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A Publication of Immanuel Christian School


Stephen Danish, Administrator It has been said that education is a journey, not a race. Finding the right path is usually more important than traveling fast. Education is a step by step process that takes time, persistence and setting the right course. That’s what we do at Immanuel Christian School every day. We step out on our journey with a conviction that God is the ultimate revealer of truth, and it is reasonable to believe He has revealed that truth to us in His natural world and in His written Word. Nothing is more exciting than to see our parents, students and teachers in this daily adventure of discovery. Our journey moves forward in three important ways: 1. We partner with families because our ministry to students is built upon a relationship of trust with the families we serve. 2. We inspire students for purposeful lives because education must give students a compelling reason for learning. 3. We pursue the goals of learning, godliness and service because a whole and balanced education must always engage the head, the heart and the hands. We are rewarded as a school when we see how God’s truth changes us, the way we think and the way we live.

This allows us to bring out the very best in our students, to help them find their special gifts and to explore those gifts in all the ways God has intended. Our teachers challenge students with opportunities that expand their horizons and motivate them to live differently and purposefully. We are encouraged when we hear from our students, especially those who have moved on in further education, career, family and faith; who have built upon the preparation and inspiration they received at ICS; sharing their faith and serving the needs of others in the world. It is not enough for education merely to equip young people with practical knowledge and skill. It must also inspire them to use those gifts with wisdom and purpose as the future leaders and influencers of our world. I hope you will enjoy these stories from our students, alumni and parents who share about the impact of their years at ICS and the amazing work God is doing in their lives.

We partner with families to inspire students for purposeful lives of learning, godliness and service. Immanuel Christian School – 6911 Braddock Road, Springfield, Virginia 22151 – 703-941-1220 –


Mark, Marlene and the boys vacationing at Pointe Vedra, FL.

HELPING HANDS The Kalenak Family

“Children complain about many things, but one thing my children do NOT complain about is school,” says Mark Kalenak. “They love school!” In February of 2012, knowing the reality of what was on the horizon, Mark and Marlene began to search for a school that would partner with them to provide a loving environment for their sons. They selected ICS, just before Marlene lost her battle with cancer in late July—one month before school began. As if the challenges of life were not enough, Mark’s youngest son took a fall the night before school was to begin. While most parents were home helping their children prepare for their first day, Mark was in the emergency room with one of his boys. Mark wondered, “What’s next?” as all the emotions of the previous month came rushing forth. Even after getting home at midnight with his son in a brace and sling, it did not occur to him to miss the first day of school! Mark vividly remembers sitting in the opening assembly on the first day “dazed and sad.” He was anxious for his boys and all the changes they would face in a new school and he wondered how he would be able to handle the responsibilities he had once shared with his wife. However, his worries about school transitions were quickly assuaged. Mark says, “It’s been amazing what’s happened since that first day!” The option of after-school care has provided Mark with needed flexibility; the boys have integrated seamlessly into their classes; and an ICS faculty member graciously makes the boys’ lunch twice a week. Mark notes, “Not surprisingly, her lunches are preferred to mine!” Mark is also appreciative of how easily the school has stayed in touch with him, remarking “the communication has been great.” Mark is grateful for the detailed planning his wife lovingly provided and knows his boys’ smooth transition to ICS is a lasting gift given by a mother to her family. He summed up his experience thus far saying, “It is not so much that we picked ICS—it’s what’s happened since we did!”

Mark and the boys at Caumsett State Park, Long Island, NY.

“Children complain about many things, but one thing my children do NOT complain about is school,” says Mark Kalenak. “They love school!”


A happy first day of school.


As part of the creation unit in 2nd grade, students dig for fossils. Charlotte holds up her discovery.

