Distinguished Alumnus

The Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes individuals who have distinguished themselves in their business, profession, or vocation, and through their actions have demonstrated concern for and service to their community and to God.

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2023 Distinguished Alumnus

Gordon De Young

The 2023 Distinguished Alumni Award was presented to Gordon De Young (Class of 1951). Deeply grateful for the education he received at WCS, Gordon has faithfully supported Pleasant Street Christian Reformed Church and WCS, recognizing the importance of supporting the institutions that shaped him. Gordon’s legacy extends to his family as well. All four of his children, Sue, Lori, Dave, and Kenneth, followed in their father’s footsteps by attending WCS. Through his own example, Gordon instilled in them the values of faith, service, and education, leaving a lasting impact on his family and the school community. 

Previous Distinguished Alumni Recipients


Willard and Helen (Koopman) Banning

The 2022 Distinguished Alumni Award was presented to Willard Banning (Class of 1947) and posthumously to Helen (Koopman) Banning (Class of 1948). The Bannings epitomize everything we want to celebrate with this award. They are the picture of a Christian marriage, a couple who made a lifelong commitment to each other and kept that vow. They raised four beautiful daughters who then blessed them with many wonderful grandchildren. They have been lifelong members at Pleasant Street Christian Reformed Church. More than their commitment to each other and their family, they have a deep love for the Lord. Seeds that were planted here at WCS many years ago have been tended to, watered and blossomed. And much like their family business, they are an example of cultivating seeds into beautiful, blossoming flowers in their own life. Lastly, they are valiant supporters of Christian education. They have logged hundreds of hours giving, serving, and attending a variety of events over the years.


Christine (MacIndoe) McCabe (00)

Christine has been selected to receive this year’s Distinguished Alumni Award. Christine is the WCS School Nurse and an ICU Nurse at Milford Regional Medical Center. “During the global pandemic we are experiencing this year, Christine stands out as a shining star advocating for the safety of all students, faculty, and staff, as well as their families,” said Lance Engbers, Head of School. “Her competent skills, well-researched information, effective communication, and tremendously helpful service on the Crisis Response Team and Readiness Task Force positions her as a wonderful representative of all frontline workers making themselves available for service to others. Christine is selfless in her willingness to serve others. She walks with humble steps and yet with expertise confidently flowing from the essence of who she is. Having served as an ICU nurse for years at Milford Regional Hospital, she leaves the safety of her home to now assist in the COVID-19 world at the hospital as well. Christine embodies what it means at WCS to be Inspiring Minds and Igniting Hearts. It was no surprise to me that after serving in an exemplary manner as school nurse at WCS, she was on her game for exemplary leadership through the challenges of the last quarter of the school year. In addition, I have full confidence that she will be a key person moving forward into the next school year as well. Pervasive through all she does is her very deep and abiding faith in Jesus Christ – it flows out of her when you meet her.”

“I must admit I was quite shocked at first to hear I had been selected for this honor,” said Christine. “I think of distinguished alumni as dedicating decades of their lives to WCS. I felt too young. But then I remembered that it has been 20 years since I graduated! I feel very blessed, humbled, and honored, especially to be on the wall with so many greats.”

Christine has many fond memories of her time as a student at WCS. “I remember the big tractor tire full of pillows for reading, receiving Jolly Rancher candy sticks as prizes in 4th grade, and memorable trips such as Choir Tour and extra credit trips. Most of my memories involve the great friends I made here, many of whom I remain friends with to this day. It was at WCS that I first began a love for science, biology, anatomy, and physiology. RoseAnn Engbers was a guest speaker at Career Day and she enlightened my view on what it meant to be a nurse.”


Denise (Koopman) Brookhouse

After graduating in 1987, Denise attended Calvin College where she received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in French as well as a Bachelor of Science Degree in Accounting. She worked as a Certified Public Accountant and in 1996, she returned to Massachusetts and joined Koopman Lumber where she serves as Chief Financial Officer. Denise has served as a Trustee for Whitinsville Christian School, a member of the WCS Spring Auction Committee, and a Board member of the Whitin Community Center. She has served as a Corporator of the Greater Worcester Foundation, participating in the Scholarship Committee. She has been a member of the Board of Directors at Unibank for Savings since 2011 and she currently serves on the Finance Committee at Milford Regional Hospital. She and her husband, Tony, are members of Pleasant Street Christian Reformed Church. They have four children, all who have attended WCS.


