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Northwest Christian School
  
Dear NCS family,
  
Assessment.  It's what we do.  In fact, as a school, it is part of our job description:  our job is to make sure that our students learn.  Notice, however, that I did not say, "Our job is to teach."  There are an abundance of unsuccessful schools where plenty of "teaching" is taking place without "learning".  What is the difference?  Assessment.  In other words, regardless of what we may think that we are teaching our students, in the final analysis, the ultimate question by which our school's relative success will be considered is:  are Northwest Christian students learning?  And, how can we be certain?

We answer those two daunting questions through student assessment.  This school year, in the United States, school-aged children will be seated in classrooms where their teachers will return to them, on average, just over 300 graded homework assignments, worksheets, written papers, quizzes, and tests.  The average amount of homework for a 3rd to 12th grade American student is 38 minutes per night although, despite relative averages, a significant number of those students (45%) will spend over an hour doing homework tonight.  Why?  Because effective assessment is the gauge to effective learning.  

Even as I write that last sentence, the potent descriptor, "effective", looms large in my view of our goal to be successful as a school.  I earnestly believe that in order to determine the relative effectiveness of our school, we need to be assessing more than students.  We need to be regularly assessing ourselves, asking hard questions about our effectiveness.  And, this is where I could use your help.

Every year for the past seven years, usually in the spring, we have launched an online parent survey.  This survey is one of several surveys that we do.  In addition to parents, we anonymously survey students, alumni, faculty, and staff.  In these surveys, the questions cover a whole range of issues.  While quantity and effectiveness of homework are certainly considered, I also like to ask a host of other questions that provide candid insight into broad categories of our school's culture:  spiritual life, athletics, arts, discipline, and many more.  Further, I like to ask the same questions several years in a row.  Why?  Because I want to know if we are getting better--if we, as a school, are learning and growing.  Patient, objective inquiry of a large sample of school community members over multiple years lets us know where we are growing and where we still have opportunity.  So, again, here's where you can help.

In the next week, I'll be sending your family an email with a link to an anonymous survey that will run throughout the month of March.  While I work hard to keep the survey brief, I do feel that every question you will consider is important and I appreciate the time that you will commit to completing the survey.  If you have been part of our school family for a while, you also know that I like to report survey results back to our school family members each fall.  I trust that you will not be frustrated by Mr. Brown assigning you this particular homework assignment!  Further, I hope that you will come to understand that this survey, once you have completed it, becomes an essential part of our partnership and a critical piece in our understanding of how we are performing as Christian educators.

Grateful for the opportunity to serve this school and your family,
  
Geoff Brown
Superintendent
Northwest Christian School
(623)225-5573 (cell)
 

NCS Family, Join the Northwest Christian Pack-a-thon!

You are invited to serve with your family as Feed My Starving Children comes to the Don Sanderson Gymnasium  

"We were thrilled with the number of Jog-a-thon flyers we collected this spring," reported Northwest Christian's superintendent, Geoff Brown, as he considered the first step in the annual school fundraiser.  "Our prayer now is two-fold.  First, we're praying that the abundance of flyers is met with the considered generosity of donors who prayerfully weigh the option to support our plans to improve our lunch area."  Previously, Brown had reported that the majority of Jog-a-thon funds would be directed to providing the best lunch area solution that fundraising would permit.  "Second," Brown continued, "we are praying about the Jog-a-thon event itself.  And, I'm excited to report that there's been a twist this year."

The "twist" that Mr. Brown mentions stems from the fact that this year's event is centered around a meal-packing opportunity with Feed My Starving Children that will take place right on the campus of Northwest Christian School in the Don Sanderson Gymnasium.  Feed My Starving Children, a Christ-centered, Chandler-based non-profit, has been a long-time partner with Northwest Christian School.  Crusaders in fourth and seventh grades annually serve through FMSC.  Additionally, high schoolers have the opportunity to serve at FMSC through their missions learning projects.  Some of those high schoolers will be travelling to Haiti this coming summer to serve at several Haiti-based FMSC meal distribution centers.  

This school-sponsored packing event is an opportunity for Northwest Christian families to serve together--parents and students with Northwest Christian faculty and staff--as part of the celebration of mission work within Christian education.  "Even in something like Jog-a-thon," continues Geoff, "where we are working specifically on behalf of our school, we want our students to see that we're still focused outward, serving as the hands and feed of Christ within our world.  Feed My Starving Children with your family is an amazing way to do that!"


