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Alumni Stories

Kaitie Wade, Class of 2012: High School Choir to Country Music Artist

November 18, 2017
By Misty Suggs, Alumni Relations
(Photo courtesy Kaitie Wade) 


When Kaitie Wade graduated from Cascade Christian High School in 2012, she wasn't planning on pursuing a full-time music career. “I thought I would attend Azusa Pacific and study psychology,” explains Kaitie, “but God had a different plan for me.” Instead, Kaitie auditioned and was accepted at Belmont University, a Christian college in Nashville, Tennessee.

Kaitie discovered Belmont University from a YouTube video posted by the Belmont University choir, called “Company.” She was researching songs for the Cascade Christian High School jazz choir, Shades of Blue. “I was thinking, what about this song? What’s this group? They sound awesome!” says Kaitie. In addition to singing in the jazz choir, Kaitie also sang for Cascade Christian’s worship team. “Singing with the worship team was a huge part of why I later decided to pursue a music career,” says Kaitie. “If I can glorify God with Christian music, I can also glorify Him with my own music. I write songs and sing so people will be uplifted. I want them to feel like they know me and are friends with me.”

While at Belmont University, Kaitie mostly studied performance for the first three years. “It wasn’t like a normal college life, I had twelve classes a semester, and I was doing a lot of zero-credit classes (another twelve per semester), which shaped me into a better time management person. That experience prepared me for this crazy life I’m living now. We started with six hundred people in my grade and ended with eighty-six. The whole point of the program is to pressure you. They want you to be ready. Looking back, I’m grateful for it. The piano and classical voice training helped shape my voice into what it is today.”

Making it Happen
Looking back on the last few years, Kaitie recalls not knowing where “C” was on the piano until her training and musical education at Belmont University. “I got a guitar back in 9th grade,” says Kaitie. “I only knew one song; it was “Crazier” by Taylor Swift. For the longest time, that was the only song I knew how to play on the guitar. I did my first open-mic ever, my senior year of college. I did so bad, and my guitar was all over the place. I thought, I’m never playing guitar again. I stopped playing it for awhile, but then realized I could save a lot of money by not hiring guitar players for every show. So I started learning new songs. I wanted to be better at getting gigs.”

In the past year, Kaitie has learned about fifty songs on the guitar and one hundred eighty singing songs in order to perform on Broadway in Nashville. “Broadway,” explains Kaitie, “is a main strip that has thirty-four bars. Each bar has three floors and they all have live music.

“From the outside looking in, I thought it looked so awesome,” says Kaitie. “But when I got in, it ended up not being for me. It didn’t feel right. I would ask myself, ‘Why am I singing in a bar? It’s not me.’ I always kept it classy, but in this business, you’re just asking to be taken advantage of and looked at the wrong way for doing that kind of work. It was a big moral lesson. I did it for four months and learned a lot. It wasn’t for me, and I wasn’t treated that well. Many people made false promises, like ‘you’re going to be the next Dolly Parton’.”

Kaitie-Wade-Opening-Act-Russell-DickersonOpening Act

False promises haven’t deterred Kaitie. She’s extremely busy, with very little downtime. This summer, she flew from Nashville to Washington to perform as the opening act for rising country music star, Russell Dickerson, at the Steel Creek Bar in Tacoma. “I got the gig because I gave Steel Creek my CD. The manager said he hadn’t listened to the CD yet, but had been following me on social media and watched my music videos posted on my YouTube channel. He had faith in me. It was exciting!”

“I’ve never opened for anyone” explains Kaitie, “and I’m always nervous before performing. My voice sounded so loud during the soundcheck. I thought, ‘Oh my goodness, this is weird. I can’t believe I’m here.’ Luckily, after one song, I knew it was going to be ok.

“The warmth and welcoming from my home town was incredible. It was a top moment….besides my engagement,” smiles Kaitie. “I’ve never seen anything like it. There were seven hundred wristbands given out that evening. It was the largest crowd where I’ve played my own music. Last year, I knew two songs on the guitar. Now I can pull off three-hour shows. It’s practice, prayer, and patience.

Photo Courtesy Kaitie Wade

New CD and Radio Tour

Not long after performing with Russell Dickerson, Kaitie packed up her life in Nashville to move to her hometown in Washington state and complete a cross-country radio tour with her fiancé, Jordan Johansen. The couple drove through thirteen states in six days, promoting the self-debut CD that Kaitie co-wrote and released in April 2017, entitled Starts With a Song. “It was tough raising money for lodging, gas and food while on the tour, but God pulled me through. I ran an IndieGoGo online campaign to raise money. Every dollar helped.”

