Riley Prachar – VCS Class of 2018
Riley earned a football scholarship to Northwest Missouri State where he is currently a Freshman studying Business Management & Marketing.
He said that VCS teachers prepared him to do well in his college classes, and also gave him a foundation of knowing the Bible, what he believes about God, and a logical/practical way of applying it to his life.
Riley says acting as President of the VCS high school also prepared him to be a better leader.
Reece Johnson – VCS Class of 2018
Reece Johnson graduated from Venice Christian School last Spring and is now attending Trinity Baptist College. He’s studying Pastoral Theology and plans to be a full time pastor after college. Reece said that his college English Comp class was easy for him because of the exceptional education he received at VCS from Mrs. Foust. He also learned all the theological terms that he needed to know for his college Bible classes from Mr. Krause.
Reece said, “I was deciding my path and whether I wanted to be a pastor in my junior year at VCS. Mr. Koach had a class devotional one day that confirmed for me that I should go into the ministry. It was here (at VCS) that I found my calling.”
Jordan Lilly – VCS Class of 2017
Jordan is currently a Sophomore at Ringling College of Art and Design where she is a Motion Design major. With her education she plans to pursue a career animating at an advertising agency. Jordan said that her years at VCS prepared her to spiritually handle social situations and other challenges at a secular art school.
Now she is able to defend what she believes. She also described her High School class at VCS as “family” because of the lasting friendships that were formed.
David Stewart – VCS Grad 2017
David Stewart believes that working harder at a private school like Venice Christian School prepared him, better than most, for his college education. David attended Venice Christian School in 9th grade, then moved to Jensen Beach for the first half of his sophomore year, where he attended a much larger public school. He was very happy to get back to Venice Christian for the second half of his sophomore year and through graduation.
“You know the teachers and the teachers know you. You’re not just a number,” he said. “VCS is a close knit community and the overall quality of education is better.”
David is now a sophomore at USF Sarasota studying biology and chemistry. His current goal is to become a dentist. David’s college professors are complimenting him on his writing technique and style which he credits to Mrs. Foust at VCS. Mr. Koach’s classes at VCS made college math easier for David, and he also stands out in his larger classrooms at USF because he engages in the class discussions and interacts with the teachers, which he also learned at VCS.
The staff at VCS not only gave him a top-notch education, but they also taught him how to take his faith seriously. “College is such a moldable environment [that I’m thankful] VCS helped me to solidify my worldview and my faith.”
David encourages students to attend VCS because, “You’ll meet people you’ll be friends with for a long time. You’re around good-minded people who are in the same moral spectrum as you.”
Hannah Alkema – VCS Class of 2016
When Hannah graduated from Venice Christian School, she was already ahead of most college Freshmen – she had the great opportunity to participate in Dual Enrollment with SCF during her senior year of high school at VCS. Consequently, Hannah is graduating early from Anderson University in South Carolina this December with a degree in Secondary English Education.
After spending some time in the classroom in SC, Hannah realized how far behind the middle school kids were and needed help. “At Venice Christian Mrs. Foust showed a real support system and example for students in 6th-10th grade when they really need it. I want to show that same positive example for the kids I teach.”
Hannah also values the lifelong friendships she formed at VCS and things like debate class, and Bible class with Scripture memorization, as well as learning the importance of knowing what she believes and why. Her favorite scripture verse is Phillipians 4:6 – Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. “This verse helps me remember that my God is bigger than anything I face … I can stop worrying, and trust God to take care of it.”
Ashlyn Weed Cross – VCS Class of 2016
“Venice Christian was the best thing that ever happened to me!”
Ashlyn attended VCS preschool through 8th grade, then she attended Venice High School for 9th Grade, and chose to return to VCS for the rest of her High School education.
Leaving VCS for a short time helped Ashlyn to realize how much she appreciated being able to dig deeper into the Bible and learn to apply it to her life at VCS and, “They taught me to be a decent human being, how to act as a student, and how to be a mature Christian leader.”
Ashlyn appreciates how her education at VCS was personalized to her and focused on each students’ strengths – and made them even stronger. “My teachers pushed me to give the best I could give. They always believed in me even when I didn’t.”