Ken and Lisa (Ebbeling) Foppema

Ken and Lisa Foppema both attended WCS through the 9th grade, in 1972 and 1973 respectively. Lisa studied Business Administration at Calvin College. Ken received an Associate’s Degree from Stockbridge School of Agriculture and later his Bachelor’s Degree in Animal Science from UMASS. They are members of Fairlawn Christian Reformed Church. Ken has served as a deacon twice and an elder twice. Lisa is a member of the choir and has volunteered in the nursery at Coffee Break. Their four sons (Jesse, Evan, Lucas, and Samuel) are also WCS graduates and they have grandchildren who currently attend. Lisa volunteers at WCS with TRIP and the auction. Lisa is a past Trustee, and served on the Education Committee.


Ronald J. Nydam

Rev. Nydam earned a Ph.D. from the University of Denver and the Iliff School of Theology. On the landscape of vocational calling, Rev. Nydam has concentrated on pastoral care with a laser focus on the impact of relinquishment and adoption. With experience in parish ministry, as well as serving as professor of pastoral care at Calvin Theological Seminary for 16 years, Rev. Nydam is distinguished as an author of several books and, more importantly, making the world a better place for those who are hurting and searching for shalom. He founded Adoption Dynamics, an agency of counseling for adoption triad members, community education on relinquishment and adoption, and legislative support for adoption reform. He has been a frequent speaker and presenter at conferences of the American Adoption Congress. He also served as pastor of the Third Christian Reformed Church of Denver for many years. He is married to Cheryl (known to many as Sugar).


Karen Wielsma

After graduating from 9th grade in 1961, Karen completed her high school education at Northbridge High School and graduated in 1964. She enrolled in the Memorial Hospital School of Nursing in Worcester, graduated in 1968, and worked in the Memorial Hospital Operating Room. She also pursued her love of music, attending summer music institutes at Westminster Choir College, Hartt School of Music, Virginia Intermont College, Good Shepherd Institute, and innumerable conferences on Reformed Worship. She has served as organist for Fairlawn Christian Reformed Church and has accompanied the WCS Strings and WCS Choir. Karen is married to Earl Wielsma. They have three children, all WCS alumni, and they have two grandchildren.


James DeVries

A 1948 graduate of Whitinsville Christian School, Jim earned his B.A. from Providence-Barrington (RI) College and a Master’s in Education from Worcester State University. He later received a Master’s in Material Science from WPI and completed his Ph.D. at Grace Graduate School. During his early career, he taught math and science at Delaware County (PA) Christian School and Dayton (OH) Christian School and, at the collegiate level, as an assistant professor at Barrington College. In 1985, he joined the Math & Science faculty of Lancaster Bible College. Jim met his wife, Carol Stratton, at Providence-Barrington College in 1955. They married and had three sons, David, Dan and Jonathan, each of whom attended WCS during the family’s time in Whitinsville.


C. Bryan Wiegers

Bryan graduated from WCS in 1986 and from Calvin College in 1990 with a Bachelor of Science in Engineering. He went on to Michigan State University where he earned a Master’s in Engineering in 1992 and worked in Environmental Engineering for the State of Michigan. In 1990, he became an environmental engineer with Fishbeck, Thompson, Carr & Huber of Ada, Michigan, where he worked until 1995. Returning to Massachusetts, he joined Prime Materials Northeast/New England Chemical Sales, selling chemical materials to the coatings, rubber, plastics, adhesive, and food industries. He excelled and grew within that industry although he felt a call to be involved in Christian Reformed Ministry. In 2002, he joined New England Chapel in Franklin, MA, to serve as Pastor of Family Ministries. Bryan has served on the WCS Board of Trustees, one year as President. He and his wife, Sue, have two daughters that attended WCS.


James Vander Baan

Jim graduated from 9th grade at WCS in 1966 and from Sutton High School in 1969. Employed for thirty one years at Verizon as an equipment engineer, he retired in 2009. He served in the Army National Guard for ten years, retiring as a staff sergeant. Jim assisted his wife, Carla, in her business, Coastal Medical Billing Company and has served three terms on the WCS Board of Trustees and on all the Building Addition Committees, his knowledge of the building industry being extremely helpful. As a member of Fairlawn Christian Reformed Church he served on various committees. He and his wife have two children, both WCS graduates. Two of their grandchildren also attended WCS.


Henry DeVries

Henry graduated from 9th grade at WCS in 1968 and from Uxbridge High School in 1971. He went on to Calvin College, earning a degree in Biology in 1975 and a Master’s of Science from Cornell in 1978. From 1978 to 1985 he served as assistant professor of agriculture at Dordt College, returning to Cornell to receive his Ph.D. in 1993. Henry taught at Cornell until 1997, and then returned to Calvin to serve as Vice President for Information Services. In 2000, he became CFO at the college. Henry and his wife, Janet, have four children and one grandson.


