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Archives - May 2017

Commencement 2017

May 30, 2017
By John Morrison
The Grace Christian School Class of 2017

One of our annual GCS highlights is the commencement of our seniors as we hand them their well deserved diplomas and send them forth into the next season of their lives.  This year’s commencement was held at Calvary Baptist Church this past Saturday as we celebrated the graduation of our nineteen seniors.  The ceremony included presentations by our high school chorus, including a special selection by four of our seniors (Hope Campbell, Austin Allred, Shannon Jenkins, and Loren Karicofe), as well  as a  special selection from alumnus Ben Elliott during the traditional “tribute to parents.”  GCS teacher Josh Keene, at the request of the graduates, served as this year’s commencement speaker.  The program concluded with our traditional “lighting of the candles,” where the father of each senior passes along the flame from his candle to that of his son or daughter, representing our Christian heritage being passed on to the next generation.

Hope Campbell, Shannon
Jenkins and Lauren Karicofe.

The GCS class of 2017 distinguished themselves in many ways during their high school “career.” One noteworthy accomplishment is that the combined scholarships and grants awarded to ten of the nineteen graduates by the various post-secondary schools they will be attending totals over $362,820!  Wow!!! For such a small class, this is quite an accomplishment!  And, yes, the academic rigor of GCS does pay off!

This year, we had several firsts for GCS graduates.  

Shannon Jenkins was recruited by Bridgewater College to join their nationally ranked equestrian team, and Thomas Musselman was invited to join the Bridgewater football team.  So, while we have had any number of GCS graduates over the years go on to play college sports, Thomas and Shannon now add football and equestrian teams to our list of GCS college sports!

 

Kayla Shifflet and Jenny Hockman
Shifflett (1992
)
 

Another notable first is represented by Kayla Shifflett.  Kayla’s mother, Jenny Hockman Shifflett, was a member of our first graduating class in 1992.  So Kayla represents our first “second generation” graduate!   With over fifty second generation students currently enrolled at Grace, we are anticipating many more who will follow in Kayla’s footsteps!   

Thomas Musselman receiving his
diploma.

Commencement represents mixed feelings for most of us who serve as GCS staff.   On the one hand, those of us who have worked with the students over many years are sad to think of them leaving us.   On the other hand, we celebrate their lives and accomplishments as they move on to this next stage in their journey.  And I am sure that our feelings are magnified in their parents!  Indeed, our prayer is that each graduate will discover that the greatest meaning and purpose in life is to live for the purposes of God, and we trust that, without exception, they will be motivated to live to the praise of His glory!

Congratulations, class of 2017!  We are proud of you and will be praying that God will order your steps in the days ahead, and that your lives will make an eternal impact in furthering the cause of God’s kingdom!

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

Celebrating our GCS Students - Once Again!

May 26, 2017
By John Morrison
Elementary School Choir at King's Dominion Competition


In recent blogs, I have been recognizing and celebrating many of our GCS students and their accomplishments.  Last week, I featured our three choral groups and the outstanding job they did in their recent spring concert.  I forgot to mention that the elementary chorus won first place in a recent competition at King’s Dominion, and the middle school chorus won second place, all in the face of some pretty stiff competition!  Congratulations to all for this outstanding accomplishment!

Luke Gardner and Buddy Thomas at Arts Night
Artwork displayed during Arts Night


But the artistic talents of our students are not limited to our choral groups.  Last week at our annual Arts Night, over 60 GCS elementary, middle, and high school students displayed their artistic gifts through their recital performances and every art student in preschool through 12th grade had at least one piece of art displayed. What a  joy to hear their excellent performances and to view their quality art work!  Congrats to all, including our very talented art and music teachers Kim Mancini, Donna Kocka, Lisa Morrison, Stephanie Neal, Marie Masincup, Buddy Thomas, Larry Barrett, Orville Bame and Joelle Miller.

Three weeks ago, our drama department presented the musical Beauty and the Beast in three performances, two of which were sold out!  Again, hearty congrats to our cast and crew for their hard work in pulling off this excellent production that highlighted the talents of so many of our students.  Special congratulations to producer and director Becky Boyette for her hard work and excellent leadership and coaching.  Thanks also to Lynn Vogan, Kristen Lihos, Laura Doty, and Marie Masincup for their invaluable assistance.  I never cease to be amazed at how God raises up such gifted folks to work with our students!  We can’t wait for next year’s production!

