The Positive Results From A Small High School Experience

Posted by Lisa Monaco-Gonzales on Sep 26, 2017 4:00:00 PM

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This past year Horizon Prep celebrated their first ever senior graduate. We give all glory to God for His faithfulness in the growth of our program that began as a preschool years ago and now is a fully accredited Christ-centered K-12 school!

As our first ever graduate, Miss Carly Gammel has a special place in our school’s legacy and is an example of the success of a smaller school experience.  She will forever hold the title of ‘Pioneer,’ not only because of her tremendous accomplishments during her senior year, but because she attended Horizon Prep since she was in preschool.  After applying to twelve schools, Carly was accepted into ten of them and is thrilled to be attending Cal Poly this fall, majoring in Experience Industry Management.  If anyone could speak about the small school experience, Carly’s amazing story and great advice for younger students sends a powerful message about the great benefits of attending a smaller school.

It’s true that any trailblazer traveling upon a new path will face challenges. Carly was honest in sharing that the most difficult year was when she was a freshman. The class started out small and she was the only female. Socially, this was difficult for her, but she found solace in bonding with friends in her youth group at her church, Horizon Christian Fellowship. The following year brought more students (including other girls) and the social environment improved. There were thirty-five remaining students in the christian high schools in San Diego when she graduated with the expected addition of more new students. The second graduating senior class of Horizon Prep has grown to 9 students.

The Positive Results from a Small School Experience-2.jpgCarly explains that her experience at Horizon Prep has been one with wonderful, cherished memories. She bonded the most with other students and friends when they attended school retreats and field trips; her favorite memory was in middle school when she traveled to Catalina Island for a week of bonding, snorkeling, and marine biology on the 7th grade class trip.

“…Things like the Rhetoric retreat and Disneyland were a lot of fun because we got to see each other in a different light and just have fun together. I think that the Rhetoric retreats are really special because you start to make memories right away instead of just being students at the same school….that was really important to me, to really meet people and grow in relationships with other students….those were some memories I will never forget.”


During her experience, Carly enjoyed playing sports and being part of a team: volleyball, basketball and cross country, with volleyball at the top of the list. Carly was very proud to announce that the girl’s volleyball team made it to the playoffs in their first year as a member of CIF San Diego Section. Although the girls lost their first ever CIF playoff game, Carly held a positive attitude as she shared that making it to playoffs is what meant the most to her.

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Above and beyond sports, Carly was also active in the student government, planning activities such as dances, retreats, and community service. She explained that because they were the first class in the School of Rhetoric (High School), they had to learn from their mistakes as they paved the way for future students, but she grew immensely through that experience.

Carly concluded that overall it was a great experience growing up and attending Horizon Prep. Throughout the years, she enjoyed having the opportunity to take the lead and come alongside the younger students, showing them the ropes. Though the time has come for her to move on to the next chapter in her life, she is excited for the amazing opportunities ahead this year for the students attending her beloved school.

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As a final note, she encourages the new freshman class of 2017-2018 to be open to the smaller high school environment, to embrace it and have an appreciation for it. She understands that many have expectations for their high school years to be in a school with a very large student body, but challenges them to see the many positives that are available to them here at Prep.

Carly shares:
“I’ve really grown away from wishing that I went to a big school to being…wow, I’m really blessed to have gone to a small school and have been around people who love me and believe the same way I do and want me to succeed…that’s been really special.”

*From The Horizon Prep Lioncast, June 12, 2017- 063: The First Graduation Senior from Horizon Prep: Carly Gammel, Class of 2017

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