"Put your makeup on/ get your nails done/ curl your hair/ run the extra mile/ keep it slim so they like you, do they like you?"
The dance progressed, and at some point, Ms. Whitley, the Dance teacher, joined the group on stage. As each girl looked around, as though to follow the negative messages of the world, Ms. Whitley would gently guide their faces back towards the center of the room. Soon, the lyrics changed:
"You don't have to try so hard/ you don't have to give it all away/
you just have to get up, get up, get up/
you don't have to change a single thing...
Take your make-up off/ let your hair down/ take a breath/
look into the mirror, at yourself/
Don't you like you? 'Cause I like you."
The students and Ms. Whitley joined arms forming a bridge of strength and solidarity, conveying a single message: We are here for one another.
I was brought to tears. And these were tears of pride.
Our Middle School girls, along with their beloved teacher, were demonstrating to the rest of the school that this is a place where we do not need to give in to worldly pressures, fleshly temptations, stereotypes and labels, and accusations. This is a place where our students can form enduring relationships with their teachers, and where all members of this community can flourish.
C.S. Lewis wrote in Abolition of Man "the task of modern educators is not to cut down jungles but to irrigate deserts." From young children to young adults, our students daily face many challenges that are unique to this generation; and oftentimes, the adults in their lives are either unaware or unprepared to help "cut down jungles" for them. However, through the enduring relationships that we build with our students, we irrigate the desert places of their souls with Christ's love and example so that they can build the skills to navigate their lives well full of faith, wisdom, and service. Like Ms. Whitley did with the Middle School girls, our school community aims to partner with each student continually so that they flourish during their time at Valley Christian Schools and beyond.
This is why I am brimming with pride for this place.
Re-enrollment season is upon us and we have yet another opportunity to further envision this kind of learning community together. In just half a year, we have accomplished much together: developing a consistently engaging and meaningful chapel program, building a positive student culture, greatly improving communication, implementing an integrative information system through Veracross, harnessing our highly engaged and effective faculty, and offering a wide range of extracurricular opportunities across all grade levels. As we reflect on all that God has done this year so far, I am extremely excited about next year
In addition, I want to provide you with the 2017-2018 School Calendar. Please note that starting next year, our February Break will always fall on the week of the President's Day holiday, while Spring Break will always fall on the second full week of April to allow for two weeks of review in AP courses for our High School students and provide an overall healthy flow to the school year for all students. We hope that this consistent placement will enable your families to better anticipate and plan for these long breaks.
Lastly, I write you this letter with a great sense of pride for why this school exists, for how we are educating our students, and for the kind of learning community we are developing. On behalf of our entire team of faculty and staff, we are eager to continue our partnership with you to educate your student.
I want to thank you in advance for giving us the opportunity to develop your student into a courageous, thoughtful, and creative young leader.
With love and affection,