After graduation Ashlyn attended Southeastern University in Lakeland, and then transferred to State College of Florida because she wanted a more challenging education. Her college professors were impressed and called her work “honor level” because of the excellent education/preparation her teachers at VCS gave her.
Ashlyn graduated with an Associates Degree in May 2018 and will be continuing her education online through Florida International University majoring in Public Relations, Advertising and Applied Communications. She loves social media and connecting with people.
Ashlyn said she made her best of friends in High School at VCS, and still keeps in touch with them.
“Venice Christian was the best thing that ever happened to me!” she says.
Madison Malwin, 22yrs old and the first graduate from Pre-K through senior high at Venice Christian School in 2015.
“I would never change the childhood I had by attending VCS and recommend it to absolutely everyone. I always feel welcome when I come to see my past teachers and it still feels like home.”
During her senior year at VCS, Madison invested her time and dedication to her education by dual enrolling at the State College of Florida and pursuing her passion for animals.
After graduation, Madison was given the opportunity to attend a short summer internship with Busch Gardens in Tampa, and was able to work with Tigers, Rhinos, and small exotic creatures like sloths, pythons, and monkeys.
She was accepted into the two-year Veterinary Technology Program at Hillsborough Community College, and graduated with her AS (Associates in Science) Degree with honors. Madison is currently a certified veterinary technician (CVT) and works at a General Practice in the Sarasota area and is a relief veterinary technician at BluePearl Emergency and Specialty facility.
“I wouldn’t be who I am or where I am if it wasn’t for VCS. Thank you to all the staff who was a part of my journey and helped me get to this chapter in my life!”
Kim Swanson – VCS Class of 2014
Kim Swanson has always had a good worldly perspective as she began traveling at the age of 8 years old, taking a trip with her mother to the Republic of Georgia, and she has been to a total of 25 countries since. But it wasn’t always an easy journey.
Kim was homeschooled through the 8th grade and enrolled at Venice Christian School as a Freshman. She came to the school without classroom experience, but felt that she was in control and didn’t need help. When Kim discovered that she had a learning disability, she wasn’t happy to be sent to the VCS Student Services Director Anne Stuckey for assistance. Unwilling at first to ask for or receive help, Kim met with Mrs. Stuckey simply to do a daily reading of a “back to the basics” book together. Over time, a trust was established between them.
Kim said, “Mrs. Stuckey let me be me. She met me where I was at, and modeled her faith to me. This relationship encouraged me, and helped me on my journey to ‘own my faith’.”
As Kim opened up, Mrs. Stuckey was able to teach her proper study habits, how to problem solve, time management and test-taking skills. By the end of her senior year, Kim graduated as Valedictorian of her class. Kim then went on to Major in English and Intercultural Studies at Southeastern University, where she graduated magna cum laude.
Kim is now teaching English as a second language to Chinese Students through “VIP Kid,” and has continued to travel, reaching seven countries in 2018 alone.
VCS Alumni Rock!
Venice Christian School helps create a love story …
Mr. & Mrs. Jacques and Victoria (French) May.
Jacques and Victoria “Tori” met at VCS when she was in 8th grade and he was in 10th grade. When they first met, Jacques thought Tori was a bit too much of a “Goody Two Shoes” for him, but Tori knew he was the one she would marry one day. She was right, and after keeping in touch and dating for a few years, Jacques knew she was exactly what he needed — they married Nov. 7, 2015.
Not only did they find lifelong love at VCS, but “VCS really set us up for success,” said Jacques. He played basketball on the VCS team and received a college basketball scholarship. Also, because of the excellent academic preparation at VCS, both he and Tori received academic scholarships to college which allowed them to be debt free from any college student loans. “Mrs. Foust really went a step beyond to make sure her students were prepared to be successful in college,” Tori said.
Tori earned an Associate Degree in Psychology from SCF. She’s now the Marketing Director at Tri-County Air, which recently received a 2019 Business of the Year Award from the Venice Area Chamber of Commerce. Jacques received his Associate Degree in Criminal Justice and is currently studying at UF for a degree in Forensic Criminology. He’s working as a Forensic Investigator for Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office, and also started a local marketing company with partner Ben Drumgool (also a VCS alumnus) called “Whiskey Barrel Marketing.”
