Hear from several 2019 Covenant grads on how Covenant impacted them, their passions, and where they’re headed next.
Ben Mellott has grown up knowing about Covenant High School, having attended Faith Presbyterian Church his entire life. While that might seem like an uneventful high school transition, Ben says that looking back “is kinda crazy” as he realizes how much he’s grown and been shaped by his experience at CHS: from the friends he has made to the critical thinking skills he’s learned, to approaching everything from a biblical worldview. “Not just in Bible, but English, history, math, science,” Ben said. “That’s something that has helped me to realize in an even fuller way that following Christ means every part of your life, not just the Sunday Christian, but every day of your life.”
Multiple classes and faculty have been catalysts for Ben’s growth. Senior year specifically, it was apologetics. In this Bible class, students analyze common objections to the faith, a class Ben says was beneficial to his own spiritual walk. “What was helpful was recognizing that, at the end of the day, these objections don’t come with easy answers and if they did, they wouldn’t exist,” said Ben. “While it can be used in evangelism, it can be helpful to witness to yourself.”
Mr. Hannula, history and math faculty, has also left an impact on Ben. Ben reflects that Mr. Hannula is enthusiastic in his teaching, shares funny stories, yet has a serious and practical approach to his classes and life in general, which Ben has found very helpful. Mr. Hannula has also helped him see how important it can be to be prompt, as he’s known for grading and returning tests quickly.
Similarly, Mr. Saldajeno, science faculty, has a reputation of being incredibly responsive and available for students. “He’s always willing to talk to you about almost anything, not just biology,” said Ben. “I’ve appreciated having some really good conversations with him about applying bio to faith, which I’ve found really helpful.”
Finally, Mrs. Tamminga, who has a lively way of teaching English class. “I’ve appreciated how she [teaches] and even with pieces of literature that are written from a non-Christian point of view and how she can tie the gospel and our faith into that.”
Outside of Covenant, Ben ran cross country and track for Curtis High School and went to State this year. He’s also been in orchestra for 7 years for violin and done private lessons for 11 years. Next year, Ben plans to attend Covenant College and pursue civil engineering on a full-tuition scholarship.
“Going into a new environment like I did four years ago, you never know what the Lord is going to bring your way, but you can count on Him to bring it to His glory and make you a better person,” Ben said. “It’s been a transformative experience in more ways than I can count and I’m very grateful for that.”
Bi Tran came to Covenant in 2015 as a freshman international student from Vietnam. His older sister and cousin were alums and spoke highly of the school and Bi now says, “I can confirm that it is true.” Not only did Bi enjoy the classes at Covenant, but the faculty who were always willing to help. “People here are super friendly,” Bi adds. “We know each other’s names, unlike at public schools. We have a tight relationship and friendship and know each other’s stories.”
Originally, Bi desired to become a businessman, focusing on math classes and opportunities, but that changed once he took health class and started learning anatomy. He said he found not only his favorite class but his strength. “Then I took advanced biology and BAM! I knew I wanted to be a doctor,” he said.
“CHS has overprepared me,” said Bi in regard to pursuing his medical degree. While researching colleges Bi visited Pacific Lutheran University, where he plans to attend next fall, and shadowed a biology class. Sitting amongst college students and listening to the professor, he realized he knew the material already, and was able to raise his hand, answer questions, and engage with the rest of the class. Afterwards, the professor pulled him aside, impressed, asking him how he knew the material so well.
Academics are not the only impact CHS made on Bi. In reflection, Bi says when he walked through Covenant’s doors freshmen year, he knew nothing about God, did not care to study, focused on video games, and did not participate in school activities. Today, Bi says he knows so much more about God and Bible verses, is a leader of the Chess Club, a Student Ambassador, dedicated to learning, no longer plays video games, and, to put it simply, has “grown up”. Bible class and weekly Chapels have strengthened Bi’s faith. The tight-knit community has made him intentional with his friendships; he enjoys being able to greet every student by name and make them feel known.
