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{ AUTUMN 2013 }

I N S I D E feature >


Former Brooklyn Pastor John Sweet Now Ministers to San Francisco Bay Area Congregation

ON THE HORIZON “Ascribe to the LORD the glory due His name; worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness.”  Psalm 29:2 The psalmist rightly exalts the LORD and recognizes and proclaims the holiness, worth and majesty of God. In a culture that suffers from a chronically low view of God, we desperately need to worship. Our perspective needs to be restored. Worship places God in His rightful place and re-orients our sense of identity and role. This awareness of who God is and who we are is not a Sunday morning event; it is an ever-present reality in the heart and mind of the believer. A few years ago I asked a senior what were some of the most important lessons she would take   away from her years at LCS. She quickly replied, “That you can live your life in worship mode.”   She grasped that whatever we do, we can do it to the glory of God as an expression of worship   to Him. (1 Corinthians 10:31) This issue of Engage features alumni who live out the call to worship in various settings.   Some serve in traditional ministry roles while the lives of others resonate with the understanding   that their activities can ascribe glory and splendor to the Lord. We hope this issue encourages   us all to “live life in worship mode.”

DR. MIKE SLIGH, Headmaster

MAGAZINE Editor Sandy Johnson, Communications Specialist

WHY Engage ?

Editorial Assistance Mary Beth Wilson

engage v. to commit; to involve intensely; to begin action

Creative Design Clark/Nikdel/Powell

The new title for the LCS magazine describes – in one word –

Cover Photography David Lessin

a great deal about our passion for Christian schooling and the

ADMINISTRATORS: Dr. Mike Sligh | Headmaster Steve Wilson | Director of Advancement Luci O’Byrne | Elementary Principal Wayne Shimko | Secondary Principal Darren Copeland | Assistant High School Principal Keith Overholt | Assistant Middle School Principal

effectual results. This active verb reflects our commitment to fostering lives of vibrant faith, active learning and intentional influence. Teachers engage students, students engage in their studies and co-curricular activities, and children and young people are prepared to engage their culture for the Kingdom. Engage will share encouraging stories of commitments to Christ, engagement in learning and active applications of faith for a lifetime.

Julie Rice | Director of Enrollment John Douglass | Business Manager

BOARD OF DIRECTORS: Kevin Knowlton – Chairman Jim Wilbanks – Vice-Chairman Beth Patteson – Secretary


Payton Albritton Kristen Bolter Dan DeLange

Feature: John Sweet { 6 } Side Feature: Katie Sligh Moore { 12 }

Dan Green David Miller

Campusclamor@LCS { 14 }

Jay Mueller Bill Mutz Dean Nederveld Cory Petcoff Steve Sligh

Expressions@LCS { 16 } Alumni@LCS { 17 } Faculty Feature: Geoff Stabler { 18 }

John Tucker magazine is published quarterly by Lakeland Christian School and is distributed free of charge to parents, grandparents, alumni and

Staff Scoop & Fun Stuff { 20 & 21 } Fine Arts Feature: Stephanie Powers { 22 }

friends of the school.

Sportszone@LCS { 24 }

Send correspondence to:

Cheerfulgivers@LCS { 26 }

Lakeland Christian School Attn: Sandy Johnson 1111 Forest Park Street Lakeland, FL 33803 You may send emails to This magazine is printed by Area Litho, Lakeland, FL.

LAKELAND CHRISTIAN SCHOOL 1111 Forest Park Street, Lakeland, Florida 33803 | Phone 863-688-2771 Fax 863-682-5637 | | Facebook: | Twitter:


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is to educate students in the light of God’s word to equip them for a lifetime of learning, leadership, service and worship.


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Following God’s Call ... From Sea to Shining Sea While he was a student at Lakeland Christian School in the early 1990s, John Sweet played soccer and occasionally made it off the bench to play a little basketball, mostly in a mop-up role. But, becoming a pastor? And especially pastoring churches in a metropolis such as New York City and then the San Francisco bay area? According to John, these were not even remote thoughts during his 13 years on the LCS campus, where he describes his life as being that of just a “regular student.”

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E N G A G E F E AT U R E continued

A LIFE OF MINISTRY BEGINS Although he considers his experience as typical, John did something significant that would change his life, impact scores of others and determine his career path in ministry. He remained totally open to the Lord’s leading and desired to be used of God in whatever way He would choose. And he carried this “spiritual availability” with him as he left Lakeland and headed off to Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama. As he pursued a degree in Business Management, John was involved with youth ministry opportunities throughout his four years at Samford. During this time, he began to have an internal sense of call to vocational ministry. After graduation, John spent a year in Ocala, Florida, where he coached soccer and

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moments. The process was much more one of trying to take the next faithful step and trust that God was in the lead.” OFF TO THE BIG APPLE By the fall of 1999, John found himself living in the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn, surrounded by thousands of new Spanish- or Mandarin/Cantonese- speaking neighbors. He was working in lower Manhattan as a campus ministry intern with students from various colleges in the city. “I say ‘found myself’ because I wasn’t following the dream of urban adventure so much as taking the open door forward in a path toward vocational ministry, and the door happened to open in NYC,” John said.

volunteered in a wide scope of ministry at Good

“The next two years were formative for me in many

Shepherd Presbyterian Church. His uncle, Ted

ways. I began to have an awareness, appreciation and

Strawbridge, is still the senior pastor. It was after

love for the diversity and grandeur of God’s kingdom

that year in Ocala that John received the opportunity

that living in the boroughs of the city offered. For me,

to move to New York City for a ministry opportunity

it was an experience of the theology that God is

with Reformed University Fellowship, a ministry to

doing something much bigger in this world

college students, at New York University.

than merely working on me.”

“It was there that my sense of calling solidified and

John met his wife, Kathy, at the Village Church, a

was affirmed by pastors and mentors who knew me

daughter church of Redeemer Presbyterian Church,

well,” John remarked. “There were really no ‘ah ha’

and they were married in 2001. “Kathy is a southern

“As I reflect back on my time at LCS, I realize that there were teachers and administrators, some fresh out of college and some at the cusp of retirement, who all wanted to see me flourish. I am grateful for all of them.” California girl with Louisiana roots who embraced

In 2009, John and Kathy helped start a sister

New York City as home while she pursued her degree

congregation in the Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn.

in Literature. As one uncle unkindly, but perhaps not inaccurately, put it: ‘it’s a good thing she has enough personality for the both of you.’”

