie Matthews, David Hessemer, Lori Worley, Laura Mason, Joni Miyashiro, Beth Helfert, Michael Kirchner, Marc Angell, Marcus Choi, Marshall Haraden, Renee Sams PRINTING Jeff Benes, The Smart Group COVER PHOTO (Maria Cowell): Keara Bird, senior, with Sophia Gerber, an OCS sibling


ARTISTIC EXPRESSION Top photo: Ashley Hopkins, eighth grader. Bottom photo: Jonah Burton, eighth grader

The Oaks Christian Mission Report is a publication of Oaks Christian School, under the auspices of the Advancement Department. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced electronically or manually without the written permission of the Oaks Christian Advancement Department. Non-Discriminatory Policy: Oaks Christian School admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. It does not discriminate on the basis of color, race, national and ethnic origin in administration of its educational, admissions, financial assistance, athletic and other school-administered policies and programs.




What does it mean to be OAKS CHRISTIAN? That is the question that has been circulating around campus since we marked our 15th anniversary and set our sights on the “Next 15 years.” While we have launched a number of new and exciting endeavors (which I will touch on below), the core foundation of the school has remained committed to our founding mission and purpose—“Preparing minds for leadership and hearts for service.” Flowing from that commitment, we have developed the One Oaks Christian Initiative this year, linking the entire school from middle through high school—inclusive of the Oaks Christian Online School and the Learning Center—in academics, arts, athletics and spiritual life. This theme underscores our unity of purpose and passion. We have been intentional about weaving this concept into the life of our community, engaging students through special assemblies, reaching out to the community, and developing school-wide connections that reflect this concept. Please take a moment to read through the stories in this mission report and discover the real-life examples of our One Oaks Christian theme—our high schoolers serving as “reading buddies” to our middle schoolers, the connection between our two yearbook staffs, our first international student who has attended Oaks Christian from sixth grade to her senior year, and others. In addition to establishing our One Oaks Christian theme, this has been a tremendous year on campus. In academics, a very popular International Space Station class was introduced this fall in the middle school. Our middle school debate team competed in the HarvardWestlake Debate Invitational, debating 4


Front row (L to R): junior Indira Lippiatt, senior Malerie Mortimer, Head of School Rob Black, sophomore Colin Calloway, sophomore Cameron Fouts. Back row (L to R): seventh grader Zackery Hudson, sixth grader Ally Chobanian

the issues of civil rights and equality and achieving both individually and as a team. Our high school math team delivered an amazing performance at the annual Westmont College Math Competition. Our high school entrepreneur class provided a great real-world learning experience for our students as they launched Catalyst Coffee. In athletics, the Lions again produced championship seasons! This spring, we had the largest group of seniors in OCS history participate in National Signing Day. More than 30 seniors signed to play at some of the nation’s most prestigious colleges. In addition, boys cross country placed 4th in state after winning the Stanford Invitational. For the first time in OCS history, our boys water polo team won the CIF Southern Section Championship. This past year, we added high-level competition to our cheer and dance programs. In the arts, we were thrilled this year to partner with the Academy of Music and Business in Sweden (AMB). OCS and AMB students participated in a pilot project, collaborating musically throughout the year, and then travelling to each other’s country

to perform. They performed at both the US Embassy in Stockholm and the OCS Spring Spectacular and received wide acclaim. The OCS film and media program has inspired students like Joe Matthews to create compelling stories! Other students, like photographer Steven Guo, have thrived under the visual arts program. As we complete the 2016-17 academic year, rest assured that Oaks Christian School continues to be an inspiring and thriving community of scholars, athletes and artists who are honoring God with their skills, gifts and talents while becoming young men and women of character and integrity. Thank you for allowing us—the administration, faculty, staff and coaches—the privilege of engaging with your students in a transitional way. I invite you to journey alongside of us, as active participants as together we become “One Oaks Christian.”

Rob Black Head of School


Students Partner with Quest Institute to Explore Space Experiments

It was a busy year for the 20 students enrolled in the International Space Station class at Oaks Christian Middle School, working on designs for experiments that were sent to the International Space Station this spring as part of a unique partnership with the Quest Institute. The experiments ran for 30 days, during which time students received regular data downloads. The focus of these investigations was heat management, an important topic when it comes to living and working in space. One of the most intriguing aspects of the project was to compare the ground-based results to those from the ISS. “Since gravity drives convection on Earth, it was interesting to learn about what happens in a zero gravity situation,” said seventh grader Chase Meyer. Over the course of the school year, the connection between education and real-world application was supported by a classroom visit from a SpaceX engineer, as well as regular hands-on experiences with building the software and hardware for the experiments. “I found it really interesting to write a program for something that was actually going into space,” said eighth grader Max Mitterberger, who entered the program with an extensive knowledge of computer coding. “Usually, when I write a program, it is for fun or entertainment rather than scientific purposes.” Along the way, students discovered that in the process of doing science, persistence and troubleshooting are

necessities for success. As noted by seventh grader Christy Gibson, “In order for the experiments to work, we had to be really precise and everything had to be in just the right place on the circuit boards.” In a broader sense, the program is designed to support the national push to advance STEM disciplines in education preparing students for careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. As eighth grader Sterling Drummond explained, “This class allows us as kids to have more exposure to the advanced sciences of today and will give us a head start on working on the science of tomorrow.” Fellow eighth grader Ally Hannagan agrees, “The ISS program gives us an in-depth view of the world of science in space, imbedding a deep curiosity at a young age and allowing us to challenge ourselves and see our potential.” This is the first year students in seventh and eighth grade at Oaks Christian School participated in this program designed by the Quest Institute in partnership with NASA and Microsoft. Over 50 students applied to take part in this specialized course led by last year’s OCS Middle School Teacher of the Year Dale Spady. Spady has been working at Oaks Christian for over 15 years, providing outstanding opportunities for young men and women to develop their love of science.


When senior Kendal Koorenny first heard of the One Oaks Christian concept, she thought of a perfect opportunity to implement the idea. As a junior she had served on the High School Honor Board alongside Samantha Speer, Noah Kim, Max Walter ‘16, and Jacob Walker ‘16, and together they joined forces to develop the idea of a Middle School Prefect for the 2016-17 school year. That position would be responsible for coordinating leadership mentoring for the middle school leadership board in many areas, including dress days, community service projects and creating overall uniformity between




the high school and middle school student leadership teams. “I loved (Head of School) Rob Black’s theme for this year of One Oaks Christian,” Koorenny said. “This new prefect role is a perfect example of one community and bridging the gap.” Koorenny wrote the amendment which was then voted on by the student body. The amendment was adopted, and the new position of middle school prefect was created and filled by junior Hannah Baldoz. In her role, Baldoz connects the middle school leadership team with the high school team through lunches, serves as spiritual mentor, attends their leadership meetings, and accompanied the seventh and eighth graders on the Lost Canyon retreat. “It has been such a great opportunity for me to give back because I remember high school students who poured into my life when I was in middle school,” said Baldoz. “The excitement the middle school students have for leadership and service is tremendous for the future of student leadership at Oaks.”



s e i dd u B Reading OAKS


As the digital age continues its progressive march forward, more and more people are becoming “skimmers,” rather than deep readers, and the traditional printed book continues to gather dust on the shelf. Or so we have been told. But, popular theory doesn’t always rule the day as witnessed by the enthusiasm and excitement at Oaks Christian School over the reading buddy program launched this year. “It’s great to get back over to the middle school campus where I was in eighth-grade and meet a fifth grader and help him read. To read books together and learn together is a really fun experience,” said junior Brenden Pieczynski whose reading buddy is Tristan Williams. The brain child of Academy V teacher Mary Wilson and high school English teacher Jenna Duby, the reading buddy program pairs high school juniors with fifth graders for scheduled reading time. Throughout the year, buddies have been reading books of their choice, fifth-grade literature novels, and taking trips to the library to find books enjoyed by the juniors when they were in elementary school. The unique connection is that the junior class Duby teaches was Wilson’s very first group of sixth-grade history students at Oaks Christian. The juniors wrote introductory letters to the fifth-grade students, who replied back with great excitement,

Inset photos: (top) Maxwell Gorelik and Titus Kahl (bottom, L to R) Sara Spady, Madison Vianzon, Grace Geyer, Grace Conti

even creating “secret” handshakes they used to greet each other on campus. The little buddies have expressed excitement about seeing their big buddies at athletic events, assemblies and around campus. As the high school students walk into the middle school to meet their buddies, they reminisce about their experiences in the middle school and marvel at how they once sat in those same seats. “I think it’s totally fun to connect with the fifth graders. I remember when I was in fifth grade and now I see how I was similar to them and how I am different now, and how I can teach them because of that,” said junior Ava Daikeler.