Outside of CHS, Bi volunteers at Allenmore Multicare (pictured), which he started the summer of his junior year. “I love it,” Bi said. He loves learning about people. He also helps around his neighborhood, assisting his neighbor with house and lawn responsibilities.
Today, Bi is a U.S. citizen and he looks forward to attending PLU in the fall and majoring in biology. After that, he plans to attend UW Medicine School and become a doctor in internal medicine.
James Castle attended Lighthouse Christian School in Gig Harbor then Covenant High School, where he says he primarily built relationships with teachers and deepened his relationship with Christ.
James has several fond memories of his time at CHS: the eye-opening and somewhat startling experience of his first round of high school finals, burning salts with a blow torch in chemistry, going on runs through Point Defiance for P.E., the special bond created while taking the most difficult of AP classes, and of course, traditions like Christmas Banquet and Senior Skip Day. Essentially, “all the times I’ve been able to bond with the senior class as we’re on our way out and growing up so fast and dealing with all this change,” James said.
“As Mr. Hannula walks up the stairs, I’m just reminded of all the life lessons he tried to pack into the classes he taught us,” James said, reflecting on Covenant’s math and history faculty member. “I’m grateful for all of my teachers because they put so much work into helping us grow into mature adults.”
Throughout the past four years, James said the biggest change he has undergone is in his perspective: in the way he views himself, the world, and God. “I would say I’ve lost a lot of youthful frivolity,” James said. “Not to say I don’t have fun, but there’s also a wisdom that is associated with surviving high school.”
Outside of CHS, James is a martial artist, obtaining his black belt in 2016. He has also been a Boy Scout, Eagle Scout, and enjoys reading and trail running.
Next year, James plans to attend the University of Washington’s College of Engineering to study chemical engineering. He is ultimately interested in nanotech, clean energy, or synthetics. While James originally wanted to pursue architecture, an art class quickly ruled that out for him. A year later in a career-focused class he was looking at the Bureau of Labor Statistics and saw that chemical engineering was the highest paid career for undergrads, which initially piqued his interest. With more research, he became curious about all that the field entails.
“Money is not the motivation,” James confirmed. “The motivation really comes down to my core purpose which is the fact that God has given me so many gifts and talents so it is my duty to Him and all the people that aren’t necessarily as gifted and talented in the ways that I am to be able to use those gifts and talents to be able to help anyone I possibly can. I don’t think it’s worth anything if I can have a nice, big retirement account and live comfortably for the rest of my days if I can’t point to one group or individual and say that I helped them out,” James said. “And it’s really not me,” he added. “It’s God.”
Like many, Joseph Bodenman started his Covenant story his freshmen year, but unlike many, he took a hiatus to try another high school. He thought he wanted a larger school. “I found out that there is a huge difference,” he said. Joseph didn’t like the bigger size of his new school, finding it difficult to fit in and make new friends. He encountered cliques and as soon as he transferred, he said he knew he wanted to go back to CHS. “I knew that was where I wanted to be,” Joseph said. “I just found it to be a way better fit. You’re more well-known here and it’s a tighter family.”
“One of my favorite things about [CHS] would have to be the teachers and how connected they are,” Joseph said. All of them have been crucial to his spiritual development and education. “I’m more rooted in my faith and confident in what I believe. I’m building, more deeply, my relationship with God.”
“It’s been really nice to be surrounded by everyone that you know is a believer so you can talk about your faith all the time,” said Joseph. “It’s nice to be in an environment where the teachers are excited to talk about the faith and all subjects connected to it.” Joseph used English as an example, and how they frequently analyze books not just from a literary standpoint, but from the Christian faith.
Other than English, Art has been incredibly helpful for Joseph, which he has taken for every year he’s been at Covenant. He’s also enjoyed physics and calculus much more than he anticipated, as it satisfies the logical part of his brain. These classes have been important in shaping what Joseph desires to do with his future: graphic design.