“Flatbush is a glorious, historic neighborhood with an immigrant flavor and a high degree of social and economic diversity. Our little congregation was

John and Kathy left New York in 2001 for further

committed to being a neighborhood church in our

training at Reformed Theological Seminary in

worship, our welcome, our fellowship and our service.

Orlando, but they did so with a strong desire to return

And, to a degree, by God’s grace in small but beautiful

to Brooklyn. They were able to do just that when John

ways, we were. Through leading this congregation in

was hired as a church planting apprentice with Park

worship for three years, I learned that when I worship

Slope Presbyterian Church in the Park Slope

God with a diverse bunch of brothers and sisters,

neighborhood of Brooklyn in 2004.

I come to know God and His kingdom in fresh and

“It was there that we forged deep and lasting friendships, learned just how much we needed to learn about life and ministry, and began to grow our family,” John reflected. “If our first two years in Brooklyn were formative, these four years were foundational and impossible to summarize. In terms

exciting ways. I learned that worship truly can be a foretaste of the lasting celebration that is yet to come. I learned that even when circumstances are trying, worship can be marked by deep joy.”


of worship, I grew to appreciate that God’s grace operates uniquely in gathered worship where we are formed and Christ is celebrated.” { 9 }


GO WEST, YOUNG MAN, GO WEST After two years of faithfully serving the Flatbush neighborhood, John, Kathy and their children packed their bags and said goodbye to life in Brooklyn. “In many ways we weren’t ready to go, so we are

not necessarily the kind that honors the Creator. As John is called to lead through the local church, crafting worship of the One True God is a critical responsibility and privilege.

learning what it means to worship and trust a


sovereign God who has our best at heart


regardless of circumstances,” John noted.

Through serving as a pastor in markedly different

He now serves as the associate pastor of Grace

settings, John has learned much about worship.

Church of Marin in Marin County, California, just

And he has some great advice for all of us

north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

who are not pastors.

“Marin is a gorgeous, affluent county in the San

“Though my preparation may be more intensive

Francisco Bay area, and it is also one of the least

given the unique role that I get to play in Sunday

churched counties in the country. We are often asked

worship, the answer is really the same for all of us.

how life in Marin is similar to life in Flatbush and

Be intentional about coming to worship. Remind

the answer is simple – it isn’t; except in the most

yourself what happens in worship: God graciously

important sense, which is our neighbors here need

meets with us and intends to change us, and we

to know the gracious and glorious reign of Jesus

have the wonderful task as a congregation to offer

in their lives just like they do in Flatbush. And that

to God the praise, prayers, confessions and faith and

reign of Jesus is celebrated in our worship here

love that he deserves. So, on the one hand, come

just as it is there.”

expecting God to be at work. On the other hand,

In other words, the similarity of Brooklynites and San Franciscans is in their brokenness and in their need for a Savior. There is much worship taking

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place in these diverse regions of the country, but

take your job as worshipper seriously by praying beforehand for God’s help (and admitting your doubts and struggles if you have them), committing to being there, getting a good nights sleep, etc.”

John was quick to point out that many people limit

end of the day, the busy schedules, the preferences

their definition of the word, “worship,” to the part

of worship style, the challenges of relationships

of a service that involves singing and music.

and every other reason we offer for not engaging

“One of the insights that I’ve had the privilege of coming to understand through my years is that worship is one of the primary places where God promises to show up and intends to change us. Through the work of the Spirit, worship on Sunday week in and week out helps shape us into the people we want to be as Jesus’ followers the rest of the week.” He continued, “Each element of historic Christian worship is important. For example, the call to worship reminds us that the truest reality in life is God and forms us into people that live as if it is true. The confession of sin teaches us to be people who

in worship together are manifestations of a lack of love for the God who loves to be present with us in worship.” PERSONAL WORSHIP DISCIPLINES ARE KEY John has also found that many people consider worship only as a public, corporate activity. He said that developing a life pattern of personal worship is vital and also indicated there are no new “silver bullets” in this regard. “The Apostle Paul famously reminds us in Romans 12 that worship is a whole life offered joyfully to God moment by moment, day by day.

are honest about our ability to hurt others and about

“Time spent in study and meditation of Scripture,

our need for grace. The assurance of pardon forms

time spent with God in prayer, time spent with other

us into people who live with the quiet confidence

Christians in fellowship and encouragement, time

of a child who knows that life is going to be okay

spent pursuing the greatest commandment of loving

because of the care and protection of a

our neighbor are the habits through which we will

loving father.”

find our hearts resonating with love for God,”


John expressed.



Even though there are a host of trials faced by any

John pointed out that many of these spiritual

pastor, John sees one of his largest challenges as

disciplines were encouraged during his time on the

leading people to resist the temptation toward

campus of Lakeland Christian. “As I reflect back on

idolatry of the self.

my time at LCS, I realize that there were teachers and

“Worship is fundamentally an orientation of life, both as individuals and communities, around God and His gracious reality in our lives,” John remarked.

administrators, some fresh out of college and some at the cusp of retirement, who all wanted to see me flourish. I am grateful for all of them,” he said.

“One of the most significant challenges I have

Through the grace of God, this “typical” student has

experienced as a pastor, whether in Florida, Brooklyn

clearly flourished into a man being used mightily in

or Northern California, is an entrenched self-orienta-

the gospel ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. The blue

tion that pushes directly against the God-orientation

collar immigrant in a borough of New York City and

of true worship. Certainly the culture of individual-

the uber-wealthy high-tech tycoon in California

ism and consumerism in which we live contributes,

have both been pointed to Christ by this one

but so also does each of our personal propensities

who has simply been found faithful to the call

toward building a ‘kingdom of me.’

of God in his life.

