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By Maddie Schaafsma

Even though it’s February, Timothy staff are getting ready to welcome the Class of 2021. This week, eighth graders registered for their freshmen classes. But for incoming freshmen, high school can seem overwhelming not only academically, but socially as well. While schedules are being uploaded into Power School for next year, Timothy staff are already planning a freshmen retreat at Cedar Lake Ministries Camp in Indiana. The retreat is all about building community and making the transition to high school easier.

“I’ve been at Timothy since preschool,” freshman Abby Schaafsma says. “But that doesn’t change the fact that going into high school is scary. With the help of the freshmen retreat and my amazing small group leaders, Ariana Smith and Rachel Rink, I felt 100% prepared for high school.”

Both Ariana and Rachel remember what it was like to be freshmen. Ariana was deeply impacted by friendships with upperclassman and wanted to help freshmen feel comfortable and confident in high school. “I knew the impact that upperclassmen acting out their faith had on me,” Ariana says. “I wanted to show this love that I was shown to these incoming freshmen. I was able to connect with these girls about their faith in a real way.”


Four years ago, Rachel transferred to Timothy. As the new girl at school she was unsure of herself and whether she would fit in. “It was terrifying for me,” Rachel remembers. “I did not have confidence in myself, let alone confidence in Christ.”

It’s this confidence that she wanted to help other freshmen like Abby develop.

Rachel and Ariana Smith worked for months planning the retreat. They came up with the theme, “Confidence in Christ.” At the retreat, upperclassmen are assigned a small group of freshmen to mentor. “Ariana and I were able to share with them some important messages we thought were crucial going into high school,” Rachel says. “We talked about guarding your heart, our testimonies and walks with God, and how to have confidence going into high school.”

The weekend was a beginning of a friendship. Friends who build each other up, encourage each other in faith, all throughout the year. Rachel and Ariana still meet with their small group at least once a month, just to check in with them.

“I love to just chat with them about life, and see how they are doing in their faith and in high school,” Rachel says. “As leaders, our goal is to never stop showing them love and guidance. Because of the freshman retreat, I now consider these freshmen girls my little sisters.”

As the Timothy Class of 2021 prepares to enter high school, new leaders are taking the reins to help guide the incoming freshmen. These nurtured relationships help make the transition into high school so much easier. “As leaders we want freshmen to know we are going to be there for them all throughout the school year,” Rachel says. “Sharing our faith, getting them out of their comfort zone, and becoming closer as sisters in Christ.”

About the author: Maddie Schaafsma, junior at Timothy Christian Schools, has attended TC since pre-school. She has been playing soccer all her life and has been on Timothy’s Varsity team since freshman year. Writing is her passion, and she hopes to be a reporter for ABC news one day! Above all, Maddie strives to serve and glorify the Lord in all she does.

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