Students Grow Closer to God through Chapel, Service in Community
The most cherished time on BCHS’ campus is that which is set aside for chapel. The weekly worship is impactful for students and faculty alike.
The sole venue on campus able to hold more than 500 students and faculty is the gymnasium. Wanting to create an environment that distinguishes chapel from the multitude of other events held in the gym, Spiritual Formation Director Joe Cabalka added a black backdrop to segment the space. He modified the seating by adding chairs on the floor and reducing the span of bleachers to establish a more intimate setting. Students chose their own seats in lieu of sitting with a specific class period, which mirrored the “freedom with accountability” structure of BCHS’ approach to student life.
“The change in last year’s chapels of allowing students to sit in chairs on the floor made me feel closer to God during worship,” recent graduate Lauryn Reeves said. “It allowed me to truly focus on chapel rather than the hustle and bustle of the rest of the day.”
Another benefit was the addition of the Worship Arts course, from which the worship team was formed. Meeting daily in a dedicated class period, versus the previous once each week, was a huge benefit. This benefit extended to the overall preparedness of the team and allowed them to more effectively lead the BCHS community in worship.
The students in the Worship Arts course were also able to learn more about what takes place behind the scenes to get ready for a weekly worship set from teacher Bob Hudson, who also serves his local church as a worship director. In addition to the musicians on stage, students ran the sound, lights and presentation software. In class, the team spent time reading and discussing a Christian book challenging the new wave of young worship leaders to not only think beyond the pragmatic, but also about theology. Hudson’s desire is to prepare the students’ hearts and minds, not only for leading worship, but for godliness.
“The heart of the worship leader is so important. I believe that is more important than their musical abilities,” Hudson said.
Growing in the Christian faith walk extended beyond chapel. The worship team had opportunities to lead at other community events, including one at The Mission at Kern County. Additionally, BCHS sent its sports teams to serve together at the Mission throughout the year. These are the types of experiences BCHS is working to expand. Through solidifying additional partnerships with other local nonprofit organizations, BCHS students will begin more regular community service in classes this year.
Last October, BCHS launched a new program where seniors could be paired with a local elementary or middle school student to mentor them. In its first year, 10 seniors were accepted into the program and served as mentors, sacrificing their extended lunch or early release period once a week to invest in one of these young students. Cabalka said he expects this program to grow this year and enable BCHS seniors to grow in their own faith through being mentors.
“It was an eye-opening experience for me,” said Reeves, who was one of these senior mentors. “By spending time with a middle school student who came from a broken home, I was able to truly see not only how blessed I have been growing up, but also how easily an individual could share the love of God right in his or her own neighborhood.”
While there is a concentration on spiritual growth integrated into the classroom, sports and clubs, BCHS also intentionally designs programs to help students grow spiritually. Through corporate worship, prayer, biblical application, missions and service – to name a few – students are offered unique opportunities during their formative high school years to demonstrate and share their faith while also becoming grounded in it.
“I want our students to know the love of Jesus,” Cabalka said. “I want them to know that they are free in Him and be able to celebrate that.”