Indeed, research has shown reading buddy programs to be impactful. According to a U.S. Department of Education study reported by Teacher Vision, reading buddy programs can improve academic performance by 25 percent as compared to 12 percent for those not in a program, improve classroom behavior by 16 percent compared to 3 percent not in a program, and increase enjoyment of reading by 55 percent as compared to 31 percent not in a program. But beyond the statistics, the intangible benefits of such a program encompass the human connection made between students who do not normally associate in the same circles. Adolescents can gain self-confidence, academic growth and a new desire to read as they thrive on being a role model. Little buddies, of

course, benefit from having positive interaction with an older student, develop confidence talking to older students, and also feel affirmed that a “big kid” is interested in their middle school life. Samantha Bespalov reflects on the experience in Daikeler’s group. “It’s been really great because we can find out what the high school kids are reading and see what they like to read. It gives you an opportunity to interact with them because we don’t get to see them a lot on our campus,” she said. Pieczynski is on the varsity soccer team and has been able to share his love of the sport with his little buddy Tristan Williams as they read through a documentary about soccer player Lionel Messi. “You have a person who is always going to help you and you can learn

from what he knows,” said Williams. Reading through a documentary with a big buddy has helped him “figure out the big words.” Whether it is fiction or non-

fiction, the goal of the program

is to develop a lifelong love of reading that will help both little buddies and big buddies develop academically and in character. “When we see people we admire modeling a certain behavior, we are more likely to engage in it ourselves! So, we wanted to give our high school students an opportunity to share how important it is to read. The high school students realize the great responsibility they have in leading the younger Lions to value everything that books have to offer us,” said Duby.




(L to R): Yin Deng, Peter Wu, Phil Change, Justin Gerwien, Janet Frederickson, Asher Baer, Adela Zhao, Matthias Portzel, Samantha Speer



The numbers all added up for the 11/12 team from Oaks Christian School at the 29th Annual Westmont College Mathematics Contest in early February as the team clinched the first place win in the Written Exam category and scored a solid second place overall win. Under the direction of honors math teacher Janet Fredrickson, YinXu Deng, Justin Gerwien, Samantha Speer and Asher Baer scored the impressive wins. In addition to the 11/12 team, Oaks Christian also fielded a 9/10 team comprised of Jingyuan Peter Wu, JeongHoon Phil Chang, Adela Zhao and Matthias Portzel. “It was fun for me as a teacher to watch our 9/10 and 11/12 teams come together and get into the spirit of competition and math,” said Fredrickson. The brainchild of Westmont math professor Dr. Russell Howell, the annual competition, dubbed the Super Bowl of math, brings together the best and brightest “mathletes” from Southern California high schools. Each school fields two teams—juniors/seniors and freshmen/sophomores—for a total of eight students per school facing off in a college bowl format where team members buzz in their answers. Preliminary events included the written exam, where each team had about 75 minutes to solve challenging math questions, and a “chalk talk” PowerPoint presentation given by one team member. Gerwien represented Oak Christian with his PowerPoint chalk talk on prime numbers, spending an extra six hours researching the topic and another hour writing his presentation. It was this love of learning and dedication to spend significant personal time outside the classroom that helped him lead the 11/12 team to victory in the Written Exam. After the event, the teams enjoyed the awards banquet and a pizza dinner, as well as a presentation by Howell on the mathematical explanation behind this year’s t-shirt design. The design was a drawing of a pizza showing the maximum number of pieces that can result (29) when cutting into a pizza only seven times. Every year, the contest number (this year was the 29th annual contest) and the topic (prime numbers) is worked into the design of the t-shirt.


The gears are in motion for the newly launched robotics program at Oaks Christian School. Led by math teacher Christopher Wight, the introductory class started this year is the first step in a future program that will reflect the increased interest in the Science, Math, Technology and Engineering (STEM) discipline that is one of the fastest growing areas in education. The pilot class had 12 students and met a few days a week during the six-day block cycle, working on various projects such as an automated robot that can follow simple instructions and a radiocontrolled car. They were aided in their work by the acquisition this year of a 3D printer, the first for Oaks Christian. 3D printers read digital files and project plastic material from heated heads—much like a hot glue gun squeezes out the glue—into volumetric shapes. Two years ago a robotics club was started on campus, setting the stage for the academic class which Wight says was driven by student interest. The club continues to meet after school. “Part of our class objectives were for students to learn computer programming, how to use the printer, and get hands-on experience in problem solving and setting goals,” said Wight. “Toward this end, students picked what they wanted to work on. Typically, our seniors were more ambitious, designing an RC car that can glide or fly using the 3D printer to make parts that are lighter.” Senior William Sadowski attended a tech camp at Stanford University the previous summer so he was a natural choice to head up the design of the gliding car. The group used the 3D printer to produce a lighter chassis

and a spoiler to give the car more lift while it is in the air, as well as printing out a brace to stabilize it. As a mechanical engineering major headed to Northwestern University in the fall, the robotics class was one of his favorite science courses. “I really enjoy being in this class with my friends who are also interested in science. It’s all about collaboration with each of our teammates having a different role to figure out the best methods,” he said. Looking forward, Oaks Christian will offer a Robotics 2 class and hopefully enter teams in competitions against other schools in the not too distant future. With an interest in majoring in aerospace engineering, freshman

William Sadowski works on his gliding car.

Charlie Kempf is definitely going to take the next class. His group worked on a Lego Mindstorms robot they were programming to follow basic instructions, such as how to follow a blue line. He benefitted from the class this year by Python, a widely-used programming language for general purpose programming. “Robotics is this cool, upcoming field that has a lot of modern impact, so it’s great to share that interest with other people I go to school with,” he said.




Catalyst Coffee

Who doesn’t like a good cup of Joe— especially if it satisfies the caffeine craving while also accomplishing some good? That was the goal of OCS senior Brooke Bryan and junior Erik Hainer as they launched Catalyst Coffee, an on-campus coffee shop that delivers a superb brew while helping students fund their mission trips. Students work their shifts and their “wages” are monies that go toward the mission trip of their choice. Bryan has friends who want to go on mission trips and said she would get “ten support letters a week asking for money,” and wanted to provide an alternative way for students to fund their trips. “Our employees say they love working here, working with a purpose. Every hour they work is more money for their trip. It’s awesome handing a cup of coffee to our peers knowing that it’s really good coffee, but also helping others,” said Bryan. Catalyst Coffee is the capstone project of Bryan and Hainer’s entrepreneur class taught by Beau Brannon. Hainer is a self-proclaimed coffee snob and felt there wasn’t a place on campus to get authentic coffee.