“The picture the Bible paints throughout is that we worship what we love,” John continued. “So at the

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KATIE SLIGH MOORE: Living All of Life in Worship Mode For Katie (Sligh) Moore, LCS Class of 1999, worship isn’t just something that happens on Sunday mornings at her church. She understands that her life is to be lived in worship mode, 24/7. “I have been taught to see all of life as worship,” Katie said. “I believe that Christ is Lord over all his creation, and there is not one sphere of this world He does not sovereignly rule over and claim as his own. “That means when I vacuum my house and do laundry, God is glorified by the order and cleanliness. When I spend time with a friend and enjoy a cookie, God is glorified by my delight in His good gifts to me. When a contractor builds a solid structure, when a professor gives a knowledgeable lecture, when a mom plays with her children, when a car is repaired, when a budget sheet is balanced, God is glorified. He delights in expertise, knowledge, skill, wholeness and justice in the world He created. “These are examples of ways we worship in the every day, of ways we live out Luke 10:27, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind …’”


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LIFELONG INFLUENCE OF HOME & CHRISTIAN SCHOOLING This foundational understanding of “life as worship” has been a lifelong endeavor for Katie. Her father, long-time LCS Board Member Dr. Steve Sligh, was the first person to teach her to think this way, and Katie says he’s still teaching and encouraging her today. In addition, her Christian schooling was a major influence along the way. “My experience in Christian education from kindergarten through college provided a foundation and structure for my Christian worldview,” said Katie. “My years at LCS taught me that God had a place in every topic, every subject, everything. My undergraduate degree from Covenant College was paramount in teaching me how to see, and live out, Christ’s Lordship in all spheres of life. NATURAL INSTINCT IS TO WORSHIP OURSELVES Katie also understands that she must be intentional about who and what she worships. “I find in my heart a natural instinct to worship myself. I want to build my

kingdom instead of the Lord’s, and ultimately He must rescue me from myself and create in me a new heart to worship Him,” Katie said. “We also must fight that belief that we only ‘worship’ on Sunday and just ‘go to work’ Monday through Friday. Secular culture wants us to accept that there is a divide between our hearts and our heads, that the sacred and the secular have no overlap. It is difficult to think creatively about how to make our vocation a place of worship. I was raised in a Christian home and in Christian school for 16 years and still find it a challenge that requires purposeful thought and practice.” HONORING GOD THROUGH CAREER But Katie has done just that with her vocation. “My job as a nurse brings me into a close view of humanity, and my Christian worldview informs me that human beings are created in the image of God. It is the desire and prayer of my heart that God would grant me patience, mercy and compassion for my patients so that He is honored when His image bearers are comforted, restored and have their dignity affirmed. I endeavor to be a skilled and capable nurse, to be an expert at my profession so that I may do excellent work.” Katie continued, “At creation there was no pain and suffering, no illness or disease, no cause for a nurse. However, pain and brokenness entered the world through sin and disobedience, creating a need for my profession. “I see my work as worship because I believe that I have the privilege of living out the promise that Christ has come, and will come again, reversing the curse of sin from the Garden of Eden. “The patients I take care of have cancer, broken bones, addictions, failing organs and much more. Working as a nurse, I can help to alleviate suffering, bring healing and show mercy. These small acts, to varying degrees, work to reverse the curse of sin. So I give pain medicine, I clean wounds, I change bedpans, I hold hands – because my Lord is on His throne, sovereignly ruling over all His creation, and one day He will return to fully restore and redeem it.” CORPORATE WORSHIP, PERSONAL DEVOTIONS & LIVING IN COMMUNITY Although she sees all of life as worship, Katie understands the special necessity of corporate worship, private devotions and living in community. “Corporate worship with a body of believers is a weekly, essential place of worship for my soul,” Katie remarked. “Every Sunday my heart is renewed by singing praises, hearing Scripture and listening to the preached Word where I am reminded of the truth of the Gospel. Private worship, time spent reading God’s word and in prayer is equally as important and vital to the Lord’s work in my heart and life. “Throughout the week I am reminded of Gospel truth by being in relationship with friends who point me to Christ. We talk about it at our small group, and we encourage each other on mission together for friends who do not yet know the Gospel. Without these daily and weekly elements in my life, I will fall back to worship of myself and forget the worship of our great God.”

Katie was an outgoing and active student throughout her 13 years at Lakeland Christian. She played basketball, softball and volleyball, participated in Fellowship of Christian Athletes and worked as part of the yearbook staff. “Mr. Musick, Mrs. Oncu and Miss Ellis were the most influential teachers during my time at LCS,” Katie said. “Without Mr. Musick I would not know and love science the way I do. I learned so much from him because he enjoys what he is teaching, and he enjoys whom he is teaching. That combination is powerful! Without Mrs. Oncu I would not know how to write a paper. She taught me not to start sentences with ‘And’ as well as how to express myself in a thoughtful, organized manner. Miss Ellis coached me in volleyball and softball.” Upon graduating from LCS in 1999, Katie attended Covenant College in Lookout Mountain, Georgia, where she received a degree in Environmental Biology with a minor in Community Development. She graduated in 2003 and, after spending three months in Honduras with an organization called The Mercy Ships, Katie decided to go back to school and pursue a nursing degree. She completed her degree in 2006 from Duke University School of Nursing and now serves as a Registered Nurse in the Emergency Department at Orlando Regional Medical Center, a Level One Trauma Center.

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{ campusclamor@lcs } Congratulations to Taylor O’Byrne and Julia Canady on being named as semifinalists in the Broadcom MASTERS competition. Taylor and Julia, both students in the RISE Institute, are two of just 300 semifinalists chosen from around the nation. The Broadcom MASTERS®, a program of Society for Science & the Public (SSP) sponsored by the Broadcom Foundation, is the preeminent national middle school science and engineering competition in the United States and the world. Now in its third year, the Broadcom MASTERS (Math, Applied Science, Technology and  Engineering for Rising Stars) is inspiring middle school

Lakeland Christian School RISE Institute student researchers introduced a new weapon in the fight against air potato vine, one of Florida’s most aggressive invasive plants. RISE students received a special overnight shipment of Air Potato Beetles, a newly introduced natural biological control. The release took place in Faith’s Forest and was first released in Polk County under the new control program. 

students from all walks of life to pursue math and science

The Principal Investigator on the project, seventh grader

throughout high school, opening doors to exciting

Rachel Plyler, became interested in controlling air potato

university and career choices in science, technology,

in Faith’s Forest, a three-acre wooded area on campus, for

engineering and math (STEM) fields.

her independent research project, an annual undertaking

The Broadcom MASTERS awards cash prizes and gifts to all MASTERS nominees and their teachers at every level of competition. National finals are held each fall in Washington, D.C., and top prizes include the $10,000 Marconi/Samueli Award for Innovation and the $25,000 Samueli Foundation Prize, a gift from the Samueli Foundation. Students are invited to compete in the U.S. Broadcom MASTERS by entering their science and engineering projects at regional and state SSP-affiliate fairs.

