Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Merry Christmas to You

Merry Christmas to the parents, students, support staff, and faculty of Portersville Christian School.  We consider it a blessing to work with you and be part of the school community and family.  You've made us feel welcome here in a very short time. 

Thank you very much to those who showed their appreciation for the school faculty and staff by contributing to the Christmas bonuses.

Thank you to the faculty and staff.  Your hard work and dedication will have a positive impact on the lives of your students.  It is a privilege to work along side of each one of you, and to see your love for the school and its families and students. 

Enjoy a well deserved rest, and the time you spend with friends and family.  Thank you for showing Christ in your life, who is the reason for the season, and for the hope that you have. 

I Peter 3:15

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Why God Sent Us His Son

"For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him."  John 3:17

Sometimes, in our reading of the scripture, we lose the structure of the words that were written because we let the verse divisions, which are nothing more than translator reference points and were not part of what the original authors wrote, stop us in the middle of a complete thought.  The verse that follows John 3:16 is actually part of that same paragraph that begins with "For God so loved the world..." And when you read that paragraph as a whole, it contrasts the purpose of Christ coming into the world with the depravity and sinfulness of the world into which he was coming. 

Read the book of I John, and you will see the similarities in the writing.  John wanted people to be very clear about Christ's purpose for coming.  John is the author you want to read, both in his gospel and in his epistles, if you want to see what Salvation in Christ looks like.  "This is how you know," says John, on more than one occasion.  Here, in this paragraph, he makes the simple statement, "But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that is works have been carried out in God."

We've added so much to the celebration of the first coming of Christ since the time that he came that the event is hardly recognizeable for what it is.  Here are these words from John, inspired by the Holy Spirit, standing the test of time, telling us clearly that those who believe are not condemned, and those who do not believe are condemned already, even where they stand in their unbelief. 

Let this Christmas season serve as the reminder to you about what Christ did for you on the cross so that you can be one of those who stands, not condemned, but redeemed, before the throne of God. 

Merry Christmas.  Happy New Year.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

10 Good Things About PCS

A couple of conversations I've had in the past few days brought some things to mind that I thought would be good to share here.  It's December, and we just passed the mid point of the second quarter.  Next year's calendar is already on the drawing board and it won't be long before making plans for 2011-12 will involve re-enrollment.  In the past week, several people have spoken with me about the reasons why their family is involved at Portersville Christian School.  As you think about your future plans, here are ten good things to consider when it comes to the education of your children.

1.  The Christian influence and atmosphere at PCS is given a high priority.  In fact, this is probably the top reason why most people are here.  Students are in the daily care of staff and teachers who profess a living faith in Christ, the principles of scripture are integrated into the curriculum, and we look at education as a discipleship ministry.  This is a Christian community where there is support and encouragement to grow in Christ, and mature in your faith. 

2.  Academic excellence is emphasized and pursued.  Our students are receiving a quality education in the classroom.  Test scores are not the only way to measure this, though our Stanford scores in elementary school, and the PSAT and SAT scores of our high school students reflect a high level of accomplishment, well above state averages.  Our graduates are admitted to competetive colleges and universities. 

3.  Students have the opportunity to attend the same school from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade.  This is a distinct advantage for students in many ways, from providing secure, familiar surroundings to the opportunity to learn in a curriculum that is consistent from year to year.  It is also a good way to help students develop and maintain positive peer relationships.  It fosters the concept of community from a Christian perspective.

4.  We offer small class sizes.  Educational research bears out the numerous advantages of small classes, from increased individual attention to having the time necessary to assist students in areas where they are having difficulty.  Most of our classes have fewer than 20 students, which in much educational research is considered ideal.

5.  Graduating seniors can take up to 15 credit hours of college credit with them upon high school graduation.  This includes direct, dual credit through courses we offer in conjunction with Butler Community College as well as Advanced Placement courses.  Not many schools offer this, and this is a distinct advantage for our students.  When you consider the cost of a college education these days, one full semester of credit is a major cost savings. 