To register for the FMSC Pack-a-thon at NCS, please visit:


Make sure to click on "Become a Volunteer" 
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Varsity High School Cheer Wins State Championship 

And, recent wins by middle school cheer team reveal that Crusaders have a strong cheer future ahead    

Though just in her first year at Northwest Christian, Ms. Brenna Roth, who serves both as freshman English instructor and varsity cheer coach, is already making her mark.  Ironically, as a Northwest Christian alumni, the mark she's making today as coach and teacher is remarkably similar to the mark she left as a student.  As a student cheerleader, Ms. Roth was part of the team that led the school to its first taste of success in cheer state competitions.  Since that time, the school has stayed the course of continued success with state cheer championships in 2013, 2014, and 2015.  After graduating from Northwest Christian, Brenna went on to Grand Canyon University where she ultimately served as that university's cheer squad captain.  Now, in just her first year at Northwest Christian after joining the school's faculty, in February, she led her team to the 2017 AIA Division III Spiritline State Championship.  Roth was assisted by Brittney Huizinga and Ashley David.  "I'm amazed," exclaimed high school athletic director David Inness, "that Brenna, Brittney, and Ashley took a young team, essentially a new team after seeing so many seniors graduate last year, and molded them into a state championship team inside of their first season!"

With the school's first cheer state championship coming in 2013 and four more in the years since, early indicators are that the future for Northwest Christian cheer looks just as bright.  Lending credence to this notion, the school's middle school cheer team, coached by Debbie Webb, is also developing its own winning tradition.  The team recently won the Cheer for Charity Championship--the fourth time that the team has garnered the top spot in this particular competition.  The Cheer for Charity cheer competition allows the winner to donate competition proceeds to a non-profit charity of their choice.  For the Crusaders this year, the proceeds were committed to a NCS fave:  the Kids Kingdom orphanage in Imuris, Sonora.  "The Cheer for Charity Competition is such as awesome opportunity for our team to really put our ministry into action," explained coach Debbie Webb.  "It's a chance to do something we love and serve a greater purpose . . . and being fortunate enough to win means the children at Kids Kingdom orphanage are the real winners!"

In addition, within the middle school division of competition, middle school cheer has twice won the Spring-it-On Cheer Competition and twice won the TSC Cheer Competition.  In this last event, this past weekend, after taking the middle school division, the team was judged against high school JV cheer programs and, according to judges scores only (since they could not have officially placed), they would have placed second.  This means that the middle schoolers outscored high school JV teams from Verrado, Perry, Horizon, Cactus Shadows, Willow Canyon, Red Mountain, and Valley Vista High Schools.

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Northwest Christian Hosts Both Phoenix Liberty Festival and Arizona Christian Tournament of Speakers  

To say that it was a busy week might be a bit of an understatement 

For several years running, Northwest Christian School has served as the host school for the Association of Christian Schools International's Arizona Christian Tournament of Speaks (A.C.T.S.).  The event is a K-12 speech meet where students present speeches for evaluation by judges.  Students can earn ribbons that show the level of accomplishment and mastery of public speaking and presentation:  white ribbons for "good", red for "excellent", and blue for "superior".  "But," explains Mr. Brown, "we wanted for the speeches to follow a theme so that there was meaning and significance to what the students were committing to memory.  As well, we wanted that them to center around the Godly heritage of our nation."  To accomplish this, under the direction of Ms. Colleen Pfitzinger and Mrs. Melanie Ketterling, both NCS elementary teachers, the speech meet selections were pulled from historic speeches and prayers--as well as scriptural passages speaking to liberty--which demonstrated the God-honoring foundation of the nation and Christ-serving character of many of the founding fathers.  

Over time, the ACTS tournament has grown.  Where last year found 250 students participating, this year that number grew to just under 400 students with families and schools coming from as far away as Tucson.  The event was coordinated by NCS parent volunteer Angela Kelley who worked closely with Melanie Ketterling and Kelley Wingo to assemble a team of over 60 volunteers which ultimately pulled all the pieces of the speech meet together.  "We started working on the event in August," explains Angela Kelley.  "It was a huge undertaking and we would never have been able to see this come together without our many volunteers.  I'm also thankful for Palmcroft Church which allowed NCS to hold the event using their wonderful facilities."

To add to the fun, for several years running, during the same week, the Northwest Christian campus hosted the Phoenix Liberty Festival.  Put together by We Make History, the Phoenix Liberty Festival transports students back to colonial days to learn about life within the founding communities of the country.  The Festival also features several Revolutionary War re-enactments which made for an exciting day.  The Liberty Festival was attended by multiple Christian schools, a large number of public schools, and a homeschool families.

"Growing and Going" Campaign Continues with Eyes Set On Improving the Lunch Area
God continues to provide the necessary resources and the timeline remains intact     


"I'm thrilled to report that the lunch area project remains on course," reports Northwest Christian superintendent Geoff Brown.  "We are on track to see some significant improvements by August 1, 2017."