“The radio tour was an amazing, crazy, and tiring time,” says Kaitie. “My career is 90% promotion and 10% singing. I’m my own publicist and manage my website, social media manager, and booking agent.”

“I co-wrote all the lyrics and music for the five songs on Starts with a Song with other artists. You need two brains to get a good song. I couldn’t have done it alone. It was really fun and the songs are the perfect indicator of who I am right now. The first four songs I wrote right away, but I felt like something was missing and I was leaving out a part of myself. I want the CD to be how people can get to know me. This is Kaitie Wade. We’re friends now.”

Kaitie wrote the fifth track, Starts with a Song, because of her experience singing on Music Row in Nashville. “The first person I job-shadowed while singing on Broadway said to me, ‘In order to get tips around here, you’re gonna have to do all this stuff.’ And I was like, no way. I am keeping my class. I’m not showing anything. I refuse to do that. My lack of compromising sets me apart. A lot of radio stations I interviewed with, say I’m humble and not a diva. I say, you should hear me in the morning!”  

The last song Kaitie wrote for the CD is Diamonds. “It’s about battling depression and anxiety. It is something I’ve struggled with forever,” explains Kaitie. “Leaving that out wouldn’t be right, and I feel like I can influence so many people in a positive way by putting that song in there. It was the hardest song to write, because I had to get to a vulnerable place. But that’s how you get the good songs out. The whole point of the song is about not giving up. You don’t know how close you are to hitting the diamonds. You could be two seconds away from making it and have wasted all your time preparing. That’s what keeps me going and why I wrote the song. It’s encouraging.”

Kaitie wrote the track, Don’t Wanna Miss, while in sitting in her car at a Walmart parking lot. “I had inspiration and starting recording into my phone. I realized I was writing a song describing the Watershed Music Festival. It’s a three-day tailgate with many favorite country music artists. It’s a beautiful venue near the Columbia River Gorge in Washington state. It’s that feel-good feeling when you’re at a festival. You feel alive. I take that and transcribe it in a way that other people can feel the festival through my music and lyrics.”

Photo Courtesy Kaitie Wade

Kaitie now performs around Washington state at local venues. She was invited to sing at the Washington State Fair in September 2017. As an alumna of Cascade Christian High School, Kaitie performed a solo version of the national anthem in October at the Homecoming football game half-time. Later that month, she performed a few songs at Cascade Christian High School’s chapel and discussed her struggles with anxiety and depression. “I wanted to share my story and talk about hope, because many high school students struggle with anxiety and depression.”

What’s Next?

Kaitie is excited to be pursuing her music career as well as planning her September 2018 wedding to fiancé, Jordan Johansen. “As far as my musical career goes, the goal is to be touring and earning enough so Jordan can tour with me. My goal isn’t to be famous. My life is actually extremely hard. Social media makes me look like it’s all smooth, but it’s a bumpy ride. The ultimate goal is to make enough doing what I love and encouraging people with my music.”

Kaitie’s CD can be found on iTunes, Spotify, Amazon
and on her website:

Social Media:
Instagram @Kaitie_Wadey


Taylor Ford: A Heart For Ministry, Class of 2012

August 18, 2017
By Misty Suggs, Alumni Relations
Photo Courtesy: Taylor Ford 

Taylor Ford began his Cascade Christian Schools journey around age three, when he attended preschool at Cascade Christian’s Early Learning Center in Puyallup. He jokes and says, “I was born, then put into Cascade Christian .”

Kidding aside, Taylor admits he’s living his dream since graduation from Cascade Christian in 2012. He’s pursuing his passion for ministry at Calvary Community Church in Sumner, Washington as the Director of High School Ministry, a position he was offered shortly before graduation from Seattle Pacific University in 2015 with a degree in Christian Theology Educational Ministry.

Servant Leadership

Prior to his current ministry at Calvary Community Church, Taylor admits his high school experience greatly influenced his leadership role as a pastor.  “Cascade Christian taught me that within every person, there’s the ability to lead in some capacity. It doesn't matter if it’s up-front or behind the scenes, everyone can contribute. I entered ministry not knowing exactly what position I wanted to do, but knowing I wanted to lead people into the presence of God and serve in any way I can.”

Taylor credits working in the high school tech team, during chapel service, which gave him the chance to step into serving. This eventually led to him working with Calvary Community Church’s tech team during high school, and while in college at Seattle Pacific University.

