Bethel Grad Christian Gentele: ‘I Got Two Years Done in One’
July 20, 2023 | Jeffrey Good
At his old school, Christian Gentele was a standout football player and popular kid. But an excess of extracurriculars and a lack of discipline in his coursework made him fall further and further behind.
“I basically lost focus,” says Christian.
Realizing that his academic under-performance was jeopardizing his hopes of playing football in college, earning a degree and building a career in business, Christian resolved to find a better path. He found it at Bethel Acceleration Academies (BAA) in Spanaway, Washington.
“When I got to BAA, I was behind 2 years,” says Christian. But at his new school, “I just had a lot of support. I got 2 years done in one year.”
With that encouragement and his own determination, Christian recently celebrated his diploma and his membership in the Bethel Acceleration Academies Class of 2023.
At BAA, Christian found a quiet, studious environment rather than the distracting crowds at a traditional high school. Working on campus and at home, he got the personalized academic coaching and moral support he needed to get back on track.
“There were too many people,” Christian says of his original school. At BAA, which works in partnership with the public school district to provide an alternative path, “it was more one-on-one.”
Especially helpful, he says, was ESE coach Stacy Nikolaisen, who would check in with him regularly and urge him to keep moving forward. “She was having me focus on the future, not get stuck in the past.”
Christian also benefited from the Acceleration Academies model of students — who are called “graduation candidates” to remind them of their goals — taking one course at a time.
“Focus in on that one thing and do it right,” Christian says. “At (traditional) public school you have six classes and you’re all over the place.”
Christian is a lean, agile young man who plays wide receiver and cornerback on his football team. He was initially motivated to re-engage in his high school studies by his ambition to play ball at an NCAA Division III college. But after re-engaging in his studies at BAA, his interest in academics caught fire and he began to power through his coursework.
“The more stuff you learn, the better opportunities you can have,” he says — and not just for himself. “You can help out and even teach someone.”