Charlotte thrived academically for four years at her previous school, but in 1st grade she began to mimic the language and attitudes of classmates who were exposed to non-biblical influences at home. Concerned that her character development was being derailed, we interviewed several parents about the culture and character-building programs at ICS and decided to transfer in at the earliest opportunity. After just four months in Mrs. Abella’s second grade class, Charlotte is demonstrating more welcome influences. Her spoken prayers are more substantive and less self-centered. Topics from Bible lessons and devotions appear spontaneously in her daily conversation. The service projects, Character-In-Action projects and news of 4th Grade Teacher Miss Smith's missionary adventures has her thinking beyond herself for the first time. We now have school reinforcement of the biblical worldview by which we live at home. Almost every night we pray over our children that they will discover, develop and employ the gifts that God has given them and that they will live a “joyful and meaningful life." We now know that, from the moment Charlotte walks out our front door until she returns in the afternoon, she will experience teachers and programs at ICS that are vital partners in that pursuit.

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Graham Thompson, Class of 2006

As a junior at Stanford University, I’ve had some time to reflect on how blessed I am to have attended Immanuel Christian School. Through Scripture memorization, godly role models, rigorous academics and hard-working sports teams, the Lord used ICS to inspire me to live a life of loving others. Because of my time at Immanuel, I was well-equipped to comfortably share my faith. Practically, this has translated into investing in secular communities at college—training, sweating and persevering with those who do not know the Lord. I confess that earning the right to be heard by my friends has taken time and intentionality, but having the chance to offer Jesus to those who are hurting has brought me joy as I am connected to God’s redemptive work. I feel this joy and connection is due in part to what the Lord started in me at ICS. Our God is the great storyteller and Immanuel was the first important chapter of a story that I hope will continue to glorify Him.

“The Lord used ICS to inspire me to live a life of loving others.”

Above: Graham is a junior at Stanford University, majoring in Business. Right: ICS Yearbook photo.

Reflections of Inspiration “ICS was my favorite middle school experience. While growing up, I was an only child in a single parent home and ICS felt like a close-knit family.” — Holly, Class of 1997

“ICS inspires me to live my life to glorify God in every circumstance.” — Zoe, 7th grade


8th grade graduation portrait.

IT STARTED WITH A SEED Jessie Bond, Class of 2009

God has blessed me with a great passion for people with mental disabilities. While growing up, my family and I often visited my Aunt Suzanne who has profound mental disabilities. From what I can remember, I was always comfortable with her. When I attended ICS, my fellow classmates and I volunteered to help people with special needs at Access Ministries (McLean Bible Church) as one of our Character-In-Action projects. While at Access, I realized that I was much more at ease than most of my classmates. I thought this was simply because I had grown up with Aunt Suzanne in my life. However, after we finished volunteering at Access, I realized that not only was I comfortable with the people at Access, I truly loved and enjoyed spending time with them. After ICS, I went to Robinson Secondary School and heard about The Partner’s Club— an organization that enables students with and without special needs to interact together in a fun and safe environment during after school and evening social activities. I immediately got involved and have been active within Partner’s Club, helping organize dances, parties and fun activities twice a month. Now I'm one of the student leaders. I have also volunteered at Access Ministries, Young Life Capernaum and other programs involving kids and adults with special needs. I believe I was inspired to pursue a degree in Special Education due in part to a seed that was planted in my life because of the service opportunities through the Character-InAction program at ICS. Jessie and her friend David enjoying a treat and each other at Sweet Frog.

We partner with families

to inspire students for purposeful lives of learning, godliness and service. 5

purposeful lives TWO NATIONS UNITED

Alena Shondelmyer, Class of 2008

I recently had the privilege of going on a missions trip with Immanuel Student Ministries to the Navajo nation in New Mexico. I made some great friendships and as we continued to correspond, I felt God leading us to do something unique. The Navajo youth have had numerous people come serve them, but they were at a point in their spiritual journey where they were ready to serve others. Instead of raising money to travel to the Navajo, we decided to raise money that would enable the Navajo students to be summer missionaries in DC and to serve alongside us! That’s what we did this past summer. What an experience! God was at work and it was incredible to see the Navajo students grow in their faith while serving Him in what was really a “reverse” missions trip for us. I thank God for my experience at ICS. I was taught the importance of organization by teachers who set strict guidelines, the value of serving through the various Character-In-Action opportunities and the significance of prayer as it was modeled for me on so many occasions. These are invaluable lessons that continue to guide me as I live my life with purpose.