Hope Campbell and Austin Allred
as "Beauty and the Beast".

Somehow, I have allowed the end of this school year to “sneak up” on me.  In many ways, the year has gone by so very quickly.  And I still have more to share concerning our GCS students and their accomplishments, so please be looking for additional blogs in the next few weeks, even though school will be out of session.

In closing, let me simply acknowledge God in all his faithfulness in giving us another very positive school year.  I trust that each of our students has been eternally impacted through all that has been invested into their lives this year by staff and parents as we seek to provide them with a Christ-centered education.

May God richly bless each of you over the summer.  We look forward to seeing you again next school year!

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

A Wonderful Concert

May 18, 2017
By John Morrison


Elementary School Choir

Let me “change up” my blog emphasis as I take a few weeks to celebrate our GCS student and staff accomplishments.  In particular, I am so proud of our GCS choral students and their teachers and accompanists as a result of their recent spring concert performed at Tinkling Spring Presbyterian Church!

While the pictures can speak for themselves, the radiant faces of our students coupled with their enthusiastic renditions of a diverse and uplifting selection of music was so very deeply moving for many of us in attendance.  As I was “gushing forth” in my praise after the concert, and about how it was one of our best ever, a senior high school student laughed and reminded me, “Mr. Morrison, you say that about every concert!”  But I am always so deeply moved at these concerts that each strikes me as the “best!”  Last week’s event was no exception.

Middle School Choir

I want to express congratulations and my deep appreciation to our three musical directors for their outstanding work with our three choirs: Mrs. Marie Masincup (elementary chorus); Mrs. Karen Palumbo (middle school chorus); Mrs. Lynn Vogan (high school chorus).  These ladies are doing an outstanding job working with our students, and we can never adequately thank them for the way that the pour their heart and soul into their ministry.  To you three, I would say simply that you are making an eternal impact in our students through your tutelage and influence in their lives!

Of course, if I try to thank everyone who made the concert possible  -- the accompanists and parent volunteers, our teachers and administrative team -- this blog would become quite lengthy.  And then there are the wonderful folks at Tinkling Spring who hosted this year’s event..  THANK YOU TO ALL FOR YOUR PART IN MAKING THIS WONDERFUL CONCERT POSSIBLE!

We also thank all of our gifted students for their hard work in preparing this very special blessing for those of us who were able to attend!  We are proud of you!

High School Choir

Truly, we were not only “entertained,” but also experienced a time in worshipping our wonderful Lord through the very uplifting and Christ-honoring music.  Thank you all so much!  

I invite you to join me at tonight’s Arts Night festivities as we continue celebrating our Fine Arts Program.  Student recitals (piano, violin, voice and guitar), as well as student artwork will be presented at the Elementary-Middle School Campus beginning at 6:30 pm.

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

Fake News (Continued)

May 10, 2017
By John Morrison

In last week's blog where I explored the phenomenon of "fake news," I quoted Romano Guardini: "True illness of the mind and spirit sets in when a man no longer cherishes the truth but despises it, when he uses it as a means to his own ends, when in the depths of his soul, truth ceases to be to him the primary, the most important concern."    Our basic assumptions about reality will dictate the course of our lives as stated in Proverbs: "As a man thinks, so he is."  Thus, the formation of our children's basic assumptions about reality is vital in their spiritual and mental  health, as stated by Guardini.  Furthermore, even if they are not followers of Christ when leaving our homes, when we have deposited Christian truth into their lives, we can trust the Holy Spirit to arrest and convict them when He knows is best!

This is a recurring theme for a growing number of Christian leaders, because it seems the larger Christian community remains naive when it comes to this basic point.  I know that I step on toes when I speak negatively about secular, public education.  And I am thankful for the many very dedicated folks, including Christians, who serve as public educators.  But the system itself is permeated, beyond repair, with "fake news" assumptions about reality which are being proactively embedded in so many of our children.  

In his two-part blog series on "fake news," Glen Schultz makes this point by referencing another Christian leader, Jeff Keaton of Renewanation:

Jeff Keaton, founder and director of Renewanation, regularly asks parents, church leaders and educators the following question.

     Falsehood: How Much Is Too Much?

Keaton goes on to ask listeners if they would keep their children in a school that teaches the following to be true:

     2+2=7

     Turtles are faster than cheetahs.

