Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Celebrating God's Handiwork

The Bible says we are "fearfully and wonderfully made," (Psalm 139) and our recent Awards Chapels this month were a day for celebrating the hand-crafted uniqueness, gifting, and good stewardship of our students.

Each teacher in the Elementary Awards Chapel commended each child with a "Fruit of the Spirit" award recognizing a quality character trait that the student has exhibited in the classroom and throughout the school during the first semester.  Each student was also recognized for academic achievement or growth, and students who had perfect attendance or earned a place on the academic honor roll were recognized for those achievements as well.

Secondary Awards Chapel followed elementary with Junior High students each being recognized by Mrs. Tritz following a similar format: Mrs "T" acknowledged each student's academic and character strengths that she had observed through the first semester.

High school students' awards are structured a bit differently - each high school student receives a "Fan the Flame" award recognizing a God-given gift or talent that the high school staff has observed in the student.  The title comes from  2 Timothy 1:6-7, where Paul reminds Timothy to "fan into flame the gift of God," because "we have not been given a spirit of timidity, but a Spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline."  During the awards chapel, students were encouraged both to enjoy their particular talents and gifts, and to develop and cultivate them, to "fan into flame" the gifts and abilities with which the Lord has blessed them.

Academic awards are likewise done a little differently for high school students.  The grade of A at DPCA means that students have put significant effort into their learning and have been faithful in the stewardship of their studies, so students who earned an A in any class received academic recognition in that subject.  Teachers may also elect to give academic recognition to students who have made significant improvements in a class, or have demonstrated perseverance and consistent determined effort, and thus demonstrated their good stewardship in that manner as well.

Awards chapels give the staff at DPCA an opportunity to publicly affirm and encourage each of our students, and to simultaneously acknowledge that every gift and ability, and in fact our very lives, are gifts from God.  We're deeply grateful for each of our students and each of our families, and enjoyed having parents and grandparents join in the time of affirmation for our children this morning. One of our grandparents noted:

My wife and I have attended Awards Chapels many times for 20 years. These times are very special to us because they exhibit so much about Christian Education.
Each teacher prayerfully considers each child individually for an award that has a spiritual and moral component to it. We have watched as teachers cannot speak because of the impact a particular child has on them. As they search their heart for the words to say to describe the child’s characteristic, there is a “spiritual” moment of time when the room is quiet and the obvious contact between the teacher, the Spirit of God, and the student is center stage and time stands still. Hugs are allowed and tears freely flow. 

Characteristics such as compassion, perseverence, diligence, helpfulness, etc., are identified with appropriate scripture to compliment the selection. This is not in anyway about the student’s achievements for the school semester or period, but it is about recognized deep spiritual observation by the teacher. If you ever have the opportunity to observe one of these chapel times, you will be enriched. What a blessing to have this as a component of Christian Education.
- Dave and Elaine Macnab

A few pictures from the day are posted here; we also posted additional pictures on the DPCA Facebook page.  Hopefully the pictures and the short video below of Mr. Ritschard talking about senior Hawk White's Fan the Flame award will help our readers have a sense of the spirit of Awards Chapel.

Awards Chapel is held once each semester, with the spring semester chapel planned for May 22nd.

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