NRCA Fall Shield 2022

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NORTH RALEIGH CHRISTIAN ACADEMY SCHOOL MAGAZINE FALL 2022 NRCA Breaks Kidz in Lids Record for North Carolina - Page 24- Page 36History Comes to Life in Art: Cross-Curricular Collaboration - Page 32CLUB FAIR: Helping Students Connect and Grow NRCA VOLLEYBALL DYNASTY CONTINUES - Page 50 -

North Raleigh Christian Academy is a community Christian school assisting families by providing excellence in academics, fine arts, and athletics, while instilling biblical principles in students’ lives that they might impact their society for Christ.

Shield Editors

Parker Hodgson, Senior Mykal Williams, Senior Caden Landis, Junior AJ Toler, Junior Haley Lee, Sophomore Izzie McLawhorn, Sophomore


Tristan Aikens

Avery Galligan

Presley Harrison Parker Hodgson Joseph Howard Finley Huneycutt Reagan Kaufmann

Caden Landis Haley Lee Izzie McLawhorn Taylor Mills Zach Nepa Tori Rowlands Ben Sary Finley South


Norma Weekman, Journalism Teacher

Abigail Linton, Journalism Teacher

Karen Blom, Graphic Designer Stephanie Armstrong, Assistant Designer/Photographer


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• NRCA Knights
NRCA Fine Arts
SOCIAL MEDIA • nrcaknights • nrcaathletics • nrcafinearts • nrcaalumni • nrcastudentlife
Knights •
Athletics •
Alumni AJ Toler Jane Utesch Ella Weathers Cami Wheeler Bralyn Williams Mykal Williams
The Shield 3 IN THIS ISSUE VARSITY VOLLEYBALL WINS STATE CHAMPIONSHIP for eighth year in a row! 4 While The World Changed, God Sustained NRCA 6 Summer Improvements 7 Spotlight on Digital Scoreboards 8 The Leadership Team: Fostering Community, Excellence, And Discipleship 14 Inspired To Teach 18 From The Mission Field To NRCA ELEMENTARY 26 NRCA Elementary Chapel: Journey Through The Storyline of Scripture 27 Elementary Field Trips 28 Third-Grade Science Lab
SCHOOL 30 Middle School Field Trips 32 History Comes to Life in Art HIGH SCHOOL 34 High School Student Council: Love God, Love Others 36 Club Fair: Helping Students Connect And Grow 37 New High School Clubs 38 Jefferson Dinner Party: Dining and Debating Topics in American History 40 Bookmark Projects: Why Annotate Books? 41 NRCA College Night 42 NRCA Career Day 44 High School Field Trips 48 Will Cox Racing 50 NRCA Volleyball Dynasty Continues 52 NRCA Girls Golf: State Tournament Runners-Up 54 Middle School Sports: Fall Finalists 56 Emerson White: Seventh-Grade Tennis Titan 58 Spirit Week 60 Home Sweet Homecoming 62 Powderpuff Football
FEATURES 20 Parenting In Our Cultural Moment: Ancient Wisdom And Intentional Practices 22 Spiritual Emphasis Week: Worship As A Way Of Life 23 Fun At Founders Fall Festival 24 Kidz in Lids STUDENT LIFE FINE ARTS 64 NRCA Marching Knights 66 Much Ado About Nothing


Late on the afternoon of March 12, 2020, NRCA’s spring sports were in full swing as news rolled out that cases of the novel coronavirus first identified in late December of 2019 were spreading rapidly in parts of the US.

The state of North Carolina announced its first COVID-19 case on March 3, and on March 11, the WHO declared a global pandemic. So, on March 12, when New York City—the epicenter of early viral spread—declared its first stay-at-home order, we all watched and waited to see how the pandemic would affect us. NRCA had a “No School” day on the calendar for March 13 to host the ACSI Fine Arts Festival. ACSI canceled the event, leaving NRCA’s buildings empty that day.

Under the guidelines issued by the CDC and the Wake County Health Department, NRCA’s campus was considered low risk for COVID-19. When the last car pulled out of the parking lot on March 12, we assumed students would return to school on Monday, March 16, with heightened attention to best practices for reporting illness and conducting decontamination.

As it turned out, March 12 was the last in-person school day of the 2019-2020 academic year. The following days ushered in the pandemic era for NRCA.

While the world changed, God sustained us in humbling ways.

Each year, NRCA prayerfully considers what God would have for our school as a schoolwide theme. As I reflect on the recent years marked by the global pandemic, I see how God has used these themes to remind me that NRCA is his ministry to do great things.

Please join me in pausing to remember the mighty ways in which the Lord has blessed and guided NRCA in light of the theme for each of the last three years.

NRCA’s senior class to rescue as many traditions as possible. Our friends at the Angus Barn stepped in to help us provide a modified Senior Banquet in place of the traditional Junior-Senior event. Baccalaureate went remote, with most seniors returning to school at appointed times to record their special moment receiving pins and awards. Senior Sunset brought the students back together on campus, socially distanced in Knights Stadium.

2019-2020 GRATITUDE

What began as a year of general gratitude concluded as a year of deep appreciation for God’s provision.

Effective Monday, March 16, all schools in North Carolina closed to in-person instruction. NRCA paused academic instruction on Monday and Tuesday to distribute technology and resources to students and families. Then on Wednesday, March 18, remote learning began.

Looking back at this season, we are grateful the Lord led us to integrate 1:1 technology into our curriculum several years earlier. We also had several years of experience using a learning management system and expanding our communications capabilities. Virtually all the systems we needed to make a successful transition to online classes were in place when the pandemic began.

Our faculty and staff skillfully adapted to remote teaching, and though most would agree that in-person instruction works best for everyone, we are grateful for the strong team that ensured learning continued in a time of great uncertainty.

Traditionally, end-of-year school activities pepper the school calendar, especially for seniors. One by one, the Class of 2020 watched these long-awaited traditions hang in the balance. Senior Field Day, Campout, and the Europe trip disappeared, as did the spring sports season and the spring musical. However, all was not lost.

We remember with gratitude the way our community rallied around

Perhaps the biggest blessing NRCA experienced was the ability to hold an in-person graduation ceremony where members of the senior class were able to walk across the stage in Knights Stadium and celebrate together—outside and socially distanced—one last time. NRCA was one of only a handful of schools in the nation that held a traditional graduation ceremony for the Class of 2020.


Remembering God’s faithfulness was our focus for the 2020-2021 school year as NRCA celebrated 25 years of ministry.

On August 30, we honored Dr. and Mrs. Sherrill for their faithful service in founding and leading NRCA for a quarter century. Dr. and Mrs. Sherrill became the first recipients of the NRCA Alumni Association’s Worthy Servants Award, recognizing their consistent faithfulness in serving God and their students during their time at NRCA. At the close of the evening, NRCA honored the Sherrills by renaming and

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Colossians 2:6-7

rededicating the Fine Arts Center as the Dr. and Mrs. S.L. Sherrill Center for the Performing Arts (SCPA).

At the Sherrills’ retirement celebration, sand artist Joe Castillo recreated the God-Story Journey of NRCA, reminding everyone of God’s faithfulness throughout the history of the academy.

Amid pandemic uncertainty, NRCA offered families the option of in-person or remote learning for the 2020-2021 academic year. God was faithful to provide additional technology in the way of high-definition conferencing cameras in each classroom to allow us to deliver flexible education options.

God’s faithful provision continued as the Technology Department worked hard to bolster technology, now central to delivering high-quality education options. NRCA’s technology services expanded to facilitate social distancing and safety. We began streaming live events online, connected families to the help desk through Incident IQ, supported Zoom technology for on-campus and remote learners, and developed a lunch-ordering app that minimized contact in the ordering and pickup process.

Fall 2020 saw the completion of NRCA’s accreditation process, originally scheduled to culminate in an on-campus accreditation team visit in the spring of 2020. Through God’s ongoing faithfulness, NRCA renewed its dual accreditation with ACSI and Cognia while earning an International Student Program Endorsement for the first time.

God was faithful in allowing extracurricular activities to resume in the fall with pandemic precautions in place. The Theatre Department returned to the SCPA stage with the play Little Women. NRCA’s varsity girls golf team finished the season undefeated, winning the NCISAA state title. And the varsity volleyball team captured their sixth consecutive state championship.

Although class field trips were suspended for the fall of 2020, God faithfully partnered NRCA with Snowbird Wilderness Outfitters (SWO), a gospel-focused retreat center in Andrews, North Carolina, for a high school spring retreat.

International travel restrictions kept the Class of 2021 from traveling to Europe in the spring, but through God’s faithfulness, the senior trip pivoted to Hawaii. Over 130 travelers joined the adventure, all with negative COVID tests for travel.

The final event of the year happened on June 5, the day after NRCA’s 25th graduating class crossed the stage to receive their diplomas. NRCA’s 25th Anniversary Celebration, originally scheduled for the fall of 2020, finally came to fruition. It featured climbing towers, carnival games, inflatables, bull rides, prizes, and food trucks that circled the Knights Stadium track. The celebration of God’s faithfulness throughout all of NRCA’s years continued into the evening with a concert by Christian music artist Anne Wilson.

As only God’s faithfulness can explain, NRCA finished 2020-2021 thriving. We had the largest senior class in NRCA history and recordsetting enrollment. And we were able to serve all our families by offering in-person and hybrid learning all year.

goodness as we could see the proverbial light and the end of the pandemic tunnel. We felt buoyed by a year of intentional focus on God’s faithfulness in our 25th year, and we looked with eager anticipation at the new chapter before us.

Class field trips returned in the fall, and we saw God’s goodness in restoring traditions that had been in place for years and opening opportunities for new adventures too. The middle school classes returned to their traditional destinations: the NC Zoo (sixth grade), Grandfather Mountain (seventh grade), and Colonial Williamsburg (eighth grade). In high school, the ninth grade made their first class trip to Snowbird Wilderness Outfitters for a three-day retreat filled with outdoor activities and time to get to know each other. The sophomores traveled to Washington, DC, and the juniors visited Atlanta. Since New York City was under a number of mandates for public spaces, we switched the senior field trip destination to Florida. The Class of 2022 visited Universal Studios and Disney’s Magic Kingdom in Orlando. On their way back to Raleigh, they stopped by the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral.

We witnessed God’s goodness when NRCA’s entire high school gathered in the SCPA for the first time since February 2020 for a mystery performance. Emotions ran high for many, seeing students and staff gathered in one space after such a long time. The crowd erupted in cheers when the Christian recording duo FOR KING + COUNTRY appeared on stage. The Grammy Award winners kicked off their Priceless Initiative at NRCA, sharing personal stories and challenging students and staff to find their worth in Christ and their hope in the truth of the gospel.

When Terra Nova test results rolled in from the 2020-2021 school year, we were in awe of God’s goodness in sustaining us academically despite the pandemic challenges that produced setbacks for many school systems. When we examined the data closely, we discovered that NRCA students did not lose ground during the pandemic. On the contrary, they tested, on average, at higher levels than their peers across the region.

At the end of the year, we gathered once again to celebrate the retirement of a founding team member. Mr. Danny O. Watkins, the only high school principal NRCA had ever known, stepped down from his position after leading the high school team through the twists and turns of pandemic education. Before retiring, Mr. Watkins was named School Administrator-of-the-Year by the WRAL Voters’ Choice Awards, confirming something we knew all along—God has been good to NRCA in all things.

Around NRCA, we often say, “God is good all the time, and all the time, God is good.” The pandemic challenges and blessings proved this statement true over and over.

Although the events above reflect the schoolwide themes for those years, by no means are the stories exhaustive. In John 20:30-31, the author explains that while Jesus was with his disciples, he performed many more signs than those written in the book. What the author included in the Gospel of John was shared so that people would believe. Likewise, in sharing our pandemic-era story, I have chosen just a few of the many ways God sustained us to underscore how completely and perfectly God’s hand has been on NRCA. I pray that he continues not only to bless his ministry here but also to use the schoolwide themes to reveal himself to us each and every day as we focus on the 2022-2023 theme to love God and love others.

2021-2022 GOODNESS

In August 2021, NRCA returned to full in-person education, a giant leap toward returning to the “normal” way school functioned pre-pandemic. We kicked off the year focusing on the theme of God’s

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Visitors to NRCA’s campus in July 2022 discovered rerouted traffic patterns, heavy paving equipment, and the smell of asphalt wafting through the air.

Once the staff and students closed out the 2021-2022 school year in June, the NRCA facilities team went to work on summer improvements. Director of Finance and Operations, Richard Corey, oversaw major maintenance and renovation projects across campus.

“We had a couple of major projects. One of the biggest was expanding the carpool line. If you will recall, cars came in as two lanes, expanded to three, and then merged back into two as they exited onto Perry Creek Road. It made it very difficult as parents tried to jockey for position as they merged in these lanes,” Corey said.

In times of heaviest traffic, the carpool line, also known as carline, resulted in bumper-tobumper vehicles winding across campus and sometimes backing up onto Perry Creek Road. With student enrollment reaching an all-time high in the past couple of years, the summer of 2022 was the perfect time to address traffic flow during drop-off and pick-up times.

In conjunction with the lane addition, the project added awnings on the east side of carline. “What that allows us to do now is load kids in the afternoon carpool line from both sides of the carpool lanes,” Corey said. The goal was to “make loading cars and getting them in and out of carpool much quicker.” It worked.

“The three-lane exit has been a godsend.