that they attend class. “Everyone drinks coffee. Everyone Bryan plans to attend Liberty goes to Starbucks. So instead University in the fall and major in of having that money go to a big business. Hainer wants to major corporation, why not invest it in the in international business after he OCS mission? It’s nice to know that graduates in 2018. Running Catalyst something I love so much is going to Coffee is definitely a training ground a good cause,” he said. for that, including how Even the money to manage employees they spent on buying and troubleshoot coffee from Wild problems. Goose Coffee helps “We scouted a couple the local community. of locations, but where For every pound of we are is the best for coffee they buy, Wild traffic flow, but our area Goose donates 10 had no water hookpounds of food to a up. It would cost too local food bank. much money to bring Junior Roxy in a water line so we Cooke is thrilled to had to problem-solve,” have a chance to said Bryan. Hainer did earn money for the some research and they India mission trip she Brooke Bryan and Erik Hainer serve Leila Anawalt. found they could install a hopes to go on next sink with a portable water year, working with the drum. He also found an espresso local orphanage and villagers. machine that didn’t have to be “I didn’t know how I was going to connected directly to a waterline. do it, so working here has been so They employ 10 students, do all awesome,” she shared while handing the interviewing and hiring, train a customer a drink. the workers, and report their hours While the philanthropic focus is to World Missions and Community the foundation of their project, Bryan Service Director Susi Matzke who and Hainer are also realists. They put credits them to the students’ mission together a business plan, pitched trips. it to the administration, secured “We’ve had to learn how to seed money and did research. They schedule people, making sure all the manage cash flow to make sure they shifts are covered and that we have are investing back into the business, policies in place if someone misses and to pay back the seed money to their shift without telling us,” said the investors. And they work hard. Hainer. Bryan arrives at 6:15am every day They have a plan of succession before the student employees to set everything up. Hainer gets there about once they graduate. Hainer will take 6:45am and shops for all the supplies. over for Bryan next year, and he will train a junior to take over when he The shop is open during the school graduates. year from 7:30am to 1:30pm and is “This is absolutely everything we located in the high school student hoped for and has surpassed our lobby. They usually stay until 8:00pm projections,” said Bryan. wrapping up the day. In between all


Senior Samantha Speer was one of 75 high school students worldwide to get a PERFECT SCORE ON THE

Finley Shinnick, Isabel Dewey, Alana Hartoonian, and Sophia Bliss placed 1st and 3rd at the



OCS KNOWLEDGE BOWL TEAM secured a second place finish against 11 other Ventura county teams. Kudos to Samantha Speer, Joel Fischinger, Nikolai Arrasmith, Sydney Boyer, Daniel Chung, Justin Gerwien, Maria Gilbert, Caleb Groen, Chandler Kilpatrick, Laiken Pearson, Nick Rosenberg, Beau Russell, Loren Schneider, and Tyler Hicks. The Knowledge Bowl team is coached by history teacher Gary Pate.


spring MIDDLE

83,000 high school students took the microeconomics test with 60 multiplechoice questions and 30 free-response quizzes.


Class of 2017 Highlights

$6.5 MILLION 18 50 STEM

in scholarships art majors

pursuing a degree

Pepperdine University. Shinnick and Dewey investigated the best bacterial killing agents, and Hartoonian and Bliss investigated which light bulbs produce the most light with the least amount of heat.

Congratulations to Colton Hayse who was named

Justin Gerwien and Caleb Groen, who were named NATIONAL MERIT SCHOLARS for their outstanding achievements. Hayse also received the MVP at the National Student Leadership Congress at Harvard University and will attend Dartmouth College after graduation. Gerwien and Groen are members of the National Honor Society and will both attend Berkeley.


to a four–year school



playing in college


community service hours



in 29 states and 2 countries ACADEMIC EXCELLENCE


When freshman Joe Matthews is behind the camera he isn’t just filming. He is telling a story, using the medium of film to create compelling narratives that will impact the audience. “Creativity definitely drives me, but I also hope to tell a story that people will take home and just say ‘Wow!’ with characters who are inspiring and help the viewer reflect on their own lives. I want my characters to be relatable and natural,” he shared. As an aspiring film maker, he is well on his way to crafting that type of story. His short film “Fillmore” has done just that, drawing on observations and insights that belie his age, delving into the topics of high school peerpressure and friendships. “Fillmore” is a finalist for Hollywood International Moving Pictures Film Festival and a finalist for Los Angeles Film Festival. It was also an accepted submission for the largest youth film festival in the world, the National Film Festival for Talented Youth, in the spring. There were over 1,200 submissions and “Fillmore” was one of the 225 films selected. The original score, written by Matthews’ sister, OCS junior Catherine, won Best Original Score in the LA Film Fest. “Fillmore” is about two high school students from different social backgrounds who form a friendship while building a rocket. But they are only friends outside of school because of peer influence and social groups. Matthews witnessed bullying and ostracizing in middle school and wanted to make a film that would raise awareness of their effects on students. That type of intentionality caught the attention of

his film teacher, Reid Chobanian “I’m so impressed by this young man. These are the storytellers we hope to raise up and make a difference in our society. So often, what students want to do is reproduce the junk that they are bombarded with through all forms of media. It’s so refreshing to see something meaningful,” said Chobanian. Matthews says his faith influences his art, but in a quiet way. “It’s behind the scenes and subtle, but I hope it pours into people’s lives. I don’t want it in their face. I want them to eventually realize the beauty of faith as the backstory that brings hope,” he said. Matthews’ love of film started when he was just six. His older brother, Justin Matthews ‘13, would have projects assigned from his teachers at Oaks Christian and Matthews would tag along and help. “I thought I wanted to be an archeologist, like Indiana Jones. But when my brother said ‘Why don’t we make an Indiana Jones type of film?’ I thought it was so cool to create an amazing story through film,” said Matthews who was hooked on film from then on. Along the way he has been supported by his mentor, OCS alumnus Chad Smathers ‘08, who is an actor and filmmaker, Chobanian, and his family. While he waits to hear the results of the film festivals, Matthews isn’t

Becoming a Storyteller 12


Photo: Leslie Matthews

sitting on his laurels. He is prepping his next project. It will be a feature documentary about Ivan Jepsen, an OCS ninth grader abandoned on the streets of Uganda as a child and taken in by an adoptive family. Matthews will be traveling to Uganda this summer to capture Jepsen’s reunion with his native family. In addition to taking film at Oaks Christian— which he says has been a great, supportive environment that encourages all ideas—he has also done summer workshops at the New York Film Academy and hopes to eventually attend USC School of Cinematic Arts. He looks forward to taking film theory and eventually screenwriting at Oaks Christian.

FILMMAKING at OAKS Reid Chobanian, an OCS founding teacher, started a video production class in 2001 with 26 students learning the basics, shooting with MiniDV camcorders and exporting the final product to VHS tapes. “Looking back, the equipment we were using seems so archaic now. Regardless, the students wrote and produced music videos, commercials and public service announcements,” he reflected. Today, the one class has become three, with students enrolled in Film 1 through Film 3 with plans to add Film 4 in the fall of 2017. The students now work with Adobe Premiere Pro CC for editing, Final Cut Pro on their own MacBooks, and export and upload on various social media platforms including YouTube, Vimeo and Google Drive. They also use DSLR cameras, GoPros and iPhones to shoot. Students not only create film, they also research while producing various genres of videos such as documentaries, commercials and stop animation. “To say we have come a long way would be an understatement. It’s pretty amazing how the program has grown, not only in terms of technology, but in the types of projects the students create and their ability to execute,” he said. Students have visited Sony Pictures Studios to learn about set design and music. They have gone to Pro 8mm in Burbank, CA to learn about shooting 8mm film. Industry professionals have come to the class. Writer/director/producer Stephen Sommers guest-lectured and Dean Cain and Cory Oliver spoke about their experience as actors in the film “God’s Not Dead.” Chobanian believes his students can impact the world beyond the OCS campus, into the sacred and secular worlds. “It is our goal as we continue to build a world class film program here at Oaks that we raise the next generation of story tellers who will make an impact in the world through the use of film and video. Not limiting ourselves to producing content for a “Christian” audience, but reaching all people with quality, high production value films that speak to the human condition through the lens of the Christian worldview,” he shared. In addition to adding Film 4, the film and media program is looking to start a middle school film/ video/multimedia class in the fall, integrating live broadcast streaming of school events into the curriculum, and starting an animation elective. ARTISTIC EXPRESSION


g n i m r o f r Pe rts A THE MAGIC OF

Once again, Oaks Christian Performing Arts delivered outstanding performances that inspired and captivated through romance, drama, comedy, and musical excellence. Productions like the high school musical “Cinderella,” above, (seniors Elizabeth Sams and Tim Frangos in the leads) demonstrate again the Artistic Excellence that embodies the performing arts through the mediums of acting, dance, voice and instruments. 14


Dancers transform from a mundane life to a “Life in Color” at the annual OCS dance show.

Elijah Green, sixth grader, performs at Band Bonanza.

Senior Colton Hayse soars as Peter Pan in “Peter and the Starcatcher,” the high school fall play.