Jeffrey Bajema

Jeff graduated from 9th grade at WCS in 1974 and from Northbridge High School in 1977. He is the son of former WCS principal, John Bajema, who moved his family here from Hull, Iowa, in 1970. Jeff is employed as Vice President of the Mortgage Department at Unibank, though his passion is basketball, having led the entirety of the school’s programs in that area, youth hoop through high school. His name has indeed become synonymous with WCS basketball, as he coached for 23 years at all levels, his leadership success resulting in WCS earning two state titles. Jeff is married to Pam (Banning), and they have three sons, all WCS graduates who excelled in basketball. Their son, Brady, is a WCS middle and high school teacher.


Faith (Oppewal) Lane

Faith graduated from 9th grade at WCS in 1966 and from Northbridge High School in 1969. In 1973, she graduated from Calvin College with a degree in English and Simmons College in 1977 with a Master’s of Library Science. She received her J.D. in 1983 from Suffolk University School of Law. After teaching law at Suffolk for two years, she joined her husband, Henry, in a new law practice in Whitinsville. She has served many terms on the WCS Board of Trustees. She served on the committee to establish Treasures (an upscale thrift store that supports WCS financially) and has given generously to the school of her legal advice. At Fairlawn Christian Reformed Church, Faith has taught Sunday school, catechism, and has served on various committees. She has also been involved in various areas of town government, including serving on the building committee for the new Northbridge High School as well as the building committee for the Library Media Center at WCS. Faith and her husband have two daughters, both graduates of WCS.


Ted and Marie (Wassenaar) Haringa

Ted graduated from 8th grade at WCS in 1946 and from Uxbridge High School in 1950, later attending both Calvin College and Becker Jr. College. He had a distinguished career in financial management as controller and treasurer of Lawrence R. McCoy & Co. of Worcester. He was active in town government and served on the Board of Directors at Unibank for Savings as well as on the WCS Board of Trustees. He was an elder at Fairlawn Christian Reformed Church. Marie graduated from 8th grade at WCS in 1946 and from Northbridge High School in 1950. She attended Calvin College and Blodgett School of Nursing, where she received her RN. She was active in music, serving Fairlawn CRC as organist, choir member, and coordinator of the annual Choir Fest. Ted and Marie have four children, all graduates of WCS. Ten of their grandchildren have also attended WCS.


Dawn (Koopman) Lefrancois

Dawn graduated from WCS in 1982, the first WCS high school graduation class. In 1998, she joined the WCS staff as Elementary Administrative Assistant to the Headmaster.  Adapting quickly, she took on many additional tasks, including work in the Development Department recording gifts and assisting in updating the database. Dawn organized the WCS lunch program, planning menus, ordering food, and scheduling volunteers for the daily program. As needs arose, she volunteered in various additional capacities. Dawn also served as deacon and Sunday School teacher at Fairlawn Christian Reformed Church.  Her two children attended WCS.


Harold Plantinga

Harold graduated from 8th grade at WCS in 1953 and from Northbridge High School in 1957. He attended Calvin College and graduated from Becker Jr. College in 1961 with a degree in Business Administration. In 1962, he was employed by A.B. Dick Products Company as office manager and went on to a career in sales. In 1970, he was promoted to sales manager and became a partner in the business, retiring in 1997 after 35 years with the company. From 1997 to 2012, he volunteered at WCS as Director of Development. He and his wife, Barbara, have five children; all attended WCS, as did nine of their grandchildren. Harold served on the WCS Board of Trustees, as deacon and elder at Pleasant Street Christian Reformed Church and as elder at Fairlawn CRC. Along with his wife, Barbara, Harold also served as a representative for the Back to God Ministries.


Arthur Jackson

Arthur graduated from 8th grade at WCS in 1953, Northbridge High School in 1957, and later from Assumption College with a degree in Business Administration. After employment with DeYoung Insurance Company, Arthur opened his own insurance-investment business. He served as a deacon and elder at Pleasant Street Christian Reformed Church and many years with the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee, including 13 of those years as a board member.  In addition, he served two terms on the WCS Board of Trustees, both terms as president. He and his wife, Anne, have four children, all WCS graduates.


Barbara (VanderBaan) Resch

Barbara graduated from 9th grade at WCS in 1963. She attended Trinity Christian College and Valparaiso University, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Music degree. Barbara taught music at Rochester (NY) Christian School, public school in Indiana, and at Indiana University-Purdue University (IPFW). She completed her doctorate in 1996 and is a tenured professor of Music Education at IPFW. She is married to Richard Resch, a Lutheran pastor and musician at Concordia Theological Seminary.