It has increased our throughput so quickly. We are finishing up carpool quicker than we ever have in any year at this campus. So, it was well worth the investment. We hear good things from our parents and staff. Our parents are definitely happy,” Corey said.

Creating a better carline experience took a lot of work. NRCA had to coordinate with the city of Raleigh, Wake County, and the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT). “We actually had hoped that we’d be able to take a middle lane and have it so that you could turn left or right, but the city did not allow us to do that,” Corey said.

The solution was to make the middle lane a right-turn lane during morning and afternoon carlines. “The middle lane can be used during the carpool line only. The city is requiring that we not run that third lane without a police officer on site,” Corey said.

As a result, NRCA added a third gate to the Perry Creek exit that limits access to the middle lane during hours when carline is not in progress. On the rare days when a police officer is not present to direct traffic, NRCA reverts to the old two-lane exit pattern. Corey notifies parents of the pattern shift through a schoolwide News Flash.

While asphalt crews were on campus adding a third lane to the carline, they also repaved the parking lot and drive lanes. “We repaved and restriped and renumbered every bit of our asphalt on campus and moved a few speed bumps around,” Corey said.

Inside the building, NRCA made significant improvements to staff common

areas. “We renovated all of our workrooms, which had never been done before. They were 20-plus years old. We’ve put in LVT flooring, new cabinets, new paint, and added a beautiful accent wall, so it looks very different,” Corey said. Updated furniture, workspaces, and seating areas rounded out the workroom updates.

During the workroom renovation, NRCA reallocated space from the former high school workroom to expand the capacity of the training room. “We’ve doubled the size of our athletic training office. Instead of having two beds, we’ve got four in there right now. We may put in what they call a wrapping station with two seats for our trainer to be able to wrap ankles, knees, and other joints,” Corey said.

The main gym, middle school gym, and football stadium got upgraded digital scoreboards over the summer too. “We replace the original scoreboards, which are old LEDlighted scoreboards that were state-of-the-art 20 years ago, and we have put up full interactive digital scoreboards. You’re going to see a whole different look,” Corey said. “You’ll be able to put promos up, play videos, and display player pictures during games. You can actually show a full movie up there if you want to. We could stream things from the SCPA onto that. So, if we need to do an overflow, we could do that. It’s just phenomenal.”

The scoreboard in the stadium has the same capabilities as the ones in the gyms. However, the stadium scoreboard is directly behind the goalpost, so for an added level of protection, NRCA will invest in a netting system to avoid

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“The three-lane exit has been a godsend. It has increased our throughput so quickly. We are finishing up carpool quicker than we ever have in any year at this campus. So, it was well worth the investment.”

possible damage that occurs with repeated impact from field goals.

The final project on campus this year came on the grassy playground behind the new carline canopy area. NRCA replaced the grass surface with 18,000 square feet of synthetic turf. “We love that we don’t have to worry about cutting it and don’t have to worry about when it rains. It’s available pretty quickly after it rains because it drains so quickly. So far, it’s been a wonderful addition. The teachers love it. The kids love it,” Corey said.

The playground’s transformation from grass to turf went so well that NRCA has plans to convert the upper grassy field into a turf field as one of the major projects to receive funding from the 2022-2023 annual Leaving a Legacy giving events.

Major improvements like the ones NRCA undertook in the summer of 2022 are made possible through the generosity of NRCA’s families and community. “Boosterthon was a great event again this year. Dodgeball was phenomenal this year. The Golf Classic is always a great event. We don’t do a huge amount of fundraising, truthfully, because we don’t want our parents to feel like that’s all we’re interested in. But it’s part of what we have to do in order to continue to do improvements at NRCA,” Corey said.

As NRCA continues to grow, additional opportunities arise to steward the campus in new and exciting ways. Corey and the rest of NRCA leadership are prayerfully preparing for the next round of projects and beyond. 


Over the summer, North Raleigh Christian Academy had many renovations, including the brand-new digital scoreboards in the middle and high school gyms.

Previously, the gyms had light-up LED scoreboards that had been installed 20 years ago. The upgraded scoreboards feature special effects for spectators and players to enjoy.

“I like the sparkly effect when they change numbers. And I like how it has the knights on it, and the whole thing shakes. You also know who’s playing who. It used to have Home and Away, but now it’s the schools’ names,” said Tessa Marcy, a ninth-grade student and JV volleyball player.

These upgraded scoreboards are a game changer for athletes and fans alike. While at the pep rally on Aug. 26, the Athletic Department took advantage of the video screen to play a looped video of senior athletes as their peers cheered them on. “They’re so cool and a great investment,” said ninth-grade student Lily Burnette about the new scoreboards at the pep rally. Students who attended the pep rally shared Burnette’s enthusiasm.

The scoreboard graphics featured an explosion of navy, gold, and white, NRCA’s school colors. Every few seconds, a new picture would appear, showing a senior athlete posing with their name and sport in block letters. “They’re beautiful,” said Jodean Harrison, parent of a JV volleyball player, after their game. “They really add to the fans’ experience and make you feel like you’re at a college or professional event.”

At the second pep rally on Oct. 21, the new scoreboards displayed pictures of homecoming court nominees. Ninthgrade student Brandon Townsend thought the scoreboards added to the experience. “I really like the high technology [and how] you can put more stuff on it and do more stuff with the scoreboards,” Townsend said.

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NRCA Leadership Team:

Dr. Kevin Mathes Superintendent Bruce Dial* High School Principal Ted Hassert

Upper Elementary/Middle School Principal Joy Mathes Lower Elementary Principal Chris Rivera* Assistant Secondary Principal Tiffany Benson* Alumni & Student Relations Director Richard Corey Finance & Operations Director Jennifer Christensen* Parent Relations Director & Executive Assistant to the Superintendent Zachary Roberts Fine Arts Director Josh Diamond* Athletic Director Nick Mini* Assistant Athletic Director Susan Dial Admissions Director Susan Etheridge Academic Advising Director Matt Zeblo* Technology Director

Josh Leonard Campus Life Director Karen Blom

Marketing & Communications Director *indicates team members new to their position

The Leadership Team: Fostering Community, Excellence, and Discipleship

North Raleigh Christian Academy’s Leadership Team is a group of 16 administrators who serve the staff, students, and families by overseeing various aspects of NRCA’s ministry. They work together to drive the school’s strategic initiatives developed from the School Improvement Plan and Accreditation Report, ensure operational integrity by crafting and supporting school policies and procedures, and help teachers and students successfully carry out the mission and vision of Kingdom education. During the school year, the Leadership Team meets on the first Friday of each month.

This year saw the largest number of new Leadership Team members since NRCA began. With seven people new to their roles going into the 2022-2023 school year, the team prepared for the upcoming season by holding a leadership retreat away from

campus for almost a week in July. Before the retreat, they read The Eight Paradoxes of Great Leadership by Tim Elmore. During the retreat, they discussed the principles in the book and how to apply them in their leadership positions. The team also reviewed the school’s mission statement and identified three key components that NRCA will focus on over the next three years: community, excellence, and discipleship.

Throughout this school year, NRCA will focus on community with the schoolwide theme of “Love God, Love Others.” Romans 12:9-10 anchors this theme. It says, “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.”

God’s hand is clearly on this ministry, and he has placed key people in positions at NRCA to help lead throughout this season. We are excited to introduce you to the people serving in new Leadership Team positions this year.

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Bruce Dial | High School Principal

Assessing teaching methods, monitoring student behavior, and attending academic and athletic events: these are some of the many duties of a high school principal, and who is better to take on the challenge than Mr. Bruce Dial.

When Dial was offered the position of NRCA high school principal last winter, it was not a proposal he took lightly. Danny Watkins had been NRCA’s principal since the door of the school first opened in the fall of 1996, and Dial knew that Watkins was leaving a large pair of shoes to fill. Dial also knew that he was brought to this position by the goodness of God, and he is dedicated to serving the NRCA staff, students, and families.

“I’m from central Illinois, but in 2004 my wife and I just felt a prompting and nudging in our spirits that it was just time for something new. We just got looking in the area, and by God’s grace, we found NRCA,” said Dial.

Moving to a different state takes a lot of courage, but Dial and his family felt that the opportunity to join the NRCA community was one they could not pass on. Dial came to NRCA in 2004 to become the Dean of Students. His children attended school at NRCA, and his wife, Susan, was part of the administrative staff.

Dial left that role at NRCA for five years to serve as a staff pastor at his church. After spending time away from NRCA, he felt drawn back to teaching. “Our kids were here, Mrs. Dial was here, but then 10 or 11 years ago, I just felt God bring me back,” Dial said.

Dial returned to NRCA to coach JV basketball and to teach seventh-grade Earth Science. Last winter, an incredible opportunity arose that encompassed a whole new set of responsibilities: high school principal.

“The Lord was leading me, but I wanted to respect him as a leader and respect his guidance,” said Dial. “Through the course of several conversations and prayer and prayer and prayer, I felt God had led me to this position.”

And with that emphasis on prayer, it’s clear that the proposition given to Dial was one that took lots of careful consideration and planning. As anyone would, Dial felt the weight of stewarding the responsibilities of the job. A principal has an obligation to serve all individuals that make up the high school, an obligation that is considerably important. “I want to serve the staff, I want to serve the families, and I want to serve you, students, well,” Dial said.

I see the role as indirectly ministering to the students by directly ministering to the staff, making sure they’re equipped to do their job and do it well [and] making sure they’re comfortable in their roles so that they feel supported and loved on.

In terms of his role in the school’s daily operations, Dial has shifted from always working one-on-one with students to guiding those who mentor students. “I see the role as indirectly ministering to the students by directly ministering to the staff, making sure they’re equipped to do their job and do it well [and] making sure they’re comfortable in their roles so that they feel supported and loved on,” Dial said.

Dial hopes to succeed in leading the NRCA community and to assist the staff, students, and families in any way he can. In moments of feeling discouraged and overwhelmed by his duties, Dial turns to his faith to meet the challenges of being a principal.

“At times, I know I could lay my head down at night with fear and trepidation,” said Dial. “But I always rest in the belief that, for whatever reason, God’s called me to this place for this season.”

Dial hopes to serve the NRCA community and, most of all, to serve God. “I just want to do what’s right in the eyes of the Lord and stand before him one day and have him say, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.’”

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Chris Rivera | Assistant Secondary Principal

This year Coach Chris Rivera started a new chapter in his time at NRCA. Over the summer, Rivera moved into the role of assistant secondary principal.

“The transition has gone pretty well, but sometimes finding balance between roles can be a challenge,” Rivera said. Rivera also teaches AP European History and serves as head coach for the varsity football team and varsity softball team.

One of the new duties that comes with the role of assistant secondary principal is helping students make good choices with respect to school rules. Over the summer, the administration made a few changes to longstanding policies about student appearance and dress code.

“We love our students. We felt as if the message was getting mixed and that we were coming across as caring more about hair length than the individual, and that just wasn’t the case. So, with the theme of our year being to love God and love others, we wanted to help people understand that well. We’ve just gone through the first 25 years of our school, and in the next 25 years, we want to continue to improve. We want to build on what we’ve

done well but also do some things differently,” Rivera said. “We needed to have something that people would see as being tangible. They could actually touch it and sense it. We felt like making those adjustments was going to help, and I think they have been effective in trying to communicate that there should be a different feeling or sense amongst our students.”

Rivera brings to his new position a fresh way of viewing his role as a disciplinarian. “This is a part of the theme from this year but also has a role in what we want to get across to students. Discipline is derived directly from disciple, discipleship. And there’s a side of that where what we’re doing can be uncomfortable at times when we get out of bounds with our behavior. But [discipline] is bringing our behavior back in line, to get us back in line, so that we can foster the disciples that we want our students to become,” Rivera said.

Rivera has many challenges with his new role, but he is bringing a new light to NRCA and the students.

Tiffany Benson | Alumni & Student Relations Director

NRCA has made many additions to the Leadership Team. A new position for the 2022-2023 school year is that of Alumni and Student Relations Director, held by Tiffany Benson.

Benson has many important parts to her job. On the alumni side, Benson coordinates all alumni-related events, like homecoming and reunions. She also connects with alumni attending various colleges during campus visits. Benson has worked to launch the Alumni Association and also maintains the NRCA Alumni Connect webpage that helps former Knights stay in touch after graduation.

On the student relations side, Benson’s role focuses on discipline and discipleship for female students in middle and high school. “I handle any female dress code issues, drama, bullying—that type of situation. I also assist Mr. Leonard with any of our Student Life events,” Benson said.

Benson attended NRCA herself from first grade through senior year. She then studied youth ministry as her college major. She is happy to be giving back to her school using these skills. “I love getting to know students

and seeing how they’re using their unique gifts and passions for Christ. I really love that, and the student interaction is really exciting,” Benson said.

Benson has been on NRCA’s staff since 2016 and worked as a drumline instructor for the Marching Knights before that. However, this new job is her favorite. “I’ve been here a long, long time, but I think this year I finally feel like I’m doing what God called me to do, which has been really exciting,” she said.

Sometimes her job is not an easy one. There are several key characteristics she needs in order to succeed. “Patience and, I think, being able to look at the positive in situations. And trying to see the best in students all the time and realizing that [the students are] young and they’re learning,” Benson said. “On the Student Life side, being willing to be vulnerable and get to meet students where they’re at and share stories from my experience” is important.

Benson is blessed that her journey has led her back to NRCA, where she hopes to help alumni and students in positive ways as they impact the culture for Christ. 

