coastal live oak forest shimmering greens on the dark blue    the rising swell, the glide, the style

the trail winds through  yellow willow and tall sycamore shade, blue is the horizon

mist burns off and Scrub Jays scream     they break the silence, the tranquility    we are at EL CAPITAN,    anticipating,     longing for adventure,     FREEDOM

AuthorChris Sanita

One morning in the first week of July

Makana stretches in the early blue light.

Showing Makana how to style a perfect longboard

bottom turn    the line, the weight of the back foot

the trajectory of the nose, the raised inside arm, the quick stall just

after the turn    set the rail

    force   angle     glide

we talk timeless.

Makana paddles back out his smile is infectious.

We trade ideas of weight, balance, board placement in the

pocket, speed, trim, ideals of body english,



He nods and smirks, grasping the idea of style, speed and placement and catches more waves, like I did at his age

infectious, sliding waves, wandering in her depths all day, never feeling cold

drinking in the sweets spots of riding waves.

AuthorChris Sanita
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Onion Valley and her deep greens call us to wander, to climb, to contemplate

    a God that is love, is whole, and a blessing        the thin air tight and dry accented with sage  is a museum focussed and intense  it embraces us and invites us    makes us wonder, makes us sigh


Wood’s Rose feminine petals shimmer and call us to pause and breath, our steps

    crush granite and the incline is steep


Western Columbine like red orange diamonds hang like earnings on the trails head    

    the pass of Kearsarge looms up in the blue ceiling  luminous patches of white beckon us for cold nights and hot days   shirts of sweat, smoke and morning stretches


Green Leaf Manzanita a tenacious mob of a plant clings to dry dust soil and flickers its globe-shaped     leaves forcing us to stop for a closer look   its rudy hardwood stalks are miniature redwoods.  they do their best to be as majestic.


We think ourselves wise but are told to be foolish first, letting go of what is known and learning from

    the trail, from contemplating, creation, God and His indwelling

AuthorChris Sanita


I start into the forest.  A single large vein-like trail veers to the left; it hugs a mound of gray granite boulders,  my calves burn from the steep incline and my heart thumps repeatedly faster and faster as I venture up and into the forest.  Sharp thick white-spruce pines, douglas fir, ponderosa pine and western hemlock choke the forest, towering, fighting for light; they are enormous. Tiny clouds of gnats hover in the golden light that streaks through the upper canopy.  The wilderness is supposed to be inviting, happy, filled with God’s creation- my thoughts run to fear, to question, to my place in a family, a family in desperate need of a compass.  My shoulders, raw, sore, need to stay strong; they carry water, dried meat, nuts and the copper box filled with my dead grandfather's ashes.

The dim haze of the grey winter afternoon seemed to oppress me.  Most students fervently studied for mid-terms.  They congregated in small groups in our dorm lobby laying on their stomachs, downing coffee, tea, water, trying to stay awake enough to finish the professor’s review questions; chattering about what they missed from class because they went to the new rock climbing gym,  they looked worried about the possibility of not getting a “A.”

My brow tightened and tears welled after my mother and father hung up the phone.  The dial tone hung like death in my ear.  I stood there for an eternity, images of his blue eyes, his scratchy beard and his soft hands and kind heart forced me to retreat to my bed.   He had died, alone and frustrated.  Eight hours south is a lifetime away when you are at college.  Returning to my bed angry and desperate, wishing the news wasn't true, I pulled the covers over my head and wept.

 I can taste the silence, the dust, the lemon grass and loam as one can smell the diesel exhaust from faceless trucks and buses on the freeway.  The maddening drone of cars are gone, there is no one, not even my father is with me now.  Awed by the transition from city to tranquility, the rugged forest beckons me; sweating, trudging up the trail working the pack so the copper box carrying his ashes doesn't poke my back, I aim onward.  Turning around back to the security of the car seems easy.  He's in my backpack in a copper box?  In a million little pieces?  What do I do?  Confusion consumes my thoughts. I am frightened, frightened of offending God, papa, my father, frightened that I lost touch with Papa when my father and him quarreled and swore they would never speak to each other again.  The endless trail, sheer cliffs on my left flanked by dense forest to my right, steepens; sand sucks my boots at every step.  Will he be here alone for eternity?