“I thank God for my experience at ICS.”

Top: Alena and her missions team posing in front of the White House. Middle: New friends from the Navajo nation. Above: Senior graduation portrait.

Bottom: Gratefully giving and serving summer DC missionaries.


Jordan carrying the message while in Ghana after graduating from ICS.

WHERE IT ALL PLAYED OUT Jordan Fischer, Class of 1997

Jordan Fischer recently wrote a letter to Mr. Danish, thanking him for serving God through education: “Not only was I personally blessed by my ICS experience, but now, working with Asian Hope,* I see the great demand world-wide for quality education that challenges the mind and seeks God. I was fortunate to go to both private and public schools. It was a beneficial dynamic in that I got a great foundation from ICS, and then in public school I got to share what I had learned. That’s where it all played out.” In a subsequent telephone conversation, Jordan reminisced about commuting an hour each day (to and from ICS) while in first through eighth grade. He fondly recalls staying after school and hanging out in what may have been the first “extended care” at ICS. Jordan started naming off fellow students with whom he stays in touch adding: Who is having more fun, Jordan or his little buddy?

“My ICS relationships have been longlasting. I’m grateful ICS gave me an opportunity to know God and be used by Him to my full potential.” *Jordan continues to “carry the message” as V.P. of U.S. Operations for Asian Hope (www., a top-rated nonprofit which shapes and equips Christian leaders from Cambodia’s most vulnerable children.

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learning GROUNDED WHILE SURROUNDED Dara Drum, Class of 2008

I attended ICS from pre-K until eighth grade. Attending ICS all those years proved beneficial when I went to public high school. The solid biblical teaching grounded my faith, which was very helpful when I became surrounded by various temptations. I also felt well-prepared on an academic level. The high academic standard at ICS translated positively in public high school because I developed diligence and discipline in my work. I still remember struggling in my classes and being overwhelmed with the amount and difficulty of the work at ICS. Mrs. Rayburn was a teacher who provided additional academic support and helped me develop good study skills. Her encouragement and support made all the difference! I believe it is one of the reasons I have a strong work ethic today. Top Inset: Fond memories of Wilderness Retreat live on . . . Right: Dara enjoying her freshman year at Liberty University.


Miles Oakley, Class of 2010

I am so grateful to my parents for sending me to Immanuel Christian School. I am currently a junior at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology and each day I realize that ICS truly prepared me for the challenge of a rigorous academic schedule. At Immanuel, I learned how to be organized, how to tackle larger assignments over time and how to think critically. Mrs. Ferrell, my eighth grade Math teacher, gave me an amazing foundation in Advanced Math Concepts, which not only helped in taking the TJ entrance exam, but continues to help me in my high school Math course work. I am blessed to have an academic and spiritual foundation that has served me well in high school.

“I am currently a junior at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology and each day I realize that ICS truly prepared me for the challenge of a rigorous academic schedule.�

Above: Miles is grateful for the skills he honed on and off the field at ICS. Right: 8th grade graduation portrait.



High quality long lasting friendships.


Tina Connor, Class of 2005

There are few things in this world more important than meaningful, godly friendships. When those friendships are founded in Jesus Christ, they become even more valuable. I met my five best friends while in school at Immanuel. They have been the godly refuge, guidance, support and love that I have needed. The Lord yearns for our fellowship and He wants us to commune with others who share a heart and a passion for Him. I was given the unbelievable gift of meeting lifelong friends at Immanuel who to this day, encourage me to pursue my faith and lift me up when I cannot seem to find the strength. L. to R., Tina, Alice C., Sarah D., Katie R., Monika C. and Sarah K.

