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Students at Delaware County Christian School: a co-ed, independent, interdenominational college prep Christian school near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Inside the Christian School is a series of reflections on aspects of Christian school education. Head of School, Steve Dill and members of the Delaware County Christian School (DC) Community contribute posts to the blog. Readers are encouraged to email authors of the posts with feedback. The content of the writing often uses DC as the example, but hopefully these thoughts also apply to Christian schools throughout the world. God has used Christian schools to shape thousands of believers in the past, and we believe He will continue to use these schools to make significant “kingdom impact” for years to come. 

Hours and Cents - Why Christian Education Makes the Most Sense in Today’s Economy & Tomorrow’s Kingdom

I believe in the words found in Proverbs that challenge each of us as parents: Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. (Proverbs 22:6) Along with: The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline. (Proverbs 1:7) (New International Version)

Probably not a day goes by in today’s challenging economy that we do not think about how we can best maximize each and every dollar that we spend. Likewise, we are also very cognizant that time is a precious commodity. As parents, we are keenly aware of the life-long value of education and we believe that education combines time, talent, treasure, and discipline to ultimately develop and nurture the unique gifts that God has instilled in each of us. While we are never too old to learn and education lasts a lifetime, the facts of life tell us that there are certainly critical formative years during which time our beliefs, thoughts, and values are formed that will impact the whole course of one’s life. Consequently, from birth to age 22 much time and money is spent on a child’s education!

Consider how many hours a day your child spends at school, on the playground, socializing with friends, or perhaps on an athletic field or gym being mentored by a coach. In many cases, these hours add up to more than a child’s “waking” hours in the home. Likewise, during the course of a year, these hours are more than our children spend in church, Sunday School, Youth Group, Service/ and or Mission Trips.

The influence of a teacher, coach, school administrator or staff member along with the lens through which each subject is taught, discovered, and interpreted is at the heart of a Christ-centered education. None of us know what tomorrow holds, but we can take steps to root and ground our children in the Word and God’s Truth. Simply put, the integration of faith and learning are critical to the character-building process of learning to “think critically and act biblically.” This foundation forms and fosters a biblical worldview that withstands the “unknowns” of our earthly life and impacts our decisions for a lifetime. This is an investment that I believe, if at all possible, we cannot afford not to make.

At the end of the day, as Christian parents we desire that our children be nurtured in their faith, be inspired and called to servanthood, be continually challenged academically, and be disciplined and driven to develop all the special gifts and talents that God has instilled. At Delaware County Christian School, we believe that there is no ordinary student and we partner with parents to nurture each child’s faith and to help each child “identify, understand & apply their God-given unique design for optimum achievement to impact the world through biblical thought and action.”

The value of this Christ-centered education transcends the economic “returns” of today and multiplies into an eternal Kingdom investment for tomorrow.

Debbie Stevens Stewart

Posted by dc-connect in Cost, Parenting, Christian Perspective on Thursday June 30, 2011 at 12:02PM
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Identity in Christ

Excerpts from testimonial by Hannah LoRusso at DC's 2011 Commencement:

This is a time in our lives, as graduates, college students, as young adults, during which we must know who we are and who we want to be. Each of us has his or her own identity, and that is what I’m going to speak about tonight.

Most people have a testimony that falls under one of two categories; either a Christian testimony since they were four or a sort of Damascus road experience. I do not, however, fall under either of those categories. I was saved when I was young and came to DC in kindergarten. At this time our identities were limited. The most important defining aspects for most of us were what teacher we had or what color we were on field day.

As we grew older we had more and more influences in our lives to help us define who we were. We went to third grade and chose an instrument. I wanted to play the trumpet, but was quickly informed that it was a boy instrument so I play the flute. We moved to bottom locker or top locker, and consequently, some of us have been identified as bottom locker for seven years straight. We went to middle school and chose choir or band, Spanish or German, sports or the play. And all of us had choices about which activities we would pursue outside of school. Almost immediately I chose to dance. I say almost because there was that one year when I tried out for softball, was cut, then never did sports again. Other than that, I chose dance.

I quickly moved from a five year old girl in a tutu running around the stage to a child dancer on a traveling team to a ballerina in the Brandywine ballet. If someone asked me who I was, I would say I’m Hannah, and I’m a dancer. I was dancing at three different studios, for hours each day. Dancing became my whole identity.

When I got to middle school I started to have doubts about my faith; whether it was my faith or just something I got from my parents. I started to pull away from the church and considered leaving Delaware County Christian School. I spent almost a whole year away from God trying to find out what I really believed. Things continued this way. Tension in school, tension at home, but when I was in the studio things were great. Dancing was my escape, ballet shoes were my wings.

I started going to dance classes instead of youth group, instead of hanging out with friends, instead of doing homework. Then tenth grade rolled around. I was at the height of my dance career. I was planning on being a professional ballerina in my future and I was well on my way.

I did not have some sort of Damascus Road conversion one day that turned my life around 180 degrees like I came to expect. This is where my testimony becomes quite different than the two usual categories. I, being the stubborn sinner that I am, didn’t just have one blinding experience on a road to Damascus, I needed a few good kicks from God in order to turn around to the truth. Those kicks came in the form of my health.

Right as it seemed like this future was guaranteed, my health took a turn for the worse. One of the vertebrae in my back slipped out of place, severely injuring my spine.