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Josh Diamond | Athletic Director

Coach Josh Diamond is the new athletic director. He is an NRCA graduate and has 10 years of coaching experience. Diamond was previously a US History, US Government, and Honors Economics teacher before becoming the new athletic director.

As the athletic director, Diamond oversees 46 athletic teams, managing athletes and coaches, facilities and transportation, and apparel and awards. He represents NRCA at conference and athletic association meetings, and he is in charge of schedules, equipment, officials, and eligibility. Diamond also teaches PE. Anything related to NRCA athletics falls under Diamond’s leadership.

Diamond has always been interested in being the athletic director because he has always had a passion for sports. “I’ve always had a passion for athletics, especially at the high school level,” he said. Diamond himself described the AD position as his dream job.

“I wanted to work at North Raleigh Christian Academy because I think it’s a great place to be,” Diamond said. He has coached at two different schools—Rolesville High School and NRCA. When Diamond was at Rolesville High School, he coached football, basketball, and softball. At NRCA, he is currently the head coach for the JV football team and also coaches baseball.

Diamond attended NRCA for three years and graduated in 2009. When he first returned to NRCA, he coached JV football with Coach Bill Cook, a previous assistant principal at NRCA. Diamond coached JV football for three years before accepting a teaching position at NRCA.

Steve Lykins, whose role Diamond now fills, coached Diamond in high school and hired him to coach JV football at NRCA. In the weeks leading up to his retirement, Lykins helped Diamond transition into the position.

Diamond is excited and honored to serve NRCA as the athletic director. 

Nick Mini | Assistant Athletic Director

North Raleigh Christian Academy has undergone many changes on campus and within the school’s staff. One addition is Nicholas Mini, the assistant athletic director, varsity cheer coach, and kindergarten PE teacher. Not only is Mini new to NRCA, but assistant athletic director is also a new position on the NRCA Leadership Team.

“As the assistant athletic director, I will be assisting Athletic Director Josh Diamond in any capacity necessary to help athletics run smoothly at NRCA. Specifically, some items that I assist with are ticketing, activity registration, and gameday administration,” Mini said.

Mini also has an extensive personal sports background. “I played soccer, basketball, tennis, and track in high school,” Mini said. “In college, I wasn’t ready to end my time being an athlete, so I joined the cheer team at Liberty University. I have extensive experience cheering and traveling for competitions and games in a Division I atmosphere.”

Mini’s background in cheerleading is fitting as he is the director of NRCA’s cheer program. “Directing the cheerleading program entails much training of the athletes for games and competitions, making orders and purchases for equipment, and communicating with parents when necessary,” Mini said.

Mini values the opportunities for personal growth in his new role. “I have learned patience. When the days are long and conflict arises, wisdom prevails,” Mini said. “God is great. I thank God for bringing me to NRCA, where there is Christian leadership that displays constant excellence.”

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Ben Sary and Joseph Howard, Shield Writers

Matt Zeblo | Technology Director

Matt Zeblo is NRCA’s new technology director. The job of the technology director is huge because the school depends on technology.

“We’re responsible for every piece of technology here on campus. That’s the software that we use on desktops in classrooms, student and faculty iPads, administrative laptops, and anything you see as far as projectors and TVs,” Zeblo said. The Technology Department also oversees “our network—that’s the Wi-Fi all over campus. We go back and forth and see what areas are working, what areas can be improved, and how we can incorporate some of the new protocols that may work a little bit better

depending on what kind of devices are being used in those particular areas. It’s my job to make sure faculty and students have what they need to thrive in the classroom.”

As the Technology Department oversees devices and systems, they make sure the technology works for NRCA’s specific needs. Learning from other schools has helped Zeblo and his team make beneficial decisions. “We evaluate across the board different processes that make sense for what we do here versus what other schools have done. That’s the valuable part. We are lucky enough to have relationships and an open dialogue with other schools to figure out what’s worked for them and then customize that to figure out what,

Jennifer Christensen

Jennifer Christensen has been at North Raleigh Christian Academy for 13 years. “I started out subbing and became an actual staff member in 2015,” Christensen said. Christensen currently serves as the Executive Assistant to the Superintendent and the Parent Relations Director.

Before becoming the Executive Assistant to the Superintendent, Christensen worked part-time at the attendance desk in the front lobby as the attendance secretary. “I also taught piano part-time, which a lot of people don’t know,” Christensen said.

Although she has worked at NRCA for over a decade, Christensen is excited about her new role on the Leadership Team this year. “The thing I am looking most forward to is learning more about NRCA and how each organization works hand in hand,” Christensen said. She also says that she loves working with the Leadership Team and being able to come alongside them.

In her various roles, Christensen works with events like the Book Fair, staff appreciation lunches, and Moms Connect 4


exactly, works for North Raleigh Christian. So, it’s an all-encompassing look at technology. That’s how it works here,” Zeblo said.

Zeblo’s college degree is in business, but his path to finding his passion led him through technology support and eventually into coordinating technology in education. “I have spent a number of years working in education technology, and it’s always been a goal of mine to be in a leadership role in education technology. This was a great opportunity that was presented to me. Also, to work at a Christian school where the gospel is the centerpiece and center focus is something that I always wanted to be a part of.”

The thing he enjoys most about his job at NRCA is the people. He admires the talents of NRCA students and staff. “The people here are so nice, so accommodating. It’s evident that there’s a passion for learning,” Zeblo said. “The students here are so gifted. I see that across the board, from athletics to fine arts to academics. I think the all-encompassing experience of being associated with North Raleigh Christian Academy is just exciting, no matter what corner of the community you’re in,” Zeblo said.

Zeblo has three kids, a daughter who is three years old and twin boys who are one. “I’m really looking forward to, hopefully, having them attend school here in a few years down the road.”

Community. Christensen also assists Dr. Kevin Mathes with events like Board meetings. She enjoys how each day is different.

Christensen was not expecting to transition to a full-time position, as she assumed she would just work part-time and leave when her last child graduated. However, the surprise opportunity turned out to be a perfect fit. “I just feel like it was the right time for our family for me to make the move to full time, and I love NRCA so much I did want to be here more,” Christensen said.

Christensen said she is inspired “by everyone I work with in the school because everyone is so supportive and encouraging.” She said that even when she was here parttime, everyone was so nice and treated her like family and made her want to be here. “I am thankful and blessed to work at a school that continuously blesses our family,” she said.

While moving from the lobby to the administrative wing has limited her routine encounters with students, she still encourages them to stay in touch. “One of the things I love most about working at NRCA is the students.

Any chance I have to invest and pour into their lives through encouragement and prayer is a blessing to me,” Christensen said. 

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NRCA State of School Available Now

NRCA’s 2021-2022 State of School annual report is available as a digital publication this year! We are excited to share highlights of what God did in and through NRCA as we review each of our areas of ministry. Scan the QR code and join us in praise and thanksgiving for God’s blessings on the academy. We have much to remember, much more to accomplish, and, of course, exciting times ahead. Thank you for joining us on the journey as we partner together in Kingdom education.


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of the NRCA staff to share what drives them to be teachers.

“ ”

The duties of a teacher are neither few nor small, but they elevate the mind and give energy to the character.

QuoteDorothea Dix

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Melissa Bailey High School | History

I had a ninth-grade Civics teacher who was very engaging and personable in class. He had one assignment where all his students wrote letters to themselves about what their current life was like—trends, culture, personal goals—and what they would be doing in five years. We brought in a stamped envelope addressed to ourselves. When I was in college, I received the letter in the mail that I had written. I was really shocked that he kept all the letters all that time and sent them to us so many years later. Sometimes committed teachers can make a positive impact on students for years to come. I pursued teaching, praying God would use me to do the same.

Randy Bridges Middle School | Math

The person who greatly inspired me to teach was my high school algebra teacher, Mrs. Mary Yarborough. She was an excellent teacher who challenged me to do my best at all times. I already had a love for math, but she encouraged me to go even further in my understanding and application of algebra. She had many of the same giftings as I have now, including an attention to detail that is a valuable resource in math. She also always had command of her classroom, and I have done the same. She always had high expectations of her students. And she is a believer and active in her church as a pastor’s wife. She is retired now, but her influence in my life and in my classroom remains.

To be honest, even after earning my teaching degree, I decided to pursue a career in business. But over time, God continued to call me back to teaching. I am grateful that he did. So my story is all about God’s calling me to teach. He has blessed me and my students for many years. It’s always been about him.

Melinda Comer Middle School | English

I cannot say that just one person inspired me to be a teacher. I can look back and see that the Lord was preparing me through my school years. I adored my fourth-, fifth-, and sixth-grade teachers and wanted to be like them. When they read books aloud in class, they made me want to read. My ninth-grade English teacher taught me to write effectively and made me feel smart. My junior English teacher inspired me to teach English by igniting a deeper love for literature in me. I decided I wanted to do what he did. Meanwhile, through all the years, my Aunt Corine, a fifth-grade teacher in Alabama, set the most amazing example of being a faithful, dedicated teacher. She concluded her career as an assistant principal. I am forever grateful for all the teachers who loved and inspired me.

Amy Dean High School | Math & Dance

Well, I knew that I wanted to make an impact in this world in some way for the Lord. And I loved math, and I saw how great my teachers were when I was at NRCA. And I knew that it was something that I’d wake up every day and realize that I could potentially make a difference. And I just wanted to influence people for Christ, and I had a pretty good high school experience. So, I wanted to be able to give that to my students. And I wanted to be able to help my students when they’re wrestling with all those questions of “What do I do with my life?” — all that stuff. I just want to be able to help them with that, and it’s a really hard job, but I wouldn’t do anything else.

Robert Dean High School | English & Athletics

I had a ninth-grade English teacher who was an absolutely fantastic teacher, and he gave us his all every single day. He had some stuff going on in his personal life that was really interesting to find out later because we didn’t experience any of that in the classroom. He taught us literature with so much passion that it was inspiring. Also, the teachers I had in middle school and high school provided a lot of stability in my life when I didn’t have much at home. And that was what inspired me to become a teacher.

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Kristin Deim High School | Math

I initially became a teacher in order to work in the same place that my daughter, Kelli, went to school. As I started working with students, I realized that teaching was my calling. I went back to school and got my secondary education degree with a focus on math and computer. I have always been good at math, and I enjoyed sharing my knowledge with my students. I loved watching the “light bulb” turn on when we were working on difficult concepts. As time went on, I was able to recognize confusion on students’ faces and started asking them questions, instead of them asking me. I learned how to teach the same material in several different ways so that I meet each student’s needs.

As I matured in my faith, the Lord impressed upon me that my call on this earth was to love my students first and foremost. While loving them, the students would be more inclined to try harder just to please me. Eventually, they would realize that by trying harder, they were able to be more successful in math. I have been teaching since 1988. I could not imagine doing anything else with my life. Each day is an opportunity to show Christ’s love to my students. When all is said and done, they will not remember what I taught them. I pray that they do remember how much I loved them.

Leisha Hodgson Fine Arts | Visual Arts

I grew up watching my mom teach. She taught third grade for over 40 years. I saw firsthand the relationships that she was able to build with her students and the impact that she was able to have on them long after they had left her classroom. When she passed away, I received so many letters from her former students about how words she shared in the classroom changed their direction and life. Those bonds really inspired me to have that same impact on the lives of students.

Ronald Kruger Middle School | Science & Athletics

My inspiration comes from my experience as an athlete and student. Teachers and coaches poured so much wisdom and love into my life. Through the gifts God has given me, I believe I am to teach and coach to inspire others.

Amy Jurls Fourth Grade | Math

My mom was a third-grade teacher, and everyone loved her! She was a great role model for me. I always loved kids and taught swim lessons for years, but I was adamant that I was not going to be a teacher. After getting married, I moved to Louisiana, and a fifth-grade position opened in the Christian school. My husband told me that I should really consider it. As soon as I started, I fell in love with it and wasn’t sure why I bucked it for so long. I went back to school to get my master’s degree and know I’m doing what I was called to do.

Abbie Linton High School | English

My grandmother was a teacher, and growing up, people would stop me to tell me how much they loved having her as their teacher when they were in school. I thought it was wonderful to be able to make such an impact. Then, I had three excellent English teachers from middle school to high school who developed my passion for reading and writing in addition to encouraging and discipling me. I knew that if God would allow me the chance to love, encourage, disciple, and teach for him, then that is what I wanted to do. I am blessed to be in my 16th year in the classroom, and I cannot think of anything else I would rather be doing.

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Anonda Nepa Elementary | Third Grade

I’ve always loved working with children. Even when I was younger, I babysat all the time. And I had a great first-grade teacher. I try to model how I teach after her because, to this day, she is one of the most influential people in my life.

Chris Rivera High School | Administration, Athletics, & History

My great inspirations were my coaches and teachers in high school. They were a testament to biblical manhood and were passionate about kids and the games they coached. Often, they poured into me, unaware they were doing so. My mother was a teacher, and I also admired and was very proud of her. I knew I wanted to coach but also thought I wanted to be a lawyer, but God knew I needed to be doing what I do today, and he used Robert Andrews, Jim Arnold, and Beverly Rivera to model it for me.