Senior Liam Kelly performs at the OCS Christmas concert.

Morgan Chobanian, Tenly Kuhn, Micayla Campanelli, Nathalie Garcia, Hannah Hughes, Hannah Carmandalian, and Joe Warwick in “Game of Tiaras,” the middle school fall play

Grace Daly, Lili LaBrie, and Presley Regier in “James and the Giant Peach,” the middle school spring musical.



Through the Lens


Karla C



For generations, the great American dream has motivated and inspired hundreds to migrate to the United States. Whether it is the iconic white picket fence home with 2.5 kids and a dog or fortune and fame, the manifestation of the dream is as diverse as the people dreaming. For OCS senior Steven Guo the dream was the beauty of America itself—its acres of beauty, vast public lands and open natural spaces—and the golden opportunity to capture it all in photographic splendor. Growing up in the crowded urban 16


sprawl of Shanghai, Guo recalls a transformative moment when he laid eyes on the Grand Canyon. As a prospective international student, he had come to America in 2011 to visit Oaks Christian School. While in the states, he visited Grand Canyon National Park and Yosemite National Park. Although he had seen photos, he wasn’t prepared for the actual experience of standing in front of Yosemite’s magnificent waterfalls or at the vast edge of the Grand Canyon. “I had never seen much open space in China because I lived in

Shanghai. It is hard to describe what I felt when I first saw the Grand Canyon. It was just amazing, incredibly unique,” he shared. For someone not yet 20, he already has an impressive resume filled with accolades. In 2016, he was named the Scholastic Art Awards National Gold Medal winner for his black and white photo, “The Invisibility Cloak.” In the same year he took first place in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area - Spirit of the Mountains Photo Contest. Earlier this

year he won the 2017 Scholastic Art Awards West Art Region-at-Large 1 Gold Key & 2 Silver Keys. His latest commendation came this spring from the Sony World Photography Awards, Youth Division. “He has an uncanny photographic eye both through the lens and in post-production. He is a true artist and one of the best student photographers I’ve ever met,” said Blanca Schnobrich, OCS photography teacher. Guo was also honored to be one of the handful of recipients awarded a National Park Artist-in-Residency opportunity mid-way through his senior year. The program offered artists a chance to pursue their discipline while immersed in the park landscape. He spent a few weeks in January living and working at the Petrified National Park in Arizona, taking photos and interacting with visitors. One of his goals for the residency program was to become stronger as an artist. “I really wanted to be alone in nature to improve my photo technique and make my work really consistent. I think part of being an artist is developing a style so that when people see my pictures they can see it’s mine and my work flowing from my own style.” Guo was able to concentrate on his specialty—low-light, longexposure photography—capturing some brilliant shots of the clear night sky. He loves landscape photography and one of his ultimate goals is to visit every national park in the West and publish a photo book. Guo accepted his admittance offer from Pitzer College in Claremont. Professionally, he is still deciding what field he will pursue, but knows that he would love to combine his aptitude for math and environmental science with this love of nature and photography. Those two would dovetail nicely if he became a national park ranger, but that remains to be seen. What is certain is his calling is clear—“I can hear nature’s wonder and my wildest American Dream calling,” he writes on his website.




Those are two of the sweetest words a yearbook staff can exclaim as they meet their final deadline and put to bed the crowning achievement of a year’s worth of work. A school’s yearbook is more than just a scrapbook of photos. It is an archival history of the year and typically the premier studentproduced publication on any campus. It develops students’ writing, photography and design abilities, but also teaches real-world skills, such as teamwork, meeting deadlines, self-initiative, time management and producing a real product. Often, students develop a love and aptitude for this type of work in their formative years. So, it makes sense that the OCS high school yearbook staff would reach out to the middle school yearbook staff to encourage them and cheer them on as part of the One Oaks Christian culture. And that’s exactly what happened this year when the high school yearbook staff decided to pay a visit to the middle school yearbook class, snacks in hand, to help celebrate a big accomplishment. “It was really fun to have them come down and celebrate us finishing our book. It was also cool to talk with them about the challenges of putting together a yearbook and also the best part of being on yearbook,” said eighth grader Nevaeh Jones who was a yearbook photographer. She also realized how much in common the middle school staff has with the high school staff. “I’ve learned that everyone needs to be in. It’s a commitment from everyone, not just one person. We all need to work together to get the book done. That’s crucial. You have to be responsible, have timemanagement skills, be productive and be organized. If you say you are going to take photos after school and you don’t show up the whole book suffers,” she added. The high school editor-in-chief Kira Imazu, junior, acknowledged those shared challenges as opportunities to mentor the younger students. “Yearbook is a lot of work, but if you are flexible and skilled and have older people encouraging you, that helps you continue and that is important,” she said. Coincidentally, the high school yearbook staff chose the theme “As One,” even before the One Oaks Christian concept was launched. Imazu was pleasantly surprised and affirmed once she found out. High school yearbook editor Kira “I think it’s such a good concept for us as Imazu, left, hands out treats to the middle school yearbook staff. a school to have,” said sophomore Hailey Martinez, high school yearbook staff member. This year we were able to connect more as one school, not just be jumbled in our different clubs, programs, etcetera. We all play a role in the culture of Oaks. We are all one Lion pride.” ARTISTIC EXPRESSION



is another man’s treasure

Oaks Christian 3D art students literally took this saying to heart as they gathered discarded plastic bottles, acrylic paint and chicken wire and transformed them into stunning chandeliers. Inspired by the artistic genius of Dale Chihuly who specializes in recycled art, the students immersed themselves in the unique project and showcased their pieces at the OCS high school annual art show, “The Sum of Us: It All Adds Up.” They recycled bottles from around campus, removed the labels, and then mixed paint with water. As they shook the bottles, they poured the left over paint into the next bottle. Once dried, students cut the bottles in a spiral pattern and attached to the chicken wire. Not only did they do their part to be eco-friendly, but their final product brightened the campus with a splash of color and artistic creativity. Teacher Sherry Armstrong was doubly blessed by the students’ enthusiasm and collaborative effort. “I loved seeing the students work together. They



Chandelier created by 3D Art-3 students.

selected leaders, chose the colors for their chandeliers and got to know each other better in the process,” she shared. “I recall how much enthusiasm students had as they walked into the classroom each day. The most gratifying part for me was to see how proud the students were when they saw their completed chandeliers hung up on display.” As for the students themselves, their pride was evident in their final product and what they learned in the process. “I loved working with my peers on one collective project and having it come out so well,” said freshman Matthew McLaughlin. Sophomore Emily Hahn said, “I loved making chandeliers out of water bottles because I was able to bond with my classmates and learned how to turn ordinary objects into extraordinary art.”

VISUAL ART IMPRESSES This year the traditional high school art show combined with the Advanced Location Photography Exhibit and the Film Festival for an outstanding display of student art in drawing, graphic design, painting, 3D art, digital and film! The Middle School Arts Extravaganza also showcased the work of OCS young artists.

Frank Torres, senior

Caitlyn McMahan, freshman

Lauren Marcarelli, senior

Elizabeth Newman, senior

Mika Josue, seventh grader Jesse Vasquez, sophomore, and Gavin Hartoonian, junior

Marley Taormina, freshman

Chloe Reed, freshman Ashleigh Williams, eighth grader ARTISTIC EXPRESSION


d n o y Be orders B International Collaboration Connects Music Students

Twelve students and five faculty from the Oaks Christian School Performing Arts Department were part of a global learning project with The Academy of Music and Business (AMB) in Sweden. This spring, they performed at the American embassy in Stockholm and attended a reception held in their honor, to which the Swedish royal family was also invited. A week later, 12 Swedish students visited the OCS campus, and performed in Spring Spectacular, “Powerhouses of Rock and Pop,” which featured over 130 instrumentalists and vocalists performing songs recorded or written by American and Swedish artists. Euro Disney was also on campus filming the international collaboration for a documentary. For the months preceding the concert, the students had partnered through technology, but were thrilled to actually meet and work in person. “What was most impactful about this trip was the gift of collaboration,” said Catherine Matthews, OCS junior. “I’ve always been good about collaborating, but to be doing it virtually for months, using technology and communicating with people so many miles away was fantastic. Then to be able to execute in person with them was really cool.” “They totally wrapped us in their culture with love and our shared 20


Carley Kershaw, OCS student, and Sara-Mari Hellqvist, AMB student

Christian Renard and Marshall Via, OCS students

passion for music…something that unified us despite our language and cultures,” she added. AMB student Ludwig Westby definitely felt the experience benefitted him, “Working with people you have never met and then having only a couple of days to practice helps you get better professionally.” The project was a result of OCS faculty asking how they were preparing music students for a digital world. A few years ago, Oaks Christian was approached by OCS alumnus Andrew Lerios ‘06, who was connected with Andreas Carlsson and Magnus Lundin, Swedish artists and educators who were asking the same question. These Swedes envisioned a school where musicians could collaborate, hone their skills, and learn how to develop their brand.

