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Archives - November 2016

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Headmaster's Blog

Archives - November 2016

Precious Little Ones!

November 30, 2016
By John Morrison

Please allow me to introduce some very special students.  These mustachioed cuties, led by their teacher, Mrs. Shelly Weeks, have gotten off to a great start in our GCS preschool class.

 

In part, because of space issues we decided to keep the class size small for this school year.  This smaller class size has allowed us to continue to lay a solid foundation for the future of this program.

Our  preschool  serves to introduce young children to the school environment and to lay a sound preparation for their elementary school experience.  While our educational goals certainly include introducing them to some “academic” concepts (ABC’s, counting, etc.), much of the emphasis is on cultivating their developmental “skills” (staying on task at an age appropriate level, learning to get along with others in a cooperative manner, cultivating listening skills and the capacity to follow directions, developing tactile skills through lots of gross and fine motor skill activities, etc.).  

More importantly, Mrs. Weeks is able to impact these very impressionable little ones by bringing Christ into all of her pre-planned lessons and the many spontaneous learning opportunities, as well.  Below, Mrs. Weeks gives a great example of this:


I do my best to seize each opportunity as a time of learning. For instance, not long ago I brought some cashews for my morning snack. As we ate together, one of the children asked what I was eating. They had not seen cashews before. I talked with them about the nut and where it came from. We talked about what other types of foods grow on trees and how that food is a way that God shows His love for us. I lined up the nuts smallest to largest and we discussed small/medium/large. We counted the nuts and then they decided in what order I should eat them.  All this was unplanned but a beautiful teaching moment incorporating the LORD, nature, relation to size, and counting. This sort of thing happens, I know, because God is honoring my prayers to Him when I ask Him to make me a wise teacher.


Indeed, it would be hard to overstate the impact of a godly teacher upon such impressionable little ones as she integrates the Christian worldview into every aspect of her students’ learning.  Corem Deo!

Of course, the learning activities are also fun.  Mrs. Weeks observes: “I try to plan things that are fun as well as educational for the children. Sometimes the messier the better!”  Now, this sounds like a great learning environment! 

In terms of some of the general goals for this age group, Mrs. Weeks includes the following:  “That my students grow in the LORD, know they are loved, that they end the year as confident students who love to learn, and that they just have fun being a 3-year-old!”  

Indeed, Mrs. Weeks is doing an outstanding job with these students, and we expect to expand this program next year as interest warrants.  Our preschool is designed for older three and younger four year olds.  The class meets Tuesday through Thursday mornings from 8:30-11:30 and Afterschool Care is available until 5:30 pm if needed.  Click here to learn more about our preschool program. Please help us get the word out to those you think may be interested in our preschool program, or any other part of our program, including pre-kindergarten through 12th grade for that matter!

If you would like to respond to this blog, please email John Morrison at grace@gcswarriors.org.

WOW! Something Well Worth Considering!

November 21, 2016
By John Morrison

Last week I interrupted a series of blogs featuring some of our GCS students in order to focus on the visiting AXIS team’s presentation at our recent parents’ meeting.  Because of the strategic importance of their visit, especially in terms of ministering to our older students, I want to share something further with you that I believe to be quite profound.  More particularly, let me quote Brian Fitzgerald, our high school principal, from an email he sent to our high school staff last week.  What he shared illustrates why worldview training is vital for our students!

Brian wrote: I am impressed with [the AXIS team’s] sense of humility in presenting their material, and I think they are giving our students excellent content and equipping them to filter what's going into their minds through their "entertainment" (which we know is really [equivalent to] an education).