Michael Masso

Michael graduated from WCS in 1987 and from Drexel University with a degree in Civil Engineering. In 1994, he joined World Harvest Missions and moved to Bundibugyo, Uganda. He has been involved in many areas of mission work, particularly those concerned with providing safe water systems to needy people. He and his wife, Karen McCloy, have three children.



Maynard VandenAkker

Maynard graduated from 8th grade at WCS in 1940 and from Northbridge High School in 1944. During WWII he spent a year-and-a-half in the Navy. After graduating from Calvin College in 1951, he came home to operate West End Dairy, his father’s farm. In 1953, he married Irene Vander Baan, and they had five children, all graduates of WCS. He served on the WCS Board of Trustees and as an elder at Fairlawn Christian Reformed Church. He was a member of the Endowment Committee and managed the school’s portfolio for many years.



Barbara (Osterman) VanderKlay

Barbara graduated from the WCS 8th grade class in 1952 and from Northbridge High School in 1956. She went on to Calvin College, graduating in 1960 with a degree in Education.  That June, she married Rev. Stanley VanderKlay and moved to Paterson, NJ.  She served in many capacities at Northside Community Chapel with her husband. In 1997, Barb and Stan started the Dawn Treader Christian School, where she served as secretary until 1995. Upon her husband’s retirement and their return to Whitinsville, she began serving WCS in various capacities, including as a member of the Board of Trustees. 


Donald Koopman

Donald graduated from the WCS 8th grade class in 1950 and Northbridge High School in 1954. He went on to Calvin College and then to Michigan State University. He began a career in teaching, but in 1973 returned to Whitinsville to serve as CEO of Koopman Lumber Company, owned by his father. Along with steering the growth of the business, he served as church deacon and elder at Pleasant Street Christian Reformed Church and on the Board of Trustees for WCS. He also coached WCS basketball and tennis. He and his wife, Doris, are ardent supporters of Christian education, with all three of their children WCS alumni.


Rev. Allan Jongsma

Allan graduated from the 8th grade at WCS in 1947, Northbridge High School in 1951, and Calvin College and Calvin Theological Seminary. He was ordained in 1958 and served eight congregations, in states including Michigan, New Jersey, and Indiana. He retired after 41 years of ministry. He served the Christian Reformed Church denomination in many capacities, including a time as Chairman of the Board of Trustees. He and his wife, Joyce, have four children. Allan’s lifelong verse is Nehemiah 8:10:  The joy of the Lord is my strength.


Sidney and Thelma (Schotanus) DeYoung

Sidney and Thelma both graduated from 8th grade at WCS in 1945 and from Northbridge High School in 1949. Sid served four years in the U.S. Air Force and then joined New England Mutual Life Insurance Company in 1956, retiring as general agent in 1997. He served as an elder at Fairlawn Christian Reformed Church and for several terms on the WCS Board of Trustees. He also served on the board of Westminster Theological Seminary and the Whitin Community Center. Thelma served as financial secretary for Fairlawn and participated in their church choir. She was a faithful volunteer of WCS for many years and all three children attended WCS.

The Whitinsville Christian School Distinguished Alumni Award

Established 1999


  • To recognize individuals who have distinguished themselves in their business, profession, or vocation, and through their actions have demonstrated concern for, and service to, their community and to God
  • To foster communication and loyalty among alumni
  • To encourage an on-going relationship between WCS and its alumni

Basis of Selection

  1. Any WCS alumnus is eligible, excluding those who have attended the school within ten years of the time of consideration.
  2. A nominee’s employment may be in any field of endeavor. The nature of that employment and extent to which it is deemed worthy of consideration is to be determined by the Selection Committee.
  3. The person selected for the award will be one who manifests a Christian commitment honoring WCS.
  4. The Selection Committee will present its recommendation to the Development Committee for approval.
  5. Once the Selection Committee has made its recommendation to the Development Committee, the information will be considered confidential until such time as it is deemed appropriate to be made public.
  6. The award is made public and its presentation made at the commencement ceremony each year.


  • Name plate and portrait displayed at the school
  • Plaque awarded to the recipient
  • Possible scholarship awarded in their name



Nominations are requested from all supporters through announcement in The Crusader Chronicle.


Selection Committee

  • President of the WCS Board
  • WCS Head of School
  • WCS Advancement Director
  • WCS Faculty Member
  • WCS Alumni Member