Ludwig Westby and Daniel Rydholm, AMB students

They launched AMB and it was an immediate success, concentrating on ethics for artists, collaboration, performance practice, marketing, and branding. OCS faculty soon realized that Oaks Christian could benefit from partnering with AMB. “We are honored to have begun this journey with our friends in Sweden. What started out as an idea over two years ago became reality for 12 OCS high school music students who collaborated for several months with 12 top Swedish music students. The end result was an amazing trip overseas and one incredible live concert featuring young, emerging pop artists from two different nations,” said OCS Performing Arts Chair Mary Kay Altizer.


Our middle school thespians competed with hundreds of other middle school students from Southern California in the Drama Teachers Association of Southern California festival and DID A PHENOMENAL JOB

AND WERE AWARDED HONORABLE MENTION in two categories: comedy and diversity.

It was a big day for middle school performing arts students as they brought home top-tier ratings and ribbons from the Knott's Berry Farm Music Forum Festival.


several sections received special recognition for their outstanding work in the following categories: Advanced Band—Outstanding Musicianship awarded to the trumpet section; Advanced Strings— Outstanding Musicianship awarded to the cello section; Middle School Vocal Ensemble—Outstanding Musicianship awarded to the boys section.

OCS senior Elizabeth Sams was HONORED

The OCS band program was represented by


January, playing his altosaxophone. The ensemble was comprised of top band students in all of Southern California.

TO PERFORM FOR AN AUDIENCE OF 1,200 OVER THE PRESIDENTIAL INAUGURAL WEEKEND in January at the Christian Inaugural Ball at the Washington, D.C., Hilton, host to one of a dozen inaugural balls. Sams was introduced to the dignitaries and guests in attendance by Fox News commentator Todd Starnes. She then performed "The Prayer" and received a standing ovation.

The 2016-17 high school yearbook, “COMING OF AGE” WAS NAMED A SILVER

MEDALIST IN THE COLUMBIA SCHOLASTIC PRESS ASSOCIATION AWARDS, as part of the top 10 percent of yearbooks in the country that were honored. The publication paid tribute to the school's 15-year anniversary and its growth as one of the most prestigious college-preparatory schools in the nation, while also encapsulating high school students’ transition into young adulthood.



! h s Spla


For the first time ever in OCS athletic history, the boys water polo team brought home the championship title with an upset win over Aliso Niguel, 9-7. The team made good on their first-ever appearance in the CIF Division III Southern Section finals in front of a cheering crowd at the William Woollett Jr. Aquatic Center in Irvine. Coming down to the final minutes, junior Nikolai Ilic lofted a pass from the right perimeter and junior Samuel 22


Worley tossed it in the net to give the Lions the championship-winning goal with 2:52 remaining. Junior Jake Ehrhardt led all scorers including adding one more goal to Worley’s game winner to bring the final score to 9-7. Ilic ended the game with 2 goals, 3 assists and 4 steals, while goalie Adrian Weinberg, sophomore, had 11 saves and 5 steals. Commenting on the historic win, Coach Jack Kocur said, “It was great to see the hard work and sacrifice

pay off in the end for our team. The guys kept their composure through the first half when Aliso Niguel was outperforming us. In the second half, you could see the leadership in the pool rise to the top to pull out some great defensive stops, which led to very impressive goals for us on the other end. This victory is a community achievement that reflects the support of the families, athletes, coaching staff, and athletic department.” Coach Kocur was named the


Golf Wins First CIF Title

Cole White, junior

Main photo: Sam Worley, junior. Insets (L to R): Team celebrates their CIF victory. Jacob Watson, junior. Adrian Weinberg, sophomore.

Coach of the Year by the Los Angeles Daily News. Kocur was also named the CIF Southern Section Division III Coach of the Year. Ehrhardt and newcomer Ilic were named to the Daily News First Team and Weinberg was named to the Daily News Second Team. Ehrhardt, Ilic and senior Matt Outcalt were named to the Ventura County Star First Team. Second team choices were Worley and junior Devin Verma. Additionally, Ehrhardt was selected the Most Valuable Player by the Ventura County Star. Ilic, a transfer from Greece, made

a huge impact by helping propel OCS to the league and championship titles. Weinberg was named to the Daily News Second Team. Water polo’s previous best postseasons included three consecutive semifinal loses, two of which were lost by a last second goal. Kocur in his second season at the helm now has a 4-1 playoff record. The water polo victory brought the Oaks Christian Lions total CIF-SS championships to 40 over the last 14 years, an unmatched tally by a school in CIF-SS history.

Junior Cole White lead an exceptional boys golf team to a historic upset over Westlake High School to capture Oaks Christian School’s first-ever CIF boys golf title. White came up big with a 4-under 68, one of only three subpar rounds at the CIF Northern Team Divisional Championship at Soule Park in Ojai, CA in mid-May. The final OCS team score was 367, which knocked Westlake to second place. The win propelled the team to the Southern California Qualifying Tournament at Rancho San Marcos Golf Club in Santa Barbara where the top four teams and top 28 players advanced to the SCGA Regional State Qualifier. The team qualified to go on to the CIF-SCGA Southern California Championship in Pasadena, CA. The additional OCS players who gave strong rounds in the 70s were juniors Jake Marek and Zach Ahmadi, each hitting 74, freshman Blake McGovern carded 75, and sophomore Tristan Gretzky and junior William Yde each shot 76. “Without a doubt it was probably the best group of golfers that I’ve had in 13 years of coaching. The team was very solid. It’s a special feeling that we’ve finally won a Marmonte League Championship and CIF title,” said Coach Tom Placke. The win capped a phenomenal season, which saw the Lions field a strong team and capture the Marmonte League title over Westlake by three strokes at Rustic Canyon Course in March. Oaks Christian was the first team in five years to defeat Westlake for a league title. McGovern’s even-par 72 and Marek’s 1-over-73 led the Lions to that win. The team also won the Oak Park Invitational. ATHLETIC DISTINCTION


g n i r a o Sg TO NEW HEIGHTS


Oaks Christian School hosted the fastest track meet in the country at the Maurice Greene Invitational in March, with the event setting records before the running, jumping, and throwing had even begun.

