By: Ron Severson—Superintendent of the Roseville Joint Union High School District (retired)
I am a skeptic by nature. After a successful 40-year career in public education, I was surprised when I was invited to a meeting to hear about a new Christian High School in Placer County. Although I was aware of a handful of Catholic private schools who provided rigorous academic programs, most of the other Christian High Schools I was aware of had little diversity, were small and lacked the resources to provide the robust education needed for students to compete for spots at the best colleges and universities in the nation. I was curious why I was invited to the meeting.
I was thrilled to meet some amazing Christians who shared my passion and vision for a school that would prepare students with rigorous academics, rich experiences in the arts, competitive athletics, and cutting-edge technology. They hoped for a school where a culture of acceptance, support, caring and service would draw young people to Christ, no matter what their background was. Like the early church, no one would be excluded.
School Staff would model the fruit of the spirit, building relationships with students to help them navigate the tumultuous highs and lows of being a teenager. The entire school program would be infused with Godly values (honesty, fairness, self-discipline, forgiveness, compassion, acceptance) with the focus on building students of character and integrity. Rather than being a refuge to protect students from the temptations, conflicts and philosophies of the real world, Legacy would prepare students to compete, thrive and lead in that world.
The curriculum would be challenging and designed to prepare students to understand the world and to be successful at the best secular and faith-based colleges or to pursue a career in a trade or technical field. Programs in the arts and technology would help students find and experience their passions. Athletics will be a tool to teach young men and women the value of hard work, how to compete, how to understand and fulfill their role on a team and how to be humble and gracious, both in victory or defeat.
For 40 years, in three different communities, I worked with wonderful educators to create public high schools that promoted most of these values. We were hindered at times by the bureaucracy of the State of California: credential requirements, State testing, tenure rules, curriculum guidelines and bargaining agreements. Without those limitations, a school can be much more nimble to adapt and change to best serve students. Legacy Christian High School can be a beacon of excellence, promoting Christian values while also providing a world class educational experience for students.
This is not a pipe dream. Valley Christian High School in the Bay Area provides a rigorous college prep education, infused with Christian values, to a diverse student population and competes with the best schools in the Silicon Valley. Legacy is poised to do the same in the greater Sacramento region.
In an acrimonious world where some people view the Church with suspicion, Legacy can model the acceptance, love, and power of the New Testament. The Pharisees saw and judged a woman caught in adultery. Jesus saw a woman who needed compassion, forgiveness, direction, and hope. He believed in human potential. Our region needs a school that offers the same for the teenagers in our care.
Ron Severson is the retired superintendent of the Roseville Joint Union High School District. He taught and served as a school leader at North Monterey County High School in Castroville, Ca and at Aptos High School in Santa Cruz County. He was the founding principal at Granite Bay High School, serving for 10 years before moving into leadership roles at the District for the last 12 years of his career. He has been a life-long supporter of Young Life, a high school outreach organization that helped bring him to Christ as a 16-year-old and has served in many volunteer ministries in the churches He and his wife Julie have attended.