Faith influences students’ involvement

Senior Annabelle Cantrell praying at a church retreat with other members of the group.
Senior Annabelle Cantrell praying at a church retreat with other members of the group.

As Annabelle Cantrell planned her schedule for the week, she had a church activity planned for almost every day of the week.

“I am a part of my church’s youth band and Bible study program. I’m also a coordinator of a program for pre-school children.” Cantrell said.

Although Cantrell is greatly involved in her church, this was not always the case for her.

“Throughout my high school career, my faith has grown tremendously,” she said. “As a freshman, it was really confusing trying to balance the church’s values and the stereotypical values of a high school student.”

In addition to trying to balance her values, she saw many changes occurring in her life.

“My faith is pretty much the only constant in my life,” she said. “I don’t know how I could have actually survived high school without it.”

Students have varying degrees of participation according to what their circumstance permits them. Sophomore Helene Chay does not think it affects a student’s faith or commitment to church.

“My faith has honestly been on and off at times because of things that happen in my life,” Chay said. “I don’t really do much at church, but I don’t ever doubt God.”

There are two major faith-based organizations available at Kerr: Muslim Student’s Association and Christian Fellowship. Both organizations do not have nearly as much participation as organizations like Student Council or FBLA.

Eileen Caetta, the sponsor of Muslim Student’s Association, has noticed that most of the frequent members in MSA are freshmen and sophomores.

“Once they reach their junior or seniors years, they begin to come less often,” she said. “Most begin to worry about what organization will be better for them in terms of college applications.”

Christian Fellowship sponsor Steven Bolting sees more consistent involvement.

“There are around 20 members in Christian Fellowship,” he said. “There is an even distribution of students from every grade. Most students stay from their freshmen to senior years.”

Junior Victor Okorojisaid does he does not participate in faith-based organizations on campus because of his off-campus involvement.

“I always made an excuse for not going to Christian Fellowship because of how I participate in outside church activities,” he said. “Every Wednesday I go to this youth club called AWANA, which stands for Approved Workmen Are Not Ashamed.”

Unlike Okoroji, Noussair Erassifi has seen many benefits in joining the faith-based organization: Muslim Student’s Association.

“The main thing that I do with my religion is MSA,” Erassifi said. “If my brother is home from college, he takes me to the mosque on Fridays to pray, but MSA is the main thing that I do.”

Erassifi has seen a positive change in his faith through his four years in MSA.

“My faith has increased because I joined MSA, and it added more towards my faith. I began praying on a more regular basis.

The students interviewed all have one thing in common: they say they have all had their ups and downs in their respective faiths. Erassifi has seen his faith practices change a lot throughout his high school career.

“I have seen my faith change throughout high school, just keep on believing and think about the afterlife,” Erassifi said.

Like Erassifi, Okoroji has seen changes in his faith.

“Due to not fully being able to stand for what I believe, I back-slid hard,” he said. “I struggled with many things. There are people all over this school that have the faith, be it strong or weakJust don’t give up.”

Cantrell also has advice for students struggling with their faith.

“Regardless of everything changing around you, know that [faith] will always be there for you,” Cantrell said. “Your faith can change you because I used to hold grudges, but not anymore. I’m much more forgiving.”