As part of a multi-year effort, titled "Growing and Going", Northwest Christian School has committed the lion's share of fundraising from the 2016/2017 school year to improving the lunch area.  Fundraising at the school generally takes three forms:  the dinner/auction in the fall, a year-end giving letter, and the Jog-a-thon in the spring.  "We set our sights for improvements very conservatively," continues Geoff.  "We are committed to making certain that we avoid debt so that we can keep our school value-priced for our families.  Also, we are committed to avoiding a large capital campaign.  We're setting patient, conservative goals for fundraising and, to date, we have exceeded each goal.  That means we are right on track."

"On track" means that within days of the close of the 2016/2017 school year in May, the oldest existing structure on campus--the kitchen--will be torn down.  A new, state-of-the-art kitchen will be coming in shortly after that.  In addition to the kitchen, plans are being drawn up for improved comfort within the student seating.  "That is where this is getting exciting," says Geoff.  "The kitchen is completely paid for--all with cash secured through fundraising from last year.  Now, we're committing current year fundraising to lunch area improvements as well.  As we see the Lord provide above the goals we'd set, we're patiently starting to plan out the improvements."

If you are interested in supporting the effort to improve the Northwest Christian lunch area, please consider visiting the following link:

Learn More:  Christian Family Care


 

Curious about foster care?

 

Northwest Christian School is hosting an informational session for school families that are interested in learning more about foster care.  Please consider attending!


 

Thursday, March 9th  7:00pm

NCS Library

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Spring Fine Arts Update:  "Thoroughly Modern Millie", the NXNW 48-Hour Film Challenge, and a Choir Trip to London



Spring has become a busy, busy time for Northwest Christian's Fine Arts Department!

As we look forward to our traditional spring musical, the cast of high schoolers is working hard in preparation for "Thoroughly Modern Millie".  Preparation for the musical began in earnest earlier than in previous years in that the production will involve a fair amount of tap dancing.  With tickets going on sale shortly after spring break, the musical is April 21, 22, and 23 at Cortez High School.  As part of the production, the cast is looking forward to promoting the work of the Dunamis Foundation, a Christian non-profit working to alleviate the plight of human trafficking in Ecuador.


The school is also looking forward to the 2nd Annual PureFlix NXNW 48-Hour Film Challenge.  As part of the annual NXNW Film Fest which takes place in the fall, the 48-Hour Film Challenge is one division that is put before judges and the finalists are played on-screen at the Harkins Norterra theater.  The event involves a harried weekend in late April:  students meet at the Elevate Coffeehouse on a Friday and are given the parameters of their film project.  Then, the aspiring student film-makers set out to write, film, and edit their film within 48 hours, submitting it by the deadline on Sunday evening.  If you are interested in learning more about the event, please visit the following link:


 

In addition to the upcoming fine arts fun, the high school choir recently enjoyed an opportunity to perform in London as part of a choir tour.  The trip saw over 150 participants between students and parents.  The group also included NCS students that went with senior English teacher Amy Yoder to study English literature in context.  In addition to incredible sight seeing, the seven night, eight day trip included several opportunities for the school choir to perform.  Below, the group is pictured at a performance at the appropriately named Phoenix Academy, a secondary school in London.


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Spotlight on Students:
It's been a busy, busy beginning to spring 2017!  Take a few moments to enjoy just a few of the continuing adventures of our amazing students!

This past weekend, a full group of 8th graders headed to Imuris, Sonora, about an hour south of the border to serve at Kids Kingdom orphanage and church.  The group completed a significant painting project, prepared meals, and spent time playing with kids!



Though the season ended just one game shy of the state championship game, the boys varsity Crusader basketball team enjoyed a tremendous season under Coach Jason Cook.  The young men played their final two games in the Glendale Arena.



As part of an annual tradition, this past month we celebrated the "Top of the School Lunch".  Within this tradition, the seniors with the top 10 GPA's are rewarded with a top-notch steak lunch (from Claim Jumper) on the top (highest point) of the campus:  the roof of the two-story classroom building.



NCS Middle School baseball enjoyed a 9-0 decisive win in their final game of the season, the Valley Christian Schools League championship game.


The finalists from the fall spelling bees (pictured above) all had an opportunity to compete in the ACSI Spelling Bee this past month and did well within their respective divisions.  We're proud of you!

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March 1, 2017
Vol. 7, Issue 5  
I John 4:18
" There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. "

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Northwest Christian's Prayer Group for Men 
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Show your school spirit!
Please present this coupon in the school office to receive a complimentary NCS bumper sticker. 
Limit one per family.
Offer Expires: Offer available while current supplies last.
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