Zachary Roberts Fine Arts Director

I have had the privilege of sitting under the inspiring leadership of incredible teachers, and the example of these educators led to my desire to teach. Beginning in high school, I had the opportunity to be taught by two of the best teachers at NRCA: Mrs. McInnis and Mr. Watkins. Mrs. McInnis taught me the importance of academic rigor and holding high expectations for both student and teacher. Meanwhile, Mr. Watkins taught me the importance of curiosity and continual learning. I also had two impactful mentors in grad school who guided me through the process of learning my vocation as a theatrical director: Egla Hassan and Bill Kincaid. As my primary directing teacher, Egla challenged me to push myself further as a leader of a production. Bill taught me to respect the work of the actor and protect the intent of the playwright as a creative leader.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the influence of my own mother as an educator. Although I was never officially her student in a school setting, I learned a great deal from her example. Sally Roberts taught me to bring joy and laughter to students and to expect great things from the students. I am thankful that God granted me the opportunity to grow up in a family where education was valued and lived out in front of me.

Joseph Severs High School | Math & Athletics

What inspired me to be a teacher? To be honest, I never thought I was going to teach. Looking back, I think my greatest influences—the people who made the most impact on me or pushed me the greatest—were either coaches or teachers. Whether I liked them or not, they added value, and they pushed me. And so, when it came to looking to move on and choosing something, I was looking for a way to give back, and I think teaching is where I saw the most use and value and where I can do that.

Debbie Shelton Elementary | Third Grade

I knew of my desire to become a teacher in my early childhood years. I have fond memories of my brother and I playing “school.” I was the teacher, and he was the student. He would sit quietly as I called out spelling words and asked him to read a selection from the Children’s Bible. I would then test his comprehension! My inspiration to pursue teaching as a profession came from my experience with my fourth-grade teacher, who cared about his students, not just the grades they were making. He cared about the “whole child.” I eventually came back to Stoney Lane Elementary School in North Kingstown, Rhode Island, to do my student teaching with my fourth-grade teacher! Teaching for me is my passion, not just to teach academics but, most importantly, to inspire my students to love God with their whole heart and to pursue his will.

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This fall, NRCA welcomed four new middle and high school teachers who spent time serving on the mission field overseas. Ed Blanchard teaches high school social studies, and Patricia Blanchard teaches high school science. Sara Gealy teaches eighth-grade Bible, and Todd Gealy teaches 11th-grade history. The Blanchards have served in several places, from Georgia to East Asia, and the Gealys worked at the International Community School in Thailand.

The Blanchards

Prior to starting at NRCA this year, the Blanchards were at international schools in Korea and East Asia. While on mission for the past several years, the Blanchards have been dorm parents, teachers, and mentors.

When the couple first started feeling called by God to the mission field, they knew it was meant to be. Although their first attempts to move overseas on mission did not work out, they later got a Facebook message from a friend who worked at an international Christian school in Daejeon, South Korea. Their friend explained that the law had recently changed, and their enrollment had increased. “So, in three weeks, we packed up everything and we moved to Korea. It was just us and three of our boys,” Mr. Blanchard said.

The Blanchards also worked at a school in East Asia, where Mrs. Blanchard taught science and Mr. Blanchard taught Bible. Their roles changed over time, and the Blanchards shifted to caring for new teachers from countries like America, Australia, and the UK as they adjusted to life in a foreign culture. “They needed to figure out how to order

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food and get around town and do all those things that we just take for granted,” Mr. Blanchard said.

Eventually, helping new teachers became his full-time job, and as they stayed longer, Mrs. Blanchard became more involved in that aspect of their ministry. The couple cared for new staff in many ways, from teaching new staff how to speak Chinese to arranging housing and finding medical care. They also built relationships with people from the local community who worked at the school.

When the Blanchards lived in Raleigh, where they started their business, they always hoped that wherever they went on mission, they would eventually return to North Carolina. They had two daughters who graduated from NRCA and a son, David, who attended as well. “We always hoped that we would be coming back to Raleigh to come work with North Raleigh Christian,” Mr. Blanchard said.

After traveling in over 15 countries, the couple encourages others to pursue opportunities to go on mission trips. “If people feel like God’s moving them toward missions, they should go for it. It was wonderful just to know and learn to love people from other cultures, and I think we gained far more than we gave,” Mrs. Blanchard said. “It’s just amazing to see what God is doing in different parts of the world.”

Mr. Blanchard echoed his wife and encouraged the NRCA community to pursue short-term missions. “You have to see because God is moving around the world. It’s not just Raleigh... Amazing things are going on around the world.” 

people feel like God’s moving them toward missions, they should go for it. It was wonderful just to know and learn to love people from other cultures, and I think we gained far more than we gave.”

“We began praying that God would open a door for our family here where we could serve and adjust to life in America again together. In a series of amazing connections, God led us to NRCA, and we are so thankful to be here.”

The Gealys

Sara and Todd Gealy taught at the International Community School in Bangkok, Thailand. In Thailand, the Christian population is less than one percent, and the school serves as an outreach to students and families. “We were able to share the gospel freely with students and their families in classes and also through building relationships with them outside of school,” Mrs. Gealy said.

The couple saw the Lord leading them specifically to Thailand as they prayed for guidance in entering the mission field. “We prayed that God would lead us where he could use us in overseas missions,” she shared.

After 13 years in Bangkok, Thailand, God had other plans for their family as he led them to NRCA. “We began praying that God would open a door for our family here where we could serve and adjust to life in America again together. In a series of amazing connections, God led us to NRCA, and we are so thankful to be here,” Mrs. Gealy said.

Before the Gealys returned to the United States, they endured the pandemic in Thailand. During these years, they felt a tugging at their hearts to return to the US for various reasons. One thing they prayed for was to be able to serve together as a family. When the Gealys made their final decision to return to the US, they prayed to God, asking him to open the right door for their family and help them to adjust well.

The family put in their notices at their school. “We applied to every opening we could and spent the next few months in Zoom interviews and videoing lessons and filling out more applications,” Mrs. Gealy said. The Gealys willingly trusted that the Lord would provide for them. “After prayer and talking in more depth with another school, it became clear that God was leading us to NRCA,” Mrs. Gealy said. The Gealys, after deciding to move, fully trusted God to provide for them.

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Ancient Wisdom And intentionAl PrActices

moments of recognition often have this way of slowing down time. One such moment occurred for me in the fall of 2017. We were pregnant with our oldest child, Julia, and navigating all of the emotions that come with a first pregnancy. The excitement grew throughout the first trimester, which eventually led to the 20-week anatomy scan, where we would get the chance to see how our baby had grown in the time since our first ultrasound.

Entering the room for our 20-week anatomy scan, I don’t think I had ever before experienced excitement to that level. The technician began pointing out the intricacies of the life being formed within the womb – fingers, legs, toes. Then, in what seemed like an instant, the tech stopped talking. For minutes that felt like hours, I sat holding my wife’s hand, with every second causing worry to overwhelm my thoughts. At the end of our ultrasound, the doctor came in and described to us what they found on our child’s brain – cysts on her choroid plexus.

This was that moment for me, the moment I recognized just how little control I held in this parenting journey, despite my overwhelming desire to do whatever was necessary to protect and care for my child. It was like time stood still. All these thoughts flooded my brain, and I hadn’t even had the chance to hold her in my arms. This recognition of my lack of control over her physical health only intensified my understanding of how this moment of powerlessness would be only the beginning. That day, I began to wrestle with this question (and I imagine I will continue to wrestle with it for the rest of my life): As a parent, how do I love, lead, and guide my child well in a world that is forever moving and holds so much that is outside of my control?

On the surface, this question may seem almost too broad and nearly impossible to answer. However, as I have been blessed to be not only a father, but also someone in a role that has afforded me the opportunity to serve families with students of all ages, I think this question holds weight for us on a practical level and forces us to reflect on the ways we journey through parenting our children.

How often do our surrounding circumstances dictate those moments ripe with potential for discipleship? How often do we find ourselves saying, “This is just our busy time of year” or “Once this season slows down…”? How often does the onslaught of new struggles and temptations

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cause us as parents to be overwhelmed and feel like we cannot keep up with it all? Please tell me I am not the only one. Do our personal habits and family rhythms give way to perpetual exhaustion causing us to feel unable to do that which we know we are called?

The answers to these questions are vast and would require more than this space allows. Honestly, the questions themselves can feel incredibly overwhelming to think about. The idea of wrestling with our current routine and risking our level of comfort by potentially changing our habits is a hard ask. It is difficult even to find a place to start. However, as parents, we know these questions are necessary as we look to lead and guide our children through these most formative years of their lives. Amid that tension, I pray that we begin by remembering that we serve a gracious God who does not call us to a life of perfection, but rather, he calls us to a life of faithfulness. And the first step in a life of faithfulness often requires the courage to simply take that first step.

I also think the Lord provides foundational wisdom for us in his Word as we approach what the answers to these questions might look like in our lives. The apostle John writes in 2 John 1:56, “And now I ask you, dear lady – not as though I were writing you a new commandment, but the one we have had from the beginning – that we love one another. And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it.” John goes on throughout the chapter to speak to the presence of deception in the world and the need for followers of Jesus to abide in the teaching of Christ. This passage provides a foundation of wisdom that can be directly applied to us as parents.

John does a beautiful job of articulating this balance of abiding while walking. He does not simply implore us to move with reckless abandon like a kite without a string. He calls us to a life of “walking according to [Christ’s] commandments.” This use of the word walking as opposed to running or hurrying is so counter to our current culture but so perfectly intertwines with his exhortation to “abide in the teachings of Christ.” To abide in something requires presence and stability, and even slowing down to the point of stillness, in order to remain fixed on something. I often wonder how many opportunities I miss as a parent when I allow my state of being to remain perpetually hurried and fragmented. How many moments of recognition have I missed where God was attempting to slow me down? Does the cadence of my own life match the pace at which Christ lived his life?

I’ve heard it said that “how we spend our days is in fact… how we spend our lives.” And how we intentionally choose to live our days is what we have to offer our children. We can’t control their every moment or the culture around them, yet we can allow God to control ours.

As parents, we are called to be the primary disciple-makers in the lives of our children. In a world that is ever-changing and filled with infinite voices that are set on forming the worldview of this next generation apart from Jesus, how can we establish family rhythms that foster our presence and intentional conversations with our children? While this world will continue to be filled with things far outside our control, how can we help our children begin to engage and understand the struggles of this world while recognizing God’s sovereignty and redemptive power in the midst of them? Again, the answers to these questions are vast as each of us has to begin to ask them within the context of our own family; however, the foundation of our calling as followers of Jesus and the life we want to model to our children is clear. I am slowly learning that we cannot give what we do not have. And the very best we have to offer our children is our relationship with Christ.

As you begin to consider these questions within your home, I want to encourage you with a few practical ways that you may consider as you continue to commit to discipling your children at home:

• Commit to joining a local church and engaging with community on a consistent basis. Allow the message each week to be a launching point into conversations with your children at lunch or dinner. Allow space for them to ask questions that you can answer by sharing with them the ways in which the Word of God speaks to the things they are wrestling with. As we know, God has designed each of us to live in community with one another, and there is no better way to model this well than by actively doing life alongside the Body of Christ.

• Consider committing to meals together as a family. Each family calendar is unique and often changes depending on the time of year. However, what might it look like for your family to establish a nonnegotiable rhythm of eating together a few nights a week? The sacrifice required for this is not lost on me. For everything we say yes to, we must also say no to many other things. This is true of any rhythm, including family meals. Doing so, however,

not only opens the door for consistent conversation with your children but models for them the importance of a life lived alongside one another.

• Consider a rhythm of asking your children intentional questions that seek after their hearts. Perhaps more than any generation before, our world is being inundated with information at a rate that is difficult for any person to understand, much less our children. And, as you know, this content is not neutral. It is making a play for the hearts of our young people and seeking to shape the way they view the world around them. Asking them questions about movies and media and books they enjoy not only gives you a chance to engage with them on their level about things they are interested in, but also provides you an opportunity to help them navigate potential lies that are being normalized in our society today.

In addition to some of these starting points, I would also recommend a book by author Justin Earley: Habits of the Household. Justin joined us at NRCA this year for our Fall Parent Night and shared with us practical ways that we can use our everyday rhythms of life as opportunities for discipleship with our children. His book, Habits of the Household, provides great insight into these rhythms and will certainly be an encouragement to you wherever you are on your parenting journey. Finally, as John encourages us in his letter, this is my prayer for each of us: let us be parents who “walk according to [Christ’s] commandments,” with faithful obedience and a heart set on intentionally establishing rhythms in our lives that draw us and our children closer to our Creator.

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Click here to watch the full video of Justin Earley’s talk at NRCA’s Parent Night on Oct. 6


Every fall, in the midst of days of work and distraction, Spiritual Emphasis Week emerges as a respite for restless hearts. Following this tradition, from Sept. 26-28, the three special days of chapel and evening services of Spiritual Emphasis Week kicked off.

Worship leader Blake Goss led the large group of students throughout the series of services at North Raleigh Christian Academy.

“Where we want to be, the destination, is the presence of God,” Goss, worship pastor at NewSpring Church, said. “And our job is spiritually to take people on that journey and to go there together."

Yet even with the special sense of spirituality the week asserts, the essence of Spiritual Emphasis Week extends beyond what is contained in the three days of chapel and evening services.

“There’s something that, when you really taste and see the presence of God, you can’t leave the same as the way you came in,” Goss said. “And so, I’m hoping that [the students] got a taste of the presence of God in such a way [that] they want tomorrow morning to spend time with him and Wednesday morning and Thursday morning and Friday morning. So, every day, realize that what they experienced tonight is not something that only happens tonight.”

