Grace Christian School

Archives - April 2017

Recent Posts

5/15/19 - By Donald M. Larson, PhD
5/1/19 - By Casey Musselman, Dean of High School Students
4/24/19 - By Casey Musselman, Dean of High School Students
4/16/19 - By John Morrison, Former GCS Head of School
4/11/19 - By Abigail Erdman, GCS 7th Grader
4/2/19 - By Robert Brent, GCS Parent
3/25/19 - By Brian Fitzgerald, High School Principal
3/12/19 - By Brian Fitzgerald, High School Principal
3/6/19 - By Brian Fitzgerald, High School Principal
2/27/19 - By Kristen Lihos, Interim Advancement Director

Headmaster's Blog

Archives - April 2017

GCS College Board Scores

April 27, 2017
By John Morrison

2016 College Board SAT Results

High School Reading Math Total
Grace Chrisitan School 645 585 1,230
Robert E. Lee (Staunton) 495 554 1,049
Augusta County 534 529 1,063
Virginia Average 520 517 1,037
U.S. Average        494       508           1,002

I am generally careful when it comes to any form of “tooting our own horn” in terms of our scholastic accomplishments.  However, from time to time we hear concerns expressed that a small school such as GCS cannot really compete academically with larger, better resourced schools, especially in the math and science disciplines.  In this context, I thought it would be appropriate to share with you our college SAT scores relative to local  and Virginia/US  public school averages.

Several  years ago, Jame Montoya,  a College Board vice president, observed:  “… it is very clear that students who take a core curriculum in high school – and by that I mean four or more years of English, three or more years of math, three or more years of natural sciences and three or more years of social sciences and history – do better on the SAT and more of them meet the college and career benchmark.”  He adds, “… core courses themselves need to be more rigorous.”

GCS has long advocated that the students who are best prepared for college and the workforce are well-founded in the core curricula as stated by Montoya.  There is much hype in the larger, public marketplace about greater diversity of course offerings for high school students.  But at the end of the day, the simple fact is that students who are proficient in the core courses are generally the ones best prepared.  Thank you, College Board, for making this same observation!  Many Grace alumni would add a grateful “Amen” to this emphasis!

Parents must not lose sight of this fundamental priority, especially as their children enter into their middle and high school years.  C. S. Lewis put it like this: “We must teach far fewer subjects and teach them far better.”

Hopefully, the scores as reported above are confirmation of this emphasis on core curricula.  Also,  while I am quite proud of our students and teachers, I would also point out that we are as “average” as students and teachers in any other school.  But when we are Christ-honoring in our approach, He, in turn, pours out His blessing and favor upon our students and staff!

Praise the Lord for His faithfulness!

If you would like to respond to this blog, pleas email John Morrison at

Celebrating Our GCS Students!

April 21, 2017
By John Morrison

With my blogs, you can expect everything from my generally “heavy duty” pieces on the state of our culture to the celebration of our students and staff.  This week, I want to share a really unique piece featuring one of our very artistic, creative high schoolers.  

In Mrs. Linda Rockafellow’s ninth grade literature class, the students were recently given an assignment to develop a project that would relate some aspect of their study of Harper Lee’s classic To Kill a Mockingbird.  Each student was encouraged to work within his or her unique gifting in coming up with something creative and meaningful.  Some utilized art, others engaged with computer related presentations, while others tag-teamed a lunch where they dressed up as the book  characters and served southern style food typical of this sleepy southern town portrayed in Lee’s book.  The students really enjoyed this unique assignment.

In particular, I am featuring Peyton Bolt’s very artistic project as featured in the above video.  Her amazing animated drawing of the tree is symbolic of several things reflected from Lee’s novel.  First, it is the conduit with which Boo, the recluse, communicates with the two main characters.  He leaves little child-like gifts for the kids until his father puts cement into the tree -- ending that relationship and disappointing the children.

A major theme of the novel is racism, which is largely under the radar of most of the town people.  On the surface, Maycomb is this happy little southern town that Peyton represents by the left side of the tree with its lush leaves.  In the underbelly, there is this disease- like, ugly racism which is destroying many, including the character Tom Robinson who is being tried for a crime that he didn't commit.  That is represented by the right, barren side of the tree.

Mrs.  Rockafellow comments: “When Peyton did the project she wanted the tree to appear on the actual pages of the novel.  I believe that she was representing the growing problem of racism (as the tree grew)  and then the hope of a solution (as it diminished).  The cool thing about this project is that she took the time to draw the tree over 30 times-adding a feature each time, for each new page of the book.”  These painstaking drawings resulted in the animated effect.

Our congratulations to all of Mrs. Rockafellow’s students for their creativity in their To Kill a Mockingbird special projects.  And our special commendation to Peyton for using her God-given gift in an especially creative, imaginative manner.  We are so proud of these and so many of our GCS  students!

If you would like to respond to this blog, please email John Morrison at

Thank You, GCS Staff!!!

April 11, 2017
By John Morrison

Preschool Teacher, Shelly Weeks with student, Lillyanna Bennett.