6.  We have a wide range of course offerings, including four foreign languages, courses in computer and technology, and everything else.  We offer three levels of Spanish and French, and I think we're probably the only school in Butler county that offers Russian.  Latin is also available.  Our math course offerings go as high as Honors Calculus, science includes honors Chemistry and Physics, and did I mention we offer Sociology and Psychology for college credit.  We also offer students the option to spread their math courses out over two semesters, or two years if necessary.  And all students have a comprehensive Bible course each year.

7.   We offer a full fine arts curriculum from Kindergarten through 12th grade.  Our students have the opportunity to take lessons in instrumental music, voice and piano, and be part of a vocal music program that includes opportunities for public performance.  We also offer art classes from kindergarten through eighth grade.  Students have the opportunity to try out for a fall play, and a spring musical production that are both top quality.  In a time when most schools are cutting fine arts and music programs to save money, PCS continues to offer students ways to expand their creativity and learn how to use it to serve their Savior.

8.   Our students have the opportunity to participate in competetive athletics.  Boys can choose from soccer, basketball, or both, and girls have the choice of volleyball, soccer and basketball.  Our high school students participate with eleven other Christian schools through the Southwestern Christian Athletic Conference (SWCAC), and our middle school students participate with other Christian schools through the Greater Pittsburgh Christian Athletic League (GPCAL). 

9.   We are conveniently located and offer bus service to students in several local school districts.  Just a mile off I-79 at the Portersville Exit halfway between Cranberry Township and Grove City, and a mile off Hyw. 422 halfway between New Castle and Butler, PCS is easily accessible to students in a wide area that includes the Seneca Valley, Slippery Rock, Ellwood City, Butler, Riverside, Laurel, Shenango and New Wilmington school districts.  We have students from as far north as Mercer, as far south as Wexford, as far east as Chicora and as far west as Beaver Falls. 

10.  Our basic philosophy of education includes the Biblical concept that parents are responsible for the education of their children.  At PCS, we partner with parents in assisting them with this responsibility.  There are dozens of volunteers on our campus each day which provide parents with opportunities to be directly involved.  We have parents involved everywhere.  We are in the process of implementing an on-line grade recording and reporting system which will further enhance communication. 

I'm sure this doesn't begin to cover it all.  Feel free to enter a comment telling us about why you're family is involved with PCS. 

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Real Blessings, Genuine Thanks

"...give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."  I Thessalonians 5:18, ESV

The year was 1944.  Corrie and Betsie Ten Boom were prisoners in the Ravensbruck concentration camp in Germany.  Their "crime" had been offering help to the Jewish victims of Hitler in their home country of Holland.  They had originally been sent to prison, but the Allied invasion of Normandy prompted the Germans to move their political prisoners first to a concentration camp in the southern part of Holland, and then, as the Allies continued to advance, into Germany itself.

Ravensbruck was a terrible place.  Not only were prisoners treated badly, beaten, starved, and worked to death, they had to endure deplorable living conditions in vermin infested barracks with limited facilities.  The mortality rate from disease and starvation was high.  Corrie and Betsie were assigned to a barracks where they shared a room with several hundred women, sleeping on plywood bunks covered with straw, stacked three or four high.  Upon entering the room, they quickly discovered that the thin straw bedding was infested with fleas.  Corrie wondered how they would be able to live in such a place.

The two sisters had smuggled a forbidden Bible into the room, and conducted clandestine prayer meetings and Bible studies each evening.  One night, after reading this particular verse in I Thessalonians, Betsie prayed a prayer of thanks out loud, giving thanks for all kinds of blessings that most people would find hard to see in the filth and squalor of Ravensbruck.  One of the things she was thankful for was the fleas.  Corrie thought that was a bit much, given the circumstances.  Both sisters worked on a crew that knitted socks for the German army, and the work occurred right in the same room where they slept.  But there had been a problem with the sorting of the socks that day, and the prisoner foreman had asked the guard to come and settle the problem.  She refused to step through the door.  "That place is crawling with fleas," she said. 