What Goss hopes for the students—that their acts of worship would go further into their own times—ultimately connects to why he decided to become a worship leader.

“The reason I became a worship leader is because I wanted the presence of God more than just on my student ministry nights or just Spiritual Emphasis Week,” Goss said. “I wanted to experience it in my house every day. And it was through that, that I fell in love with worship.”

Goss’s reflections add to what really underlies Spiritual Emphasis Week—it is an act of worship that isn’t constrained to certain times, the music, or the services allotted for the act of worship, but it is a fundamental way of life.

“I would say to the students [to] keep in mind that, if you look at Romans 12:1, which talks about being a spiritual act of worship, it really has nothing to do with music,” Goss said. “Even though we do music, worship is a way of life. And when we offer our lives to him and say, ‘God here is everything I have,’ he is so pleased with our worship.”

Spiritual Emphasis Week kicks off the new school year, reminding us that the essential act of worship extends much further into the daily lives of each individual—into the everyday of this new school year.

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“There’s something that, when you really taste and see the presence of God, you can’t leave the same as the way you came in.”


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The annual Founders Fall Festival brought NRCA families together for an afternoon of adventure on Oct. 22. Bounce house inflatables, carnival games, and rock-climbing walls challenged the skills of intrepid festival goers. NRCA’s Student Leadership Academy helped staff the games, handing out candy and prizes. n

North Raleigh Christian Academy Breaks Kidz in Lids Record for North Carolina

North Raleigh Christian Academy hosted a Kidz in Lids Day for their entire school at the end of October. We are thrilled to announce that our school broke the Kidz in Lids record for North Carolina by far, with the school raising $4,027.77.

To put things into perspective, the average cost of a roundtrip visit for a child being treated for cancer is $100.00. Because the mission of Children’s Cancer Partners is to provide food, lodging, and transportation to ease the burden of traveling for cancer treatment, this means approximately 50 trips will be covered thanks to the generous support of NCRA’s students.

“With being only six places where children can receive treatment for cancer in the state of North Carolina, and with many children needing to travel beyond our state’s boundaries for more intense and specific treatments, easing the burden of treatment-related travel costs is crucial,” said Laura Allen, Executive Director of Children’s Cancer Partners. “No family budgets for cancer. We are so proud of the students of North Raleigh Christian Academy for helping us achieve our mission.”

The Kidz in Lids Inclusion Program is just one way the community can give back to Children’s Cancer Partners, and it is an exclusive way for children in the Carolinas to help children of the Carolinas who are battling cancer. Local schools, like NRCA, can sign up to host a Kidz in Lids Day any day of the school year. All students have to do is bring $1 to school to wear a hat (and faculty can participate by bringing $5 to dress casually for the day). This money is collected and goes directly back to Children’s Cancer Partners to support children in the school or district’s local area.

“I am so proud to have brought Kidz in Lids to NCRA and even more proud to be involved in Children’s Cancer Partners,” said Beau Bourquin, Children’s Cancer Partners Development Committee Member and NCRA father. “This inclusion program is something we are proud to support because it teaches our students inclusion, kindness, empathy, and, most importantly, allows students to give back to other students who are battling cancer and need the support of their peers.”

Bourquin and Children’s Cancer Partners hope to have every school in North Carolina take part in its own Kidz in Lids Day. To make this happen, they encourage NRCA students and families to help bring Kidz in Lids to more schools in the community by sharing the school’s success with their friends. 

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At NRCA, weekly chapels are a big part of the identity of the school. NRCA is a large school with students from Pre-K through 12th grade. Every grade attends Chapel on Thursdays to learn more about God and themselves.

“I believe that chapel time is really important to our elementary students. It is a time that we devote each week to the Lord, taking time out of the classroom and coming together to worship and learn about Jesus,” said Lisa Landis, who teaches fifth grade.

Elementary chapels are class-led, so students get to participate in the presentations. “My students always get excited when it is

their turn to lead Chapel. It’s a great opportunity for them as they practice throughout the week to get those gospel truths into their hearts in a hands-on, meaningful way,” Landis said.

Students enjoy Chapel and putting on skits and plays while learning gospel truths. “As a teacher in the elementary chapel, I see how the students love doing skits and plays for the other students. It’s a good way for the students to get their energy out and, most importantly, learn about how God works and moves in their everyday lives,” Landis said. 

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On Oct. 6, North Raleigh Christian Academy’s kindergarten clas took a trip to Vollmer Farm in Bunn, North Carolina. All five kindergarten classes spent the day at the farm learning about crops and agricultural life Lead Teacher Karen Allen said, “The students loved the outdo playground. Their favorites were the underground slide and the bouncy pillow.” Both teachers and students enjoyed touring greenhouses and learning how farmers plant hundreds of seeds each season.

Vollmer Farm, established in 2008, is known for growing their own fresh produce and their farm-to-table experience. Along w the homegrown produce, Vollmer Farm also makes their own ic cream and desserts Allen said that each class got the chance t make butter together and eat it on crackers

The field trip to Vollmer Farm was a fun and educational lear experience for everyone who attended


North Raleigh Christian Academy’s second-grade students took a field trip to the North Carolina Museum of History and then to Pullen Park for a picnic

The second graders journeyed through many years of history and artifacts that showed North Carolina’s culture “The students walked through the settling of NC to the present day,” said second-grade teacher Cynthia DeVaughn

The students were able to enjoy the nature of North Carolina’s various developments in time. The museum included things from Native American culture to the first attempted English settlements and more “Lots of interesting historical facts, dates, people, and culture of the past” highlighted the field trip, according to DeVaughn

NRCA was able to have many parents join the second graders the museum DeVaughn and Sarah Brown’s classes visited the S t 23 and Melissa Tilton and Meghan Kidd’s clas eld trip on Oct 7. d 46 students and around 50 parents DeVaughn said, sharing about the Sep en her class and Brown’s class visite um

High-energy third graders rotated through stations in the science lab, examining the parts of a flower under microscopes. The lab was part of a science unit on plants that students eagerly anticipate each year.

“The students study the parts of a plant, the life cycle of a plant, and photosynthesis,” said third-grade teacher Mrs. Anonda Nepa. “We talk about how God created this perfect balance where plants take in carbon dioxide and then expel oxygen, which is what humans need to survive.”

Parent volunteers set up the lab. “They dissected the flowers and took cross sections of the stem, stamen, ovule, petal, and pistil to place in a microscope slide,” Nepa said.

Students worked in teams of two, rotating through the stations. “There were two microscopes for each part of the flower, which were labeled accordingly, and the class rotated around to view the different parts,” said Nepa.

Each third-grade class had 30 minutes to complete the stations. At each station, students viewed the flower part under the

microscope, drew a picture of what they saw, and wrote a brief description. “This looks like a hairy fish,” said Briggs, examining a stamen slide. After viewing a pistil, Sawyer said, “This looks like a jellyfish!”

“It was thrilling for our third graders to be in the high school lab,” Nepa said. “They were amazed at the details they could see on the flower parts, like the amount of pollen on the stamen, the fuzzy texture and water droplets on the stem, or the seeds forming in the ovule.” 

“We talk about how God created this perfect balance where plants take in carbon dioxide and then expel oxygen, which is what humans need to survive.”
-Anonda Nepa



Sixth Graders Visit the Zoo

For their field trip, NRCA sixth graders went to the North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro. At the zoo, they saw lots of animals, went to the gift shop, and went out for lunch.

“It had all different kinds of animals, and they were always entertaining us,” said sixth-grader Zachary Kaufmann. Students enjoyed observing what the animals did in their habitats. “My favorite part of the field trip was getting to see the seals and two arctic foxes sound asleep,” Kaufmann said.

Overall, the sixth graders loved the field trip this year and would like to visit the North Carolina Zoo again. “The animals were very entertaining, and I really want to go back again,” Kaufmann said. 

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Seventh-Grade Field Trip: Grandfather Mountain

The seventh graders traveled to Grandfather Mountain on Sept. 14. Teachers Amy Lilly, Rebecca Black, Alexis West, Avie Lester, Ioan Oros, and Middle School Principal Ted Hassert chaperoned the trip.

While on this fun adventure to Grandfather Mountain, the seventh graders built new friendships and got to know one another better. “It helped build community,” Lilly said.

The swinging bridge is a popular attraction at Grandfather Mountain, and the seventh graders got to experience that. “I learned that the swinging bridge was a mile high,” seventh-grade student Bryce Huneycutt said. The Mile High Swinging Bridge is a 228-foot suspension bridge that has been around for 70 years.

Huneycutt mentioned that the group went hiking down part of Grandfather Mountain, which is 5,946 feet tall and is one of the highest peaks in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The mountain has lots of trails, routes, attractions, and even a few shops for visitors. 

Eighth-Grade Field Trip to Williamsburg: History Made Alive

On Friday, Sept. 16, eighth-grade students visited Williamsburg, Virginia. There in its heart is Colonial Williamsburg, a historic district with a time period of its own: the 1770s.

As a living museum, Colonial Williamsburg reconstructs the colonial days, with people dressed like back in the 1700s, as well as many historical buildings. The students visited sites such as the Capitol Building, Governor’s Palace, Bruton Parish Church, and the House of Burgesses, which relate to what the students are learning in the eighthgrade history course, American Republic.

“Right now, we are talking about colonial America,” Mr. Gary Parrish, the eighth-grade history teacher said. “We talked about the House of Burgesses, and students were able to go into the House of Burgesses. That was the first representative government in America. So it very much applies to what we were studying in class.”

Moreover, the students could experience how things were done back in the 1770s. For instance, the tour guides would hold a mock court in the courthouse, and in the House of Burgesses, they would explain how the Burgesses, members of the first representative government, were chosen and made laws. Eighth-grader Nathan Yount said that the field trip helped students study history by making the colonial topics they studied in the classroom come alive.

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Can you read what this says?

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History Comes to Life in Art:

Cross-Curricular Collaboration

This year, the sixth-grade art and history teachers came together to plan cross-curricular projects. Doing so means that the projects students do in art reflect the time period they are learning about in history. The teachers decided to collaborate so that students could see connections across different courses.

“This year, we decided to change up the art curriculum we had been using for the last couple years and decided to combine it with their history program of the ancient cultures,” art teacher Leisha Hodgson said. “We thought that this would be a little bit more fun and give a little bit more variety to the things that we teach.”

Hodgson teamed up with sixth-grade history teacher Jody Overton to complete this curriculum change. They both hope that their students will see the connection between the two studies.

“Ms. Hodgson and I collaborated about our subject matter and decided that our sixth graders would enjoy learning about ancient civilizations in history class and then applying what they learned in art class,” Overton said. “Cross-curricular instruction has numerous benefits for students, helping to move information from short-term to long-term memory.”

This change has helped students to have a deeper understanding of both subjects at the same time. “By combining the history and art curriculums, I hope that students will see the way that ancient cultures expressed themselves through art,” Overton said. “In addition, I

hope they can see how God gifted even the earliest civilizations with creativity, reflecting his goodness.”

First-quarter art projects centered around creation and Mesopotamia. “We started off with creation, and we were able to make some creation posters that Mrs. Overton was able to hang up in her classroom,” Hodgson said. “They also did a group project making ziggurats from Mesopotamia.”

A ziggurat was a Mesopotamian temple structure and was very important to their culture. Students also made cuneiform seals that connected with their study of Egypt. Cuneiform seals are cylinders that were used to keep track of important information, such as writings, in ancient Mesopotamia. As the year goes on, the students will continue to follow the history curriculum when doing art projects. These projects include Egyptian death masks, Chinese lanterns, and printmaking of the Taj Mahal.

“The students are loving and enjoying being able to play and explore a little bit of art as related to their history,” Hodgson said. 

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The new high school Student Council for the 2022-23 school year was elected at the end of August. In their speeches, Student Council candidates explored this year’s theme of “Love God, Love Others.”

The theme comes down to the connection between loving God and loving others— that experiencing God’s love is crucial for loving others.

“‘Love God, Love Others’ is making clear that we can’t love without loving God,” Ella Laurel, ninth-grade representative, said. “To love others, God’s love replaces our human love, taking control. Human love [only] goes so far—we love what we like, and it’s selfish. God’s love does not exclude anyone and brings us to who we are meant to be.”

This love for others not only includes loving those around us but also extending the love even to those who may be outside the surrounding circle of people.

“‘Love God, Love Others,’ simply put, is prioritizing your relationship with God and, in turn, spreading God’s love to those around you.”

“‘Love God, Love Others,’ simply put, is prioritizing your relationship with God and,

in turn, spreading God’s love to those around you,” sophomore Micah Hartley, secretarytreasurer, said. “Jesus spent many hours in prayer, and then he turned around and served others. Jesus was not partial to whom he was serving, and he often spent time with the social outcasts of the Jewish culture. He perfectly exemplified what it looks like to first love God and then love others.”

While “Love God, Love Others” may be—as most themes are—representative of something important yet quite broad, the theme has practical applications too.

“In day-to-day life, [loving God and loving others] can look like smiling at someone in the hallway, holding the door for someone,” junior Lillie Wright, vice president, said. “Even

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in quiet, you can pray for them; let them know you’re here.”

Student Council Chaplain Ethan Perry explained that his role is to assist with events and event planning and help with Chapel. His goal is to help his peers engage in these events. “My role [as] Student Council chaplain [includes] helping plan events that will help the students feel more involved,” Perry said. Giving people a sense of connection in their community is another way to love others.