Over the past four years, Joseph says he’s come out of his shell and seen his leadership strengthen, embracing new roles as treasurer of Honor Society and a student ambassador. He’s become more organized, servant-hearted, and learned how to serve in a role that benefits the community through community service projects and simply reaching out and taking advantage of his opportunities.
Next year, Joseph plans to go to George Fox University to study graphic design. He currently pictures himself as a future graphic designer or architect, but looks forward to exploring what a career around graphic design could look like.
Lauren Adam’s Covenant story did not start her freshmen year like most, but her sophomore year, when her younger brother started the transition from homeschool to Covenant High School. Nervous and hesitant, she wanted to stick to her homeschool routine, but the more she connected with CHS peers and faculty, the more comfortable she became.
From the beginning, Miss Battle, Fine Arts faculty, played a role in Lauren’s experience. “I really enjoy being in her class and company,” she said. By the time art students are seniors, Miss Battle leaves the medium of their work up for them to decide, focusing on what they love most. Lauren has thrived on that artistic freedom.
Other beneficial classes have been Advanced Biology and English. “Since I’d like to go into nursing, [Advanced Biology has] given me a good intro into what I’m going to be studying more,” she said. In English, “Mrs. Tamminga always finds a way to connect the books she’s chosen for us back to Christ and how to relate them in our lives, which I really like,” Lauren said.
Until senior year, Miss Battle and Mrs. Tamminga have remained as supportive mentors who Lauren can always talk to. “They love to help us succeed,” she said.
When asked to compare freshmen-Lauren with senior-Lauren, she said, “I would definitely say I’m a lot more confident.” This confidence influences not just her work, but even the way she connects with others. Over the past four years, Lauren said she has learned the importance of pursuing her friendships. One of her favorite verses is Proverbs 27:17, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” While she says this wasn’t as central of a theme to her as a homeschool student, her time at CHS has helped her realize her desire to invest in her friendships and grow stronger in them. “Which I have,” she declared. Wisely, she exposed the fact that just because Covenant is a Christian school, does not mean that students don’t face struggle. “We forget that we still have sin and pain and that we need to pursue one another,” said Lauren. “We need to show Jesus’ love.”
Outside of CHS, Lauren loves hiking, artwork, embroidery, and spending time with friends. She also stresses the importance of mentors and the role they’ve played in her high school career. “It’s important that we all have someone outside of school to have someone help us in our faith and walk,” she said.
Upon graduating from Covenant High School, Lauren plans to attend Northwest University in Kirkland and pursue a career in nursing.
Peyton Gomez walked through the doors of Covenant High School a few years after her older sister and alongside several friends from middle school. It didn’t take long for her friendly and welcoming spirit to be noticed. Starting out as an Ambassador, later becoming a peer-tutor, then a Student Council member, Peyton says she is certainly more outgoing than she was four years ago. She has been able to connect with all grade levels and gain many friendships and new perspectives.
Her high school career was not always smooth; Peyton’s journey was marked by her grandmother’s passing and her grandfather’s diagnosis with cancer. “It was rough but I knew that I could come back here and have a group of people that supported me and uplifted me,” said Peyton. “It made me grow closer to God because I saw people that were close with Him, and it made me want to be close with Him as well.”
Within that community, were faculty members. Peyton remembers a particularly difficult math class, but Mrs. Lewellen “was always there to guide us all the way through, meeting with us when she needed to and spending extra time on problems when necessary.”
While not at school, Peyton has an enriching array of extracurriculars. She has participated in several sports: golf, track and field, and tennis for Lakes High School and Clover Park. She has also volunteered for several organizations: the Lakewood Youth City Council, the American Lake Golf Course, and Young Executives of Color at the University of Washington. With every experience, she has expanded her network, learned more about the individuals and happenings in her community, and gained clarity on her post-graduation path.
Peyton plans to attend University of Washington’s Foster School of Business in the fall and pursue finance, accounting, or mathematics. “Since I was in the third grade I said I was going to be a CFO and Warren Buffett one day,” said Peyton. “I want to be financially stable so I can give back to those that have helped me along the way. My community is a big piece of me and I want to give back in any way that I can.