The fleas, for which Betsie was so thankful, had kept the guards outside the large room, giving the sisters all kinds of freedom to pray, read and teach from the Bible.  By their own testimony, many women were encouraged by those words, and many came to know the Lord as a result.  God had made a way for his word to be ministered in a place that most people would find to be completely hopeless.

Doesn't that put things into perspective for us? 

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Day of Serving By Students Helps Show School Vision and Mission

In John 13, there is an account of a time when, prior to the Passover meal, Jesus washed his disciples feet.  Having your feet washed before such a gathering was a common practice in those days, but it was considered a lowly, menial task.  The scripture doesn't specifically say that the disciples had encountered a problem determining who would do this menial work, but it was one of those things which opened the door for Jesus to illustrate a point, and in this case, it was the servant nature he wanted his followers to have.  After a brief discussion with Peter over the need for having this done, and who was doing it, Jesus told them that he had given them an example to follow.

The idea of teaching our students to model the servant attitude that Jesus displayed is written into the vision and purpose of Portersville Christian School.  It is a principle that we take seriously, and teach to our students.  It is one which is in clear contrast with what the world believes and practices, which is the general philosophical perspective centered on self, and involves "looking out for ME!"

This principle is put into practice here in many ways on a daily basis.  From sweeping and cleaning tables in the cafeteria after each lunch period, to the service club which empties trash and performs odd jobs for faculty and staff, students here don't just learn about this in the classroom, they are given many opportunities to demonstrate it.  Likewise, our parents demonstrate this principle in the volunteer service they render to the school, something that is highly visible any day of the week right here on the campus.

This Friday, our entire student body, from the Kindergarten classes up to the senior class, along with the faculty and most of the staff, will devote the day to service.  You will find PCS staff and students from sixth through twelfth grade packing boxes for distribution at the World Vision Ministries in Sewickley, unloading trucks, sorting and storing food at the rescue mission in New Castle, wielding brooms, mops and vacuum cleaners at Grace Youth and Family Foundation in Butler, baking cookies for meals on wheels in our own cafeteria, preparing meals for shut-ins in Portersville, preparing and organizing boxes for Operation Christmas Child in New Wilmington, doing a variety of jobs helping Pine Valley Bible Camp in Ellwood City clean up after a devastating fire, and visiting the residents of Passavant Retirement Community in Zelienople with some Christmas cheer.  Elementary students will be helping out here at the school.

Nothing financial or material is expected in return for this, only the kind of personal, spiritual blessing that comes from God when his children are committed to serving Jesus by serving others. We are taking a school day to do this, but what better way to provide our students with a lesson in a basic principle of Christian faith than to give them such an opportunity for a hands-on learning experience?  When people put themselves in a place of service, giving something of themselves with no expectation of anything in return, the lessons that are learned are far more practical and important than what can be taught in a classroom, and the blessings that come back are abundant.

Monday, November 8, 2010

School Choice in Pennsylvania: Information for Parents

The large constituency of students in Pennsylvania who are enrolled in private schools, particularly faith-based institutions, and the general success of the students in these schools in exceeding the measureable state academic standards has created a unique situation which may be opening the door to genuine school choice for parents of students in the state.  There are legislative initiatives underway which may eventually lead to a school choice bill that will have a positive impact on families who want to send their students to a school of their choice, even if it happens to be a faith based school which integrates Christian principles into the curriculum and models Christian principles through the teachers and staff that are hired. 

Legislators have been working for years to find ways to improve the quality of education offered in the government-owned schools in their states.  Measurements of academic progress aren't perfect, but the data that was being generated indicated that the public school system in the state as a whole wasn't making progress, and in fact, was showing declines in areas that were being measured.  The proposed solution of charter schools and cyber schools has not produced an increase, and in fact, many of those alternatives do not score as well as the public school system.

