At WCCS, it is our hope for our students to not only receive an excellent education, but to discover the God-given talents the Lord has given to each one of them, and in discovering those gifts, to use them to impact the world around them. When we connect classroom learning with service outside of the school walls, we give “hands and feet” to the concepts they are learning.
Service learning is incorporated into curriculum at both the upper and lower school. Just next week, our 4th graders will participate in our annual Box City project. Like most people, the students are accustomed to eating at restaurants and enjoying traditional Thanksgiving dinners to celebrate the holiday. However, on this day, the fourth graders will each bring in a large box and one blanket as well as a rain poncho or garbage bag in case of bad weather. The box is intended to be the student’s “home” and to give them the experience of celebrating the holidays as a less fortunate or homeless person might. Teachers and their students will discuss what they have learned, pray for the homeless and less fortunate, and write about their thoughts in an essay. On Tuesday, they will travel to a soup kitchen, where they will serve lunch to locals. This is just one great example of service learning at our lower school!
So far this year, we have had upper school students serving at the Salvation Army, the Children’s Attention Home, the Adult Enrichment Center, and Pilgrim’s Inn. Art students have done numerous service projects this year including completing art pieces for a local adoption agency and first responders as well as serving at a local church fall festival! Our Beta Club and National Honor Society have several service projects lined up for the remainder of the school year as well.
As parents, we know that you share this desire with us and long for your children to want to be a part of God’s work. It’s never too early or too late to begin cultivating the trait of servanthood in your child.
For this week’s blog, we have invited Nick Turner, Westminster Presbyterian Church Pastor of Families and Children, to share some practical ways in which you, as parents, might instill a sense of genuine servanthood into the hearts of your children.
“How do we teach our children to serve?” Good question, especially in a world that has us staying so busy. As a parent myself, I realize this firsthand. However, the impact that your influence has on your children is invaluable. There is no better way to spend time with your family than to volunteer together and not just during the holiday season, but year-round. Here are a few thoughts…
How Do We Teach Our Children to Serve?
Acknowledge your own struggle. Jesus redefined greatness as serving others in love (Mark 10:35-45). Serving is difficult. Serving with the right motivation even more so. On this side of eternity, our best service is imperfect. We must own our failure to serve, repent, and receive grace from the One who served us.
Model service for your child. While preaching on God’s design for family discipleship in Deuteronomy 6:4-9, Matt Chandler said, “God’s design is so thorough, so good, that you are making disciples. The question is…What are you discipling them in?” Our children will learn to serve by watching us serve.
Keep it Simple. Teaching our children to serve does not require going on a mission trip or creating a fancy service project (though nothing is wrong with both). Simply evaluate where you are currently serving the Lord and bring your child along with you. For example, if you are delivering a meal to someone in your church have your child by your side.
Talk About It. Tell them along the way what you are doing and why you are doing it. Ask questions afterwards like, “How did it feel to serve that person?” or “What other ideas do you have to help others?” or “How do you feel when someone helps you?”
As you talk with your child, remind them that we do not serve Jesus to earn His love. Our service is a response to His love. In love, He laid down His life for us. We serve because He served us. PS – lay down the smartphone…no pictures or video. We are teaching our children that we serve for His glory alone, not for “likes” on an Instagram page.
Looking for ways you and your family might serve others in the Rock Hill community? Check out this comprehensive guide to serving in Rock Hill.
“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45
This week's blog comes from Katie Tassy, who we all know as our Upper School Assistant, but did you know that she is also teaching our SALT class (Serving and Learning Together)? Check out this great post about learning to serve in a fallen world!
What is service? How does it fit into the Biblical lens of human history—Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Restoration? How do we discern our motivation for serving? What is the difference between Christian service and philanthropy?
This year, I have the privilege of teaching a new elective class called SALT—Serving and Learning Together, and these are just some of the questions and topics we are discussing with students. SALT is the brainchild of Lora Holladay, our school board chair, who has a vast amount of experience with serving in the Rock Hill community. Currently, six seniors are enrolled in this class, and it has been a joy to dig into this topic with students in learning to identify and use our gifts to serve and glorify God.