In fulfilling this year’s theme, NRCA, as a community of believers, would be able to unite around the fact that the love for others, while it may be small gestures played out in everyday life, is grounded in God’s love.

“Being able to experience different things

with different people is a blessing from God,” Student Body President Hannah Elder said. “I think through loving God here at NRCA, we get a really unique experience that other schools don’t get because we have a lot of different people doing different things, but we are all united by the fact that we do love God.” 





Ella Laurel

CHAPLAIN Ethan Perry



Adams Cooper Leon Comer LilaGrace Hall Kruger Lilly Flythe Overton Charlotte Coates Rosario Tinsley Konkle


Black Owen Keller Lester KJ Brown Lilly Griffin Bell Oros Warren Rives West Emerson White


Bridges Lauren Porter Gardner Austin Moon McCoy Andrew Caracio Parrish Josie Dickhart Robinson Hannah Messiah


Brown Howard Jenkins Lee Eric Davis

Miranda Anabelle Winkelspecht Mitchell Carly Mastromarino Pinon Matthew Finster Weitzel Liam Ward


Bailey Kelsey Pizzino

Beatty Sunshine Cawthorne Sandy Andrew Newkirk Stephens John Matson Thomason Josh Dewar Willison Chris Gomez


A. Dean Steven Messiah

R. Dean Giovanni Thrasybule Huffman Joey Chitla Gealy Cassidy Coutts Schulte Gavin Galligan Severs Kaitlyn Snead


Blanchard Chandler Winstead

Deim Noah Weyne

Kimak Jasmine Roberson

Lyczkowski Faith Zawadzki Perry Hayden Farris Stott Zach Nepa

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2022 2023



NRCA held its first-ever high school Club Fair during homeroom on Friday. Starting with seniors, each class in the high school division rotated through the main gym, where clubs set up information booths staffed by current members who answered questions about participation requirements, activities, and projects.

“I think it’s really good to get a description of every club that’s going on, and it’s really a fun opportunity to see all the clubs that we have at school in more depth,” junior Natalia Pugh said as she talked with representatives of Youth and Government.

Megan Jacobs, a junior also, joined Pugh at the display. “I’ve learned more about YAG. I’m in Speech and Debate, and I’ve always thought about YAG. Now seeing it, I’m excited to do it,” Jacobs said.

Math teacher Amy Dean coordinated the event. “I came up with this idea last year because I saw that there was a deficit of younger students in our club. I realized they just didn’t know about it,” said Dean, who advises the Culture Club.

In previous years, NRCA opened club registration online, and students signed up for the clubs that interested them. No centralized event allowed students to interact with current members to see what clubs were about before joining.

“I thought it’d be a good idea for all of our students to be able to learn about the clubs firsthand before they sign up because we really want kids to be interested in what they’re going to and really get engaged,” Dean said.

Clubs represented at the inaugural Club Fair were Castle Crazies, Chem Club, Culture Club, eSports Club, Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), HOSA: Future Health Professionals, National English Honor Society, Photo Club, Robotics, and Youth & Government (YAG).

Student leaders for each club prepared in advance for the fair. “All the leaders got together over the weekend and made a display. On the poster, we explained what our club is all about and how if you participate for two years, you can get a pin at graduation. We included all the fun experiments that we have planned,” senior Faith Zawadzki said.

Zawadzki is part of the leadership team for the Chem Club, NRCA’s chapter of the American Chemical Society Chemistry Club. Chem Club is open to juniors and seniors. Cindy McInnis is the adviser. “We would like students to join us as we do our outreach activities. We have an elementary science event for the kids in the wintertime, and we also host a huge blood drive each spring that benefits our community greatly,” McInnis said.

Each high school club gives members a chance to explore an area of interest in depth. Many clubs offer service opportunities too.

Campus Life oversees middle school and high school clubs at NRCA. “The reason North Raleigh has clubs is multifaceted, but really [our philosophy for clubs] lands in two of our major directives as a school, the first of which is to foster community among our students. We want our students to have an opportunity to build relationships with their peers centered on common ground or a common interest,” said Josh Leonard, Campus Life Director.

The second reason is to give students a venue for developing their areas of interest. “A lot of our students have great passion for very many things. God has gifted them in a lot of different ways, and we want to see them grow and develop those passions in ways that impact their community, not just here at NRCA but in our surrounding community and, eventually, the world. So, the clubs that we have are really intended for them to be able to develop those passions in pursuit of glorifying Christ through what they’re doing,” Leonard said. 

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North Raleigh Christian Academy has added new high school clubs this year. Art Club lets students express themselves through art and art-related things. And Photo Club allows all students interested in cameras and photography to express themselves.

Led by Leisha Hodgson, Art Club was started not only “for people who are ‘good artists,’ it’s a time for anyone who loves and appreciates art to gather together and have some fun creating together.”

Each month members will have a project that everyone can take part in. “We will also enjoy guest speakers and more painting… Our club shirts were designed by one of our seniors, and we will be tie-dying them as a fun project,” Hodgson said. Art Club hopes to build over the years as students celebrate creativity.

Photo Club is led by Stephanie Armstrong and Suzanne Lyczkowski. It started “because there was a lot of interest in photography among high school students and very few classes that practice it,” said Armstrong, who teaches middle school Photojournalism and high school Graphic Design. She also serves as the graphic design and photography assistant on the Marketing and Communications team. Lyczkowski is the yearbook adviser. Even though most students will not likely go into professional photography, it’s still a life skill. “Not to mention, we now can all be ‘photographers,’ since the majority of us carry cameras with us at all times on our cellphones,” Armstrong said.

Students will have many opportunities to learn about photography through photo scavenger hunts, night photography, and photography-related service projects.

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Picture a room full of Colonial politicians, farmers, and sailors indulging in a lavish feast of Crumbl cookies and Chick-fil-A Chicken Minis while arguing over the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. This event may sound fictitious, but it all took place in Todd Gealy’s 11th-grade history classroom in the late weeks of October.

In order to teach students about Thomas Jefferson, Gealy introduced the Jefferson Dinner Party project for a fun and interactive approach to a typical history lesson. This project focused on the Louisiana Purchase, a major event in early America when Jefferson bought the Louisiana Territory from Napoleon Bonaparte of France. The students were to debate like men of the time period when political parties clashed over the grand purchase. Students were also encouraged to dress up in attire that fit their characters and bring treats to enjoy after the debate.

Oyinda Idowu, an 11th-grade varsity track runner, said, “I brought bread, and I made butter, and it was significant because I was a farmer.” Idowu and her group represented the farmers of the 19th century who supported Jefferson and his efforts to

expand the nation. They demonstrated their commitment to their role by making homemade butter at the dinner party.

When asked about her group’s performance in the debate, Idowu said, “I think we did pretty good. We intimidated all the other teams, and we proved our point that it was good that we [Americans] didn’t go to war.”

The farmers asserted their claim with confidence, showing that the project helped the students learn the content and form their own opinions on the matter.

Eleventh-grade varsity volleyball player Presley Shotwell said her favorite part of the project was “that everyone got to bring in their own food and debate in class.”

Idowu said, “My favorite part of the project was getting to insert myself into a part of history and getting to learn in a more creative way.”

The consensus was that Gealy’s history project was an effective way of learning new content and an enjoyable alternative to a typical research paper. Gealy said, “In the end, the Jefferson Dinner Party was a great opportunity for students to experience the tension felt by various groups that supported and opposed Jefferson during his time.” 

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AJ Toler, Shield Editor
“My favorite part of the project was getting to insert myself into a part of history and getting to learn in a more creative way.”


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Tannotate books. Annotating books helps students prepare for exams and tests later in the school year. It also requires students to think in a deeper way.

At NRCA, annotation is a core skill students learn in 10th-grade English. Sophomore English students annotate works like Antigone, Macbeth, and Things Fall Apart as part of their in-class study of literature. In addition to the units they study as a class, students complete a Bookmark project, where they read an outside text independently, annotate the work, and write an in-class essay on a literary element as it appears in that novel or play.

“Honors [English II] annotates books because I see it as a preparation for the AP Lit exam, and CP also annotates [three] books,” said Dr. Lynn Beatty, who teaches the sophomore English classes. Honors English students annotate three in-class works and four outside reading titles each year. College Prep annotates one outside reading assignment and two titles for classwork. The reason for College Prep courses annotating literature is for “active reading, and [it] helps you remember you can go back to the book look at your annotations and look at the index in the back of your book to quickly review what the book was about,” Beatty said.

Annotating books is very helpful, Beatty explains. “I always give the example of my mom,” she said. “She reads her Bible through about five times a year, and she writes annotations in her Bible.” That practice allows Beatty’s mother to go back at any time and look at the annotations and see what the Scriptures meant to her when she read them. The same is true for students reading literature: they can go back and see what they were thinking when they read it.

“I hope this will teach them to be deep readers and deep thinkers,” Beatty said. Annotating also allows students to think and apply what they are reading while they read.

“We use Mortimer Adler’s ‘How to Mark a Book’ [essay] with both groups as the example of annotating,” Beatty said. Annotating, or close reading, is a skill that helps students better understand and remember what they read in all subjects. It equips them to be successful learners for life.


Every year, NRCA’s Academic Advising office hosts a College Night for high school students to learn about the path to college. Susan Etheridge is the Director of Academic Advising at NRCA. She helps NRCA students in their academic journey through high school. This year, Etheridge invited university representatives to meet with students and families to learn more about each institution and to talk about how to get to their ultimate goal.

She tweaks the College Night program each year to fit the needs of current high school students and their families. “This is my second year doing College Night. Last year, I invited the College Funding Coach, Mike Russell. He and I both spoke and covered financial-type information, as well as what to be doing all four years of high school to get you to college. In previous years before I came, a variety of other things were done. So, it’s a little bit different every year. This year, I wanted to focus more on the colleges themselves. So that’s what we did,” Etheridge said. College Night 2022 gave students and parents the opportunity to interact with admissions representatives directly. “It was basically a College Fair... in combination with a session where we talked about how to plan for college and how to make that simple. But the College Fair represented about 20 colleges this year,” Etheridge said.

NRCA hopes that College Night conversations will help families feel better equipped to approach the college search and application process. “I hope that the families who attended were able to experience a lot of very, very beneficial conversations with college representatives and were able to get a lot of information about how their students can prepare to get into a good college,” Etheridge said.

Liberty University National Recruiter and NRCA alumna Cristina Arbelaez visited College Night this year and had helpful discussions with the high school students about making the right college decision and the process of college admissions.

“I think one of the biggest things is that when students in high school are looking for a college, they’re looking for a place where they can grow into more of who they are. Being a recruiter for Liberty, I’m hoping to communicate to them that they have the opportunity not only to grow as an individual but also to grow in their faith as a believer in Christ. I also point out that Liberty provides opportunities that a lot of other colleges don’t provide,” Arbelaez said.

College Night can be beneficial, with people like Arbelaez—who have the student’s best interest in mind and understand the stress of choosing a college path—sharing their insights.

“As an alumna from NRCA, it makes me even more excited to be able to come to the high school that I graduated from and talk to the students I’ve seen in the halls and been a camp counselor for during Fun in the Son. Just being able to be around them again is such a neat opportunity and something I’m very thankful for,” Arbelaez said.

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“It was basically a College Fair... in combination with a session where we talked about how to plan for college and how to make that simple. But the College Fair represented about 20 colleges this year.”

On Nov. 8, NRCA had a full day dedicated to high school students learning about different jobs. Career Day benefits students as they consider their path toward the next step in life.

On Career Day, students attended nine sessions lasting 30 minutes each. Organized by the Department of Academic Advising, headed by Director Susan Etheridge, the day was divided into three sets of informational sessions: morning, mid-morning, and afternoon. The presenters were NRCA parents, alumni, staff, and community members. Careers represented included a variety of areas of engineering, healthcare, marketing, human resources, sales, real estate, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, sports tech, wedding planning, financial advising, education, law enforcement, construction, law, app development, logistics, military service, and project management to name a few.

Career Day was an important part of helping students explore different career paths. Reese Ritter, a sophomore, said, “Learning about different skill sets for different jobs helped shape my career path. There were lots of skills and obligations in certain fields that I didn’t expect.”

“Learning about different skill sets for different jobs helped shape my career path. There were lots of skills and obligations in certain fields that I didn’t expect.”

Career Day also sparked interest in students in what specific careers they could pursue within a particular field. Freshman Maddie Burckart said, “I am interested in medical careers and thought the optometry career path was different and interesting.”

Some students found that the information they learned during Career Day relieved stress about finding the perfect college and major to meet their career goals. “I learned that most jobs care more about your last employment history than your major or where you went to college. It doesn’t take [an] Ivy League [education] to get a six-figure salary. It takes good interview skills and connections,” Ritter explained. The sessions were also beneficial for the information students gathered about various jobs. “Learning about different jobs from different individuals will help me find what I am interested in doing later in life,” Burckart said. Presenters talked about the education requirements for jobs and gave insights into their daily routines at work.

High school students found Career Day to be a beneficial break from academics to explore, evaluate, and define their options for the future. “Career Day gave students an opportunity to learn about professions they are interested in and hopefully discover more about their strengths and weaknesses to narrow down a career path they may be interested in. Career Day helped me realize that many simple-seeming jobs get very complicated, such as supply chains and trade law,” Ritter said.