NOT ABOUT SHIRTS AFTERALL Tim Crabtree, Class of 2001

As a student, it seemed like the mission of ICS was to make sure my shirt was tucked in every day; however, with time comes perspective and I have grasped a more complete picture of the work of Immanuel in my life. My time at Immanuel prepared my heart to seek godliness and provided a foundation upon which a lifetime of faith could be built. All of my teachers lived out examples of godliness through sharing their own relationship with Christ, creating a classroom environment of love and respect and caring for the needs of each individual student. As a result, in high school and college, when I began to make decisions regarding my faith, I found that my heart navigated toward that which my teachers had modeled at ICS—a loving Christian community with godly values and a desire to know Him more deeply. As an adult I am grateful and proud of how ICS has been a part of my story. I continue to seek after God in ways that were instilled in me through this great ministry. Sometimes, I even tuck in my shirt!

Above: Read about Tim and his wife serving in Scotland at Right: A portrait of Tim.

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Justin Atkinson, Class of 2001

While deployed, I received multiple care packages and letters from faculty and students at ICS. Ironically, now that I am serving my country, ICS is serving me. When I attended Immanuel Christian School, service was part of our daily curriculum. Now, 12 years later, service continues to be part of my life, because it was built into my foundation. I didn’t just learn about service at ICS, I experienced it. That is why I continue to serve.

Inset: Justin in his middle school years at ICS. Right: LT Atkinson serving with 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment.

Reflections of Service “It makes me feel good to do things for others at school, like visiting Little River Glen Senior Center. I’m really happy to show our friends kindness – they were hugging us and happy to see us. I think the world should do more for those in need and I think Jesus is happy when we do”. — Jordan, 3rd Grade “By serving others for God’s pleasure, good things happen.” — Mousa, 5th grade “I enjoy going to Access Ministries to play with the children. It’s something you can do, knowing you are getting nothing in return. I have learned to be less selfish. I do not always have to have everything be about me or for me.” — Molly, 8th grade


BRINGING THE WORLD “HOME” Miss Erin Smith, 4th Grade Teacher

I have been blessed to teach students at ICS and partner with families who love the Lord. My desire to be the hands and feet of Jesus has grown through experiences with my 4th grade students at the Capital Area Food Bank, planting trees in Fairfax County and responding to needs of people at our sister schools in India, Romania and Rwanda. Answering God’s call to go on The World Race, where I would share my faith in 11 countries in 11 months, was intimidating; however, I knew I would be stretched to love, serve and share the truth of Jesus with people of great need. While I am extremely thankful to ICS for supporting my endeavor, I am eager to return and share my experiences with students in order to encourage and stimulate them in faith and service!

“I am eager to return and share my experiences with students in order to encourage and stimulate them in faith and service!”

Miss Smith is blessed to serve those in need.


Kaitlin Rayburn, Class of 2003

Service is my life. In the Army I am constantly humbled and reminded that I am not here for myself, but for my soldiers. I never saw myself in light of service until I attended ICS, where I had wonderful middle school teachers who cared enough to mentor me. They saw my heart for service and awarded me the Citizenship Award. I am thankful that my teachers affirmed my desire to serve and it inspires me to bring glory as I continue to serve.

“I had wonderful middle school teachers who cared enough to mentor me.”

Left: On a recent visit to ICS, LT Rayburn enjoyed reconnecting with her former 7th grade teacher Mrs. Hoffman. Inset: 8th grade graduation portrait.

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Immanuel Christian School 6911 Braddock Road Springfield, Virginia 22151 703-941-1220

A Ministry of Immanuel Bible Church


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Pathfinder 2013  

Annual newsletter of Immanuel Christian School

Pathfinder 2013  

Annual newsletter of Immanuel Christian School