Westside Christian High SchoolIn This Time of Uncertainty and the Virus, Westside Leads the Way
Westside Christian High School, located in Tigard’s historic core, has its founding roots in the Tualatin Basin and West Slope region and is now host to state championship and nationally recognized music, art and performing art endeavors. They are the legacy of educational development and evolution in West Portland. In 1981, with less than a dozen students and 6 staff, Westside Christian High School opened its doors in the vacant Collins View School building (now Riverdale High School) to serve families on the west side of town. Their establishment in Tigard was achieved in 2013 after purchasing land off Hwy. 99 and 217. With a faculty, support staff, and students totaling just over 200, the school has made Tigard and West Portland region a destination for music performances and art shows.
Their programs celebrate the creative spirit of students and skilled staff working in harmony to showcase their community and region. To see them in action in their recent spring concert, look up the YouTube channel wffiii (or at the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PFC6-4qLdXo&t=2820s).
Will Fox, Music Arts Director, brought together vocal and instrumental ensembles in the live streamed program with careful attention to coronavirus concerns. His programs, when combined with the fine arts expertise and teaching of Mrs. Kayla Wicks, a WCHS alumnae and the Art Teacher, unified a program of music and art that made a statement for themselves and the community.
The one-and-a-half-hour program included significant student testimonies where students of various disciplines shared their initial tentativeness, and then grew to share great experiences. Westside Christian junior, Jonah Adams, talked of his new love of visual arts that he initially said, “no way can I do”, only to find himself as a skilled artist despite his limited experience in art prior to Westside Christian.
Speaking of her four years of growth at Westside Christian in performing art endeavors, senior, Becca Gurnee, joyously shared her experience. As a member of the Eagle Beat Drumline, she and fellow drumline students celebrate their community through percussion drums, cymbals, and coordinated marching. Her statement says it all. “A new beat rings in my heart as I’ve grown stronger as a member of that Westside Drumline.”
Mr. Fox, his Concert Choir, Westside Voices, and Soli Deo Gloria vocal ensembles have received honors throughout the state of Oregon, most notably winning the Choir State Championship the past thirteen consecutive years! As recently as this past February, Soli was invited to present their quality vocal program in New York City in the winter of 2021. Mr. Fox was also asked to institute a band program, and in less than four years has students performing full programs often reserved for bands of 40 to 60 students. Though they were initially six members strong, their membership reached nineteen students this year, and they have earned two State Championships under Mr. Fox’s direction.
In this time of uncertainty created by the pandemic, their performing and fine arts programs are providing a much-needed breath of fresh air both to students and to community observers. Their program and student excellence have given this historic region’s residents hope beyond the virus. Westside Christian High School should be the choice for those who seek out art and music show opportunities in their community. They can be reached at 503-697-4711, and more information about the school can be found on their website, www.wchsonline.org.