Since the South Christian High School’s website had images that needed updating, Mrs. Koetje and her Digital Photography class were asked to take photos from classrooms and student life that showcased the mission of South Christian. The mission of South Christian is “to equip students to live Christ-centered lives and serve God to their greatest potential.” To capture a snapshot of the mission in action can be a daunting task. How could a student recognize the mission in order to capture the candid photo?

In order for the students to embark on this endeavor, Mrs. Koetje needed to train the students on how to capture a candid photo. Mrs. Koetje explained to her students that when a camera is present, students pose. When a photographer wants to capture a moment, the presence of the camera influences the subjects; therefore, students have to learn how to blend in with the background and disappear within the surroundings. The students had to become experts in how to preset the camera settings, how to frame the candid photo, and how to capture the humanity of their classmates. The Digital Photography class was equipped on how to recognize learning, recognize authenticity, and recognize the mission at work so that a quick snapshot could be captured.

With the students being equipped with these new skills and with a vigilant eye for the mission, the students did exactly what they learned how to do. In classrooms, in hallways, and during practices, the Digital Photography students captured authentic moments of learning, authentic moments of fellowship, and authentic moments of excellence. Since the students’ goal was to capture the mission of South Christian, did each snapshot showcase the vision of South Christian, or do the images captured illustrate a bigger picture?

The bigger picture that has been developed is the fact that the mission is not found in the framed photo, but in the teaching and learning that has coached the eye to see. The mission is found in the equipped mindset the Digital Photography students have to capture the humanity and the authenticity of the students. The mission is in the pursuit of excellence with every snapshot taken. 

Mrs. Koetje’s Digital Photography class is not the only class at South that captures the mission through its lens. The mission is proclaimed in the constructed bookshelf. The mission is echoed in the harmony of voices and instruments. The mission is derived through numbers that tell a story. The mission is heralded through stories that find hope amongst brokenness. The mission is spelled out in well-structured sentences. The mission of South Christian is lived out in what the students do with what they learn.

While this idea may not be captured in a single photo, how the photo is framed, the lighting, the candid nature of the subjects, and the authentic learning that is illustrated in the photo do. The snapshots of the mission of South Christian are found in each student in each class who is equipped to live with Christ at the center and equipped to serve God to their fullest potential.

—Ryan Vanden Heuvel, English Teacher & TfT Lead

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