by RISE Institute students. She was concerned that the invasive plant formed a dense canopy, shading out the native trees and shrubs.  Annual “air potato roundups” undertaken as service learning projects by students for many years did not effectively control the spread of the vine, and chemical sprays are less than ideal. Rachel decided to look for a new way to control the invasive plant. She read about the air potato leaf beetle and her teacher, Jennifer Canady, helped her make contact with Dr. Eric Rohrig with the Division of Plant Industry at the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.  Dr. Rohrig agreed to ship the Air Potato Beetles to release in Faith’s Forest on the Lakeland Christian School campus. Rachel and her research colleagues will monitor the effect of the Leaf Beetle on the growth of Air Potato in Faith’s Forest for several years. Surviving only on Air Potato, each leaf beetle can consume approximately 20 square feet of plant material in its lifetime. The beetle has been released

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{ campusclamor@lcs } after extensive testing by the USDA. Researchers at the

through the FIRST Lego League. They competed in their

Florida Department of Agriculture, USDA and Lakeland

first regional tournament in mid-November at Union

Christian’s RISE Institute, hope that the release of the

Academy. The team was judged in the categories of robot

Air Potato Beetle will protect Florida ecosystems from

design, core values, research and the ability to complete

being over-run by one of the most aggressive weeds

certain missions pertaining to this year’s theme,

ever introduced into Florida.

“Nature’s Fury.” The team was able to complete five missions resulting in a total of 116 points. The team, their Congratulations to seniors Ashlynne Wells and Darius Green on being named the 2013

Homecoming Queen and King, and to juniors Ann Portlock

parents and their coach were very proud of the group’s accomplishments. They will spend time the remainder of the year correcting and improving the robot. The robot’s name is Maelstrom after the term used for a Viking storm. It works solely on computer programming that is completed by the team. The group is coached by Cheryl Brannen with mentorship from Dr. Paul Bresnan and Jennifer Canady. 

and Tucker Scruggs on being selected as the Princess and Prince. The Homecoming coronation was held

Mornings in the RISE

at the varsity football game on October 4.

Institute have gotten a whole lot brighter. A group of fourth grade girls, who call themselves “The RISE and Shines” enjoy helping water plants, taking care of butterflies and are growing a garden of their own. Their involvement makes the RISE Institute an even more lively place.

The high school RISE Institute Robotics Team has spent the last two months engineering a robot through the FIRST Tech Competition Challenge. They will compete in December and January against other teams in the Tampa Bay area in a robotics challenge called “Block Party.”  The robot is the size of a microwave oven and weighs about 20 pounds. The team is coached by Mrs. Jennifer Canady with technical mentorship from Dr. Paul Bresnan. 

The LCS Entrepreneurship Forum was established through the RISE Institute by junior Sam Moseley. In partnership with the Lakeland Economic Development Council, monthly

The middle school

speakers introduce LCS middle and high schoolers to

RISE Institute

creative innovators and entrepreneurs in the community.

Robotics Team has spent the last two months programming a robot

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{ expressions@lcs }

In late October, the LCS Fine Arts department brought

1500 people attended the performances while 90 parents

the imagination of Neverland onto the stage as students

and children had breakfast with the primary characters.

presented four shows of Samuel French’s Peter Pan. From the moment Peter Pan flew into the Darling nursery, hearts were captivated by the story of the young boy who refused to grow up. Senior Emily Carl played the lead role of Peter Pan. Other main characters were performed by senior Sarah Kettelkamp (Wendy Darling), senior Carter Overholt (Captain Hook), senior Charlotte Varnum (Tiger Lily) and senior Spencer Abramson (Smee).

Through the help of the family and friends of Shaun Pleima (Class of 2007) and Ties that Bind, Inc., five Lakeland Christian cast members did something that had never been done before. They FLEW on the LCS stage. The Fine Arts Department is thankful for the Pleima family and their contribution that helped make this musical possible. In memory of Shaun, our new flight system will be used in future “flying” productions.

The show consisted of 73 cast members (25 secondary students, 21 middle-school students and 27 elementary students), two stage hands and one student percussionist. In addition, seven faculty members worked in various capacities: directing, teaching vocals, choreographing, and playing the piano

Congratulations to the following secondary Fine Arts students for being chosen to represent Lakeland Christian in All-State Choirs and Bands. The musicians will perform in Tampa during the weekend of January 9-11.

and keyboard. Numerous parents helped in many areas

High School Choir: Emily Carl, Sarah Kettelkamp, Kara Stacy

including set (led by Ken Overholt, Mila Adriano and Jesse

Middle School Choir: Amielle Ingalla

Sharpe), costumes (led by Donna Elliott and Janet Sharpe),

High School Band: Maria Baker

hair and makeup (led by Tammi Brown), fundraising (led by

Middle School Band: Brantley Sabat

Georgianna Whyte and Payton Albritton), and concessions (led by Lisa Jones and Shannon Miles). In addition to presenting four shows, the primary cast members participated in a character brunch. More than

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{ alumni@lcs } 2000s

Rachel Johnson Doyle (’01) husband Ben Chris Lopez (’10)

and four-year-old Eli

pictured with

welcomed Brook

Dr. Jonathan Grenz,

Abigail to the family

is among the inaugural

on December 1, 2012.

class of Palm Beach

The family resides in Norfolk, Virginia, where Rachel

Atlantic University’s

is a part-time pediatric oncology nurse.

new M.Div. degree. Enrolled in the 3+2 program, Chris just completed his third year as an undergraduate majoring in biblical and theological studies. He is now embarking on his first year of master’s study. This photo is from a PBA publication.

1990s Jeremy Secrest (’97) is a Major in the Army assigned to Fort Polk, Louisiana. He is the Operations Officer for the 5th BN 25th Field Artillery. Jeremy is currently deployed to Afghanistan.

Mark and Kristin (Norton) Livesay

Amanda Crosby

(both ‘05) and their

Schneider (‘97) and

daughter, Annabelle

husband Jon are

Mae, welcomed

blessed with three

Isaac Steven, into

children: Solomon

their family on August 25, 2013.

(6), Selah Belle (3) and Simeon (11 months). The family resides in Homewood, Alabama.