Private schools, including Protestant, Catholic and Evangelical Christian schools, have a long history of academic excellence.   On both nationally-normed achievement tests and college entrance exams, Pennsylvania students enrolled in faith-based schools generally do significantly better than their public, charter and cyber school counterparts.  As a result, there are some legislative initiatives in the works which are designed to make access to those schools easier for Pennsylvania's school children whose parents want to exercize their option and choose the school their child will attend. 

I'm providing links to a couple of websites that carry some information about what is transpiring at the moment, and how you can become involved.  PACAPE is the broader organization representing a wide variety of private schools, including Catholic and Evangelical Protestant schools.  ACSIPA is the in-state organization for conservative Evangelical schools which are members of the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI).  You can check out their websites at http://acsipa.org and http://pacape.org . 

Monday, October 25, 2010

Fall Happenings at PCS

It is hard to believe that we are almost all the way through the month of October, we have passed the two month mark for the school year, and the fall athletic seasons have ended.  The leaves have turned and it won't be long before the trees are bare, though at the time of this writing, we are enjoying some mild weather.  This is a busy time at PCS, and there are many things happening.

Volleyball and Soccer Teams Close Out Successful Seasons
Our varsity volleyball and soccer teams closed out successful seasons with playoff appearances and will finish play at tournaments in Erie October 29-30.  The volleyball team captured a share of the regular season SWCAC title with Jefferson County Christian, losing only one regular season conference game to the Royals.  They defeated Eden Christian 3-0 in the semi-finals and played an exciting championship with JCCS that went to the fifth game before the PCS Lady Warriors emerged on top with the 3-2 win.  The soccer team closed out a successful season with two playoff victories in the quarter and semi-finals to reach the championship game against Eden Christian.  PCS tied Eden in two previous overtime games, and in an evenly matched game this time around, couldn't capitalize on a number of scoring opportunities, missing several close shots in a 2-0 loss.  Please congratulate our athletes when you have a chance.  They've represented our school very well, both in their success and the way they have conducted themselves.

Fine Arts to Present Fall Play "Harvey" November 11-13
If you've been in the gym this week, you noticed the floor is covered and the stage is set up, getting ready for this fall's play, "Harvey," presented by the fine arts department on November 11,12 and 13.  The cast has been rehearsing for several weeks now, and this play promises to be one more great performance in the history of drama at PCS.  Make plans now to attend this presentation.

Edline is Coming to PCS! 
What is edline?  Edline is part of a system which allows parents to use an on-line access code to view their children's grades at any time during the nine weeks or semester.  The teachers will use a web based gradebook program called Grade Quick to record grades on tests, homework assignments and class work.  The program averages the grades and keeps a running tab of the cumulative grade for the nine weeks and semester.  Through the same website, parents receive login information so that they can look at the grades for their students from any location whenever they want to take a peek.  The system also provides built-in communication systems for parents and teachers.  Not only will this improve the accuracy of our grades, it will also improve communication between parents and teachers.  The students are the ones who benefit from the added accountability and increased involvement of their parents.

It will cost PCS approximately $15 per student per year to implement this program.   The results from its implementation can't even be measured in dollar amounts.  Improved communication between parents and the teachers of their children is priceless.  The time saved on the teacher's end is also not measureable.  The system has the potential to eliminate the need for report cards, since parents can log on at any time and see grades.  We've had a generous contribution made to help cover the cost, on a matching funds basis, and the cost savings realized from implementation of the program will also help pay for the program.  You are welcome to make a designated contribution toward Grade Quick.

Planning Ahead for 2011-2012
It might seem early, but now is the time to start planning ahead for the 2011-2012 school year.  It won't be long before the time will be here to re-register your returning students.  If we can assist you in this process, please let me know.  

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Great Start to a Great Year!

We are four and a half weeks into the school year, halfway through the first grading period.  It has been a great year so far.  Fall Festival is passed, we've taken school pictures, the magazine sale is over, athletics have started,  the leaves are turning and the weather has cooled off considerably.  There is good news in everything that is happening at PCS.

