Building Community

Building Community

Dear GRACE Community,

As we begin the 2017-2018 school year, our 35th year of Christian education, GRACE continues to value our loving and caring community. It is, without a doubt, our greatest asset in nurturing the next generation, a point that was brought up frequently in parent coffees, family interviews, and the end-of-year parent survey.  Within the context of our loving community, GRACE’s mission is to not only equip your children spiritually and academically, but also with skills that will enable them to be successful in life, at every age, in and out of the classroom. To this end, you will be seeing the phrase “Equipping Students for Life” throughout our communications this year. We continue to partner with you to prepare your children for college, but also for overcoming challenges, facing failure, working collaboratively, and a host of other skills that will enable them to thrive in our ever-changing world. It is our strong belief that this will help our students to develop their God-given gifts and talents in a way that enables them to impact their world for Christ.  

The loving community that surrounds our student body is foundational to our school identity.  A few years ago, I read the book The Boys in the Boat, an excellent account of the 1936 US Olympic rowing team. Each member of the team brought unique talents to the group and each individual played a vital role in the team’s success. The book provides an incredible illustration of the power of team and community. As with the rowing team, every member of the GRACE community has an important role to play. Some have been blessed with the gift of time and we value it greatly as our on-campus volunteers are an essential part of GRACE running smoothly. Some have been blessed with gifts and talents that can be utilized during special events during the year. Some have been blessed with financial resources that enable us to enhance our students’ opportunities. Our GRACE Community represents  a local body of Christ, and as such, each contribution is valuable. As Paul shares in his first letter to the Corinthians, “God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as He wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” (1 Corinthians 12: 18-21) Each individual part of our GRACE body brings value to the whole.

We want to grow together this year as a community and we want to encourage each family to be in relationship with the faculty, staff, and other families at GRACE. To that end, we plan to be intentional in providing opportunities for growth and fellowship among our community, including the following:

  • Head of School Coffees and Luncheons – In my inaugural year at GRACE, I hosted several coffee events. These served as a great way for me to get to know the community. My plan is to continue to host these informal fellowship sessions, or something similar, during the school year. Dates will be announced via email or #WhatsUpAtGRACE.
  • Men of GRACE: Donuts for Dads – GRACE fathers have a tradition of gathering each month for a special time of devotion, fellowship, and consumption of donuts. This is a great opportunity for men throughout the GRACE community to build relationships, learn from one another, and grow through the special messages provided by a guest speaker. Contact Greg Robinson for more information.
  • Women of GRACE: Prayer Teams – Every week, groups of GRACE moms gather to share a time of prayer for our community. Contact Lucille Sossaman or Lori Ritterskamp for more information.
  • Principal Coffees  – During the first quarter, Mrs. Gill and Mrs. Thompson provide opportunities for parents in each grade level to discuss issues specific to that age group. Dates for 2017-2018 can be found on the GRACE Academic Calendar (search for Principal Coffee).
  • Parent Teacher Fellowship – PTF committees provide parents with opportunities to become involved in the school in the areas of their respective interests and expertise. See the PTF Page on the GRACE Website for more information.
  • Book Clubs – We are working with the PTF leadership team to develop a series of book studies for parents during the upcoming year. Details about the books and meeting times will be available at a later date.
  • Friday Night Tailgating – This fall, the Eagles Club will be partnering with the Athletic Department to create tailgating events at our home football games.  

As we focus more intentionally on connecting members of the GRACE community in meaningful ways, we will also be changing the manner in which we request financial contributions in the hopes of maximizing the benefit of your generosity. We are completing plans to transition the majority of field trips and monetary classroom “asks” into a grade level activity fee that would be assessed at the beginning of the year, but could be paid over the course of the entire school year, like tuition. We are also working to reduce the number of asks in support of myriad causes throughout the year. For instance, we are not conducting a Boosterthon event this year. From a development standpoint, we will be placing a renewed emphasis on investing in our annual fund by asking you to prayerfully consider to support GRACE financially by participating in one of the following giving opportunities:

  1. October: 10 Day Annual Fund Giving Campaign
  2. December: End of Year Giving
  3. March: Celebrate GRACE Annual Fundraising Dinner

Our annual fund allows us to go above and beyond our operational budget to enhance the GRACE experience in ways that directly benefit your students as well as accelerate the process of improving our campuses. In recent years, the annual fund giving has been used for the following upgrades:

  • Classroom renovations on both campuses;
  • Security cameras on both campuses;
  • Upper Campus renovations of the Chapel, Activity Building, and second floor classrooms;
  • Lower Campus remodeling of the fifth-grade and sixth-grade hallway and locker areas;
  • Sound equipment for the fine arts program;
  • Purchase of a fourteen passenger bus;
  • Athletic equipment;
  • New computers benefitting both campuses;
  • Installation and implementation of the Raptor security system on both campuses;
  • A complete overhaul of the bathrooms on the lower campus; and
  • New HVAC systems for the lower campus.

Thank you for the opportunity to partner with your family. We look forward to a great year and to seeing what God has in store for us in the coming months.