     The Americans were defeated by the Nazis.

     George Washington was the King of England.

     The law of gravity doesn’t exist.

Of course, everyone responds that they would not keep their children in a school that teaches these things to be true.  However, Keaton then asks if they would keep them in a school that teaches these things to be true:

     God is irrelevant, even non-existent!

     The Bible cannot be trusted!

     God did not create the world!

     Sex outside of marriage is expected!

     Same sex marriage is good and normal!

Both lists of so-called facts are fake news because none of their statements “map to reality” and are “deliberate attempts to spread misinformation.”  The sad reality is that very few Christians would keep their children in a school that taught the first group of statements as being true but the majority of Christians actually keep their children in schools that teach the second group of statements as being true.  Is it because we, too, have become victims of “fake news”?

This may be, for many, an inconvenient truth.  But truth generally has little regard for convenience!  To read Glen Schultz's entire blog, click here.

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

Redefining Reality (Revisited)

May 03, 2017
By John Morrison

For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth.  Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.
Jesus Speaking Before Pilate (John 18:37)

Saul Alinsky, in his now famous guide to community organizing entitled Rules for Radicals, stated: "... the first radical known to man ... rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom--Lucifer."  Holding up Lucifer as a role model, Alinsky goes on to state: "You have to do what you can with what you have, and clothe it with moral arguments."  In other words, the end justifies the means, and any notion of objective truth is to be replaced with untruths if they help achieve that desired end.

Playing loose with truth is increasingly the mode of operation within our larger culture where powerful special interests are furthering their agendas.  In his excellent blog, Christian educator Glen Schultz examines the widespread phenomenon of "fake news,"  which he defines as "a sensational piece of news which does not map to reality ...  a deliberate spread of misinformation."   He adds:

Michael Radutzky, a producer of CBS 60 Minutes,  states that “fake news are stories that are probably false, have enormous traction in the culture, and are consumed by millions of people.”  Guy Campanile, also of 60 Minutes, said, “What we are talking about are stories that are fabricated out of thin air.  By most measures, deliberately, and by any definition, that’s a lie.”

Fake news is precisely what Alinsky meant as referenced in the opening paragraph above.  I would urge my readers to read Schultz's entire blog on this disturbing trend by clicking this link.

Fake news is not limited to the news media.  In his excellent book, Strangers in a Strange Land, Charles Chaput relates the following:

In 2015, writing in the New York Times, Justin McBrayer--a philosophy professor--noted an odd trend in public schools.  Current standards in his local school district required students to know the difference between facts and opinions.  But in checking his second grade son's homework, he realized that every moral or ethical premise his child encountered was treated as an opinion as opposed to a fact.  "All  men are created equal."  "Copying homework assignments is wrong."  "Cursing in school is inappropriate behavior."  All these things were being taught as opinions, not facts.  

In his essay,  McBrayer argued that such a curriculum "sets up our children for doublethink.  Students learn standards of conduct and mutual respect in school as part of growing up.  That's always been the case.  But today they're also taught that those same standards are, in essence, elegant sounding opinions.”

So, what do the above quote and fake news have in common?  Simply this: reality is being redefined as whatever finite man wants it to be (his opinion) rather than the traditional concept that truth is an accurate description of actual reality!  Of this notion of redefining reality, scholar Romano Guardini stated: "True illness of the mind and spirit sets in when a man no longer cherishes the truth but despises it, when he uses it as a means to his own ends, when in the depths of his soul, truth ceases to be to him the primary, the most important concern."  

Guardini's profound statement reflects the words of our Lord as He stood before Pilate: "For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice."  We must recognize that one’s commitment to live consistent with truth is a life and death matter.  In contrast, that which is not an accurate rendition of truth is, in essence, a lie, or as we might phrase it today, false news.  One whose life is based upon such false assumptions about reality, especially as those assumptions pertain to God, is set for a great fall.  And any system of education, at any point where it diverges from Christian truth claims, powerfully contributes to the formation of false assumptions and presuppositions in how our children view reality.   Such an education is based on “fake news.”

This is why, as a vital aspect of our educational emphasis at GCS, we are working hard to teach our students how to discern truth from what is false by cultivating Holy Spirit-enabled critical thinking through our Christian worldview integration program.   This must be an integral aspect of a distinctly Christian education!

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

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