Cassidy Palka, senior, clears the bar. Photo: Marshall Haraden

400m indoors at the Simplot Games in February. Her outdoor time is the third fastest time to date this year. Wilson’s time of 53.67 beat her personal best and OCS record set at last year’s Arcadia Invitational (53.84). Senior Trent Robinett posted an OCS record for the full mile distance with a 4:32.71 and then With 33 schools in attendance, there followed it up by posting an OCS meet were a record 1,579 athletes entered in and stadium record with a come-fromthe meet. This was the largest number behind victory in the 3200m. Robinett’s of competitors in Mo Greene history, 9:32.86 beat previous record holder but also the most athletes assembled Charlie Petrie’s 9:34.90 set in 2009. on the Oaks Christian campus for any Track standout and senior Cassidy competition in any sport in OCS history. Palka demonstrated why she is the Additionally, there were 16 meet defending state champion in the high records set including 5 varsity meet jump equaling the meet and stadium records which were also stadium records records in the high jump with a 5’ 6” of which 3 were established by OCS leap. athletes. With 56 EPI nationally ranked Other notable performances include marks, the Mo Greene 2017 produced senior Colin Schaub, who ran a 2:00.39 the highest total of any meet in California in the 800m, which is the fastest time so far this year. Big compliments came ever posted by an OCS athlete in from a number of coaches in regards to Thorson Stadium history. Junior Talin the organization and reception provided Lewis got in on the action by posting the by the track & field team and the first ever sub-40 by an OCS athlete in volunteers who made this meet not only the 300IH in Thorson Stadium. Finally, possible, but executed with excellence. the quartet of Schuab, junior Chasen Carolyn Wilson, senior, leads the pack. The performance of the meet Geisler, senior Nick Moore, and freshman Photo: Marshall Haraden arguably was delivered by senior Carolyn Bryce Farrell combined to win the 4x400, Wilson in the 400m, which wasn’t surprising given that also the fastest time posted by an OCS 4X400 squad in Wilson had already set the national leading mark in the Thorson Stadium. 24



Basketball standout and OCS senior Sydney Boyer had a milestone season, achieving her 1,000th career point at Oaks Christian School against Thousand Oaks, and tallying over 800 rebounds. The 6’ 1” forward led her team to a CIF Southern Section Division 1AA playoff run, which went all the way to the semifinals before losing a nail-biter game against Valencia. She averaged 16.7 points and 10.3 rebounds this season and a 34.6 percent from 3-pointers. She was named to the Ventura All-County First Team and to the All-CIF SS Division 1AA First Team. Last year, she led the Lady Lions as the top rebounder with 7.8 rebounds per game, and was the third leading scorer at 12.4 points per game. She was voted 1st Team


CIF Titles Boys Golf Boys Water Polo Boys Track & Field Girls Track & Field

Marmonte League, 2nd Team NCSAA All-American and 2nd Team Ventura All-County. As if her athletic talent wasn’t enough, the Princeton University bound senior carried an academic GPA of 4.54 and scored an impressive 30 on the ACT. She also competed on the school’s Knowledge Bowl, which this year placed second among all Ventura County teams. She also took honors classes in psychology, calculus, English and Spanish. She hopes to study neuroscience or psychology at Princeton University.

League Titles Girls Tennis Boys Water Polo Boys Football Girls Basketball

Boys Track & Field Boys Golf

CIF Semifinals (Final-4) Girls Basketball Softball (pending at press time)


Fall Sports Undefeated Teams - 6th Grade Flag Football League Playoffs - 8th Grade Girls Volleyball Spring Sports League Champions – Boys Golf A, Cardinal Baseball League Playoffs – Boys Volleyball, Girls Golf Winter Sports Undefeated Teams – 6th Grade Boys Basketball League Playoffs – Girls Soccer A, Boys Soccer B League Runner-Up – Boys Soccer A League Sportsmanship Award – Boys Soccer B, 7th/8th Grade Girls Basketball ATHLETIC DISTINCTION


ROBINETT CLINCHES CROSS COUNTRY TITLE The OCS cross country team traveled to the Ventura County Cross Country Championships on the Lake Casitas course in Ojai in late October, and left with a first-ever title. The course and championships have hosted many of the finest harriers in county, section and state history, but this year's race was a bit touch and go due to rainfall. The precipitation earlier in the day caused the coaches association to vote to move the championships to the rarely used rain course. But that minor setback didn't hold back the Lions. The final race of the day featured the boys varsity championship. OCS senior Trent Robinett was prominent at the front of the pack from the start to the finish, including inserting the occasional surge to keep his challengers in check. In the final half mile, Cameron Botten of Royal High School was the only remaining foe. Robinett powered home with a finishing kick that opened a fivesecond margin of victory to clinch the Lions first-ever cross country Ventura County title. "I was just super excited to be at the meet. It was a lot of training and a lot of hard work for the whole team, and for them to be there behind me when I did it was awesome. Crossing the line, I couldn't even describe it.

it was just so exciting to finally have a breakthrough moment after the struggle I had last year with sickness," said Robinett. "I crossed the finish line, yelling and slapping people's hands. I will never forget the last 400 meters going down the stretch, people on both sides. I was blessed by God to have the health to wake up that morning and run like I did." Juniors Jacob Erbes and Graham Newman were next, followed by seniors Garrett Garrido and Colin Schaub. Improving on their runner-up finish last year as a team, the Lions won the small schools division. Junior Caleb Erlenborn and senior Preston Strother completed the varsity lineup. The girls varsity team earned runner-up honors as a team led by freshman Kate Cuadrado, senior Julia Sullivan, junior Moira Dewey, junior Katelyn Dewey, and seniors Jehdah Burton and Alex Angell.

CROSS COUNTRY TEAM EARNS STATE HONORS Since its inception in 1987, Woodward Park in Clovis has hosted the annual California State Cross Country Championship. Adding to its reputation as California's best cross country course, Woodward Park has been hosting championship races dating back to the 1970s with the Footlocker National Championships qualifying races, NCAA West Region races and junior college state championships. Oaks Christian School cross country has its own history with Woodward Park, racing at the state finals on eight occasions including the girls team winning the state title in 2007. So when this year's boys cross country team toed the line at the state finals they were eager to write their own chapter in the storied history of Woodward Park and the California state championships. When the dust settled the boys had posted the fastest team time in OCS history (82:50) and best finish (4th) by an OCS boys team at the state finals. The previous fastest team and best finish was 7th place in 2006. This year's squad bettered the OCS team time record mark by 1 minute and 35 seconds, or 19 seconds per runner. Senior Trent Robinett led the team with a 9th place finish earning All-State honors. Robinett becomes the third runner in OCS history to place in the Top 10 and collect the All-State medal. Juniors Graham Newman, Jacob Erbes, Caleb Erlenborn and seniors Garrett Garrido, Colin Schaub and Preston Strother completed the roster. 26



OCS athletic history was made at the 2017 NATIONAL SIGNING DAY on Feb. 1 as 30 student-athletes signed their National Letters of Intent, marking the largest group ever to participate in the annual ceremony.


OCS tight end and Stanford University commit

The CIF-SS academic awards honor all varsity teams with a GPA of 3.00 or greater. For schools with less than 1,500 students, Oaks Christian took top honors with athletes qualifying in 21 high school sports. Additionally, each school names their top male and female scholar-athlete.

COLBY PARKINSON WAS SELECTED TO JOIN AN ELITE CLASS AS A 2017 U.S. ARMY ALL-AMERICAN, playing in the annual East vs. West matchup in January at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. The Bowl was nationally televised and featured the nation’s top 100 high school football players. Parkinson is the 10th OCS player selected for this honor. He received his yellow Bowl jersey during a special assembly amid the enthusiastic applause of the entire high school student body, as well as family and coaches. The 6’7” senior was rated the top high school tight end nationwide on several sport recruiting sites.

new varsity baseball head coach, overseeing both the high school and middle school baseball programs. He has been both an MLB All-Star (1997), a World Series champion (Boston Red Sox, 2007), and is widely considered one of the best shortstops in MLB history. Well known for his philanthropy, Clayton founded the Royce Clayton Foundation in 1997, which is committed to improving the lives of youth and giving back to the community, as well as having been actively involved in the Jackie Robinson Foundation during his playing career.


academic football team in the region with a 3.26 GPA overall. Middle School Athletic Director and girls varsity lacrosse coach Kirstyn Atkinson was INDUCTED INTO THE


Representatives from US Army All-American Bowl flank Colby Parkinson, yellow jersey, and football coach Jim Benkert.

in Maryland. The ceremony included a brief introduction of each inductee by former coaches and faculty who highlighted their athletic accomplishments and explained why each athlete was deserving of the honor. They used words like “grit,” “heart,” and “determination.” ATHLETIC DISTINCTION


a n O

n o i ss i M On a mission

OCS students show some love to members of the North Indian New Life Society home for boys.



Spiritual Life Director Anthony Salcido with students at Navajo Reservation in Arizona.