Josh Vander Maten (’04) is currently employed with DFW Metroplex. Josh and his wife Kathryn reside in Garland, Texas. Josh also leads worship at his church.

The Lakeland Christian Class of 1993 recently held Emily Campbell Craig (’04) and Patrick are the proud parents of Lilah Patterson Craig, born on June 25, 2013. The family currently resides in Belmont, North Carolina.

their 20-year high school reunion. Here are pictures from the weekend.

» We love to hear from you. News about you is ­important to us and to your former classmates. Please email Claudia Powell at ­ Planning your class reunion? Claudia can also arrange for use of facilities and will offer other helpful tips.

To view even more alumni updates, please visit { 17 }


A HIGH CALLING Geoff Stabler Teaches the Next Generation to Worship God

In Thomas Wolfe’s novel, You Can’t Go Home Again, he tells the story of a man who, through a series of events mainly brought on by his own doing, is never welcomed in his hometown again. 

only in relationship with him through Christ will we truly flourish,” Geoff said. “Of course, this idea is found in the Bible, so we spend a great deal of time tracing the story of redemption through its pages.

Such is certainly not the case with Lakeland Christian’s own Geoff Stabler. In fact, not only was this LCS alum enthusiastically welcomed back to campus 17 years ago as a young member of the faculty, he is widely considered by class after class as one of their most influential teachers during their time at Lakeland Christian.

“No matter who we are, we are worshippers,” Geoff said. “It’s not a question of if we worship, but who or what we worship. For all of us, there is someone or something that holds our ultimate love, delight and allegiance. Worship is the expression of this love, delight and allegiance. It’s expressed in what we talk about, what we spend our time and money doing, what we delight in, what we dream about, what we long for, what we create. Whatever it is that fills those categories for us is what we worship.”

His passion? Leading students to see worship as the driving force of all they do. “It begins by modeling it,” Geoff said. “Students need to see their teachers living out a life of worship in the classroom and in interpersonal relationships. They need to hear Mr. Musick delight in his Creator as he teaches the origin and insertion of certain muscles in the body. They need to hear Mr. Livesay delight in the rationality of God as he shows students how to do a derivative. They need to hear Mrs. Oncu delight in the creativity of her Maker through poetry, and on it goes. They also need to see their teachers practice confession and repentance, turning from false worship back to true worship.” WE WERE MADE TO WORSHIP GOD This critical equipping of students to live a life of worship is taught in his classes as well. “In my classes, I really lean into the idea that we were made to worship the Lord, that only He is enough to fulfill the deepest longings and desires of our soul, and that { 18 }

Geoff indicates that we make any number of created things ultimate. He realizes that we tend to make ourselves ultimate and thoughtlessly strive to be the ruler of our universe. He wisely leads students to see that we mistakenly believe that another person — a girlfriend/boyfriend, a peer group, our parents, etc. – can fill up the deepest longings of our soul. “We make stuff ultimate and foolishly believe that more things will satisfy. The Bible describes this situation as being dead in sin. We need to be rescued. “Jesus came to rescue us from our idolatry,” Geoff continued. “It’s pretty incredible that the God to whom we have said, ‘I will ignore you and worship the things you’ve made instead,’ came to live among us, to be killed by us and to die for sin. There is nothing else that we worship that will do that.”

SHAPED BY PARENTS, CHURCH, READING & LCS Geoff said that much of his thinking in this direction was shaped by his parents, his church and by his teachers at Lakeland Christian. “At LCS, it was simply part of the culture of the school that we were not merely to worship God in Bible class, but in math, science, English, etc. I carried those ideas with me to college,” Geoff recalled. Reading has also allowed him to further develop his passion for living life as worship. Geoff was initially influenced by John Piper’s Desiring God. “He seemed to articulate well what I had absorbed at LCS,” Geoff reflected. “The more I thought about it, the more it made sense, and I began to examine myself to see if I was seeking joy in things that could not possibly fulfill me.” Later he read Richard Pratt’s Designed for Dignity, which shaped his thinking about the Bible’s overarching theme of redemption. Most recently, he has been influenced by the writings of Tim Keller, Pastor of Redeemer Church in New York City. COMING ‘HOME’ TO LCS Geoff enjoys teaching at the school where he was a student. He describes the experience as surreal at times, as he reflects on vivid memories.

“When I drop Lydia off at her K5 classroom I often remember the old cafeteria and the delicious rolls. When I go to the current cafeteria I think of basketball practice in the old sweat box that we called the gym. There are a lot of memories like that since I was pretty involved at LCS as a student,” he added. “One of the great things about working at LCS is that I get to work with my former teachers—Mr. Musick, Mrs. Oncu, Dr. Sligh, Coach Kirby and Miss Ellis to name a few. These teachers helped shape my thinking in many ways, and they continue to do so. Geoff obviously embodies the portion of the school’s mission statement indicating LCS equips students for a lifetime of worship. And he sees the impact this has on young lives, for eternity. “I think LCS does a great job giving our students opportunities to worship. There are many, many avenues for our students to discover their gifts and talents and to learn to use them in glad worship of their Creator. That’s one of the reasons why I’m so excited for the future of LCS. I look forward to how that will affect our community and world for years to come.” And the Lakeland Christian School community is certainly excited that its students’ futures include the Godly influence of Geoff Stabler. LCS is glad he came home again. If you would like to contact Geoff Stabler, feel free to email him at

“No matter who we are, we are worshippers.”

Geoff teaches Bible Study Methods (11th Grade), Apologetics (12th Grade) and Implications of Christianity (12th Grade). He is also a Senior Class sponsor and leads faculty devotions. He began serving LCS in 1997 as a science teacher. Geoff grew up in Lakeland and began attending LCS when he was in third grade. After graduating from LCS, he went to Florida State University where he received a B.S. in Secondary Science Teaching in the areas of chemistry and biology. He later attended Reformed Theological Seminary and gained a Masters of Arts in religion. He and wife, Abigail (Mabry, Class of 1999), have been married for 11 years. They now have four children: Jeremiah, 9; Lydia, 5; Jiliana, 3; Timothy, 8 months. { 19 }

{ staffscoop@lcs } Congratulations to Mrs. Sue

individual and small group instruction, and the

Wilsman, LCS PE teacher and

Reading Plus program assesses students’ fluency,

coach, on being selected as one

reading comprehension and vocabulary. The

of six recipients of The Ledger’s

program covers a variety of skills and is

Golden Garland Awards. These

differentiated for each child.

awards honor adults in the categories of the arts, community service, education, entrepreneurship, medicine and sportsmanship. Coach Wilsman won the award for sportsmanship.