One of my passions as a teacher is helping students understand how serving in our communities and the world around us flows out of our acknowledgement that God has given each one of us gifts for the purpose of being a blessing to others. At the beginning of the year, I wrote the familiar scope of Creation—Fall—Redemption—Restoration/Reconciliation on the board. Between each of those four captions were arrows to show the flow of human history through the lens of a Believer. My question to the students was this: “Where does service fit in to this model of human history?” Through our discussion, we agreed that the WHY of service came from the Fall—that all of life is broken because of the Fall; therefore, we serve as we respond to brokenness in a sinful world.
Student, Seth Russo, put it so beautifully, “I think service is the arrow between Redemption and Restoration. We are redeemed by Christ, we go out to serve, which brings reconciliation. Some of the ones we serve will then be redeemed themselves, and they also will go out and serve.” Brilliant! I was done for the day!!
"Service is the arrow between Redemption and Restoration..."
One highlight for us has been hosting our outside speakers every Thursday. Our students are hearing from guests with service experience in organizations such as the United Way, Renew Our Community, the Salvation Army, and more. As we listen to the journeys of each one of our speakers, it is obvious that God is so personal in how He utilizes different gifts and passions for His glory in service to the world around us.
This week, we even gave senior students an opportunity to use their gifts throughout the Rock Hill community, serving in various organizations for Senior Service Day. Senior, Ann Preston Campbell chose to spend the day at the Adult Enrichment Center in Rock Hill. “I didn’t realize the number of non-profits in our area and the ways those non-profits extend help to our neighbors. I have come to realize the need for more services to effectively help [others] in our community.”
From these interactions and through various exercises which help us to explore our own gifts, it is a treat to see these students become passionate about various social issues such as homelessness, addiction, mental illness, veteran needs, and others. Our hope is that our students will develop the skills and discernment that they can evaluate any community of which they are a part—college, work, or town—and decide how they can use their gifts to help build into that community. These students have some amazing ideas, and I cannot wait to see how God uses them to continue to build His kingdom!
Below is a link to a comprehensive guide to serving in the Rock Hill Community. My prayer is that each one of us--no matter how old, or how young, would learn to serve wholeheartedly in this fallen world—to look for opportunities to truly be a blessing to those around us. I know currently our 3 year old classes are collecting socks for Renew Our Community (ROC), and in the month of November, our 4th graders will partake in “Box City” where they learn about homelessness and serving in a soup kitchen.
Won’t you join us in serving in this fallen world?
With the fall season quickly approaching, I wanted to take a minute to talk about the benefits of getting your student involved in the wide range of not just athletic opportunities, but fine arts and service opportunities at WCCS. These after school activities can enrich your child’s school experience, help them perform better in class, and even enhance their relationship with Christ.
I recently came across an article from the National Federation of State High School Association (www.nfhs.org) that sparked my interest and wanted to share five great points that I believe speak to the benefits of student engagement outside of the classroom.
BETTER ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE
Some students might be hesitant to join a sports team or after school activity because they don’t want it to interfere with their grades. However, studies actually show that students who compete in high school activity programs such as sports, theater, and band have better educational outcomes, including higher grades, higher achievement test scores, and higher educational expectations beyond high school.
A study of this group of students showed that they “earned higher grades, graduated at a higher rate, dropped out of school less frequently, and scored higher on state assessments than did non-athletes.”
Participation in high school activities is a valuable part of the overall high school experience, enhancing students’ school engagement and sense of belonging.
A study looking at social adjustment in making the transition from middle school (8th grade) to high school (9th grade) found involvement in sports helped students with friendships during the transition. Continuous involvement in sports and other after school activities was associated with having more friendships.
More importantly, as they compete, perform, and serve together, students and athletes get to represent not only our school, but Christ to the surrounding community—impacting the world around them.
DEVELOPMENT OF POSITIVE LIFE SKILLS
Sports and fine arts activity programs promote positive youth development and provide opportunities for learning a number of life skills and values not typically taught in classroom education.
In a study looking at learning life skills through high school sports, a very diverse group of students participating in high school soccer reported learning skills related to initiative, respect, and teamwork/leadership.
A study of life skills developed through sports found that the process of participation and striving to win taught life skills such as discipline, work ethic, and emotional control.
Participation in the fine arts provides similar results. Students develop self-confidence and personal responsibility, experience enhanced communication skills, and learn to better time manage as they are required to use organizational skills and planning to get both schoolwork and after school activities completed.