Before AXIS came, I was so thrilled to hear one of our seniors “complaining” about the fact that Grace has “ruined” his experience with listening to songs and watching movies because he is constantly thinking about the messages they are communicating.  He can't just mindlessly absorb these things anymore.  In fact, I received a text from him last night as I was eating dinner with the AXIS team because he was at the movies watching "Dr. Strange" and he was saying that it has "spiritualism" all over it. He was in the movie theater filtering what he was watching.  I was so proud :)

I'm convinced that what we're doing here is making a difference in our students. Interestingly, when I ask the students how things are going with the AXIS presentations, many of them are saying that it's good review of things they already know or have heard from us. I'm not convinced that they know it all, but I'm encouraged that this kind of material is not brand new stuff for them. If we get to the point where our students are too familiar with worldview thinking, we've done our job well as Christian educators in serving the parents and families in our community. One day, when these students leave Grace, they'll walk away more equipped to engage culture than they realize while they're here. Be encouraged as we have the privilege of coming alongside what the Lord is doing in the lives of these students! It's a great thing to be a part of.

 

Dear friends, these candid words by Brian Fitzgerald to our high school teachers show you not only the heart of our staff for our students, but also illustrate the strategic importance of Christian worldview integration along with an emphasis on teaching our students to think critically.  We cannot overestimate the incredible value of such a Christian education in the face of a culture increasingly hostile to our faith!  

I hope all my readers enjoy a very special Thanksgiving season!

If you would like to respond to this blog, please email John Morrison at grace@gcswarriors.org.

A Powerful Parent Resource

November 17, 2016
By John Morrison

This week we are hosting AXIS, a unique, Christian ministry that brings the gospel to our young people in a culturally relevant and thoughtful manner.  The four dynamic AXIS team members are spending three days with our high school students engaging them in critical thinking as concerns much of the mindset of our popular culture and evaluating it in a Christian context.  We are receiving great feedback from our students!

On Tuesday night, the AXIS team made a great presentation to our GCS parents.  Indeed, as we were reminded, our young people do best when their parents are actively engaged in the discipling process, and doing so in a very relational manner.

One of the great frustrations that I frequently hear from parents is their difficulty in identifying practical tools and resources to better equip them in effectively engaging their sons and daughters.  One of the things that really impresses me about AXIS is that a large part of their ministry emphasis is geared toward providing parents and youth workers with very practical helps and information.  I would very much encourage all of our parents (and others invested in our youth) to visit the AXIS website at axis.org.  Take some time to browse their site, and you will find a wealth of resources.

In particular, sign up for their “Culture Translator.”  This weekly electronic publication will go a long way in helping you keep up with many of the pop culture trends influencing our youth. Over the past year, many in our Grace community have benefitted from this publication. Keeping up with the newest trends can be exhausting and daunting, but “The Culture Translator” does the hard work of updating and explaining these trends which our kids know all too well.

Another excellent tool is their “Virtual Training” program.  Based on short video presentations by dynamic Christian speakers, these bite-sized pieces are great ways to engage your son or daughter in constructive conversations in a Biblical context about the real world issues they are regularly facing.  

While not an AXIS resource, “The Bible Project”  was recommended by the team as an excellent resource for parents to instruct their children in Biblical truth.  This extensive series of approximately five minute video presentations provide a great conversation starter for family devotions as facilitated by dad and/or mom.  Check it out at www.youtube.com/user/jointhebibleproject.

An additional, powerful parent resource is a new app called “Circle,” which allows you to manage your child’s content and time across all his/her digital devices.  Check out the short introductory video at meetcircle.com.  I believe this is just what many parents are looking for when it comes to the bewildering challenge of keeping up with and overseeing your child’s digital activities.

Indeed, while our challenges in raising our young people in a culture increasingly hostile to Christianity are great, we have some effective ools to help us.  Take some time to check out the above.

And thanks, AXIS, for including Grace Christian School in your very busy itinerary!

If you would like to respond to this blog, please email John Morrison at grace@gcswarriors.org.

Celebrating GCS Students

November 10, 2016
By John Morrison

In recent weeks, I have written concerning “the coming dark ages” as they are increasingly impacting our Christian youth.  If you have not read those three blogs, I urge you to do so.  You can access them via our website at www.gcswarriors.org and then clicking the “About Us” tab.

This week, I would like to change gears by celebrating some of our GCS students and their recent accomplishments.  Linked below is a wonderful article from the Staunton News Leader concerning a very notable accomplishment by a very special group of GCS students. Read and enjoy!  We are proud of you guys and gals!