“I learned a lot from Cascade Christian. It was such a great place to learn. People like Terry Broberg, (Principal), modeled leadership and what it means to be a leader. I knew he was in school praying for us. That’s the type of role model I want to be. I can only speak highly of Cascade Christian. Thinking back, I have to give credit to many great leaders at Cascade.”

ASB President, “To Lead is to Serve”

Another experience Taylor feels sharpened his servant leadership abilities was serving in ASB. “As class president, it was about serving my peers, not just being a leader. But really, to lead is to serve. A lot of the stuff you do for ASB is behind the scenes. I think I was drawn to doing it because of that. The heart to do ASB was the heart that led me into ministry. Just the idea that we serve and care for one another, and the sense of community you feel with your friends, is incredible.”

High School Ministry 

A stand-out memory for Taylor includes a high school mission trip to the Los Angeles Dream Center during Cascade Christian’s Impact Term. Then-teacher, (now high school principal), Michele Suiter and her husband, Steve, led Taylor’s group. “I had such a great experience with Mrs. Suiter and the team, says Ford, “that I now lead an annual trip with the students in our C7 high school ministry at Calvary.”

“You don’t always understand the impact of a mission trip or community project until after you go and be part of it,” says Taylor.  Looking back, he realizes, “whether it was a high school I-Term (mission) trip or elementary projects like the "Feet-to-Faith," I could take what I was learning in school, build my faith, and apply it in the community.”

High School Sports 

Like so many students at Cascade Christian, Taylor juggled college prep studies, church, family, ASB and sports. He enjoyed playing baseball (his favorite sport) and basketball. “The best part,” recalls Taylor, “was playing basketball and winning the state championship. Other teams at Cascade Christian also won championships. It was fun to be part of a school competing at that level. Playing on sports teams at Cascade Christian meant we represented Cascade Christian on and off the court. We were the hands and feet of Jesus. It wasn’t only about playing basketball or baseball for me,” says Taylor. “It was an opportunity to share the hope we have in Christ in the way we live, act, serve and care for one another on our team and with our opposing teams, too.”

Mentors and Family Support

“I would not be in ministry today, if it weren’t for Adam Barringer. He’s the Executive Pastor at Calvary (also a Cascade Christian alumnus). He was my youth pastor back in junior high, and for the past six years, he’s taken me under his wing and taught me a lot of things."

“I’m also blessed with an incredible family. My dad, Bill, is always the guy who would ask me, ‘How can I help you succeed?’ My mom, Crystal, has modeled a servant heart with many volunteer activities at Cascade Christian and church.”

Family Photo courtesy Taylor Ford. Pictured above left to right:
Bill Ford (father), Emmalee Ford (sister), Taylor Ford, Meagan Ford (wife), and Crystal Ford (mother)

Fast Forward:  Director of High School Ministry at Calvary Community Church

During college, Taylor served as a part-time young adult (ages 15-18) ministry leader with Calvary Community Church in Sumner.  “After college, I discovered more of what I wanted to do with my life,” recalls Taylor. “I knew I wanted a career ministry and was offered the position as the director of high school ministry. There was an opportunity for me to help people understand they can be leaders, as well.”

As the Director of High School Ministry at Calvary Community Church, Taylor leads the high school ministry called, “C7”.  He explains, “C7 Stands for Christ, His community, and His church, seven-days a week. It’s not just gathering on a Sunday. It’s about being hope every day of the week, in local schools and the places where God has called the students to be. We encourage leadership. We let the kids know they have a God-given purpose to be a leader in whatever capacity that is."

July Wedding 

In addition to Taylor's busy schedule, he married Meagan Bodus. "We met at Anthem Coffee in Puyallup in 2015. As soon as I saw her, I had to ask her out," say Taylor with a huge smile. "My wife, Meagan, loves Cascade Christian. She teaches 7th grade English at Cascade Christain Junior High and coaches the girls' junior high soccer team. She's the fun teacher!" 

Photo Courtesy Taylor Ford, wife Meagan Ford July 29, 2017

After their wedding on July 29, 2017, The couple travelled to San Jose, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico for their honeymoon. "It was relaxing and a nice get away. We hung out and had lots of chips and salsa," says Taylor. 

Ministry Goals

Photo courtesy Taylor Ford

Goals are important to Taylor, and helping his current ministry at Calvary grow while helping students feel connected and cared for, is a top priority. “I want the C7 ministry at Calvary to be a place where students from any school can join anytime and feel like they have community,” says Taylor. “I want them to feel that we are real and genuine. They can come to a place where they can grow in relationship, not only with God, first and foremost, but with others.”

