Bill and Goldie Van Horn had never planned on moving to Holland, Michigan—much less placing their kids at Holland Christian Schools, a school they had never heard of. Until 2019 they were happily entrenched near family in northeast Pennsylvania, where both of them had also grown up. But when Bill’s company offered to relocate him to Holland, MI, they visited Holland to check it out and see if they’d even want to live there. And it was love at first sight—despite the polar vortex that was January 2019. Their tour of Holland Christian was a big factor in their decision to move already that summer, with their girls Cecily and Caroline about to enter 2nd and 5th grades.
“It really felt God-directed,” says Goldie. “Everybody we talked to in town said what a great place [Holland was] to raise a family. Holland Christian was a much bigger system than we were used to with a lot of opportunities both in and out of the classroom: the band and orchestra, the athletic facilities and libraries…”
“What I appreciated was the scale of [Holland Christian],” Bill adds. “It’s big enough that it has so many opportunities, and everything is done with creative intention, thoughtfully done with a purpose, and with that thought on Christ. The teachers always felt very accessible. It feels very professional and polished, but also very personal.”
Both girls immediately took advantage of the variety of co-curriculars: Caroline “really dove into her interests” Goldie says, playing tennis in middle school, participating in forensics, even competing at the state forensics level while at HCMS; she also helped with the middle school yearbook, sang in choir, and even placed as a semi-finalist in a statewide short story contest. Cecily plays tennis as well, while adding in the clarinet in band and jazz band, and swimming on the swim team.
It helped that they were warmly welcomed to Holland Christian in from the start—”Cecily got a postcard from Ms. Scott, [ Rose Park second grade teacher] before we even moved to Holland, which was really kind,” Goldie says. “Her class had mostly boys before, so the girls in her class swarmed her because they were so excited to have a new girl, and Caroline met some friends at the ice cream social.”
Most recently, the Van Horns were impressed with the High School Showcase this past January, as Caroline moved into 9th grade this year. “Everything was so well done! It felt so good, learning about all these opportunities, and dual enrollment!” Goldie exclaims. Caroline was especially interested in the variety of art classes offered, and is currently signed up for a film class this fall, while looking forward to Fibers in the spring. She is also singing in the choir of the fall school musical,The Sound of Music, glad to be in the chorus, but also glad to not have to go through cuts to get there.
“We really value the Christian education, and everything they learn,” Bill says. “The faith the teachers have shown, and in praying for [the students] as individuals too!” Goldie adds.
They are slowly breaking through the “Holland nice,” they said, which although challenging at times, has pushed them out into wider circles including plugging into their church, and local social groups like their running club. They were grateful to get involved in Holland Christian as parents in a variety of ways, with Goldie jumping into helping coach the girls’ running club at Rose Park, finding it a great way to meet other parents and families. They also appreciate how Holland Christian parents “really step up and get involved,” remarking on how a fellow parent coached middle school Forensics last year when no teacher was available, even bringing the team, with Caroline on it, to the state finals where several of them placed.
As you may imagine, searching for a house in Holland from a couple of states away in May of 2019 was not easy, and the Van Horns lost out on a couple of houses, even getting into a bidding war. But looking back now they see how “God worked it out in a crazy market,” Bill admits, telling the stories of bidding wars, missing out on what they thought was “the one,” and how the kids did not even see their new house in Holland until they moved in.
But “Praise God—it worked out! And we really like the location we’re in,” he smiles.
Goldie adds spiritual significance to that—”We thought when we couldn’t find a house, maybe the move wasn’t something God wanted us to do, so that was a challenging time. But then He opened the door for us and things all worked out—it was a family growth experience, to be able to just sit back, [and let God work it out.]
“We still say to each other at least once a week, ‘Can you believe we live here?!’”