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NORTH RALEIGH CHRISTIAN ACADEMY SPRING SPRING 2023 2023 Thursday, March 2, 2023 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm NRCA GYMNASIUM


Freshman Field Trip Adventures

For the second year in a row, NRCA’s freshman class went to Snowbird Wilderness Outfitters in Andrews, North Carolina, from Sept 12-14. Snowbird offers activities such as paintball, archery, and rafting, along with Christian speakers leading group time to help students grow closer to each other and God.

On the first day, the boys went on the tubing trip, and the girls had recreation, which consisted of zip lining, waterslide, pool, basketball, and the three-man swing. “When arriving, the boys went tubing down the river while the girls stayed at camp doing various activities,” said ninth-grade student Ella Weathers. “My friends and I signed up for the three-man swing, which is a long pole with a swing attached that lifts three people up the pole. One person pulls a handle at the top, and the swing releases. We also did zip lining, the gun range, and waterslide.”

In their free time, students could play basketball and volleyball. “In our free time, we hung out at the snack shack, walked around the beautiful campsite, played basketball or volleyball and mini golf,” Weathers said. “We met new leaders and students around the camp. We also had small groups after worship where the college students would discuss the takeaways from the night’s service. The small-group leaders formed bonds with us and ultimately became our friends too.”

The field trip was a new experience for the ninth grade and was the first field trip of their high school career. 

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Sophomores Visit Washington, DC

After the first attempt was rescheduled due to mechanical issues on the buses, sophomores were excited to be able to go on their field trip to Washington, DC, on Nov. 15-16. The field trip allowed sophomores to learn about the country’s history and government. Over the two days, sophomores went to important landmarks and buildings.

The tenth graders started the trip with the Smithsonian Museums and divided into two groups, with one going to the National Air and Space Museum and the other visiting the National Museum of African American History and Culture. After lunch, sophomores went to the US Department of Homeland Security headquarters, where they saw K-9 units, including a TSA drug dog, a TSA fruit and pest dog, and a DHS bomb-sniffing dog. In the evening, the tenth graders embarked on a monument walk, beginning at the Lincoln Memorial and going to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. The next day started with the Museum of the Bible and ended with Arlington National Cemetery.

Students had many opinions of which place was their favorite. Joanna Massengill said, “I really liked the monument walk. It was fun weather. I loved seeing all the different sights and hanging out with my friends. We were able to pass so much in one walk.”

There were other engaging moments of learning. “I learned about the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. I had never seen it before, but I always heard about it growing up. It was really cool to see the changing of the guard in person,” Massengill said. Seeing these significant national sites with classmates added to the impact of the trip. Haley Lee said, “While I enjoyed visiting places I’ve never been, such as the Museum of the Bible and the Department of Homeland Security, I also learned throughout the trip that I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed those locations as much if I were to have gone to the trip just by myself. It was experiencing these things with the people I encounter daily at school that made them more exciting. Somehow the change of setting from the usual school and class setting to Washington, DC, made the interactions with my friends more special.”

The experience of going to DC paired fun with learning. Bailey Baker said, “The trip was such a fun time of bonding with my classmates and teachers in an environment that has wonderful learning opportunities with lots of fun!” 

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Juniors Go to the US National Whitewater Center

This year, the 11th grade went to the US National Whitewater Center for their class field trip for the first time. The trip included whitewater rafting, zip lining, rock climbing, mountain biking, and lots of other things.

The students had the opportunity to go on the trip, spend time with friends, and appreciate God’s creation in the outdoor setting. The trip included a visit to Frankie’s, where students enjoyed mini-golf, arcade games, go-karts, and many other fun activities. This was a relaxing but busy trip, full of fun and excitement for all staff and students. “It was super fun. I would even say we had more fun than the 11th graders did going to Atlanta last year... I recommend it,” said junior Aaron Landis.

Students woke up early on Thursday morning, Sept. 15, to take a three-hour bus ride to the Whitewater Center in Charlotte. The juniors had a lot of fun adventuring at the center.

“I thought the most fun part of the trip was rock climbing. It was fun to climb up to the very top, but it was also fun just to free climb and try to challenge myself to do things I didn’t think I could do. I also thought it was fun just to hang out with friends and have fun together at the whitewater center,” Landis said.

Many of the students who went on the trip shared Landis’ view. They enjoyed the physical challenges that took them beyond the routine of daily life at school. 

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Caden Landis, Shield
“The highlight of that trip for me was seeing all of our junior students participate in team-building activities in the woods, and we had different obstacles that we had to accomplish. Teachers were just observers, and watching the students work together to accomplish their goals was really neat.”
“I think it gave people the opportunity to stretch themselves with their friends or with new faces, to push the limits and to be uncomfortable because this wasn’t something you do every day.”
“It was probably one of my favorite trips I’ve been on.”

Thrilling Times on the Senior Trip

The seniors took their first field trip of senior year. They left on a 12-hour bus ride from the school at 4:45 a.m. on Sept. 13. They stayed for four days and three nights, visiting Universal Studios, Disney’s Magic Kingdom, and the Kennedy Space Center. The group returned to NRCA late Friday night.

“The field trip was really fun! Universal Studios was definitely a pretty big highlight for me,” said Ethan Perry, Student Body Chaplin.

The students had a blast, especially at Universal Studios and Magic Kingdom. They spent time hanging out with friends and taking in all the roller coasters, restaurants, and carnival games. The parks presented a plethora of entertainment options. Students had 12 hours at each park to experience everything. “Experiencing the thrills of the high-speed roller coaster, Space Mountain, 13 times at Magic Kingdom was the highlight of the trip,” said Grant Bologna.

Rain crept up on the students and started to pour unexpectedly. The rain actually helped by shortening the lines so the students could go on rides that usually had longer wait times. Outside the rain, the trip went smoothly, just as planned. “It rained heavily at Magic Kingdom, but this helped to disperse the crowd and create shorter wait times for rides,” Bologna said.

Trip organizers planned an itinerary that maximized senior fun, balancing the logistics of schedules, travel, and lodging. They even planned the visit to the Kennedy Space Center, which allowed the students to learn a lot about space and what space expeditions are to come in the future. “I would say that trip planning was very well thought-out, and the staff did a good job,” Perry said.

The trip was a great experience for the seniors. They appreciated the break from school to enjoy hanging out with friends and having an amazing time experiencing the roller coasters at the parks. 

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NRCA is full of students with interesting backgrounds, talents, and stories. William Cox, an 11th-grade student at NRCA, was a national champion and award-winning NASCAR driver for five years.

Racing is a huge time commitment, especially for a middle or high school student. “When I was doing school at NRCA before I left to go big time in racing, it definitely took up a lot of my school days,” Cox said.

Cox began attending NRCA in kindergarten but left during middle school to pursue his racing career. “At first, it was hard to do it while I was in the sixth grade at NRCA, and I missed over 50 days in the second semester. So then from seventh through ninth grade, I did Liberty University Online Academy, which helped me be able to manage school and racing better,” Cox said.

At 12 years old, Cox started racing. “I went to a race at Virginia International Raceway. While I was getting the drivers’ autographs, I was asking them how they got started, and they said, ‘karting at [age] 12’…,” Cox said. Karting features vehicles commonly known

as go-karts. From then, Cox started karting and “was hooked.”

Cox moved through different levels of racing on his journey to becoming one of the best. “I started off in karting, and I did that for a few years. After that, I started doing Formula 4 cars, which is just a few steps down from the Formula 1 cars, which are open wheel. After that, I ran some sports cars, and I got the opportunity to go onto the oval circuit, racing legend cars, late models, driving for Dale Earnhardt Jr., and racing in NASCAR.”

Success came when Cox started performing well; he won racing titles and media attention. “I always got pretty good recognition running up front in the races and winning. I won the national championship in 2019, third in the world championship… and then the regional championship for North Carolina, and then for Georgia,” Cox said. “It was a lot of fun. I was on national television shows a couple of times. I met a lot of prominent people, but I did really enjoy it.”

During his years in racing, Cox gained popularity through the racing media and was sponsored by some big companies, such as

I started off in karting, and I did that for a few years. After that, I started doing Formula 4 cars, which is just a few steps down from the Formula 1 cars, which are open wheel. After that, I ran some sports cars, and I got the opportunity to go onto the oval circuit, racing legend cars, late models, driving for Dale Earnhardt Jr., and racing in NASCAR.

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Capital Chevrolet, Capital Ford, Capital Mazda, Smithfield’s Chicken & Barbecue, and the “Run Forest Run” Dan Forest campaign for governor. Cox was interviewed on television by national and local reporters, including ABC 11’s Joe Mazur and WRAL’s Kacy Hintz.

After seeing success for a few years, Cox decided to end his career and return to high school at NRCA. “Racing was and is a sport where you pretty much have to be second or third generation and have roots in it to be able to get with the best people. For me, it was hard because I was the first of my family... So, I decided to depart from it, and it felt like a weight of stress lifted off my shoulders,” Cox said.

Cox’s new passion is scuba diving. He dives and works at Fantasy Lake Adventure Park in Rolesville, which is currently open to certified scuba divers, scuba instructors and their students, and qualified guests of scuba divers. The scuba park plans to open to the public in the summer of 2023.

With racing in the past, Cox looks towards the future with excitement, eager to pursue the new adventures God has planned for him. 

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The NRCA varsity volleyball team won their eighth consecutive NCISAA state championship on Saturday, Oct. 29, against challenger Cannon School. The Knights captured the title 3-1 (25-17, 24-26, 25-20, 25-22) to cap off an undefeated season (27-0).

NRCA had home-court advantage throughout the playoffs, defeating St. Mary’s in the opening round 3-0 (25-15, 25-14, 2517). In the semifinals, NRCA met Covenant Day, winning 3-0 (25-20, 25-21, 25-19).

The one bobble on the path to the title was in the second set of the finals, when the Cougars outscored the Knights 24-26. The players rallied in the next two sets, securing their eighth state championship trophy in as many years.

Senior Megan Murray, ranked the top libero in the state, said the highlight of the finals for her was “seeing everyone come together when we weren’t doing as well. And we pushed forward and didn’t let the stress of the game get to us.”

At the core of NRCA volleyball program culture is prioritizing God and others above self. So, when the team hit a moment of adversity, they leaned into that philosophy. “We’ve always focused on ‘God, Team, Me’ as our team motto. And I think we were really focused on each other this game instead of ourselves individually,” Murray said.

Congratulations to the Knights on a spectacular season!

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NRCA GIRLS GOLF: State Tournament Runners-Up

NRCA’s girls golf team brought home the runner-up trophy in the NCISAA state tournament this week. The team finished an impressive 1-over par, just a few strokes behind Durham Academy.

“As a team, we played great. Our combined score was only 1-over par, which is fantastic,” Coach Wesley Bauguess said. Individual golfers recorded outstanding performances. Annalee Caveney finished third in the state with a 1-under 71, followed by Kiera Bartholomew with an even-par 72 and Lily Kate Watson with a 2-over 74. Anna Cate Badin shot her season’s best with 79.

The NRCA girls golf team has had a solid year, starting with a win against Ravenscroft in the first match of the season. The Knights defeated the Ravens 106-174. Until the team met Durham Academy in late September, they were undefeated.

Bauguess was confident that the team would play well this season. “I love playing for our school, but playing for the Lord, especially,” she said. “We remind each other all the time that we play to win, and we let the Lord choose who the victor is. And we just remember that we’re playing for him. So we’re very blessed.”

Bauguess shared that NRCA has a very strong and competitive team, but their focus remains on the big picture. Bauguess described the team’s perspective: “Lily Kate Watson said in one of our prayer huddles that people won’t remember what you’ve shot, and they won’t remember your score. They’ll remember how you made them feel, how we handled it, and how we glorified God. They’ll remember the handshake, the hug, and the thank you more than they’ll remember numbers.” 

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NRCA’s middle school tennis team and middle school A volleyball team made it to the Capital Area Middle School Conference finals, capping off their successful regular season play with thrilling title runs.

their best tennis of the season against a formidable opponent,” said Head Coach Bryan Weitzel.

Weitzel emphasized the idea that tennis is chess-in-motion, teaching the players to “observe their opponent, anticipate what will happen, and make their next move with an intentional strategy in mind.” The payoff was huge. The Knights defeated the Warriors, 5-4, to move to the final round of the tournament.

“Over the course of the season, we were able to transition from coaches providing direction based on what the coaches were observing to affirming the offensive and defensive strategies that the players themselves had identified and were implementing on their own. As we played more experienced opponents, it became necessary for our players to adapt and pivot strategies mid-match and sometimes mid-rally. Watching our girls grow in their strategic thinking and problem-solving skills led to increased level-ofplay and more success on the court,” Weitzel said.

In addition to the on-court strategic thinking taught in practice, the middle school girls tennis team found encouragement and guidance in Scripture.


The middle school girls tennis team captured the CAMSC championship against previously unbeaten Cary Academy on the Chargers’ home courts. The final score was 6-3.

The road to the title was not without adversity. In the semifinals, the Knights had to rally against a strong St. David’s team to advance. Earlier in the season, NRCA fell to the Warriors, 2-7, at home.

“Throughout the season, our girls worked hard to learn, grow, and improve their skills and approach. When we met St. David’s in the conference playoff semifinal on St. David’s home courts, we were ready. Our girls played

“In our practice and preparation, we read and discussed how God’s people in the Bible—such as David, Elisha, and Gideon—approached seemingly impossible odds and how they relied on God for their victory, not their own skill or ability (1 Samuel 17:48-49, 2 Kings 6:13-17, and Judges 7). We also read encouragement from Proverbs 3:5, Psalm 139:13-18, and Philippians 4:13 to emphasize how much God loves them and how they are capable of great things when they place their trust in Him,” Weitzel said. “These readings helped us—players and coaches—to remain calm in the storm.”

