Accepted and Loved for Who You Are
“China, Bulgaria, Japan …” Sharna Coors says, and her husband John overlaps, “Japan, Kenya, Chicago.”
They often finish each other’s sentences—a conversational sign of a close-knit family that includes their four biological children, native to Colorado, and six adopted children from various countries.
Leigha, born in China, is the reason why five Coors siblings ultimately came to attend Valor, starting when the school’s doors first opened in 2007. The family has lived in Evergreen for years, so they hadn’t heard the local buzz when the school was being built in Highlands Ranch.
But, John remembers, “We went to Cherry Hills for church one Sunday, and drove by Valor during the construction phase. And Leigha said, ‘That’s where I want to go to high school.’ So that was it.”
The backstory is complicated, however. Leigha had been adopted when she was three years old. She suffered abuse for the next eight years, until the adoption was dissolved. Then she lived with a series of different families.
“It was obviously a very difficult time—when you’re eleven or twelve years old and trying to find stability,” Leigha says. And yet, “God held me in the center of His hand.”
During eighth grade, she was involved in a church youth group. The pastor “knew that my parents had quite a bit of experience with adoption, so she called up my mom one day to ask for guidance on what to do—not to ask to adopt me.”
That conversation led to a weekend visit with the Coors family, and the rest is history, Leigha says.
When Valor caught her eye, Leigha got excited about a new high school where everyone would be “starting on the same page.”
“We kind of just laughed” Sharna says. “You know how far away this is from Evergreen?” More than 30 miles one way.
And there were four younger siblings to consider—especially Joshua, who was then headed into eighth grade. But John says Joshua eventually gave a “green light for us to at least look” at Valor.
“While I did offhandedly say that I wanted to go to Valor, it really was a family decision,” Leigha says. “As my parents delved into the school, they realized it was a place where our whole family could be fostered. They took a holistic look: Does this make sense for where we’re going as a family?”
Obviously the answer was yes. After Leigha was accepted as a freshman, the younger four enrolled across the street at Cherry Hills. All of them went on to Valor. Leigha graduated in 2011, followed by Joshua and Laura in 2012 and 2014, and finally Noah and Stephanie in the class of 2018. Now, as parents of five alumni, John and Sharna stay involved with Valor as members of the Board of Trustees and Board of Education.
It seems like a natural fit for a couple who had wanted a Christian education for their family.
“Preparing tomorrow’s leaders to transform the world for Christ—we’re all about that,” Sharna says. “Our family is very mission-oriented so that fits really well into who we are.”
Their family values came first and were reinforced by the school, not the other way around, Leigha says.
“We all have our different backgrounds and stories, but what makes our family special and unique are the bonds we have,” she says. “We truly are a family.”
Leigha has grown to recognize and appreciate the effort her parents put into cultivating a close-knit family. They make it a priority to spend time all together and in one-on-one relationships.
“We have such a strong foundation in our family that we feel we can go out and succeed in our lives. We’re not afraid to fail or take the next step.”
Inherent in their relationships, the family has gained something else too: “We are very diverse, and I think it’s given us all a respect for other cultures,” Sharna says.
Sharna’s “biggest passion” at Valor is the school’s international Discovery program.
“It’s so good for our kids to get out of Highlands Ranch and see what the real world looks like, which is pretty shocking. If you think about all the places these kids are going, it’s a night-and-day difference spiritually and economically.”
She adds, “We need to reach beyond ourselves. God has entrusted us with gifts. What are we going to do with the gifts he’s given us?”
Discovery combines mission and relationships, John says, echoing the ties that bind the Coors family. “You can actually have friendships with people in a foreign country—just interacting with people who come from a completely different life experience.”
The mission resonates close to home too. Sharna gets “goose bumps” about local families who come in and meet Christ at Valor.
She says it’s “awesome that a whole family is being touched” while each student attends Valor. And the diversity of faith perspectives among students has challenged her kids to interact with those who don’t hold the same beliefs.
John appreciates the school as a place where students begin the “faith transfer from your parents’ faith to your own faith.” He says, “Valor’s been really good for our kids on that journey.”
And Leigha agrees. “I did not grow up as a Christian, but Christ really made himself known to me in a very apparent way during all those transition years.”
“Valor was great in the sense that it helped lay the foundation for my faith—being part of a Christian community. And not just seeing how that community works and the love and the trust that’s built there, but also pushing me academically to understand my own faith.”
Overall, she says, “Each student is going to get something different out of their time at Valor. For me, it was a time of stability to be able to explore and to grow into myself in an environment that I really trusted.”