Extra Curricular activities hold special places in our lives. We all have them, and look forward to them. We go to them when we are not in school, at work, or anything else we have to do. They are activities we volunteer for, and they are meaningful. That being said, we inevitably end up obtaining new knowledge of ourselves, and whatever else that activity involves. Personally, praise band is an extracurricular activity that has been meaningful to me in innumerable ways.
To start, praise band has brought meaning to my life in such a way that I can play for people. It has given me a crazy feeling of satisfaction when people sing along to the music that we make. In a musical sense, not much is more fulfilling (in my opinion) than to see all of your hard work and preparation pay off in the form of voices. Praise band has also allowed me to connect with people in school that I would not have previously connected with. I have gotten song requests from people that I do not normally talk to. I’ve even had the privilege of talking to people after chapel about my journey in the world of music, and showing them guitars.
Next, praise band has brought meaning to my life in such a way that I can praise God by simply doing what I love. God has given me a love for music, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. The way I see it, I am simply returning the favor and saying “thank you” in the form of a song. He has also blessed me with people to make music with. The fact that I get to do it with people I have grown tremendously close to in the last three years is a bonus. I believe that making music with others for God brings Him even more glory than if you were doing it by yourself.
Finally, praise band has brought meaning to my life in such a way that it has taught me more about myself than sports, school, or anything else could have ever taught me. In the past three years, I have learned some valuable lessons, and made some mistakes that ultimately made myself, and the band, better. I have learned to be comfortable in front of crowds. When I first got up on stage, I was shaking in my shoes. Now it is a breeze. I have gotten to the point where it almost does not even phase me. I have come to enjoy it. I have also learned that preparation is needed in order to have success in the world of music. That has been a rather important lesson if I must choose the most important. My skills in working with other people to have success have certainly grown. Praise band has come to be a source of betterment in my life in music.
Overall, praise band has brought meaning to my life in a way that I can play for people, play for God, and it is always teaching me new lessons. I am forever thankful for this opportunity, and the honor that it is to play in this band. It has made me a better person, and taught me to use my mistakes to progress as a musician, and person altogether. Praise band has been the extracurricular activity that has led to a more satisfying, and rich life.
I love the ministry of Grace Christian Academy and am excited for the opportunity to lead it into the future. To prepare myself, I have endeavored to study the organization while also immersing myself in prayer, the book of Proverbs and any leadership book I can get my hands on. It is from these influences, that Grace is moving in a different direction; with a new mission and subsequently a change in how we view success within the organization.
Let me start by making a very bold assertion. Grace Christian Academy is not in the education business! We do not exist to teach English, History, Science, and Math. We do not exist to produce fine arts concerts. We do not exist to kick, dribble, or hit a ball around a playing field. These are all entities that we use to accomplish why we truly exist, the development and discipleship of young people. Grace Christian Academy is in the discipleship business using the means of education.
What then should our end product (our students) look like? After pondering this new direction and all of its implications, I have come to the conclusion that Grace Christian Academy wants to matriculate students who are wise. Proverbs 16:16 reminds us, “How much better to get wisdom than gold! To get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver.” Ultimately a wise student is far better equipped for life than one whose head is just full of knowledge. The development of wisdom applies to every facet of our organization (academics, fine arts, athletics, and extra-curricular activities) and brings a unity of purpose to the whole organization; develop wisdom in students.
This is a unique purpose, different from other schools because we know the beginning of wisdom; the fear of the LORD (Proverbs 9:10). With this as our starting point, the sole compelling vision of Grace as an institution is to instill wisdom in students. The mission statement and subsequent core values address the question of how we will develop wise students. In order to develop wisdom within a student, one must have a great influence on the thoughts and actions of that student. The most effective means of obtaining this kind of influence is to invest in a loving, trusting relationship. Students will rise to a high standard (rigorous academics) if they know that they are loved and what they are going through is an act of love. However, rigorous academics is only valuable in the context that it is a worship act (Romans 12:1). Students will start to develop wisdom when they understand how to use what God has given them to serve others. Ultimately, this is what success looks like; students who have adopted a lifelong passion to become wise and know that by doing so, they are worshiping. This is a compelling mission and a worthy calling.
-Mr. Most, Principal
The vision of Grace Christian Academy is to know wisdom and instruction, to understand words of insight, to receive instruction in wise dealing, in righteousness, justice, and equity; to give prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the youth. ~Proverbs 1:2-4~
The mission of Grace Christian Academy is to develop wise students through intentional relationships, rigorous instruction, and nurturing God-given talents for the purpose of service and bringing glory to God.
While other local schools have had issues with weather and cancelled baseball games this season, Grace Christian Academy has played every game on its schedule. Of the games Grace has played this year, they have played 6 games: 5 home dates, with one date being a double header. What has allowed this to happen when other area schools have cancelled (see Coaches, Athletic Directors React to a Series of Cancellations)? The answer is simple, will-power and determination.
This will-power is best demonstrated by GCA’s head baseball coach, Jeff Cross. Coach Cross has the belief that games are not scheduled to be cancelled, but rather the games are scheduled to be played. Cross spends hours preparing GCA’s baseball field to ensure that games can be played. This past week his persistence has paid off with him being able to play games on two days when no other area school played. GCA was able to play games on Tuesday, April 3rd (Rain) and Thursday, April 5th(Snow) because Cross has put in field maintenance efforts to ensure that his fields will be playable within minutes of weather letting up. By replacing the infield surface and working with the mound and the home plate areas, Cross and his team are able to quickly work on any wet spots as soon as weather breaks.