“Today’s youth are desperate for genuine community and relationships,” says Taylor. “Social media can often bring us farther away from relationships. Something I want to happen at C7 is for kids from all different backgrounds and schools to come be a part of what we do. More importantly, that there’s a group of people who really care for them.”

“There’s a huge group of volunteer parent leaders at Calvary,” says Taylor. “They provide a valuable role in mentoring the kids. They open up their homes throughout the week. Sometimes there can be over 100 kids in various studies.

“We also do large events for the kids, but the relationships we make are more important. The kids have parents who care for them and leaders who also care for them. There’s a statistic regarding kids that lose their faith versus those who keep their faith after high school, that it can be dependent on the number of influences they have in their life. For example, if there’s a parent, coach, pastor, mentor, teacher (around five or six mentors) they are typically fine. However, if there’s only one or two influences, those are the kids who may slip and disconnect from their faith beyond high school.

Connect with Taylor weekly, Sunday nights at 7 p.m.
Calvary Community’s high school ministry website:
Calvary Community Church main website:

Visit his personal blog:          Connect with Taylor on Instagram @fordtaylor

Using his Talents to Glorify God

February 17, 2017
By Luke Breton Van Groll, Class of 2006

I attended and graduated from Cascade Christian Schools. As a student, I had the privilege of serving on the worship team at chapels. Some of my best memories were in those times of worship. Those moments had a substantial impact on my life. I would continue to lead and write worship after I graduated.

Two years ago my wife and I moved to Los Angeles to help plant a church in the Hollywood area. This last November we felt led to a church in the San Francisco area where we are currently the worship Pastors.

This last week I released a song called “Amazing Grace (Our God Is). Ephesians 2:8 says: "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—"

I took a song of faith from the 1700s (Amazing Grace)  and merged it with a song of faith I wrote in 2017.

This song is significant to me because I started writing it in Seattle, recorded most of it in LA and finished it in San Francisco.  It talks about the greatness of God and His grace. It has even greater personal significance to me because it represents God’s grace and faithfulness throughout these last 3 years as I was writing it. Hopefully this is sung in heaven.

Following God's Call...

March 17, 2016
By Alumni Department

2006 alumni Luke and Tracey (Stennes) Breton Van Groll left the comfort of their hometown, families, and jobs to fulfill what they feel is God's call on them for this season. They are currently the worship pastors at Zoe (pronounced ZO-AYE) Church Los Angeles. Their desire is to give hope to a city that is full of broken dreams and broken people. For more about Luke and Tracey, click here.

Recent Posts

11/18/17 - By Misty Suggs, Alumni Relations
8/18/17 - By Misty Suggs, Alumni Relations
2/17/17 - By Luke Breton Van Groll, Class of 2006
3/17/16 - By Alumni Department
1/4/16 - By Elliott & Serena Derricks

October 2012

Dylan Rice, CCHS Class of 2008
Dylan graduated from the Basic Law Enforcement Academy at the state Criminal Justice Training Commission in Burien on Sept. 11 and is now training with the Puyallup Police Departmentt, using his "excellent leadership qualities" on the job


Jonathon Felczak, Class of 2010
This past January (2012), CCHS grad Jonathan Felczak (Class of 2010) attended and finished in the top of his class at the Wendelstedt Professional Umpire School (Ormond Beach, FL). In doing so , he received a rare recommendation to the Professional Baseball Umpire Corporation’s (PBUC) Evaluation Course. Jonathan’s efforts at the PBUC earned him his first assignment as a professional, in the Arizona Rookie League for the summer of 2012. During the off-season, Jonathan works as a Sales Associate for Whistle Workwear in Tacoma and Puyallup. As well, he is honing his umpiring skills by working with the local Western Washington Umpires Association. Jonathan anticipates a 2013 assignment to the Northwest League (Short-season Class “A” Ball), where he would be calling games close to home in Everett, Yakima or Spokane. PLAY BALL !!
August 2012


CCHS Varsity Baseball Players continue to play and give back...

March 2012

Tyler McClung, Class of 2001
Tyler graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 2005 with a Bachelor of Science in Humanities and served in the Air Force as an officer for 5 1/2 years prior to opening his State Farm Agency, Tyler McClung State Farm in Edgewood, WA.

Jillian(Sanchez) Strayer, Class of 2002
Jillian and her husband Jason added to their family of 3, with the birth of daughter, Mila Marie. She was born on October 23, 2011. Jillian says, "Her big brother Jack (2) has welcomed her like a champ."

Jonathan Felczak, Class of 2010
Jonathan got a job as a minor league baseball as an umpire.