The silence stuns me.  Mount San Gorgonio is only an hour and a half from our house; it is light years away from the city.  "I am so proud of what you are going to do Christopher."  What was I doing?  The copper box, filled with my grandfather's ashes lays next to my pack in the back seat; it mirrors my despair and confusion.  The trail head parking lot, empty, cool, clustered with old benches and dead pine cones, beckons.  Why wasn't he coming with me?  How could he let me bury him?  Was this a right of passage?  I say the Lord's Prayer as I hoist the pack onto my back and close the door.  My father waits in the car.   Anxiety and depression over unemployment choke him; he refuses to address his underlying sorrow over the last four years of his relationship with Papa.  His anxiety steals him from us and to what matter the most in our family- communication.

    I had always hated being alone, crying whenever Papa left or when my parents came to pick us up from Grandma and Papa's house.  Their house, pure comfort, enchantment and joy protected us from the outside world. Green shutters,  perpetually blooming gardenias , a small frog pond in the back yard- it was our enchanted garden.  My brother and sister and I created make believe worlds where we escaped the stresses of school and friends- we bonded as a family at their house.  On our way to sleep his prickly white whiskers scratched my face as he kissed my cheeks goodnight.  He always tickled us and we couldn't move because grandma made the bed with the sheets so properly tucked and tidy.  He would yank the sheets loose so we could move our ankles.

    I splash cold creek water on my face.  Alive with dancing shadows, the forest whispers to push further, closer to his resting place.  Beams of sun glare through patches of blue sky; wind carries tiny fluffs of seeds, pinon and juniper from miles below mix with cold thin air and the wind forces the tree tops to hiss with afternoon stress.  Electric blue skies begin to force a smile from my otherwise disgruntled face.  He would love it up here.  The vivid colors, scents and open space.  Exhausted, I amble through an old patch of forest in hopes that Papa's special place comes soon. It is still beyond the next craggy ridge, so I think.  I can see far off the switch-back trail crossing over the cold strong creek which has its roots at 11,499 feet, the highest peak in Southern California. I drink cold water from a tin cup.

    Gasping for breath because of the steep worn switchbacks, turning around to see the small world slowly disappearing behind me, I ask myself many questions. Questions that I don't have answers to.  His place must be coming soon.  Lichen, moss and tiny alpine shrubs litter this part of the trail.  The trail is easier here, lighter, level, inviting.  A red tailed hawk alights by from a tree choked with mistletoe. Between the patches of dark rock, flourishing mounds of thick grass, a hearty God created grass that could take a beating from the wind, snow, sun and rain. It is soft on my knees as I rest.  Small creek nourished scrub oak and tall grasses shade parts of the creek.  The oranges and carrots nourish me; I sit down on a flat rock to pray.  The wind has faded to nothing. 

    Stillness. Sunshine. The scream of two large ravens echoes down the valley.  I still breath quickly from the hike.  My neck is hot.  The secret spot from last winter is nowhere; I guess in the middle of winter the rocks and topography look much different.  I feel his burial spot is near. I know I have passed it because I have never been past the sign three miles back that says, SUMMIT NEAR: CAUTION LOOSE ROCK.  Small talus conform to my posture and I sit alone for a long time wishing there is a definite action to follow.

    Leaving my pack, jacket and food aside, searching for the right spot, a spot of designation, a spot suited for a faithful man,I bring the copper box to a little pool 300 steps away.  There are overhanging shrubs, thick grass crowds the pool and the earth is rich, dark and moist; clear ribbons of water flow over shiny black and gray granite stones that act as a natural barrier to wind.  This is the spot.  On my knees I begin grabbing for fist size rocks or larger to begin construction of a little symbolic totem to remember Papa.  Where will his ashes rest.  I remember seeing tall rock formations while climbing Mt. Shasta the September before.

     He shook with excitement.  His tools lay in the back seat strewn about from high speed turns and running red lights; he didn’t want to make me wait   The materials finally came; he didn't want to make me wait. He taught me carpentry.  The small pieces of wood, brass nails and



AuthorChris Sanita
by Chris Sanita

Our family loved to cook in the heat of the day in the san fernando valley; the yellow curtains and mignonette green tiles, the red wine, loud gauffas, sharp knives and sweat

    sauce or stewed meats

steam would rise and beads of sweat always gathered

They smoke and drink scotch on holidays, laughing and cursing, bellicose phrases in Italian!

huge clouds of smoke crowded the living room, the red shag carpet sucked the smells in and breathed them back in their absence.

We could smell it long after everyone was gone.


Grandma Sanita would pat her leathered skin with pink rouge

mark her lips a cherry red

before she grabbed my sister, brother and i and headed down the alley St. Charles Borromeo Catholic church.