(Staunton News Leader, November 4, 2016)

STAUNTON - Maybe it's the start of a dynasty.

This past Saturday Grace Christian won the VACA state championship in girls cross country. It was just the second year the school had enough runners to record a team score in meets and, with no seniors and just one junior, the future seems to be very bright.

Humes Franklin, III, started the program four years ago when he was approached by the school to coach. He had a good resume, having run at both Wilson Memorial High School and Davidson College. But he also lived a busy life. He is married with five children and is the managing partner at his law firm, Wharton Aldhizer & Weaver. So he thought hard about the offer before accepting.

Click here to read the full story.

If you would like to respond to this blog, please email John Morrison at grace@gcswarriors.org.

Has God Changed His Mind?

November 03, 2016
By John Morrison

Two blogs ago, I stated that “we are first hand witnesses to the rapid descent of our culture into what many are calling ‘the new dark age.’”  And I observed in last week’s blog that  “In the context of these swirling currents of social upheaval, the fundamental question we must answer is simply this: ‘How do we determine what is truth about God and His values as they apply to our lives and how we educate our children?’”   I believe this is a vital issue that has everything to do not only with how we live out our lives as Christians, but also what kind of heritage we will pass on to our precious children.

In this context, we are seeing many individual Christians as well as churches and ministries  grapple with fundamental faith values that have been embedded in literally centuries of Christian tradition and practice.  The questions of sexual identity and gay marriage are primary examples of traditional values being questioned by many within the professing Christian community.

Rod Dreher, of The American Conservative, does a good job in defining the deeper, more  fundamental issue at the heart of the matter: “The Christian church’s view of human sexuality (not just homosexuality) and the body is so deeply rooted that you cannot simply change it when the cultural winds start blowing another way, without doing serious, perhaps fatal, damage to the authority of Scripture and Tradition.  We are seeing that play out right now, and will see it over the next half century.”  

It really comes down to two options: Either God has revealed Himself and His truth through Christ and through His inspired word -- the Bible -- or man is left to himself as a finite being to pronounce judgments (at the level of mere human “opinion”) on vital issues such as marriage, sexual identity, etc.  This is the “great divide” that is already impacting the religious community in a dramatic manner.  Is, for example, marriage between one man and one woman?  Are we created as male or female in our essential humanity?  Or can society redefine these basic values based on a sudden shift in cultural “opinion” that has happened within the scope of a single generation and which flies in the face of centuries of orthodox, Christian belief and practice?  Dreher’s words really nail the issue, and in context, we must ask, “Has the absolute God changed His mind on these fundamental issues?”  

I would affirm on behalf of the leadership of GCS that we identify ourselves, and will continue to do so, by the grace of God, in the orthodox stream of Christianity down through the centuries.  We identify with the belief in Biblical infallibility when it comes to the essential truth claims of the Scripture.  And we identify with the traditional creeds (i.e. Nicene, Apostles, Athanasian, etc.) that characterize what C. S. Lewis called “mere Christianity.”  

Indeed, we must not make the mistake of treating unkindly or cruelly those with whom we disagree.  As culture goes its own humanistic, self-destructive way, there will be many broken people who will need the message of Christ’s love and reconciliation with God through the cross.  And we must demonstrate God’s love to all, regardless of whether or not they agree with us. But  this does not mean that we compromise our belief that God’s truth is absolute, and He does not change His mind about, say, sexuality, marriage, or other “hot spots” currently being touted by popular culture.

And this has everything to do with our children.  Popular culture is powerful in terms of how it is influencing youth even from our Christian homes.  Many of them are flirting with pop culture values simply because they are given unhindered access to the culture and are not being thoroughly taught as to why our adherence to the Scripture is both reasonable and the only sound basis for knowing the truth!

May God help us courageously stand for Christian orthodoxy in these new dark ages, and  may He give us much help in passing along our beliefs to our children!

If you would like to respond to this blog, please email John Morrison at grace@gcswarriors.org.

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