Going to RJC was never really a question for both Sarah Unrau and Mackenzie Fast. Both their families had attended the school for generations. They heard the stories and had come to alumni tournaments and musicals as kids. They had seen the community first hand. Now the couple, who both graduated in 2004, has signed up to become monthly donors, providing ongoing financial support to the school and community they love. We had a conversation with Sarah and Mackenize to talk about their choice to give to RJC, and what they hope for the future of the school.
What are the highlights from your time at RJC?
Mackenize: I remember the end of the year stuff was so fun. I was involved in a supporting role in both musicals and I just found that intensity of leading up to musicals, and you’re doing finals at school and then there’s like the grad and the fireside. I just find that end of the year is really awesome. We were sad for the students last year that didn’t necessarily get to experience that. For me, playing sports and hanging out with my buddies in the dorm room was memorable, I can’t really pick a specific experience.
Sarah: It’s all these little moments of just being in the dorms together. I wasn’t in Chorale, but there was a group of us who would go do stuff after school while Chorale was practicing. There was always something going on. And all the travelling we did together, that was really great. We spent a lot of time in vans or in vehicles and you just got the chance to experience life all together.
Looking back now, do you feel there were lessons or experiences from RJC that shaped your life?
Mackenzie: The friend group that we have right now is actually still very largely RJC-centric. A lot of our friends from high school are still the closest people that we deal with now. One thing I gained from RJC is that you can become a very well rounded person. I think if I had stayed in the city I would have been narrowly focused on one activity. I do think that I wouldn’t have sang, I wouldn’t have participated in dinner theatres. That well rounded nature of being able to be musical and being part of a community and still doing athletics and still doing academics, that’s the biggest thing I think that it instilled in me.
Sarah: And I think it has allowed us to stay in our communities as well and give back to our church community. When you’re in youth groups, or you’re somewhere like RJC, there’s this understanding that you all have pieces of faith that are really important to you and who you are. And so then you kind of just carried it. You kept going to church and you kept being involved in those things.
How did you make the decision to start giving to RJC?
Sarah: Initially when we started giving it was definitely because we loved RJC, we had a great time there and we would like to give back. If we made it to an event we would donate and that would be our donation for the year. But then more recently we missed one of the fundraisers and all of a sudden we realized we didn’t actually give to RJC that whole year. We just totally forgot to do it. And so we thought we should probably be a little more intentional about this. And so that’s why we started the monthly thing.
It’s easy to do, and because our monthly contributions are smaller it works out to triple what we were giving once a year. So we were looking at it that way, because it’s a really good way to give more…
Mackenzie: While also budgeting.
Sarah: It’s a good way for us to be able to give more and give it more consistently. And most recently I guess our intentions have really shifted. When we talk about how our families had such great times and we were always at alumni tournaments or musicals as kids, sitting in the front row and just enjoying that culture — that’s exactly what we were trying to do for our kids now. So now when we give it’s absolutely for our kids.
What are your hopes for the future of the school?
Sarah: I think there is some advantage to it being a small school. I don’t ever hope that RJC becomes a massive school with lots of students. But at the same time I want them to feel like they’re sustainable with their student body. Having that small community just makes that program so unique and valuable. I would hope that they can continue to provide those values of what it means to live well in community, and to live well with one another and to give back.
Mackenzie: That it can be a place where people are welcomed, where they can have a variety of interests that they can delve into and explore, and it just continues to be a supportive, nurturing place.