“…Every teacher, every second of every class, is geared towards God and helping us grow in it.”
Being the youngest of four alums, Owen Chiou had always planned on attending Covenant High School. Coming from a small eighth grade class, Covenant provided a larger environment than Owen was accustomed to, and, as an extrovert, he enjoyed the opportunity to get to know more people.
“English has always been really fun,” said Owen. He recalls freshman year when they read Lord of the Flies together and a friend was asked to play a lead character. “[Mrs. Tamminga] does really well implementing life into her teaching so it’s not just English,” Owen said. “The lessons for how to live life and everything is really cool and there’s a lot to learn from her.”
As someone who finds problem-solving satisfying, Owen has always enjoyed math, but AP Calculus has been a lesson in hard work.
“That’s definitely been the class that has taught me how to work hard, more than any other class in school,” said Owen.
As he reflects on his past four years, Owen sees someone who has grown socially, academically, and spiritually.
“I’ve definitely grown with interacting with people,” said Owen. “Now that I am the older class, it’s really fun to interact with anybody that comes by me.” He has also learned to manage his time wisely, prioritize projects, and learn from others and their advice.
When reflecting on how Covenant has shaped his faith, “every part of [Covenant] helps with it,” Owen said. “…Every teacher, every second of every class, is geared towards God and helping us grow in it.” He also commented on the companionship you can find with other students who are growing in their faith as well. “Pretty much all the community [at Covenant] is just geared towards growing in your faith.”
Owen has fond memories with Covenant’s tight-knit Christian community including the choir trip through Oregon, Harvest Parties, Spring Swing, and other Student Council events. He remembers the annual overnight field trips, including the freshman vs. sophomore boys football game – an unofficial tradition.
“I’ll always remember that,” Owen said. “That freshman year we were all expecting to win but then we ended up not so that was a big disappointment,” he laughed.
“Our whole senior class has gotten really close this year,” he said. “We were all just really into making the school a better place and it was fun doing that together.” For example, on Valentine’s day, the senior boys made breakfast for all the girls in their class. “It was an absolute party in the kitchen,” he said. “This is probably one of my best memories.”
During his years at Covenant, Owen has been on Student Council, Honor Society, and served as House Council. Outside of school, he was on the Gig Harbor Canoe and Kayak Racing Team for eight years. He went to Nationals five times and, as a team, won several times.
He looks back on his past four years and how he has overall learned to become more and more adaptable. A big part of that transformation was through YXL, which stands for Youth eXcelling in Leadership. Owen spent a week with other youth, growing, hearing different topics, and learning how to see God as a constant in his life.
“It just taught me about trying to live for God and everything,” he said. “That’s the biggest thing in my life pretty much.”
After graduation, Owen plans to attend Clover Park’s Professional Pilot Program in Puyallup.
“There’s something for everyone here. You’ll find friends and a community that will come alongside you and help you learn.”
Martina Preston attended other local Christian schools, then homeschooled online before she came to Covenant High School, just like her brother.
She figured, “He liked [Covenant], I’ll like it!” she said, laughing at the fact that she never even shadowed as most prospective students do. Not only did she have his positive experience to affirm her choice, but she also knew she would appreciate Covenant’s classical roots and English emphasis.
“I love the reading list, I love the availability of Latin,” she said. “I love the discussions, I love being able to do creative writing in classes…” Though she considered going to other schools briefly, she said she loved the focus on English and literature at Covenant because that’s something she’s really passionate about.
As a freshman, Martina said she was shy and introverted. Covenant pushed her out of her comfort zone yet she felt enveloped by the community.
“I had a hard time my freshman year embracing all of the opportunities that came to me,” she said. However, she learned to take advantage of those opportunities as her time at Covenant continued, driven by a love of learning.
“I’m a pretty creative, intellectual person,” said Martina. “I love learning.” The idea of being a “Renaissance Woman” had always appealed to her, she said, and she had a desire to be well versed in a variety of things.
“There’s a little bit of everything,” Martina said about Covenant. “I went in knowing that I didn’t sing, but found a great art community….There’s something for everyone here. You’ll find friends and a community that will come alongside you and help you learn.”
In the past four years, Martina has been an Ambassador, Student Council Secretary, served on House Council, and started her own club.
Outside of Covenant, she continues to fulfill her mission of being a Renaissance Woman. Martina has participated in the Tacoma Youth Symphony and been a member of the South Sound String Harp Ensemble since she was 10 years old. She has hands-on experience with writing working for Showcase Magazine for the past four years.
Next year, Martina looks forward to attending Northwest University on their full-ride Presidential Scholarship. Automatically ushered into their Honors Program, she plans to study English and potentially pursue a double major in User Experience Design, with the dream of entering the publishing world as an editor, enjoying writing on the side.
Martina said her primary goal is “to glorify Him and just to be willing to complete whatever He asks me to do.”
You can read more about Martina’s full-ride scholarship and the personal essay she wrote for Northwest University here.
Cale Adam is from a military family, living in several different states before he entered high school. Transitioning from a homeschool routine was exciting, Cale said. He looked forward to a structured environment and found his peers at Covenant to be friendly.