Our SAT scores are in, and while test scores are not the "bottom line" in Christian education, they are important both to the students who are planning to go on to college, and in helping our teachers determine where instructional improvements need to be made.  Almost all of our graduating seniors are college bound, and their scores help with getting in to the college of their choice, and with scholarship money to pay for it.  Once again, PCS students exceeded the state and national norms on the SAT, achieving an average score close to 1700 and are among the highest achievers in the region. 

Our varsity soccer and volleyball teams continue to do well against competition from the SWCAC and non-conference opponents.  JV and junior high volleyball has also enjoyed some success, as well as the junior high soccer team.  The recent magazine sale, which provides financial help to the athletic boosters for our sports programs, exceeded last year's total by more than $800.  Thank you to all of the parents and students who support the school's athletic programs. 

The weather could not have been better for the Fall Festival, and the facial expressions of the crowd that materialized to enjoy it told the whole story, from the soccer game that kicked it all off to the "Deal or No Deal" game at the end.  It was great to see families and friends of PCS having such a great time.  The petting zoo was my personal favorite. 

Doing things with excellence is a byproduct of being obedient to God and living to please him.  He's given us grace and salvation through his son, and he's given us his word to live by.  When we walk with his Spirit, guided by his word,  we are blessed.  The ministry of this school is a blessing to many people, and it is up to those of us who are directly involved with it to be good spiritual stewards of it.  What we see happening with our students in the classroom, on the athletic field, and in their daily lives depends on God's blessing.  Thank you for being part of that, and for joining me in prayer for God's blessings on PCS to continue.

Friday, September 10, 2010

What is the Proeliator?

Proeliator is the Latin word for warrior.  At Portersville Christian School, our athletic teams bear the name "The Warriors."  That might sound a little bit unusual for a Christian school, but if you look at Ephesians 6:10-18, Paul speaks to Christians encouraging them to put on the full armor of God, and go forward to take a stand, not in a physical way, but in a spiritual way. 

"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." 

The "weapons" that Christian warriors use in this spiritual battle are prayer, and the word of God.  The analogies that Paul weaves into this passage compare the equipment of a warrior with the equipment of a Christian saint, truth, righteousness, readiness that comes from the gospel of peace, faith and salvation.

Christians are called to be peacemakers.  "Blessed are the peacemakers," said Jesus, "for they will be called sons of God."  So why all the talk about spiritual battles, and warfare, and warriors? 

There is a battle between God and the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms, as Paul clearly states.  And while in the life we live, and in the relationships we have with others, being a peacemaker is a characteristic which identifies a Christian, we are engaged in a spiritual struggle, one which can influence us, and control our life, and which can ultimately have an affect on the life we live in this world as well as our eternal destiny.  So God has made provision for his people, first to be protected with spiritual armor that he provides, in order to withstand the spiritual attacks that have the potential to rob us of the abundant life he wants us to have in Christ, and gives us weapons to go on the offensive, and claim spiritual ground in Jesus' name. 

A Christian school plays a vital role in that spiritual battle.  Using a similar analogy, we are training the children  who are enrolled here how to protect themselves with the spiritual armor that God provides, and we are teaching them his truth, so that they can claim spiritual territory for themselves and grow in their relationship with the living God through Christ. 

Portersville Christian School exists to train children to be citizens of the Kingdom of God.  It is a comprehensive discipleship ministry, integrating the truths of the word of God, the "sword", into the educational process.  Our ability to acknowledge God as the source of all truth gives the education we provide meaning and purpose, something that can't be done unless  God is acknowledged.  Training children can't be separated into "secular" and "religious" realms. 

So what you will find when you visit the Proeliator is communication from the administrator of PCS for the community of parents, students, faculty and staff that will help you and encourage you in the ministry to which you have been called, to raise up children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Sometimes, the topics will cover Christian education in general, sometimes it will be about what is happening at Portersville Christian School.  Comments, presented in a Christlike spirit, along with suggestions, will be welcome.