The Veenstra-EC Legacy
It’s 5 am, and there’s only one thing on high schooler Mike Veenstra’s mind: deliver the daily newspaper, and make it back home in time to walk to school with my siblings. People don’t think this way anymore, but in the late 1940s, this was not an uncommon thought for Mr. Veenstra.
Eastern Christian alumni Mr. Mike Veenstra reflects on his time at school and how EC has blessed his family.
Mr. Veenstra started his time at EC in kindergarten, then located in Paterson, and graduated from our current high school in 1949. His two most prominent memories of school are walking to and from school and playing on the sports teams. He clearly remembers baseball and basketball, but not soccer, although he knows he played.
As for the walking, he says, “we had to walk from Struyk Ave all the way down to 4th Street in Paterson. We walked home for lunch most of the time unless it rained, and then my older brother would take a big bag of lunch, and we would eat it in the lunchroom.”
After graduating in ‘49, Mr. Veenstra held a few different jobs until he was 19 years old when he joined the Air Force, which he was in until December of 1954. Three months after returning, he was married to Mrs. Ruth (Memmelaar) Veenstra, who he had met two years prior on a blind date.
Sixty-five years later, Mr. Veenstra still recognizes the influence EC had on his life and the lives of his family. Sending their 4 children to EC was vital. “It was a Christ-centered education and that was necessary,” the couple reflected. At the time, EC was affiliated with their church and the only close Christian school.
Mr. Veenstra’s children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren all attended, or still attend EC. In response to if EC has blessed their family, Mrs. Veenstra says, “for our family it definitely has. Everybody needs a firm foundation, and I’d say that’s the most important thing to have...you were willing to make the sacrifice to send them, because it wasn’t always easy, you know, to have the money.”
Mr. Veenstra adds, “when you’re going there, you don’t realize the impact it will have later in life, but it does.” He recognizes now the difference between a Christian and a secular education. Attending a Christian school “doesn’t mean you’re going to be perfect, but it’ll sure help.”
The Veenstra’s appreciate the major blessing EC has given them: a stronger bond between them and their family. “EC has kept them walking on the right path,” says Mr. Veenstra, “which is the path every Christian should take. We’re very thankful for that.”