As he reflects, Cale is grateful for the friends he’s made and what they have done together: creating together in art class, playing football outside of school, or having Bible studies at friends’ houses. He has enjoyed the memories made at popular, annual student life events such as the overnight field trip, Harvest Party, and International Dinner. He has benefited from engaging, interactive classes led by teachers who became mentors.
Looking back at his freshman year, Cale says he had some pride and “thought he knew what was going on,” he laughed.
“I’m still not perfect,” he says now. He remembers freshman English class, reading classic literature with themes in pride, and not seeing the connection to his character and faith at the time. Today, he sees the connection between this growth and the community at Covenant.
“Just all the people there and the supportive friends and teachers played a big role in that,” Cale said. Kind Bible faculty and encouraging classes have helped shaped his faith in the past four years; morning devotionals and prayer before each class period, specifically.
“Throughout the day, you’re not thinking about God as much as you should at certain times, so I thought that was really nice and helpful,” said Cale.
At Covenant, Cale has served as an Ambassador, hosting prospective students for shadow days and intentionally fostering an inclusive, tight-knit environment for current students. He strives to embody Proverbs 18:24 (New King James Version) which says, “A man who has friends must himself be friendly…” To him, this means reaching out to others, being kind, looking for the betterment of his classmates, and how he can help them.
As a senior, Cale serves as the Honor Society President, meaning he not only maintains a certain grade point average, but keeps community outreach a priority, and leads his peers to do the same. Until COVID-19 altered their plans, he intended on joining Lake City Community Church’s mission trip to Mexico, just as he had done the year before.
Outside of Covenant, Cale has also participated in cross country for a club and played football and wrestled for Steilacoom. He enjoys video games, staying in shape, and drawing.
Next year, Cale is attending Pierce College to receive his associate degree.
“I’ve always had a desire to make, or create, things,” said Cale. For that reason, he would like to pursue computer science.
“I was driven to find a better education for myself and I didn’t stop until I found Covenant.”
Destyne Daheim was attending public school when she went on a mission trip to Uganda. When she returned, she realized she wanted to be in a school where she was surrounded by like-minded kids her age, who had the same values and were serious about growing in their faith, she said. “Somewhere I could grow,” she said.
After Destyne’s cousin introduced her to Covenant, she visited and could see how important it was that Christ was involved in a student’s week. For example, she appreciated that every week ended with Chapel in a beautiful Sanctuary. Destyne said that going to public school and private school was a night and day difference, not due to size or curriculum, but the environment.
“…I think as high schoolers we need some stability and firmness, especially in our faith…” said Destyne. “I found that to be heavily presented at Covenant which is something I really liked as well.”
Though she said it was nerve-wracking to transfer into a new school as a junior, the Girls Discipleship Group became her staple, she said. The Girls Discipleship Group is one of several after-school clubs that Covenant offers.
“[The Girls Discipleship Group was] somewhere I could go and connect with these girls and talk about Christ,” said Destyne. She felt support, knowing that she had faith-driven girls to turn to, pray with, and help her look at things how Christ would.
A successful student-athlete, Destyne swims for Washington High School. She has made varsity for all four years, won the Coach’s Award and MVP Award multiple times, and made it to districts the past two years in both individual and team relay events. She holds four records for Washington High School.
“I’m a very driven person,” she said. “If I feel passionate about something, then I work hard to either achieve it or to speak out about it.” It is this passion that has led her to become an accomplished student-athlete but also pursue her faith. “If everything was stripped away, I think you would see the Lord,” Destyne said. “The blessings and the joy I have now is all because of Him.”
Outside of school and swimming for WHS, Destyne enjoys being a swim instructor for the Lakewood YMCA, working with kids ages 4-13. This experience along with Covenant’s English class has inspired her to become a teacher one day.
“I felt that in [English] I was getting an all-around education as far as…not just curriculum but how to grow with Christ,” Destyne said. Destyne says she has learned a lot from Mrs. Tamminga’s English class – about different authors, types of writing, how to apply English concepts to her faith – but the main thing has been passion. Next year, Destyne plans to attend the Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio and pursue a bachelor’s in education so she can teach middle school English.
Although her Covenant journey has been a couple of years shorter than most, Destyne has grown academically and spiritually in what she considers a mature, welcoming, friendly community.
“If you’re looking to be both academically challenged but also encouraged and supported, [Covenant] is the perfect school,” Destyne said. “The staff is supportive, pushes you to be the best you can be, and always directs you towards Christ.”
“For me, if I was still at public school my junior year, I would be down a different path right now,” said Destyne. “I was driven to find a better education for myself and I didn’t stop until I found Covenant.”
“I’m a better person than I was because I went to Covenant.”
Although Quinn Sukhia is the oldest of four, he was not the first in his family to attend Covenant. Since Covenant was founded in 1992, it has graduated nearly 600 students. Quinn’s mother, Noel, was one of the first.
Quinn attended Lighthouse Christian School for his elementary years, homeschooled, then finished eighth grade at Springfield Classical Elementary. Like most of his classmates and friends at the time, he attended Covenant High School.
