Archive for ESS

Sawyer Arkema, A Warrior’s Heart

The 2019-2020 WMC Homecoming court took their places on the basketball court and waited for the announcement. This year there was a house favorite and everyone knew it.

“The 2020 Western Michigan Christian Homecoming King is Sawyer Arkema!” The gym roared with cheers and applause. It was a special tear-jerking moment for everyone gathered in Warrior gym.

Sawyer had one heck of a senior year! 

  • He was crowned Homecoming King
  • He was awarded a brand-new 3-wheel bike from the Muskegon Ambucs during half time on Senior Night
  • He scored several buckets in the WMC-hosted United Basketball game with his Special Olympics team in front of his home crowd in his home gym
  • He made front page news in the local paper and was featured on local TV news
  • He graduated from high school in June
Classmate Ryan Bradford Royle congratulates his buddy Sawyer on being crowned King.

Sawyer’s academic journey started at New Era Christian School when he entered kindergarten. Before long, he completed 8th grade and moved on to Western Michigan Christian for high school. Sawyer has a rich and full school life, complete with the support and love of a close-knit school community and peers who adore him. 

At WMC, he is on what is called a “Certificate of Completion” track.  He takes general education classes and works to complete goals instead of aiming for a certain grade.  Fully included in senior-level classes, Sawyer takes general education classes alongside his peers with the help from Daniel Garland, WMC’s ESS Teacher. The main goals of these classes are to further develop social skills with peers, following directions, and staying on task. Sawyer has attended a specific class every year at WMC to work on functional, life, and academic skills.  A key part of this ESS class is to take interest inventory assessments to determine and match him with occupations that he can both enjoy and demonstrate proficiency. Sawyer was matched with job placement at B2 Outlet, a retail store, and Lake Effect Kitchen, a catering company, where he works half-days two days a week. He loves his work!  

Sawyer took his brand-new 3-wheel bike from the Muskegon Ambucs for a spin in Warrior gym

Like most high school boys, Sawyer’s favorite part is being with his teammates. He attended practice with the varsity boys basketball team every Wednesday last fall/winter.

At home games, it became a tradition for each player to share a special handshake with Sawyer as they took the court. Always decked out in green and white, Sawyer is a big part of the heart of the team. 

WMC hosts a United Basketball game each year where Sawyer’s Warrior teammates join forces with his Special Olympics pals scrimmage in front of Sawyer’s WMC student body. School let out early that day so everyone can attend the big game and cheer on their classmate.

Sawyer being introduced as a starter before his big game.

“It’s the favorite basketball game of the year for all of us at WMC,” shares WMC teammate and sophomore Kellen Mitchell.

This love and support is the hallmark of the WMC warriors.

The crowd went wild when Sawyer scored. It was a sight to behold indeed. Not a dry eye in the house as Sawyer pumped his fists and bolted down the court fully enjoying his big moment. It was pure joy.

WATCH the annual Special Olympics United Basketball Game Fox17 news coverage.

READ the Grand Haven Tribune‘s coverage.

After graduation from WMC, Sawyer will start “college” at Muskegon Area Intermediate School District Transition Campus in the fall of 2020.  This program provides him with training and hands-on experience in both life and job skills.  They do a great job of placing their students in actual jobs and then coaching them through the process of learning to do those jobs independently. Sawyer is well-prepared to excel in this environment. He is ready for it!

“We are excited about the possibilities that this program offers Sawyer.  He still very much wants to go to college like his big brother so we like to refer to this program as Muskegon College,” explains Sawyer’s mom, Betsy Arkema.  

Sawyer chatting up teammate and fellow senior Nick Moser on the Warrior bench.

Sawyer is a beloved part of the Warrior family and the halls will not be the same without him. We look forward to his return visits and hearing of his future successes. 

There will always be a spot open on the basketball bench for one of WMC’s all-time favorite Warriors — we love you, Sawyer!

To learn more about WMC and our ESS program, click here.

Student Stress and Anxiety

How WMC Teachers Help Your Child Cope and How You Can Too

By Haley Langejans, WMC Educational Support Services (ESS) Accommodations Coordinator

Our ESS team recently went to a professional development put on by All Belong (previously named the CLC Network) where it was again driven home how much anxiety and negative emotions have affected students today; it seems more prevalent now than ever and I think we are all seeing the “block” this has created in students being able to learn successfully. 

Although I am an ESS teacher, this blog post speaks to ALL students PK-12. I spoke with WMCS Director of ESS, Whitney Jackson who shares my thoughts, “This is a concern that is seen across all collaborative schools, affecting students of all ages! Anxiety doesn’t discriminate against age; even our youngest learners are experiencing it and we need to be equipped to know how to support our students.”

This article came across my radar last week and, although it seems to pertain more to elementary age, it still offers really great information that I wanted to share as it helps me greatly in understanding some of the behaviors we see here at WMC. As teachers, it’s easy to easily forget how difficult it is to function in an academic environment when other mental health struggles are taking place. And our students themselves often do not know how to recognize or express appropriately what is really going on inside. 

Although we are here to teach the materials and concepts of what is required to earn a diploma, I believe, especially as Christian educators, that it’s our duty to dive deeper with our students. Not only will this free up the mental energy needed to actually learn what we work so hard to teach, but it will create a culture within our school of students who have developed skills to appropriately address emotion. I do not think we can under-emphasis the benefits of this! 

Here’s a quick 4-step process to help students with ADHD deal with his/her emotions on his/her own.

  1. Get calm.
  2. Name the feelings.
  3. Find the root cause.
  4. Release the emotions.

I shared my thoughts with Dr. Kristy Taylor, WMC Dean of Instruction, and she weighed in too:

“Being a student is stressful, but trying to juggle school work and other responsibilities while experiencing stress and anxiety can make it even harder. Common triggers for depression and anxiety can be traced back to pressures or changes in school or family life. A student can experience anxiety, for example, for a variety of reasons. One possible reason is pressure at school. Think in terms of tests or papers, a change of a teacher or classroom, conflicts with other students in the form of social media bullying or face-to-face bullying. A student may experience depression as a result of a loss of an important relationship, a change in the family (an older sibling leaves the house, new sibling joins the family, parents separate, a grandparent dies, amongst other everyday things).”

Dr. Taylor recommends these 10 TIPS to reduce stress and anxiety:

  1. Taking time to read the Bible and listening to worship music. 
  2. Recite verses over and over in your mind.
  3. Relax your muscles. When you’re stressed, your muscles get tense.
  4. Deep breathing.
  5. Talk about your problems with a professional (counseling office at school).
  6. Eat well.
  7. Slow down.
  8. Take a break.
  9. Make time for hobbies.
  10. Give yourself GRACE! Perfection is God’s attribute, not ours! 🙂

It’s important for families to know that the WMC staff and faculty are always praying for students and for His guidance on how to best walk alongside our seventh through twelfth graders. 

Please support us in prayer and, when at home, please keep these tips in mind. It’s abundantly clear that it does take a village— and oh how I love ours!

For more reading on this topic, here are some great articles:’t-Forget-About-Me!.aspx

If, after employing these tips, your child is still experiencing some of these symptoms and you have concerns, please feel free to contact us so we can get you the help you need.