In six months I went from ballerina to barely walking. The injury made it impossible for me to bend, or lift much over 30 pounds let alone be a dancer. My career was over. My wings were gone. I was angry. Dancing was who I was. I went through a period of anger toward God, toward DC, toward religion in general. I pushed away my friends and when they tried to be by my side and understand it made me even more angry. Each day in school hearing the prayers for my health made me even more bitter because I didn’t want to admit that I needed it. I didn’t want God to be my hope. After weeks of this consistent struggle I opened my Bible for the first time in over a year, just to a random page while I was lying in my bed missing my dance recital and I had opened to Proverbs 19. “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lords purpose that prevails.”

God got through to me. He broke down the thick wall that I had built around my heart and it only took a broken back. I read through proverbs and realized that losing my dancing didn’t mean losing who I am. With the help of my friends and family I came to realize that my identity needed to be grounded in Christ because everything else could be taken away in as little as sixth months.

In my immobility I started to draw. I would lie in bed for hours each day sketching everything I saw, painting every canvas I could get my hands on. Art became my therapeutic study. It was God’s gift that nurtured me back to sanity. I became thoroughly involved in the art program here at DC and was taught by my greatest mentor, Mrs. Unger. And now I’m going to school as a major in Fine Art. To my surprise, I realize now that art is a gift God He has given me, and my Christian faith journey required that I see my limitations in one area, dancing, in order to step into another one, drawing and painting.

And now I urge you, my dear classmates, to remember that as we move on to a life outside of DC - outside of our homes, you may pursue careers as artists, doctors or accountants. That is beautiful. Please use the gifts God has blessed you with, because this class truly is gifted. But remember who you are. You are a child of God and that is what should identify you first and foremost. Go to college, and remember that your studies are a pursuit of knowledge that has only been made available to you through Christ. Glorify him in your studies, in your social life, and in your every action. Everything in this world is temporary, but an identity in Christ is eternal.

Posted by dc-connect on Friday June 17, 2011 at 10:46AM
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Life Lessons from Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Excerpts from speech by Valedictorian, Nathaniel Schmucker at DC's 2011 Commencement:

I would like to take this time as the Class of 2011 leaves high school and prepares to enter a new stage of life, to present to them and to you the parting image of the great Christian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Why do I wish to review history before stepping into the future? I have learned that Bonhoeffer’s life bears certain similarities to ours. I hope that his story might provide for you a vivid example that can both clarify our life together in 2011, and help us to consider our spiritual and academic future.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer grew up in Germany at the same time that the Nazi Party rose to power. Bonhoeffer and a small group of believers recognized the deathly blows that Hitler was making at Christianity. In response, they took radical steps to protect the faith. The Class of 2011 at Delaware County Christian School similarly faces a mounting crisis in the church.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a man of rare intellectual capabilities, who earned his doctorate in theology at the age of 21. We as a class can proudly say that because of the administration and teachers at DC, we have received an excellent academic education. Gifted and rigorous teachers stand as a testament to the way in which DC prepares its students for a bright academic future.

I am grateful not only for my teachers’ academic instruction, but also for the enthusiasm for learning which they have given us. We at DC share with Dietrich Bonhoeffer a strong academic training and an enthusiasm for education.

DC has also given its students a strong foundation in Christian doctrine. Like Bonhoeffer, who debated with famous theologians like von Harnack and Barth, my classmates and I benefited from a stellar Bible department. Romans class was a detailed study of Christian doctrine, and in Christian Theology, he taught us to think critically about the place of Christianity in the contemporary world. I have learned from these classes that Biblical Christianity is under many of the same attacks in the world today that it experienced in Bonhoeffer’s day. Whereas Bonhoeffer lived in a country whose government was publically set on eradicating the Truth of the Bible, we live in a post-modern society, in which many subtly reject the Biblical account of history. These two attacks share equal potential to shake the foundations of Christianity.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s response to his culture’s moral apathy inspires me. He began with lectures critiquing the Nazis and progressed to the creation of a separate German church that publically denounced the Reich. His actions culminated in his joining the underground resistance and participating in a plot to kill Hitler. During this, Bonhoeffer was captured and taken to a concentration camp, where he was later killed. While I know that Bonhoeffer’s situation was unique and that in America, I will likely not suffer the same trials, I also recognize that my future will include a defense of the Faith against the ideas of our culture. It is my prayer that I will have the same courage as Bonhoeffer.

So as I conclude, I wish to give this address: Class of 2011, we will soon leave for college and, like Bonhoeffer, will all have to make a response to the attacks on the church. I see that this is a fight we cannot make alone. So now I urge you, as you step onto the battlefield of the college campus: “find the Christians”. “Find the Christians” and find a church to attend each Sunday. In so doing, you and I will not only build upon the spiritual foundation which we have received at DC, but will also find brothers and sisters in Christ to encourage us as we stand to defend Christianity in the midst of a hostile world. Our resistance against an increasingly post-modern culture cannot be made alone. As Paul writes in Ephesians 4, the leaders of the church exist “for building up the body of Christ…so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine.” “Find the Christians.” Thank you.

Posted by dc-connect in Faculty/Staff, Students, Learning on Thursday June 9, 2011 at 12:56PM
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