Data shows that participation in school athletics was correlated with many positive educational achievements, behaviors and aspirations in the end of Grade 12 as well as two years later. The positive outcomes included “school grades, coursework selection, homework, educational and occupational aspirations, self-esteem, university applications, subsequent college enrollment, and eventual educational attainment.
A National Survey found that 18- to 25-year-olds who participate in sports activities while in high school were more likely than nonparticipants to be engaged in volunteering, voting, feeling comfortable speaking in public settings, and watching news.
It’s not just about college prep, either. We believe that God has gifted each student with a set of unique talents and abilities. Involvement in activities such as athletics, theater, praise band, MODEL UN, and others help students discover what these gifts are so they can carry them beyond their time at WCCS in preparation for an eternal service to our King!
POSITIVE CHRISTIAN MENTORS
At WCCS, our teachers and coaches act as Christian mentors to our students, pointing them to Christ in every situation. Players and performers play, pray and serve together alongside positive authority figures. It is our desire that through these opportunities, we teach students to use their gifts to glorify God and bless those around them.
If you have a student that is thinking about trying out for a sports team or other activity this year, encourage them! There are plenty of opportunities for greater involvement outside the classroom. I would love to speak with your student and help him or her figure out what gifts or abilities God has blessed them with. If athletics isn’t their thing, we have plenty of fine arts opportunities, service activities, and clubs to check out!
To end, as you talk to your student about the upcoming school year, in whatever they are involved with, encourage them to simply, “Be the light!” as I always say.
Each year, our Senior class has the opportunity to go on a service trip in the spring. Students are involved in numerous service and adventure activities and have the opportunity to attend local church services. We asked Senior, Lauren O'Steen, to share some of her reflections from the Senior trip to Belize in this week's blog. Check out her story below!
God works in more ways than anyone could ever imagine. I know it’s a cliché; Christians use this statement to account for all sorts of possibly random instances that “go right” throughout their lives. When I took part in the Senior Service trip to Belize with my class in late February, however, God definitely surprised me in the ways He was able to work in and through me and my classmates, to hopefully have blessed the world.
To be honest, I have been very skeptical of the “service” aspect of the Senior Trip in the past. How can I, a relatively unskilled teenager, really do lasting good for a people who may not even have running water or electric lights? What a country like Belize needs are lawyers to settle land disputes and engineers to build infrastructure, not me getting in the way of a teacher trying to prepare her students for end-of-the-year exams. After struggling with these thoughts for a while, I decided to go on the trip, only prepared to grow closer to my classmates and have unique adventures in a beautiful place, but not really thinking I would be able to make an impact of some kind.
The day we arrived in Belize was the hardest for me. We traveled for more than twelve hours to reach the country (leaving every member of our team exhausted); my luggage had been taken by a stranger at the Belizean airport; and I was very (unreasonably) worried about what I was going to be able to eat. All of these different stresses manifested themselves into an intense feeling of helplessness that I was not able to shake off throughout the day.
That night, we rode in our three battered vans to worship at Unity Presbyterian Church. I was wearing a borrowed, salamander orange dress and was not in the mood to be attending what we were warned would be a long church service, preached in English Creole.
My mood changed the moment the service started at Unity. The worship leader/preacher Ernest, who decisively did not have the voice of an angel, brought to the ravenous congregation upbeat versions of some of my chapel favorites, such as “How Great is Our God,” accompanied only by his guitar and three backup singers. The crowd reacted to his music in a way I had never seen before, dancing and singing with an immense joy that left me absolutely positive that God was in the room, hopefully smiling as wide as I was.
The sermon Ernest shared with us detailed the faith of Job. The message hit me like a truck. Why should I be making the choice to wallow in my relatively insignificant problems when the Belizeans around me, who came from very different lifestyle situations than me, were being so joyful and responding to the message so earnestly. Ernest hugged each of us as we got back into the vans after the service, giving us each his blessing, “I love you, God loves you, you are special.” I made it my mission from this point forward to show God’s love to everyone I met and remind them that they are special.
"I made it my mission to show God's love to everyone I met and remind them that they are special."