Individual accomplishments combined for team success for the Knights. “We were blessed with 12 talented players, including four sixth graders (Stella Chilton, LilaGrace Hall, Noelle Ro, Addie Royster), four seventh graders (Camryn Dysart, Baylor Howard, Lauren Singer, Hannah Weitzel), as well as four eighth graders (Addison Garnett, McKenna Lathan, Reagan Lloyd, Blair Thomas),” Weitzel said. “These 12 players each made significant, positive contributions to our team in their own unique way. We are so pleased that we were able to share in the experience of a conference championship together with this special and amazing group of girls.”

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The middle school A volleyball team had an impressive run, finishing as CAMSC volleyball runners-up with an 11-3 overall record on the season.

“We started the season with challenges. Two girls came into practice the first day on crutches. We had several small injuries as the season moved on, and we worked through them all,” said Coach Yalonda White.

The team dynamic was key this season. Working together through their shortcomings boosted the team to the finals. “We did fall just shy of the championship, but I am proud of this team for how hard they fought during that championship match. Such growth from the first game of the season to the last that a coach could be nothing short of proud,” White said. “We served well and worked together as a team. That is always a sign of success to me, even if it doesn’t result in a win.”

Coach White’s focus on building excellence on both individual and team levels highlights the secret of the Knights’ success.

“Taking a group of 14 young ladies and being able to place them on the court in a variety of scenarios and still achieve a win most of the time is challenging; but with a group this talented, it was easy. Each and every player worked very hard this season on her individual weaknesses while honing her strengths,” White said.

Special thanks from the team go to the parents who supported them all season, from calling lines to keeping the books and working the clock, especially to Team Mom Natalie McCurdy for assisting the coach with logistics and communications.

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Emerson White plays tennis. As a seventh grader, she made the NRCA varsity team. “I loved it. It was so fun. I loved playing doubles with Reese [Woody], and we always would laugh so much, and we had such a good time,” White said.

She also travels all over the country for tournaments. White is ranked No. 1 in the state and is in the top 50 in the nation. She also was recently selected by the United States Tennis Association (USTA) to play on the North Carolina Ozaki Cup team in Rome, Georgia. The North Carolina team finished in first place against the other states, winning the title for the first time in the 30year history of the tournament. When asked what her best moment was on the court, she said, “Probably when I won the L3 National Tournament in Las Vegas.”

White’s introduction to tennis came at a tennis camp when she was four. “I started playing tennis when I was four, but I started playing serious tennis when I was around seven,” White said. She played at Wakefield Plantation when she started, but when she started getting serious, she moved to Raleigh Racquet Club.

Tournaments keep White busy. “I don’t do one every weekend. I do one two times a month, maybe…I travel all around the country. Lately, I’ve been to Las Vegas and Florida, and I’m about to go to Boston and South Carolina. I go a little bit everywhere, and there’s a tournament coming up in California. The best place I’ve been is probably Boca Raton, Florida. It was super fun, and it had an awesome tennis center, and I liked going to the beach there,” White said.

Although tennis is her sport now, White did other extracurricular activities until

fourth grade. “I used to ice skate. I stopped ice skating, and I chose to do more tennis instead,” she said. White’s friends got her into playing tennis. “There was a group of girls around my age that I was friends with, and they all started playing tennis, and they said it was fun, so I decided to try it out, and I really liked it,” she said.

Playing at a high level can be challenging for a young athlete. “Well, sometimes it’s not necessarily a team sport unless you are doing school tennis, so sometimes it’s kind of mentally challenging or mentally tough,” White said. During NRCA’s varsity tennis season, White found friendship and fun and captured allconference honors. White advises other young athletes looking to improve in tennis to “just have fun with it” and to remember that when the workouts get tough, they are helping them improve. 

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N R C A ’ s a n n u a l G o l f C l a s s i c w i l l b e o n M o n d a y , M a y 1 , 2 0 2 3 . W e w o u l d l i k e y o u t o p r a y e r f u l l y c o n s i d e r h o w y o u m i g h t b e a b l e t o p a r t n e r w i t h u s f o r t h i s e v e n t . C o n s i d e r s i g n i n g u p a s a g o l f e r o r s p o n s o r i n g a g o l f e r f o r a d o n a t i o n o f $ 5 0 0 B e c o m e a n N R C A C o r p o r a t e M i n i s t r y P a r t n e r a n d t a k e a d v a n t a g e o f b e i n g a h o l e s p o n s o r f o r t h i s e v e n t . P a r t n e r w i t h u s o n M a y 1 s t f o r o u r a n n u a l G o l f C l a s s i c h o s t e d a t H a s e n tr e e G o l f C l u b .


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Week n n

Spirit Week was a hit at NRCA. Most of the students participated in the fun outfits. NRCA celebrates Spirit Week in the days leading up to the homecoming game, and the students get excited to dress up throughout the week. Each day of the week has a different theme. This year, Spirit Week followed Fall Break, so the theme days began when students returned on Tuesday. On Tuesday, students dressed in pajamas and sweats for Comfy Day. Wednesday was Jersey Day, and NRCA’s staff and students celebrated their favorite teams. Thursday was USA Day, filling the halls with red, white, and blue. And Friday, NRCA superfans decked out in blue, gold, and white, sporting lots of Knights spiritwear. The overall theme for the week was “Home Sweet Homecoming.”

Spirit Week provides students a time to express themselves in their own ways, like showing off their favorite teams and showing school spirit. “I love it,” said freshman Joseph Howard. Each day in homeroom, the teachers selected students wearing the most Spirit Week attire to go to the office with the other best-dressed students.

Jersey Day was freshman Presley Harrison’s favorite theme of the week. “I was the winner for my homeroom on Jersey Day,” said Harrison, who wore a Carolina Hurricanes jersey.

Assistant Athletic Director Nick Mini tracked points for Spirit Week participation. At the homecoming pep rally, Mini announced the divisional winners. The top scorers for each division were the following: Lower Elementary – Lech, Upper Elementary – Watkinson, Middle School – McCoy, and High School – Brown. The overall Spirit Week winner was McCoy’s class. n

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Ella Weathers,
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Homecoming 2022 Representatives 9TH GRADE
Emily Gomez Brook Watkins 1OTH GRADE Sophia Howard
Joey Cliffe Lillie Wright 12TH GRADE
Caroline Laster Chelsea Mathelier Megan Murray Kaila Rendall Lily Kate Watson Faith Zawadzki
Chelsea Mathelier crowned 2022 Homecoming Queen

Knights Tame Bulldogs

NRCA defeated the Wake Christian Bulldogs 56-15 in the homecoming varsity football game on Oct. 21. Senior Christopher Rivera led the Knights with four rushing touchdowns, logging 248 yards total. Senior J.T. Lee added another rushing touchdown for the Knights. Quarterback Connor McGann, a senior, connected with senior receiver Jackson Watkins for two trips into the endzone and once with junior Stone McDonald. McGann completed 9 of 11 attempts for a total of 114 passing yards.

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Powderpuff Football Game

A pink and black wave rolled through Knights Stadium on the evening of Oct. 22 as the junior and senior classes battled for Powderpuff victory. The senior class won 14-7, hoisting team mascot Sully overhead in celebration. At halftime, the senior Powderpuff cheerleaders performed a pirate-themed swashbuckling routine.

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Knights of the Round Table

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Christopher Rivera Ethan Perry Evan Wood Jake Berry Noah Weyne Evan Wood crowned King of the Knights of the Round Table

knights marching

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Excellence and dedication characterize NRCA’s Marching Knights. The marching band puts a lot of time, practice, and effort into their practices and performances, and their achievements during competition season show the benefits of their commitment. In addition to appearances in band competitions and festivals, the Marching Knights perform at home for halftime shows during varsity football games. Both the instrumentalists and color guard work hard to bring their performances to life.

The Marching Knights had a successful competition season this year. On Sept. 24, the Marching Knights performed at Pinecrest Bandfest, earning first place Music, first place Marching, first place General Effect, and first place overall Class A. Out of the 15 North Carolina schools in attendance, the Knights were the only private school.

Later, on Oct. 11, the Marching Knights participated in the Tour of Wake festival, where the Marching Knights received the following awards in Class A: second place Music, second place Guard, third place Marching, and third

The schools with which NRCA competes are mainly larger public high schools with older students. A significant number of students in the Marching Knights are middle school students beginning their time in the marching band program, making their accomplishments

On Oct. 28, the Knights were named CBS 17’s Band of the Week, performing their 1950s soda shop-themed halftime show during the NRCA vs. Ravenscroft football game. Caitlyn Yount, a Marching Knights member, recalled participating in the Tour of Wake. “It was definitely a new experience. I was used to performing at different competitions, but we really liked it. We were the only private and Christian school there, and we enjoyed watching other bands and seeing what we could do better and what we did

Preparation for the competition season begins with a spring mini-camp to lay the groundwork for the fall show. Then in August, the band has a two-week camp before school starts. Beverly Wrobel, a sophomore member of the color guard, shared about the practice schedule. “We have two weeks of band camp in the summer and additionally, a few days of it in the spring before the season starts, [as well as] Wednesdays and Fridays and other various

The amount of practice helps with the preparation before a performance. “Usually, when we get everything down, it doesn’t take too long, but again [the] practices [help],”

The Marching Knights have a method when it comes to perfecting routines. “We normally do

[something] called set to set, which is where a set is one picture, one snapshot of where we’re supposed to land. So, what we do is, we’ll go over and march over to that set, and then we’ll stop. If that set seems like it was not performed well or we’re not getting into forms right, we’ll go back and do it over and over until we can do it,” Yount explained.

In marching band, it is also important to be focused and coordinated. “[It’s] pretty important, especially in your first few runs. You trip over your own feet a lot. You [have to] focus on not just yourself but everyone around you, so you can be in the space without everyone else looking off,” said Wrobel.

There is a lot of teamwork between band and color guard that brings them together. “We spend a lot of time in marching band, so we get to have a lot of fellowship between us. And Mr. Barley helps us bring it all together because he [leads] devotionals every time we have a practice. [He talks about] what it’s like to work hard for the glory of God and how important that is to marching band. We get along very well with color guard as well,” Yount said.

Program Directors LeRoy Barley and Jim Burk work to ensure that the band meets the standard of excellence identified in all areas of NRCA’s mission statement. “The Marching Knights do have camps and early morning rehearsals, but it is not the amount of time that makes them successful. Instead, it is the intensity and efficiency of the rehearsals that are the real key to their success,” Burk said. “The marching program at NRCA is structured so that our students not only have minimal impact on their academic study time, with no school night performances, but in some cases, it even allows students to still pursue sports during the marching season.” 

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Behind the Scenes of N

RCA’s Squire Theatre performed a Shakespearean play set in the 1940s called Much Ado About Nothing Nov. 3-5. The cast put in long hours of rehearsal to master this play. The performers love theater and enjoy the process of preparing the play for audiences to see. Sophomore Reese Ritter, who played Conrade, said his favorite thing about theater was “making memories with people in the cast and goofing off [during] moments in between scenes. Sometimes it’s fun just watching other people having fun.”

Sophomore Nathan Wilson, who played Dogberry, agreed that a major part of theater fun was the collaboration in preparing for the production. “I mostly enjoy the interactions with other people, especially the director and the other actors, and it’s like one big family.”

Fine Arts Director Zachary Roberts, who directed the play, said, “As a director, I enjoy watching the play come together in all the different parts from the sets to the lights to the actors. That’s what I love about directing and providing a place where that can happen.”

William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing features a different form of the English language than current speakers of American English are used to hearing. Addressing the gap between the two versions of English was important. “In the rehearsal process, we sat down for two whole rehearsals and talked through the script line by line. We talked about what does this line mean? And what does this word mean?” Roberts said.

For the modern audience to understand the play more easily, the creative team used the era of the 1940s in America to provide context. The language remained largely Shakespearean, with minor vocabulary changes for clarity. A couple of scenes that were not essential to the overall plot and character development were edited out. “We’ve shortened it and made it a little more understandable,” Ritter said, explaining that much of the plot is shown through actions in addition to the words.

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By: Finley South, Shield Writer, and Shield Staff


Sticks and stones may hurt my bones, but words can never hurt me.” This children’s adage could not be more untrue. Words are powerful. They can shape, mold, and manipulate. The apostle James writes that “no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison” (James 3:8).

In Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, the false words of Don John almost destroy the beautiful marriage of Claudio and Hero. Likewise, Benedick and Beatrice use words to wound one another to prevent confronting their past feelings for each other. We, as an audience, have much to learn about the power of words from the characters of this play. How often do we use words to wound others to protect ourselves?

The apostle James continues in Chapter 3, verse 10: “From the same mouth comes a blessing and a curse. My brothers and sisters, this ought not to be so.” As followers of Christ, our speech should mirror how our Savior spoke. Christ spoke the truth with great at tention to detail and seasoned with love. Shakespeare’s comedy reminds us that the truth is important and that the truth will come to light. Even com edies, light and cheerful as they are, have the power to shape us. Hopefully, Ado About Nothing shone with truth and love as our student artists met the chal lenge of bringing Shakespeare to the NRCA Squire Theatre Stage for the first time ever.

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