Some might say that the cold has been the actual cause of other games being cancelled, but Cross has an answer for this too. Cross recently posted, “Tenacity and grit; something most people don’t practice or even know what it could look like. Today (Tuesday, April 3rd), every baseball game was cancelled in the area on the forecast of inclement weather, GCA baseball played their game! Now Grace did not win the game and they could have cancelled the game and no one would have said anything, however I am trying to teach our young men that things can be done even though no one else thinks it can be done. I want our players to live with tenacity and grit so that someday they can use it in their adult lives.”
Too much emphasis is often put into the cold weather of spring sport games. Football playoff games are played in equally cold weather and the potential for injury is greater based on the fact that the sport is a collision sport. Cross ensures that his mound and field areas are safe for players and then he lets teams play. Does this make his players uncomfortable? Probably. However, it is stretching them to do something that nobody else thinks they can do. Is this not the true purpose of a coach? Is a coach not supposed to stretch his or her players to do more than they think they can?
GCA, with leaders such as Cross, understand that a lot can be learned through sports. Cross understands that he has to do hard work in order to allow for opportunities to exist for his athletes to learn these lessons. He puts in the work so that the games that have been scheduled can be played. He puts in the work so that his players can do things that others do not do, nor do they think they can do. He puts in work so that his players can become better men. He does all of this while he could just as easily cancel the game. Cross does not cancel because that is the easy thing to do and he does not want his players to learn how to avoid things by doing things the easy way. He wants them to learn how to do hard things by learning how to persevere through adversity and overcome others telling them that things cannot be done. He does this by ensuring that his players can play even when nobody else does.
As a young adult, I am constantly invited into the conversation of what my husband and I will choose for schooling once our kids are of age. Growing up, I remember hearing others discuss this same topic with my parents. I remember them being asked why they wouldn't place their kids in a public school, largely for athletic purposes. I remember thinking as a young athlete what it would be like to play sports in a public school environment. I remember letting my mind flirt with the idea of switching, asking myself the questions: What would the coaches be like? What would our goals be? What would before, during, and after games look like? Quite honestly, that's about where my thoughts stopped, because where I was? Mattered more to me in that season of my life. I wouldn't change a single thing about where I was then. With so many options for schooling in our world today, everyone is entitled to do what is best for their child(ren) and family, be it public, private, or homeschooling. I'm not here to say that one is less than, or that what is given in private school cannot be given elsewhere. I am here to tell you why, athletics aside, I am for private education:
1. Spiritual freedom. Being a three sport athlete growing up and someone who is heavily involved in athletics and in the community, I have countless mentors in my life that have poured into me. I have been challenged, stretched, and molded by the people God has placed into my life growing up and even now. I attended private school my entire life. The spiritual freedom I had as a student allowed me to explore my faith. I could ask questions and have discussions with anyone around me, without fear of how it would be received. I had mentors then that are still pouring into me spiritually. I had mentors then that still make me feel closer to Christ, just by being around them. As a teacher and coach in the same environment, I am able to do the same. I am able to invest spiritually, just as much as I invest academically and athletically. I have seen first hand hearts changed, mine included, due to the freedom that comes with being able to discuss the power of God in my life and the lives of my students, parents, and co-workers.
2. Focused attention. Due to the smaller class sizes, I am able to know, really know, each student. I'm able to see their strengths and weaknesses. I'm able to see what triggers them emotionally, what burdens their heart spiritually, and what excites them academically. Each student, like each human that steps foot into my classroom, is complex. I would be lying if I said I don't go home emotionally, spiritually, and physically exhausted most days. In a public school, I would be just as exhausted, don't get me wrong. But there's something beautiful about feeling depleted, because I allowed God to use me over and over and over again to speak His Truth into the lives of my students.
3. Mentorship. Being a K-12 private school, we are exposed to elements of leadership that students don't often experience until they are adults. I remember walking the hallways as a senior and hearing an elementary boy rattle off my basketball stats to me. I remember in that moment thinking that my testimony matters when other teams are present, but even more, with my home team. As a high school coach, I cannot tell you the joy it brings me hearing the elementary and junior high students light up with excitement when one of my players spends time with them. I cannot tell you how much joy fills my heart when I hear the elementary and junior high students saying they want a relationship with Christ like one of the high school students. One of the most beautiful things I see on a daily basis is my junior high students mirroring what some of my high school students are doing: encouraging, writing notes, seeking people out in the hallway. Our students are surrounded by student leaders that challenge them to be something better. I wouldn't trade that for anything.
4. Every Thursday morning during the school year, I meet with my secondary co-workers and we pray by name for our students. We bring requests forward and pour over the hearts of those God has entrusted to us during the school year. One of my favorite aspects of my job is being able to not only pray for the hearts of our students, but then being able to praise God when we see that heart change in our time with them. I love seeing God move.
5. The family environment. Feeling close and connected is difficult to do in today's world. Loneliness is easier. Keeping to yourself is easier. Being left out is easier. If you were to ask every private school in our country what their school means to them, it would be safe to say they would all be saying the same thing: my school is my family. Be it the small size, small classes, tight-knit community, whatever -- you will always find that element present. Grace has been my family since before I could walk. It continues to be my family. People move away, graduate, and move on, and they still remain my family. One of the hardest parts of teaching is watching your students grow up and leave you. One of the best parts of teaching is gaining a new group of family members each year.
Private school is a sacrifice; a sacrifice some people aren't able to make a reality. We are given many options in life. I believe in private education. I believe in every part of it. I believe you would love it. I believe you would cherish it, just as I have, after all these years.