Inside, candles glittered and the elderly prayed fervently for the lost.  We never went to mass together,

we just kneeled and watched grandma strike matches

her fingers like soft paper, quick and deliberate.  How beautiful the scene is, purple, turquoise, reds and deep yellows the stained glass pulled my attention to heavenly things, to things of my imagination to a crucifixion the stations of the cross, the old ladies with dark dresses and white shawls

“Christopher, He loves you, say the rosary so you can be pure, so you can go to heaven.?  He died for your sins.  Soon you will go to first communion and confession.


His broad

spotted hands

His fingers worked his brow, as if he were trying to reenact Gethsemeny.  The world weighed him down, the recession, the loss, her screaming, her anger for being duped into marrying this rascal of a man!

How mysterious the scene is and a little frightening, then when he looked over at me and trembled with fear, gripping my neck, asking me to forgive him, pleading with me to kneel and focus.

So earnest, deliberate and real, God would forgive him, everything would be made clean, the priest’s voice, low and mummering, coughs, sighs and then we repeat, “Thanks be to God!”





AuthorChris Sanita
“One Moment on the Coast” by Chris Sanita


They sprayed water on the hull and gun whales    blood and guts dropped 

down into the open bilge.

On a long plank of moss covered boards the pongas emptied of fish and men, smoking, wrinkled, deep in thought.  The wharf

stands between million dollar houses and grotesquely poor families; inlanders looking for relief vs. the entitled seemingly successful.       The boat

stands open to the gape of the Pacific, resting like a time machine above the hassle and hum of traffic, bars, cafes.       For the little children clinging to waists, fathers boasting of night time ramblings and sports, the boat rests, abused, but ready for them.      Small dark women slice silver fish with pink, red, green and brown shawls tied below their pointed chins.        Children look up, wide eyed like the fish, supple, waiting.       

Off near shore white waves crash into tall pier poles       they vibrate,  they grow mussels, barnacles and deadman’s fingers for gulls’ and curlews’ lunch.

A  simple ’62 Chevrolet rumbles past as the driver's burnt arm rest on the door


I sip my coffee and inhale the life of day-

AuthorChris Sanita

Today, Esteban Camarillo, a former running back for Whittier Christian High School, shot and directed our iPad 1:1 Program launch video.  With his adept skills his shots captured the essence of or mission and vision for the iPad program.  Jeannine Brown assisted in the script in running the teleprompter an iPad app by Matt Cowlin and we worked through the script.  I read paragraph by paragraph illustrating the finer points of our purpose and use of the iPads.  Three students excited about the program from their participation in the pilot program with Megan Bowers, English teacher, James Biggs, social studies teacher and Jeanine Brown, English teacher, the students illustrated the finer points of using the iPad in rich dynamic ways.  The shoot ended with Esteban capturing some of James Walker's college prep U.S. History live classroom experiences in room 10.  We are excited to see the finish product.  Thanks Esteban.

You can see Esteban's past project entitle "Your Story Matter" showcasing teacher, coach and assistant to the athletic director Nicole Nicolaides.

AuthorChris Sanita

Herald Heartbeats

Living out the WCHS Mission: Teaching, Inspiring, and Preparing

 Here at WCHS, we love to celebrate our student and faculty achievements, especially when it comes to living out the core values of our mission: Equipping the Mind and Spirit. To give you a snapshot of the successes here on campus and beyond, we plan to send you a regular communication like this one titled Herald Heartbeats. Take a minute to catch a glimpse of the work God is doing in and through the Whittier Christian High School community.


Recently a group of over 30 WCHS students who are interested in entering the medical field had the opportunity to visit Presbyterian Intercommunity Hospital (PIH), located in Whittier. The students were invited by Reanna Thompson, CFO of PIH , and Carmen Sweeney, Ms. Thompson's assistant, helped to map out the details of the day, which included up-close glimpses of medical care in surgery, radiology, obstetrics, cardiology, oncology, critical care, emergency care, laboratory, food services, pharmacy,and occupational therapy.

Students from our anatomy classes spent the day being instructed and  guided by hospital professionals through 13 different departments. Jennifer Schmitter, a teacher in the WCHS Science Department, is excited about the impact of this field trip: "Students were offered a "practical eye-opening experience to what working in the medical field involves." Led by doctors, nurses, and administrators, students witnessed varied positions within the medical profession, including dietitians, pharmacists, and technicians. "Not only doctors and nurses work in the hospital," notes Mrs. Schmitter, "It's good for students to see the range of possibilities within their selected career options."

WCHS thanks PIH for providing our students with this powerful opportunity.

The WCHS Science Department is living out the WCHS Mission ofTeaching, Inspiring, and Preparing.

AuthorChris Sanita