Before the beginning of school, elementary teachers completed training in Singapore Math or Primary Mathematics, which has been adopted in the elementary school. In K4 and K5, students

In addition to her role as a secondary PE

“play” with math as they build and manipulate

teacher, Sue coaches volleyball and softball.

numbers. Students begin to visualize numbers and

To read The Ledger article about Sue, visit

increase number sense. First through fifth graders

are taught how to think through mathematical

The awards ceremony was held on November 11 at the Polk Theatre. Eighty-three individuals were nominated by friends, relatives and co-workers.

problems using the CPA (concrete-pictorial-abstract) approach and Model Method. Students strive to visualize and identify patterns as they develop an understanding of fundamental math concepts which provide a strong foundation during the elementary

This year, Lakeland Christian

years. As students form this foundation, they will be

School added the position of

well prepared for higher levels of mathematics.

Reading Intervention Specialist. Mrs. Carrie Kirk, who previously worked with Special Programs, transitioned into this role and works with students in elementary and middle school. She uses the Reading Plus and Passport programs to meet the students’ needs. The Passport program allows students to get both

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{ funstuff@lcs } We asked members of the LCS family to describe their favorite Christmas ornament on their tree. Here are some of the responses » “A mama bear and a baby bear wearing a tutu.” – Ellie Overholt, Second Grader “A big round red ball that almost takes up the whole tree.” – Tate Horne, Second Grader “A little mouse riding in a walnut; my great grandma made it for me when I was really little.” – Ben Johnson, IT Assistant “My favorite ornament is an okra painted red with a Santa face on it. My mom found it at a craft fair and, since fried okra was my favorite food, she said that I just had to have it.” – Tricia Strickland, Secondary Math Teacher “An ornament from my grandparents when I was two years old that says ‘You’re the best grandchild ever’” – Kelton Spann, Fifth Grader “An Elvis Presley that I got when my grandpa was alive.” – Jacob Cabrera, Fifth Grader “A snowflake with my grandma’s birthday on it; she passed away.” – Alle Ferson, Fifth Grader “A baby shoe that says 2002 – the year I was born.” – Gabe Averitt, Fifth Grader “My favorite ornaments are the handmade ornaments that my boys made when they were little.” – Jennifer Copeland, Fifth Grade Teacher “The star.” – Jamie Aspinwall, Senior “My favorites are the annual White House Christmas Ornaments. Each one comes with a historical synopsis of a different president, and the beautiful ornament represents a Christmas activity at the White House.” – Jill Jones, Secondary Music Teacher “My favorite ornament is a campsite because of the wonderful memories of family camping trips.” – Mary Sligh, Secondary Relationship Education Coordinator “When we were first married, Alexis cross-stitched the names of Christ on about 12 circular ornaments.  The lettering is green on a white background.” – Steve Livesay, Secondary Math Teacher “My California Grandma sends a special ornament every year. Last year was a moose.” – Brooke Wilsman, Senior “A sand dollar I made into a snowman.” – Ryan Harper, Freshman “Rudolph on a light pole.” – Brooke Standifer, Freshman

“’Our First Christmas’ ornament from our honeymoon 27 years ago.” – Denise Fie, Secondary Spanish Teacher “A picture frame ornament with a photo of me and my brother as toddlers sitting on Santa’s lap.” – Amelia Jackson, Sixth Grader “Candy Canes.” – Jordan Brown, Sixth Grader “An ornament that is in the shape of a set of golf clubs, knit by my grandmother in 1945.” – Bryce Bagwell, Sixth Grader “Olive Wood Nativity carving from Nazareth.” – Kari Clever, Secondary Art Teacher “My favorite Christmas ornament is a nail that is a replica of those that held Jesus to the cross. It’s always the first ornament we put on the tree as a reminder of what the Christmas season is all about.” – Heather Rhoden, Fifth Grade Teacher “My 1999 Hallmark Muhammad Ali ornament is my favorite!!!!” – Lynn Pruim, Administrative Assistant in the Secondary Office “My favorite ornament on our Christmas tree is a clear glass ball that is decorated with snowmen made of Jackson’s preschool fingers! It is a prized possession that requires its very own box for safe keeping!!” – Deanne DeLegge, Administrative Assistant in the Admissions Office “I have two – both are my daughters’ first baby shoes; Lauren’s shoes are from her baby dedication and Carrie’s actually have her name (left shoe) and birth date (right shoe) on the bottom of the shoe. Those are my favorite ornaments.” – Kay Henry, First Grade Teacher “One of my favorite ornaments on my tree each year is a Santa that’s directing music with his baton. He looks very much like Joe DeRosa!!!! :-) I’m reminded of Joe and his years here as band director when I see it on my tree!” – Nancy Snyder, Elementary Music Teacher “A set of wooden band members playing various musical instruments that Daryl and I found the first Christmas we were married.” – Kathy Johnson, Assistant Band Director

NEXT ISSUE’S QUESTION: What is your favorite event of the winter Olympics and why? Tell us by emailing Sandy Johnson –

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Stephanie Powers Had Fun!

Stephanie Powers entered Lakeland Christian School in first grade and walked across the stage last May as the Salutatorian for the LCS Class of 2013. Her accomplishments in the classroom were complemented by participation on the swim team throughout high school (leading as co-captain), serving as President of the Tri-M music honor society, as well as the National Honor Society. Stephanie was also on the school’s Academic Team.

In recognition of her high academic achievement, Stephanie was recognized as a National Merit Scholar Finalist. She excelled in piano performance and was awarded Student of the Year honors all four years of high school. She was also a part of school theatrical productions. Her many roles on stage included Louisa Von Trapp in The Sound of Music, and she played the lead in Our Miss Brooks. She was recognized by her fellow athletes with the Mighty in Spirit Award. In addition, Stephanie was the recipient of the Christian Leadership Award and spoke to her class

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at Baccalaureate. Selection for this honor is based on consistent Christian testimony, leadership and service. She provided extensive volunteer service to Lakeland’s Troxel House and to various camps. Stephanie is now a freshman at Gordon College, where she’s studying Linguistics. Gordon is in Wenham, Massachusetts, about 45 minutes north of Boston. She’s involved in the campus Gospel Choir, the student homeless ministry and a spiritual life group on campus.