While on the Senior Service trip, I learned that I can sense God’s presence most in situations that leave me with a feeling of overwhelming joy. One morning, we met with preschoolers in Cayo, singing songs and putting on a skit before joining them on the playground. At the seesaw, I met a energetic little boy with a gold chain named Carlito. He had an arm full of the toys we had brought and wanted to play. He loved to talk, and I grew to realize that Carlito had so much information stored in his brain that he wanted to let out, telling me why some toys can float and others cannot and the name of every single flower growing on the preschool grounds. Calling me only “friend,” he loved that I paid attention to what he had to say, just wanting show me everything he could including the chairs, steps, and water jug. The light in his eyes and the joy it brought me was amazing. Looking back, it’s ironic that in this situation where I did not mention God once, I was able to feel His presence the most out of any other time in Belize.
The Senior Service trip was a blessing to me personally, one that I hope everyone reading this has an opportunity to take at some point in their lifetimes. Reminders of God’s light were everywhere to me, for example, in the eyes of a Standard Four student in Orange Walk when the concept of ratios just “clicked” to him for the first time and the pride that Carlito showed when (with a little assistance) he was able to count all the way to 100. In Belize, I grew to realize that for a trip to “count” as a missions trip, one does not have to build a house or school, but simply want to spend time and show love to others around the world. While I do not feel as though I changed the world while on the trip (or even the country of Belize for that matter), God was still able to work through me to listen to people whose opinions are normally brushed aside and show them that there is a bigger world that they have a place in and, as Ernest would say, that “I love them, God loves them, and they are special.”
This holiday season, WCCS middle school students are encouraging one another with simple acts of kindness.
To celebrate the Advent season, students have been challenged to care well for one another through a series of kindness prompts each day. Each time they reach out to another student with an act of kindness, they earn a "link" to be added to an Advent chain that is decorating the middle school hallway. The activity has been meaningful to many of our middle schoolers as they have been able to share Christ's love with their fellow peers in some really practical ways. Here is what some of them have had to say about the activity!
"During the time of Advent Season of Kindness, I learned that being kind is not that easy, and there are many different ways to be kind. One way was to show patience to someone or show mercy to someone. In class, I showed patience by waiting for my friend to finish stapling their papers. I also showed mercy by giving a friend another chance to do the right thing." - Nick Whitfield
"On December 7, we had to take 10 minutes to really listen to someone. I took 10 minutes to listen to a quiet girl in my class. I knew her name and we were acquainted, but I knew nothing about her. I sat next to her and listened. She is now one of my good friends. I learned that she loves music and plays the piano. She loves art and is actually a 6th grader on the varsity cheerleading team. She is really pretty and super kind. Thanks to the motivation of the advent season of kindness, she is now my good friend." - McKenzie Brockelbank
"My kindness link was 'forgive somebody that has wronged you.' I did mine on my little sister. [I forgave her] when we got in a fight. After every fight, I always forgive my sister or my brother, because that's what God wants us to do." - Walker Norman
"The Advent Season of Kindness has taught me a lot about showing patience and kindness with others. I showed patience to someone in STEM class. A boy was really getting on my nerves. He was putting stuff in my hair, yelling at me, not working, and taking all the parts to our project. I was so mad and I was about to yell, but I remembered God wants us to show patience with others. This project has taught me a lot about being kind to others." - Chloe Nosal
As you and your families prepare your hearts for the celebration of the birth of our savior, we invite you to join with us in practicing acts of kindness to those around you! Imagine what a blessing you and your family might be to someone, and how you might teach your children what it really means to celebrate and show the love of Christ to the world around us this Christmas season. It doesn't have to be something big (as our middle schoolers have shown us!) Sometimes, the most simple acts of kindness and mercy can touch a heart in need. Here are a few fun ideas, and as always, feel free to share your own in the comments below!
- Take a neighbor a fully cooked meal one evening
- Play a game you don't normally enjoy because you know it will make a sibling happy
- Do chores for each other without being asked
- Buy ice cream for all the kids at Chick-fil-A
- Take cookies to a local police or fire station
- Visit a nursing home and sing carols
- Smile at as many people as you can in Walmart
- Pay for a stranger's meal at a drive thru
- Tape change to a vending machine
- Give treats to your mail carrier
- Call or FaceTime a faraway relative to say hello
- Clean up a mess you didn't make
We caught up with alumna, Elise Denney, ’13, recently and asked her to share with us some thoughts about “life after WCCS” and how she continues to grow in her relationship with Christ and her desire to bless the world around her for His Kingdom’s sake! She had some wise words to share with our current WCCS students about truly seeking after the Lord and being a part of His Church!
