When I was a young child, my church went through a large building program. One thing I remember was how long it took to build the foundation. There was digging, and drilling, and leveling, laying gas lines, plumbing, and electrical conduit. There were foundation forms, steel reinforcement and then the pouring lots of concrete. It was not a particularly attractive or inspiring part of the building. But all the dramatic and beautiful things that happened later in that building project depended on the quality of that foundation. And wherever the foundation wasn’t done right, it caused big problems later on.
This is what lower education is like in kindergarten through 8th grade. And it is what we do at Immanuel Christian School. We build foundations. You see, we don’t graduate students from high school or college or launch them into professional careers. And frankly, our donors and constituents don’t get to see us in that capacity, in those dramatic finishing stages of education. But what we do here affects all those later stages. What we do is the long, tedious, crucial work of laying foundations.
So, what goes into an ICS foundation? Well, certainly a high level of academic achievement. There are many indicators that ICS is doing well in this area. Much of this we hear directly from our graduates. Two of our alumni who are now at Virginia Tech stopped by my office over spring break. During our conversation they told me that ICS is the place that taught them how to write and how much that has meant to their academic career. (We actually hear that a lot from our graduates.)
This year ICS is one of 50 private schools in the nation selected by the U.S. Department of Education to receive the National Blue Ribbon Award. It is primarily an academic award recognizing ICS as a high achieving school of academic excellence. But there is a lot more that goes into an ICS foundation, and it has to do with those important qualities of the heart, will and spirit. I’m talking about the foundation work that gives students courage and confidence. Courage to stand up for what they believe, Courage to take risks, to explore new possibilities, to grow stronger and more confident for the future.
Last month I received a letter from one of our alumni who graduated more than a decade ago. I remember him from kindergarten through 8th grade, a shy, soft-spoken student. I also remember the difficult time he went through several years ago when he lost his mother suddenly to a serious health condition. I remember how he turned to God and to his personal biblical faith to carry him through. Today he is returning for a year of biblical studies after spending a year serving with a mission organization on the other side of the world. In his letter he wrote that public speaking used to be one of his greatest fears; but now he is teaching and preaching and can’t wait to share God’s Word with others — courage to stand up, confidence to step out.
An Immanuel education expresses itself in many different ways and walks of life. Some of our graduates serve in the armed forces around the world, some in strategic roles of national security, some as teachers, as business and community leaders, and some now as parent role models to their own children. But in every case, foundations laid at Immanuel Christian School continue to influence those graduates and their future. Tonight, as you help us celebrate forty years of God’s blessing, I want you to know that you are helping us continue to build strategic foundations for the next generation.