Stephanie Powers was clearly a leader on the LCS campus. One of her most influential roles was that of leader of the school’s Praise Team, which led LCS secondary students in music worship during the weekly chapel service. Stephanie served LCS in this manner as a junior and a senior. We asked her to reflect on her experience as a worship leader for Lakeland Christian students. Q. Who were some of the influential people in your life during your time at LCS? A. I felt like I was influenced in some way by pretty much everyone with whom I came in contact at LCS, but if I had to just name a few, I’d say: Mrs. Frost inspired me at a young age to seek excellence in writing and in learning in general. Mr. Stabler had a huge influence on my perspective on God, faith and life, through not only his wise teaching, but also the example of his own life. Mr. Musick’s New Testament Greek class first prompted my interest in Bible translating, which is why I am currently studying linguistics, in hopes to one day work as a Bible translator. The solid faith and passion for teaching seen in both Mr. and Mrs. Livesay helped to cultivate my faith as well as my love of learning. Q. You obviously took your responsibilities leading the chapel worship team at LCS very seriously. What motivated you to lead the student body in this area? A. This may sound kind of silly, but part of my motivation was simply this: fun. Personally, I think worshipping the Lord together through song is one of the most fun things in the world! As David did in 2 Samuel 6, I love “become[ing] undignified” and “celebrat[ing] before the Lord,” especially when believers do it together. Few things bring me such joy as when a group of God’s children are singing and dancing together to express their love for Him. Thus, I led the chapel worship team because I wanted, with Christ in me, to lead all my brothers and sisters to experience that same joy. Q. Music is an integral part of Christian worship. What factors contributed to your love and commitment to develop your musical gifts? A. The love and support of my parents and music teachers immensely contributed to my desire to continue pursuing music, as well as my own pure enjoyment. However, to be quite honest, I am sorry to say that sometimes my own pride and my desire for achievement in the field of music were significant factors that spurred my musical pursuits. Thankfully, by the grace of God, even my fallen, prideful self didn’t prevent Him from doing His work, and eventually I began to value music because it provides a beautifully distinct, powerful medium for praising, enjoying and communing with my Savior. Plus, as I said before, it is seriously fun.

Q. What opportunities in the LCS fine arts program facilitated your growth in the areas of music and worship? What other outlets outside of school provide opportunity for you to express your gifts? A.  My piano lessons were chief among opportunities for musical growth. My piano teachers helped refine my musical skills, and the theory work, which many students dread, gave me such a solid foundational knowledge. That foundation proved SO useful in all future musical endeavors, particularly in my leading of worship teams at school and youth group. The worship arts team at my home church, Legacy Christian Church, provided further experiences that fostered my growth as a musician and as a worshipper. Moreover, I was blessed to play in a worship team at Lake Aurora Christian Camp for multiple summers, leading a large crowd of energetic, unabashed elementary schoolers in daily worship sessions. Q. How do you see your commitment to worship influencing your life in college and beyond? A. While I hope worship through music will continue to be a large part of my life, as music has a unique power to bring people together, I think the nature of my “commitment to worship” has changed a bit. After experiencing the joy of worship through music, I am now trying to make every single aspect of my life a joyous act of worship, from studies to social interactions to simply making my bed in the morning. Everything is an offering to the Lord, which turns even the most mundane of tasks or the dullest classes into a beautiful expression of love for my Savior. Q. Besides in music, how do you see the concept of worship playing out in your life? A. “Worship in daily life” simply means orienting everything I do around the purpose of loving God. I think it is a conscious mentality that takes every task or circumstance and treats it as an opportunity to show Christ how I am devoted to him. This may sound silly, but even when I make my bed, I try to do so as a conscious expression of love toward God, whom I hope to honor through taking care of my space and keeping my room tidy. I try to make studying worshipful by viewing my studies as an opportunity to better understand my beloved God’s created world and my role in it. Also, He commands us to “work heartily” in “whatever we do” (Colossians 3:23), including our studies. Moreover, when I interact with others, I try to use words that are uplifting and actions that are loving, not simply because of my own altruistic inclinations, but because I love the Lord, and I hope to express my love for Him in following His command to love others, thus creating another avenue of worship.

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{ sportszone@lcs }

Three LCS baseball players have signed letters of intent to continue their athletic careers at the collegiate level. Pitcher Logan Browning signed with the University of Florida. Brooks Wilson, also a pitcher for the Vikings, will play for Stetson University. Brooks will also have a chance to play third base and hit. Shortstop Marcus Stump signed with Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, Florida. LCS senior softball player Emily Murphy signed a letter Eight LCS athletes were named All-American by the

of intent with North Greenville University in Tigerville,

National Christian School Athletic Association for

South Carolina. Emily is a pitcher for the Lady Vikings.

their 2012-13 seasons. Congratulations to Christian

Senior catcher Meghan Sutton

Alexander (football), Lydia Cagle (soccer), Blake Crosby

picked up an offer to play softball

(soccer), Bri Folds (soccer), Josie Koretchko (soccer),

at Covenant College in Lookout

Sydney Rayborn, Kristen Beacham (softball), and

Mountain, Georgia.

Brooke Wilsman (volleyball and softball). Bri, who as a freshman last year was not only

The fall season

selected as All-American, but she was named the

produced six new

NCSAA’s National Girls’ Soccer Player of the Year.

records for Boys’

And her coach, LCS Alum Jason Streets, was named

Swimming. Junior

NCSAA Girls’ Soccer National Coach of the Year.

Carson Knox was

Hats off to these outstanding Viking athletes and

involved in all six of

to Coach Streets for representing LCS so well.

these record-setting

For a complete list of award winners, visit

events. During this season, he set four individual LCS

records and was a member of two record-breaking relay teams. Knox and senior Chase Russell both qualified to compete for LCS at the State Swim/Dive Meet.

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{ sportszone@lcs }

Congrats to both the Boys and Girls’ Cross Country teams on winning the District Title! The championship was a family affair as senior Jessica Fuller placed first in the District with a time of 21:33 while her brother Jarod, a junior, picked up the win on the boys’ side with a time of 17:31. This marked the third consecutive District Championship for the girls and the first for the boys since 1996.