If you had told “high school Elise” that she would be spending her summer working for the student ministry of a local church, she probably would not have believed you. Don’t get me wrong, I knew church was important, but I thought it could be substituted for other things…chapel, small group, retreats, youth group, maybe even bible class....anything to get me out of waking up early on Sunday mornings. Often times as a student at WCCS, opportunities to encounter Christ are conveniently woven into our daily school schedule. Without a doubt, this is an incredible blessing, but we have to be careful that it does not become a normalcy or an excuse to not seek the Lord on our own.
"Often times as a student at WCCS, opportunities to encounter Christ are conveniently woven into our daily school schedule."
Fast forward to college and now I can see how the Lord was pursuing me in ways that puts my half-hearted pursuit of Him to shame. When choosing a college, strong Christian community was not among the top of my priority list. In fact, I’m sorry to say that it was not really something I considered even a little bit. Fortunately, the Lord is endlessly faithful and knows what we need before we even know how to ask for it. At Clemson, I found friends that truly reflected Christ in the incredible way that they loved others. These same friends invited me to attend Grace Church and I became a member after about a year of attending regularly.
Grace Church has a summer internship program called Kairos that I was blessed to be a part of this past summer. Kairos is a 10 week internship where you work in a particular ministry area (I worked in student ministry) while also taking discipleship courses. You live with a host family that attends the church while interning. Some of my service jobs included planning events and mission trips for their youth group and building relationships with the middle and high schoolers that attended.
As I reflect on the summer I spent with Grace Church, I am filled with gratitude and wonder. Kairos is a unique experience that gives you a rare, close-up look to how Christ passionately pursues the Church as His bride again and again. Kairos has filled me with new life and urgency for personally loving and serving the church. This was something I thought I understood before, but now I have been humbled enough to see how I approached the church solely as a consumer. The question in my mind has changed from “What can the church do for me?” to “What can I do for the church?”. I now understand more deeply how thankfully and reverently we should approach an institution that God has promised to sustain forever. It’s amazing that He allows us be a part of that even in our brokenness—a brokenness He chooses again and again to use for His ultimate glory. It is this beautiful mindset of redemption that fills the halls of Grace Church and captivated me all summer long.
"The question in my mind has changed from 'What can the church do for me?' to 'What can I do for the church?'"
Wherever you may be today in your walk with Christ, I would encourage you to not overlook the holy and eternal institution we call “Church.” It is to our immense spiritual benefit that we seek opportunities to be involved with a local church. Here are some ways that Church was designed by the Lord to bless us:
- Community: The Church is a collection of disconnected individuals brought together into a new people and into a new family. You are always invited in. 1 Peter 2:9 says, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into His marvellous light.” We are literally called to come together and seek ways to glorify Him as a unit. When you choose to not commit to a church, you squander the chance to use your spiritual gifts and be a part of the Lord’s work, which has impact on both heaven and earth far beyond our understanding.
- Authority: I hear ya, the rebel child in me shudders as well. In our culture, we are taught that coming under authority is not fun, but hang with me. Coming under authority in the local church is actually a protective blessing. Receiving spiritual authority keeps us from becoming self-centered and critical. It humbles us and helps us extract insidious sin buried deep in our lives. Ephesians 4:20-24 says, “But that is not the way you learned Christ!— assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” We need to attend church regularly in order to spur each other on spiritually toward this goal and encounter those that know how to be encouraging and disruptive with grace.
- Spiritual Growth: Your identity in Christ makes you who you are, but your growth in Christ is contingent on being engaged with the Church and being obedient in how the Scripture tells us to treat our church family. 2 Corinthians 3:18 says, “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” Being transformed into the image of Christ is a lifelong process. We can’t be flighty consumers of the Church and expect to reap the benefits of this transformation. We have to be whole-hearted investors and look for ways for the Church to seep into every area of our lives, not just what we have to give on Sunday mornings.
If you get nothing else from reading this, please let it be this: Church demonstrates the intangible presence of Jesus. Don’t rob yourself of the opportunity to experience that by being noncommittal with the Church. It is what you were created for and your soul longs for it!