Mexico mission team members jump for joy. Photo: Marcus Choi

With the goal of getting middle school and high school students engaged in community service and empathy and care for others, the OCS spiritual life department provides a number of annual mission and service opportunities. Through trips to Mexico, Romania, India, and Guatemala, and the Navajo Nation, students ministered to those in need: orphans, women in shelters and local men and women who need a touch of love and compassion. Connections built over crafts, a game of soccer, Vacation Bible School lessons and heart-to-heart conversations build relationships that expand students’ understanding of the global community. Often students return with an understanding of other cultures and a richer faith.

Amanda Drews with Romanian orphan.

The fourth annual Guatemala trip returned to Story International Orphanage to assist with physical labor with the locals and to help them establish a self-sustaining coffee shop. The ninth annual India trip returned to North India New Life Society, a home for boys, with four alumnae joining the OCS team this year! Students also participated in local charity drives that provided toys for Ventura County children at Christmas, gently-used prom dresses for girls in foster care, and fundraisers, such as Dressember, which raises money to fight human trafficking.

Ninth graders pack boxes for the troops during freshmen service day. HEARTS FOR SERVICE


SHARING EASTER HOPE The Easter message of love and hope is timeless and several OCS middle school students brought that joy and love to foster care children in Ventura County. Partnering with Support for the Kids, OCS students stuffed 8,000 Easter eggs for a special egg hunt this year. The service project was embraced by the entire middle school, including Academy V, to make



sure that elementary-age foster care children had a memorable time. The egg hunt included 435 children at the Rio Plaza School in Oxnard. “The amazing thing about the project is the kids became so excited! They stuffed 8,000 eggs in one day during homeroom time,” said Beth Helfert, OCS parent who coordinated the project. “They were excited to do this for children who don’t get a lot of

Reaching Out Through Art

Left: Olivia Nash, junior, at the princess tea. Above: Participants at the peach picnic.



celebration throughout the year, and don’t get lots of gifts.” Oaks Christian got involved through a connection Helfert had with Linda Miller who had been supporting foster care in Ventura County for over 20 years. Miller shared the need of foster care children in the community, and discussing it with her boys, Max, freshman, and Maverick, seventhgrade, Helfert, realized the egg hunt

Oaks Christian School families have always enjoyed excellent performing arts productions, but this year performing arts wanted to share those productions with nonOCS families. In support of the One Oaks Christian initiative to engage with the community, performing arts launched an outreach program to invite foster care children, area church members and local public school students on campus to attend special performances of the high school musical “Cinderella” and the middle school spring musical “James and the Giant Peach.” Through developing a network in the local area, sending “community outreach supporters” and dispatching both individual performing arts students and ensembles in the various disciplines, OCS concert attendance was also the largest on record. “With the support of our administration, parents, staff and faculty our community outreach efforts have surpassed our goals and expectations for the first year of implementation,” said Band Program Director and Community Outreach Coordinator Ryan Kelly.

Jordan Krystyniak, eighth grader.

would be an ideal service project for middle school students. “The kids seemed to really embrace the service project and enjoy giving back to the community. They were generous in their contributions and gracious to support the cause,” said Helfert.

In partnership with the James Storehouse Foundation, young ladies in foster care homes in the Conejo Valley felt like fairy tale princesses at a matinee show of "Cinderella." The guests were invited to dress in princess attire or Sunday best and take their photo with characters from the show. They enjoyed an enchanted tea complete with fine china and elegant finger food. Each princess entering was announced by trumpet. At a festive Peach Picnic matinee, foster care children enjoyed face painting, balloon artistry, peach pie and tea and a photo opportunity with cast members from “James and the Giant Peach.” In addition, the cast did an extra performance during school hours for 200 students from two local elementary schools. “I think the picnic was an amazing way for Oaks to reach out to our community! We got to open our doors and share a great show and fun picnic. It was so fun to see all the kids getting their faces painted and having balloon sword fights. I love it that the Big Brothers and Big Sisters organization was able to take part in the day with us!” said Middle School Theatre Director Rachel Mikhail.

“Love Does” Author Inspires Third Annual Justice Week at OCS

As part of the third annual Justice Week, the OCS spiritual life department presented Bob Goff, New York Times best-selling author of "Love Does," and Academy-award winning actress and OCS parent Mira Sorvino. Goff and Sorvino spoke with parents and students at special assemblies and chapels. During the week, students and campus guests also toured “The Apathy Effect Exhibit,” a visual story presentation of survivors of human trafficking told through film, photography and artifacts. This special presentation was juxtaposed with the annual Justice Week which raises awareness of global and local human trafficking and modern-day slavery. Guido Hajenius from iEmpathize, the organization hosting the Apathy Exhibit, also spoke with guests. Goff, a professor at Pepperdine Law School and Point Loma University, is the founder of Love Does, an international, non-profit human rights organization that advocates for the voiceless and oppressed in Uganda, India, Nepal, Iraq and Somalia. Love Does (formerly Restore International) fights for freedom and human rights, working to improve educational opportunities for those in need of a voice. Sorvino has been the official ambassador for Amnesty International's "Stop Violence Against Women." She was honored with Amnesty International's Artist of Conscience Award and has lobbied Capitol Hill on the topic of human trafficking. “Her speech made me feel like we need to get the word out there more,” said Jack Snider, sophomore. HEARTS FOR SERVICE


Kind of a One OAKS


FIRST INTERNATIONAL STUDENT FROM MIDDLE SCHOOL THROUGH HIGH SCHOOL Most students have the “new kid” jitters when they start a different school, but try being the new kid and also living in a foreign country at the same time. OCS senior Ashley Wang knows the feeling. She came to America at the tender age of 10, leaving her family in Beijing, China, and enrolling as one of the first students in the then-new Oaks Christian International Student Program (ISP). Seven years ago she was a scared sixth grader, battling homesickness, culture shock and adjusting to life with host family siblings after years of being an only child. Today, she is a confident young lady, moving to New York to major as a fashion photographer at the prestigious Parsons School of Design. She is also the first OCS international student to have gone all the way through the program from middle school to high school, a unique experience that helps her mentor others. “When I came to Oaks, I was the youngest and was the youngest for a long time. Now, I am a senior and I’ve been part of ISP orientation. It feels really satisfying that I can help new students

Ashley Wang applies stage make-up to Jake Mouchawar as part of her theatre production crew job.



Ten-year old Ashley with Caroline Kirchner, her first host-family mom and founder of the International Student Program.

because I understand what they are going through as they transition to American culture,” she said. “My transition was hard because I was so little. I was only 10 and it was hard to be away from my family,” she shared. “I didn’t want to leave my parents, but I also knew it was important for me to come to America to study. Even then, I already knew what I wanted to do. My parents wanted me to have the freedom to pursue the arts.” Oaks Christian helped her do that. She took drawing, painting and photography classes as a foundation for her college major. She also enjoyed being on the student theatre production team as a make-up and costume assistant. When Wang first started there were only eight international students. “We all fit in one mini-van,” she laughingly reminisced. “But now there are 50 of us. I knew everyone back then, who they lived with and what grade they were in. Now, I don’t know all their names, but I also like having a bigger group with more diversity.” The program started with students from Korea and China, but has since enrolled students from Norway, Greece, Taiwan, Indonesia, Japan, Colombia, Uganda and Macau. As she moves on from Oaks Christian, Wang knows she will miss the friendships she developed. She loved the trips to Yosemite, Hawaii and San Francisco where the ISP students were “stuck together for hours and forced to talk to each other,” resulting in strong relationships. “I know it sounds super cliché to talk about the community, but Oaks has an incredible community. I have a friend I have known since I was a seventh grader. She’s in college now, but I will still call her up to talk if I have a problem,” she said. Because of that community, Wang wanted to pay it forward for new international students, helping them navigate the challenges she faced years ago. “For example, American culture is more direct than Chinese culture and that can cause trouble communicating. A student might think a teacher is being mean in what they are saying, but they aren’t. I can help them understand that and that makes me feel I am giving back,” she said.