While I like in these blogs to celebrate our GCS student accomplishments, I am usually reticent to write anything that "toots our own horn," lest it seem boastful. Indeed, like any other Christian ministry, we have plenty of areas where we are continually working to improve our program!

But one aspect of our school that is a unique strength is that we have such a deeply committed cadre of staff who are here because of their sense of God's calling and their love for the children to whom they minister.  This strength is not something that can be measured in our achievement tests or by other statistical means.  But it is perhaps the major dynamic that will impact our students for Christ over the long run. I cannot speak highly enough of our GCS staff who sacrifice so much in terms of salary and personal time (teaching and all that goes into operating the school is hard work!) on behalf of our GCS families!

While the words below from a GCS parent (used with permission) sings  the praises of just one of our staff, it could be said about so many of those GCS teachers, administrators, coaches, and support personnel (including volunteers) who so selflessly serve our students.  And so I dedicate the following not only to our preschool teacher, Mrs. Shelly Weeks, but to our larger staff family.  

Lilyanna is in Mrs. Weeks preschool class. She absolutely loves going to school and cannot wait to go 5 days a week next year. I work in the public school system and have thought about home schooling my own children, but after this year, I feel so much better sending my child to school; to Grace Christian. It meant the world to my daughter today when her teacher showed up to her first t-ball game. Lilyanna had the biggest smile on her face and ran right to her! You could see on Mrs. Weeks face her genuine care for my daughter. So, thank you. Thank you for hiring this wonderful woman. Thank you for providing my daughter an amazing education. Thank you for giving me faith and confidence in the school to continue to send her to Grace Christian.  
Jenna Bennett

The above says it all!  Thank you, GCS staff, for serving us in so many ways, most of which are known only by the Lord who sees all that you sacrifice behind the scenes on our behalf!  May each of you enjoy a much deserved rest over the next few days of our spring break.

And may each of my readers celebrate this very special Christian "holiday" we call Easter as we remember the Resurrection!  He is risen!  He is risen indeed!

If you would like to respond to this blog, please email John Morrison at

Indoctrination and Education

April 07, 2017
By John Morrison

C. S. Lewis had much to say about the nature of our children's education.  One of his observations emphasized just how influential textbooks are in forming the fundamental worldview of students.

In this context, the now official policy in California to include content in public school textbooks indoctrinating students in the “normalization” of the LGBT mindset is quite sobering.  As reported in the San Francisco Chronicle:

The new social studies framework addresses LGBT topics starting in second grade, in content related to stories of diverse families, including those with LGBT parents and children.

In fourth grade, the content includes the march of gay rights from the 1950s to the 2015 Supreme Court decision supporting same-sex marriage.

Then, in 11th grade, instruction focuses on gay rights and identity...

One might ask, "Why is what is happening in California relevant to us in Virginia?"  One part of the answer is, simply, the textbook industry represents "big bucks," and publishers are complying with the California standards in order to not miss out on this huge market.  And if past precedent is a reliable indicator, many other states will follow California's example, adopting these same texts for use in their own schools.

According to the Campaign for Children and Families, California SB 48 requires all public school districts to utilize textbooks and materials that promote "lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans" as "role" models, and any opposing viewpoint will be viewed as "promoting a discriminatory bias."  Or, as we are seeing in other aspects of this movement, Christians and those adhering to traditional Judeo-Christian values are increasingly being branded as prejudicial and bigoted.

How quickly things have changed.  Even in Virginia, once a distinctly conservative state in terms of holding to Judeo-Christian traditions, public policy at all levels of government is now embracing the LGBT mantra.  As I have pointed out in previous blogs, this “politically correct” mindset is simply the tip of the spear of a much larger political and social agenda.

We must ask ourselves, when did public education become primarily a vehicle for indoctrination of specific political and social values, and who determines the kind of indoctrination to be received by our children and youth?  As Catholic Archbishop Charles Chaput observes in his excellent book, Strangers in a Strange Land:

The surest way to transform a culture is from the inside out.  And the surest path to doing it isn't through reasoned debate (too tedious) or violence (too costly) but by colonizing and reshaping the culture's appetites and behaviors.

Consider for a moment this simple concept of colonizing one's worldview from the inside out.  Sounds like indoctrination to me!  And isn’t the evidence of this all around us?  

I acknowledge that I have blogged frequently about this topic, and, no doubt, some may grow weary in hearing this repeated theme.  But I would hope that we as parents, church leaders and educators would not be naive when it comes to this secularist assault on our children.  The "other side" harps on the theme of tolerance, but they in no way will "tolerate" or respect our views as orthodox Christians, but are intent only in ramming their agenda down the throats of any who stand in their way.  We must not be naive concerning this reality.  And those who believe the recent presidential election will  reverse this trend are, in my view, being quite naive.  At best, certain presidential appointments or executive orders can only slow things down temporarily unless there is a major awakening in our larger culture.

As followers of Christ,  we must be doing all possible to strengthen and build up our Christian communities, including our Christian schools, in order to provide a healthy alternative in providing our children with a distinctly Christian education.

PS.  For further reading on events in California,  click the following link:

If you would like to respond to this email, please email John Morrison at

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