Thank you for giving back to your community Jacques & Tori – we’re proud to have you in our VCS family!!
Corey McMahon – VCS Class of 2012
From England to VCS … Corey McMahon calls VCS his “home away from home.”
When his family moved 7-yr-old Corey from England to Florida, they put him in school at VCS. Not having any other family or friends in FL, Corey grew a family right here at VCS. “Venice Christian made me who I am today,” he said. Teachers were mentors, and Corey made lifelong connections.
He is especially grateful for the important character building that happens on a daily basis at VCS. “I was taught the right morals and ethics to get me through challenging times. Are we serving God in the correct manor – for His glory?”
After graduation from VCS in 2012, Corey went on to USF Tampa where he studied Business Management. He is currently enrolled at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) in Orlando where he’s studying law. His goal after passing the Florida Bar is to practice some kind of public interest or real estate law. “The excellent writing and reading education I received at VCS have critically impacted my ability in law school – from the books I read, to outlining and research skills.” Corey also learned while attending VCS, that time alone with God is important. It’s a habit that he carried with him through college. “If there’s a challenge I don’t understand – I get away, regroup and spend time with God.” Corey credits VCS with giving him the daily building blocks he needed to lay the foundation of his faith. A dual-citizen, Corey will always refer to VCS as his “home away from home.”
Tyler and Gabrielle Troyer met at VCS and fell in love. It was clearly a match made in heaven, and they were married Dec. 17, 2017.
Gabrielle graduated from VCS in 2011 and Tyler graduated 2012 – both went on to Southeastern University to continue in their Christian education. Tyler studied history/pre-law and Gabrielle studied Television Broadcast/Communication.
Tyler went on to study law at Stetson where he graduated with honors in 2019. He is now studying for the Florida bar exam and plans to pursue work as an attorney in Corporate Civil Litigation. Gabrielle is working as the Marketing Manager for an ecommerce company Asset Marketing Services with offices both in MN and FL.
Gabrielle & Tyler say that teachers take a personal interest in the students at VCS, not only providing the best education in the classroom, but also encouraging and supporting them outside of the classroom. “When Mrs. Foust found out that I had an interest in debate, she helped me to start the first VCS debate club that’s still running today. Mr. Foust even taught me how to change the brakes on my car. They set a great example and showed that they cared about me as a person,” said Tyler.
Gabrielle shared that it was impactful that the teachers at VCS partnered with parents and reinforced her family values. She also shared how much she appreciated the school leadership who had the students’ best interest at heart, and embodied the Christian example they were teaching. “Mr. Frimmel reinforced that we were there for a greater purpose. Yes, for successful academics, but to also know who you are and why you believe what you believe.”
Their experience at VCS helped to lay the foundation for their successful futures and enabled them to form lasting friendships. Tyler said, “We appreciated the sacrifices of the leadership (at VCS) to give us the best!”
David Dolby – VCS 2010 graduate
“Happiness isn’t something that depends on our surroundings… It’s something we make inside ourselves.” This quote from Corrie Ten Boom, taught by Mrs. Foust at Venice Christian School, was very impactful and helpful for VCS 2010 Graduate David Dolby while serving in the military.
David was in the first High School graduating class of VCS and joined the Army in 2012. He went to Afghanistan twice and Iraq twice, and was promoted to Sergeant E5 before leaving the Army in 2018.
Since then, David returned to Venice and is pursuing his Associates Degree at SCF with the end goal of teaching at the high school or college level.
Homeschooled until the 8th grade, David enrolled at VCS along with his three adopted siblings. He and his brothers also played on the VCS basketball team. David said that being at VCS after homeschooling taught them good social skills, and continued to feel like an extended family as well. “One of my great memories at VCS was when my mom (a teacher at VCS) would bring a big crockpot of food for lunch to school. My siblings and friends would all gather together and share good times over lunch,” he said.
David also shared that his dad is a Pastor, and attending VCS continued to challenge but encourage his faith, and provided a solid Christian foundation at the age when he needed it most.
Thank you for your service David!