As it completes its sixth year, the intrinsic value and advantage of the Oaks Christian Online School (OCO) continues to be the “classroom without walls” model of success which innovates and meets the diverse needs of its students. The growth of the program has been phenomenal. To date, OCO has enrolled hundreds of students in over 4,000 unique semester courses. The students have been fulltime, part-time and blended students and come from Oaks Christian School, partner schools, the local community, various states and countries. In response to the high demand for top-tier, flexible, accredited online course options, OCO launched its first online program for sixth, seventh and eighth-grade students. The curriculum includes U.S. history, English intensive grammar, pre-algebra, algebra, geometry, comprehensive sciences and foreign languages. The curriculum is designed to help students complete their academic studies while they pursue other passions, such as the performing arts, sports or special missions. This year OCO founded the Online Christian Consortium (OCC), a leadership organization of schools committed to Christian, college-preparatory online programs. OCC’s partner schools benefit from sharing specialized online curriculum, best practices and other resources. The OCO consortium has partnered with several schools including The First Academy, Sacred Heart Preparatory, Pacifica Christian Orange County and is in the process of forming more national and international partnerships.




OCO student Sammy D'Ambrosio attended a three-week intensive soccer training academy in England in late January. The academy is hosted by the English Premier League which includes world renowned soccer teams. D’Ambrosio’s soccer club in Southern California is in the process of launching a girls' academy for the Los Angeles Galaxy as a first step towards the formation of a women's LA Galaxy pro-team. She hopes her recent training in England by Premier League coaches will position her to be a first pick for the new LA Galaxy girl's academy.

Dancing since the age of three, Anjoulie Kempton has the focus and determination to be a success. She trains at the Southland Ballet Academy in Orange County, CA. Moving to Orange County for dance was one of the main reasons why she decided to enroll in OCO’s middle school program. Recognized as one of the best online schools in the country, OCO's flexible online learning platform and top instructors allow her to stay on top of her academics while spending over 20 hours a week in ballet school.

OCO senior Megan McClain pursues her passion as a competitive equestrian while completing her collegepreparatory high school program at OCO. Last winter, Megan was one of approximately 1,000 competitors at the Color Breed Congress horse show competition in Tulsa, OK. She took home three Congress championships and ended up placing third overall for the whole show.


It’s often easy to be part of a group, yet still feel alone, to wonder if anybody knows your story or even cares. Nowhere is that more true than on a college campus. That was the observation OCS alumna Mackenzie Baker ‘11 made as a student at Belmont University in Nashville, TN. But instead of just accepting the status quo, she decided to do something, particularly for college women who lacked an intentional Christ-centered community. As a sophomore, she started a Bible study with fellow student Mackenzie Wilson. They had no idea it would quickly blossom into a full-blown venture. Her non-profit, Delight Ministries (based in Nashville), is now on 100 college campuses nationwide ministering to the feltneeds of women co-eds. “When we first started we had the dream of this happening, we knew it could have the potential, but honestly, we never totally had the full faith that it would,” Baker shared. “Even to this day I have moments where I don’t quite believe it. It’s been a testimony to the Lord making the way and giving

us the faith to move forward.” The primary activity of Delight Ministries is to launch, grow and sustain Christ-centered women's communities at college campuses across the country, providing each chapter with training, tools, resources and encouragement. But what differentiates it from other faith-based ministries on college campuses, such as Intervarsity or Campus Crusade for Christ, are two things: the focus on women’s needs and the specific eightsemester curriculum that is storybased and invites conversation rather than a strict Bible-teaching model. “Our curriculum is based off the stories college women have shared. We deal with things women typically don’t talk about because they don’t feel they have the friends or are too embarrassed, struggles with body image, comparison or anxiety,” Baker said. “Delight opens the door for this real vulnerability that builds strong friendships that address the issues women deal with at a pivotal time in life.”

Delight Heart THE




Stories of depression, loneliness, heartbreak, and pain are paired with scripture and discussion questions which are used weekly by all Delight communities. Each chapter averages about 35 members. Delight doesn’t do any recruiting; it’s all word of mouth via relationships and social media. Any college that is interested—be it public, private, secular or faith-based—can apply through the website for consideration. Baker majored in Christian leadership so starting a Bible study was a natural fit. During college she would balance classes with Delight, but it soon became apparent that Delight could become a full-time job. By her senior year in 2014, Delight was on 20 college campuses. Over Christmas break of that year, Baker and Wilson went on a mini-retreat to pray and consider how to sustain and grow the ministry. How could they do this part-time while also working or going to grad school after graduation? In the middle of those conversations, they got a phone call from a private donor who wanted to financially support Delight. Since then, Delight has been Baker’s fulltime job. Baker and Wilson travel across the county, visiting about 40 campuses per semester and training leaders. This fall they are launching a Regional Directors Program and have hired five women to oversee the local chapters. That will free up Baker to focus on equipping the start-up chapters and training mentors. In the midst of all this, Baker found time to visit the OCS campus this past spring. She shared how her time at Oaks Christian laid the early foundations for her interest in this type of ministry. “Oaks had a huge place in my faith journey. The friendships, the teachers (Mr. Smith and Mr. Brannan), people who took me to church, chapels and Bible classes, that had a huge impact,” she said. “It really did influence who I wanted to be and where I wanted to go to college. I wanted the same thing I had found at Oaks—a Christ-centered community.” And now, she is paying it forward, helping hundreds of women to delight in the Lord while doing life together during their college journey.


Honoring the OCS Legacy Architectural plans are underway to break ground soon for the new OCS Alumni Park! The alumni park will be built on the high school campus just north of the Price Academic Center. Personalized alumni tribute plaques will artistically line the back wall and offer a reflective place for alumni to visit when they’re on campus. During the school day, students and teachers will utilize the park as a meeting place, as well as a spot to get some work done or enjoy a meal with friends. Alumni or alumni parents will be able to purchase a personalized tribute plaque in the coming months. The park will be built in phases subject to available funding. For questions or if you would like to give a gift towards the new park, please contact the Director of Alumni Relations Laura Mason at or 818.575.9269 or send your gift in the remittance envelope enclosed.

Artist renditions of the alumni park upon completion (subject to change).

Celebrating Years

The Classes of 2006 and 2007 gathered for their joint 10-year reunion this April at the Four Seasons Hotel in Westlake Village. Alumni class leaders Joe Dembesky, Class of 2006 and Alex (Kaplan) Ketchum, Class of 2007 helped plan the event. Alumni came from different areas of the country to celebrate! High School Principal Karen Coyle, along with a number of OCS faculty and staff including, Susi Matzke, Jeff Morrow, Amy Krueger, Sebastian Alvarado, and Beau Brannan, attended. It was a memorable reunion with so many familiar faces!

Front row circles: Sean Wiser ’07 and Kelly (Crommelin) Wiser ’07, alumni sweethearts; High School Principal Karen Coyle and Matt Toyama,’06. Back row circle: Joe Dembesky ’06 and wife, Chloe, with Trevor Thompson ’06. Large circle: Class of 2007 John McKee, Paddy Doheny, Ryan McDaniel and wife, Mariah, Samantha Bartley, and Ali Nelson.


e c n e r Diffe ! r e k a M Be a

Thank you to our 2016-17 supporters for your invaluable contributions to our current and future OCS students. Your gift to Oaks Christian School makes you a difference maker in the lives of each and every student. Below are just some of the programs and resources that your generosity supported.


MS programmable robotics program, rocketry, STEM education, enhanced technology integration, TEDx, and HS Entrepreneurial II class


Equipment and instruments, including a Mac-networked digital piano lab, partnership with Sweden’s Academy of Music and Business, Wacom tablets for digital art, and enhancements to the HS drawing and painting classroom


New stunt program, hiring baseball, football, basketball and lacrosse sports directors, new sound systems for the softball field and Sotelo Aquatics Center, and additional team apparel and equipment for all sports


OCS students impacted by the incredible generosity of our donors this year.


Annual mission trips locally and abroad, critical thinking and counter-cultural curriculum, gradelevel retreats, engaging speakers, and Bible studies


New all-purpose track surface, OCS Alumni Park - phase I, reconfigured classrooms in preparation for the new MS and HS Mac workstations, MS Design Makerspace program, MS film and media lab


Through the generosity of many, 42% of our students received need-based tuition assistance this school year

Every gift matters!

Please use the enclosed envelope or go online to and be a difference maker! Thank you for advancing the mission of Oaks Christian School through your ongoing support.


OC Mission Report 2016-2017