The LCS Middle School football team completed its first undefeated season in school history. These young Vikings finished 8-0 and outscored the opposition 280-121. After winning their seven regular season games, the team then won their bowl game by defeating Shorecrest Prep for the second time in the season. Many of these outstanding athletes will now move up to the Varsity squad for even more years of Viking football excitement. Congratulations to the high-scoring, record-setting Viking football team on another outstanding campaign, completing a 7-3 season in one of the toughest districts in the state of Florida. This year’s squad broke or tied a whopping 36 LCS football records this fall. In addition, nine Viking Stadium records were either broken or tied. Junior quarterback Christian Alexander accounted for 22 of the records and now stands just 18 TDs shy of breaking the all-time Polk County record. Senior kicking specialist Grady Sharpe broke or tied 20 records for place kicking and punting.

Lakeland Christian School celebrated Pastor Appreciation Night during its September 13 game with Liberty High School in Viking Stadium. More than 50 pastoral staff members attended the game, where they were honored on the field at halftime for their ministry of the gospel in local churches. During the festivities, Headmaster Mike Sligh joined the pastors on the field as they were thanked for their faithful work in shepherding their congregations. The school expressed grateful appreciation for what these devoted men and women pour into the hearts of the students and families of LCS. It is a partnership that Lakeland Christian holds in the highest regard. For this school year, LCS students are a part of 170 churches in our community.

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{ cheerfulgivers@lcs }

Three Big Things Everyone can do for LCS The following is an adaptation of a blog post written by LCS Director of Advancement Steve Wilson in April 2013. Whether you’re a student, parent, grandparent, alumni, alumni parent or friend, your partnership with the school is of great value. Read on to see how you can play an active role in the good work of Christian schooling at LCS. To paraphrase a famous line from JFK’s inaugural address, “My fellow Vikings, ask not what your school can do for you – ask what you can do for your school.” Actually, since we’re in the business of caring for a family’s most treasured asset, parents have every right to ask and to have high expectations of LCS. We don’t imagine folks will “ask not.” And that’s as it should be. Yet, because this is a bona fide partnership, the school, likewise, will have significant expectations of our own. So what can you do for LCS? How can you be a blessing? Glad you asked! Will you consider three simple, yet profound things? • Will you pray? • Will you give? • Who else do you know?

Let me, briefly, break these down into very doable opportunities for you. First, praying. This one is really easy, yet it makes all the difference in the world. We have seen that “the fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” It is powerful and effective. For nearly 60 years, we have been covered by the prayers of moms, dads, grandparents, students and many others. When you’re doing the critical work of sharpening young minds and shepherding young hearts, you just can’t function without prayer support. It can be as simple as voicing a brief prayer when you drive down Ariana or Harden and notice the school. This is how I often pray for my friends. As I drive past their businesses, I try to remember to ask for the Lord’s blessing on them. Next, giving. Okay, I realize this is getting a little more personal, but stay with me! Why is it that we so enjoy { 26 }

buying for others and then we get a real rush of anticipation as they open our gifts? It’s because we were designed to be givers rather than takers. That’s right, a huge part of our core reason for being – to glorify God and enjoy Him forever – is in loving our neighbors well. No matter how much or little we have, God has given us considerable material blessings. And we shouldn’t even wonder why God has been so generous. In 2 Corinthians 9, Paul tells us that, “we will be made rich in every way so that we can be generous on every occasion.” We are so wealthy, yet we all too often forget who owns it in the first place. The temptations of materialism – are a daily battle. I lose this fight more times than I’d like to admit. The answer? Stewardship — the realization that God owns it all, and we are called to be “proven faithful” as wise caretakers. As Randy Alcorn says in The Treasure Principle, “God wants your heart. He isn’t looking just for “donors” for His kingdom, those who stand outside the cause and dispassionately consider acts of philanthropy. He’s looking for disciples immersed in the causes they give to. He wants people so filled with a vision for eternity that they wouldn’t dream of not investing their money, time and prayers where they will matter most.” Such a place is LCS! An excellent Christian education is expensive. The financial costs are far more than tuition can support. LCS needs Kingdom partners who will invest in the good work being done in young lives. At a minimum, we need for current school families to support their school, according to their ability, during this season of life when we are educating their precious treasures. But, of course, all givers are welcome. And, finally, will you tell others about this special place? LCS doesn’t conduct elaborate advertising campaigns. We count on people sharing their school experience with others. Will you take the time to share your LCS blessing with family and friends who have school-age children? Who else would you like to see touched by Lakeland Christian? And when you give, will you help us invite others to invest as well? Most of us know family and friends with giving capacity who should have LCS on their stewardship radar. Sharing the blessing of joyful giving is a blessing in itself! Praying. Giving. Telling. Three big ways we can all use our God-given resources to make a difference in the life of children, for eternity. Thanks for loving LCS so well.

{ cheerfulgivers@lcs } The Real Beneficiaries of Giving to LCS? Children and Young People! Lakeland Christian is a school richly blessed by the generosity of people. Giving to LCS directly benefits students in countless ways. The following images reflect just a few of the most recent blessings.


“Come and see what God has done: He is awesome in His deeds toward the children of man.” Psalm 66:5 3








Left to Right: Photo 1: A new Boston piano and many other necessary items for the Music Department Photo 2 : Covered Walkways • Photo 3: iPads, SmartBoards and a host of other technology • Photo 4: Playground Shading Photo 5: Elementary/Middle School Building • Photo 6: Uniforms, Equipment and Supplies for LCS Athletics Photo 7: The Anne MacGregor Jenkins Wonder Room – scientific discovery center and nature lab Photo 8: Rope and Pulley System for Theatrical Productions • Photo 9: Robotics and many facets of the RISE Institute

And, of course, 194 students are a part of LCS because of generous support of the school’s Financial Aid Fund.

My family wants to participate. What now? Contact LCS Director of Advancement Steve Wilson at, or by calling the school at 863/688-2771. He can help with your gift planning.

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Non-Profit Org. U.S. POSTAGE PAID Lakeland, FL Permit No. 1

LAKELAND CHRISTIAN SCHOOL 1111 Forest Park Street, Lakeland, Florida 33803

Sharpening Minds and Shepherding Hear ts.




with e xceptio nal value. L A K E L A N D



The LCS 2012-13 Annual Report is now available online at

Lakeland Christian School - Engage Magazine (Autumn 2013)  
Lakeland Christian School - Engage Magazine (Autumn 2013)