Kristin Pinkerton – VCS 8th grade alumnus 2008
Favorite Bible verses: Hosea 13:5-6 (NIV)
5 I cared for you in the wilderness, in the land of burning heat.
6 When I fed them, they were satisfied; when they were satisfied, they became proud; then they forgot me.
Kristin likes these verses because they remind her that she needs the Lord “24:7,” not just in the hard times, and, to not forget Him out of pride in the good times. Though she trusted Jesus as her Lord and Savior at age 14, Kristin learned to trust the Lord fully while she served underprivileged children in São Paulo, Brazil for over two years. She “rejoiced through the darkness” while caring for kids in the relief center.
Kristin had studied at Word of Life for two years after high school graduation, so when she came back to the USA and was offered the job of Assistant to the Dean of Women at Word of Life Florida in 2017, she was happy to accept. In Brazil Kristin had begun classes for an AA degree from SCF and completed it while working at Word of Life. Now she is back in Venice ready to begin at USF, studying for her Elementary Education Degree, and continuing to seek the Lord’s direction for her life.
While at VCS, Kristin was involved in several sports, but it was a theater class that really peaked her interest. “I was really shy and theater played a huge role pulling me out of my shell and helped me get to know people for who they are,” she said. Her creativity and confidence grew at VCS, and Kristin went on to be involved in theater at Venice High School and at Venice Theatre. It has become a passion to her, not unlike her grandmother Yvonne Pinkerton (who’s the namesake for the “Yvonne T. Pinkerton Theatre” at Venice Theatre). Now that she’s back in Venice – don’t be surprised if you see Kristin on stage again soon!
Callie Cowan was a student at Venice Christian School from the beginning. Her parents, Lloyd & Diane Weed, were founders of VCS, and the school was an integral part of their family.
Callie attended VCS from preschool through 8th grade, before the high school existed. Her education was academically challenging and “VCS laid a foundation of faith for my life,” she says. Because of that foundation, Callie knew who she was, and Whose she was, as she headed to Venice High and beyond.
She graduated from UNC Chapel Hill with a degree in International Studies in 2004 and went on to Stetson Univ. College of Law. After Law School, Callie did a variety of things including practicing law, working at the law school, starting her family, and working as Executive Director of Pregnancy Solutions from 2012-2018. Callie said that in all of her experiences at VCS, she was trained to see everything through the lens of God’s perspective, which really shaped who she is.
At school she memorized a Bible verse every week, which is now a tradition she continues to teach her own children – Patrick (7), Grace (6) and David (3). Callie’s a very busy lady now raising her three kids with husband Nate, working full time as the Director of Programs at The Twig, a ministry to children in foster care, and working part time as Director of Discipleship at Lift Church, with a passion for biblical literacy. For Callie, a strong foundation at VCS helped shape a strong woman of faith today.
Cortney Lewis Struble, VCS 8th grade class of 2001 – two generations of students
Cortney has so much appreciation for, and confidence in, her education and experience at Venice Christian School that she is now sending her own son to VCS. Cortney explained that it’s hard to release your kids to someone else’s care, but knowing that she could take her son Mason (7yrs.) to VCS, “Gave my heart immense peace leaving him in the family environment that I remember, knowing he would be loved,” she said. “It’s really incredible to be able to send the kids to the same school I went to. My #1 priority is to know that Jesus is the center of the curriculum.” She plans to send 4 yr. old Ellie to VCS next year.
Cortney graduated 8th grade from VCS where she said the academic standards “more than prepared” her for high school and college. She established her core beliefs of faith while at VCS. Cortney was active on the school cheerleading team, and, made lifelong friends. This is her hope for Mason – that he’ll make lifelong friends too. She already sees how VCS teachers have taught him the love of learning from VPK through first grade, and he is creating great friendships.
Cortney’s experience at VCS is really what prompted her to become a middle school teacher knowing what a significant difference you can make in the lives of kids at that age. After graduating from the Univ. of South Florida in 2009, Cortney taught 8th grade English at Student Leadership Academy in Venice and then High School US Government at Florida Virtual School.
Cortney said, “As wonderful as it was for me (VCS), it’s even greater to be able to watch my kids have the same experience and knowing Mason is in a loving environment.”