“If I had one thing to say to freshman me it would be to be confident in who you are,” said Quinn. As a senior, Quinn is the Director of Communications for both Covenant’s Student Council and Honor Society. He is part of a tight-knit class who has “been a band of brothers since the beginning.” He reflects on his freshman year, how he met new people, expanded his horizons, and learned from a variety of teachers and techniques. Mr. Hannula was a faculty member that immediately impacted Quinn.
“He’s amazing,” said Quinn, though intimidating at first. Quinn remembers being so nervous for his first history exam that he accidentally turned in his test in the wrong slot, twice. He still remembers Mr. Hannula shaking his head but joking about it during the next class period.
Quinn also recalls his first speech classes, a four-year requirement at Covenant. Though potentially daunting for a freshman, “I learned how to speak well and [speech class has] been a great help to me and I’ve learned how to have fun with it and enjoy it,” Quinn said. Being a classical, college preparatory high school, Covenant’s curriculum is intentionally designed to equip a student for their life after graduation.
“You can rely on the classes,” said Quinn. “You can know that this class is going to get you somewhere…Senior year you think, ‘I know this is gonna benefit me…this is gonna help me in college.’”
After graduation, Quinn plans to become a pilot via LeTourneau University, but he also developed a passion for graphic design thanks to Miss Battle, her artwork, and “and just how she’s encouraged me along,” Quinn said. At Covenant, students are encouraged to pursue their unique calling and learn more about themselves in order to make wise decisions surrounding post-graduation plans.
“You learn where to put effort in, what to work towards, what’s more important for you,” said Quinn. “You learn your strengths and your weaknesses.” Quinn learned he was gifted in art and was taught to push onward to increase his skill.
He also recognizes how Covenant has shaped his faith. “In every class, I’ve noticed that [teachers] try to…implement faith inside,” said Quinn. He also reflects on how history class, though academically challenging, has strengthened his faith. “You have to see how God shaped our world and how it all runs together like a big puzzle,” Quinn said. “[Covenant has] definitely changed my faith.”
When asked how Quinn would describe Covenant, he said, “I would talk about the friendship you get and the ties to teachers and the personal growth you feel between people. The Bible says iron sharpens iron just as friends sharpen friends and you grow – you definitely grow – at Covenant and that’s one thing I like about it,” said Quinn. “I’m a better person than I was because I went to Covenant.”
“It seemed like a challenging school and I really wanted that,” Savannah said. “I didn’t want high school to be easy; I wanted to be prepared for college. Covenant has definitely done that.”
Savannah Guenzi was attending Heritage Christian School in Lakewood when she heard about Covenant from friends like Peyton Gomez. The oldest in her family, she had been looking at other local high schools, trying to make a decision about her 9th grade year. Upon looking into Covenant, Savannah said a few things stuck out to her: the environment, the friendly teachers, the unique schedule, and the literature the students were reading.
“It seemed like a challenging school and I really wanted that,” Savannah said. “I didn’t want high school to be easy; I wanted to be prepared for college. Covenant has definitely done that.”
Like most college-bound students, Savannah began looking at colleges and preparing for the SAT in her junior year. She remembers taking the SAT and being able to answer questions she specifically learned and prepared for while at Covenant. One section was on a book she had already read in class. Scoring higher than she expected, she said it “went smoothly thanks to Covenant mostly.”
In the past four years, Savannah has gotten to know her teachers well through classes, student life events, and leadership roles. She has served on Student Council, Honor Society, and her senior year, became Covenant’s Ambassador Director, leading other students in fostering an inclusive, welcoming environment.
Savannah has also been vice president, then president, of Covenant’s debate team, an after-school club. From learning and researching a topic, to coming up with arguments, to meeting different and smart people who know how to integrate Christ into their arguments, debate has been helpful in learning how the world works. It’s a life skill, she said. Savannah said it has been engaging to look at the world through the eyes of a Christian and see things that can be fixed and how they should be fixed.
This experience will prove valuable, as Savannah plans to attend Regent University and become a prosecuting attorney for criminal law, where she wants to incorporate her faith.
“Covenant definitely helped me because I got into my number one choice: Regent University,” said Savannah. In addition to being accepted to her top choice, she was invited to Scholars Weekend, where every student walks away with an annual scholarship. She was also invited to Honors College, which allows her to major in English and automatically minor in Biblical Studies. Participating in the 3in3 program, she will spend three years in her major/minor then go straight into their law program.
While Savannah has a bright new chapter before her, her four years at Covenant were not free of struggle. Sophomore year, Savannah said she was diagnosed with depression and anxiety.
“Being at Covenant though has really helped me to know that I am loved and I can do something to help the world,” Savannah said. “God can use me no matter what I do.” She reflects on hearing teachers apply Biblical knowledge in her classes, relating their subjects to Scripture. They reminded her that God created everything, and we should glorify Him in everything we do, she said.
“Covenant is a place where you learn but also learn about God.” Savannah said it is a community of people who genuinely love God. Seeing her peers grow in Christ is proof to her that Covenant really does help people grow in their faith, she said.