NRCA Shield 2023-2024

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The Shield 2023–2024


Honors Nurse Aide I Launches Students into Health Careers — Page 26 —

NRCA Robotics: Energized — Page 34 —

The Gospel & Theatre — Page 46 —


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The Shield is an annual curated collection of features documenting the people, programs, and events at North Raleigh Christian Academy. Visit for school news and information.


Shield Editors 2022-2023 Parker Hodgson (2023) Caden Landis (2024) Haley Lee (2025) Izzie McLawhorn (2025) AJ Toler (2024) Mykal Williams (2023) Shield Editors 2023-2024 Finley Huneycutt (2025) Izzie McLawhorn (2025) Taylor Mills (2025) Ella Weathers (2026) Cami Wheeler (2025) Advisers Norma Weekman, Journalism Teacher Abigail Linton, Journalism Teacher Karen Blom, Graphic Designer Stephanie Armstrong, Photographer


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.




NRCA on Mission


NRCA 2023 Facilities Updates


Fifth-grade Bible Teacher Bobby Jencks




My Favorite Verse


Teaching Future Engineers


Easter Break on Mission in Costa Rica


What is Robotics?


NRCA Summer Mission Trip


Engineering a Bright Future in Robotics


Using Gifts On Mission: NRCA Senior Multiplies Impact of Talents


Highest Ranking in Program History: High School Robotics Team


Student Volunteers: Serving the Local Community


NRCA Robotics: Funding and Partnerships


Grace, Provision, and Peace: Lessons from Central Asia


Greek Knight: NRCA Alum Impacts College Campus for Christ


Squire Theatre Prepares for A Season of Consequence


The Gospel & Theatre


Tripp Lilly Returns to NRCA


Meet “Nurse Bruce”


NRCA’s Nurse Aide I Program: An Overview


Looking Back: CNA Alumni Find Program Valuable


Honors Nurse Aide I Student: Lily Kate Watson

THEATRE The Shield — 3

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ou may have noticed an abundance of fingerprints across NRCA’s campus and communications this year. Our schoolwide theme for 2023–2024 is “Fully Known,” and our central verse is Psalm 139:1: “O LORD, you have searched me and known me.” We selected a fingerprint to symbolize God’s craftmanship in creating and care in transforming people. Fully known. What an astounding truth to build our lives on—the Creator of all knows every detail about each individual human he created, and he loves us unconditionally. Despite the fact that we are born with a rebellious nature that seeks our own way above God’s, he loves us. So great is his love, in fact, that he sacrificed Jesus, his only Son, so that we could know our Creator and dwell with him forever. That is good news! When he walked on earth, Jesus issued the invitation to follow him. To those who accepted the invitation, he revealed the truths of his Kingdom. Jesus’ followers were called disciples, and they left everything to be with him, become like him, and ultimately do what he did. As they heard his teachings and witnessed the miracles, these early followers were transformed. After the resurrection, as he was about to return to the Father, Jesus commissioned his disciples: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20). The call to be disciples and commission to make disciples remain for Christ followers today. As a Christian school, NRCA is in the ministry of spreading the gospel everywhere we go. We bear witness to the good news in the classrooms, halls, and public spaces on campus, and we

share the good news in the local community and throughout the world, fulfilling our school’s mission that our students “... might impact their society for Christ.” For students too young to go on formal mission trips, classes adopt missionaries and learn about the country where they serve and share the gospel. Students also engage in local community service opportunities, collecting donations for community partners and expressing gratitude for community helpers. Our high school students participate in a mission trip with their church, a parachurch organization, or NRCA as part of their graduation requirement. High school students also spend hours each year volunteering in person with local community partners. These are just a few of the ways that NRCA helps students learn about the Great Commission and establish a practice of living on mission. In the pages that follow, you will read stories of students, staff, and alumni living life on mission. I hope you will be encouraged by all the Lord is doing in and through the people, programs, and ministries of NRCA as we seek to be disciples and make disciples. May the fingerprints you see throughout this year bear witness to the uniqueness of each person, the depth of God’s matchless love, and the transformation we undergo as we live in relationship with him and share the good news of peace with God through Jesus.

Dr. Kevin Mathes Superintendent


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.

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NRCA 2023 FACILITIES UPDATES NRCA had the opportunity to improve certain facilities for the NRCA community over the summer of 2023. Chauncey Minnick, Director of Operations, oversaw all the changes and extensive projects this year. For the 2023–2024 school year, NRCA completed several new renovations. The ability to do these projects came from the Annual Fund campaign, Boosterthon, and the Golf Classic. Campus security, classrooms, public reception areas, and sports programs received help from these fundraisers. Number one on the list of improvements this year was security. “We did new LED lighting in the parking lot. We put security and safety film on all of the firstfloor windows, which deny entry to protect the school. We put new access controls in for all the badges entering the doors. Overall, it’s made it a much more secure facility,” Minnick said. Inside, NRCA also added lobby doors to the main reception area, limiting access to the rest of the building. While the security updates had a campus-wide impact, NRCA also completed updates to welcome visitors who enter the building near the archway. Minnick explained, “The Fine Arts Center lobby updates include a new trophy case, permanent seating, updated directional signs, the Welcome Wall, and the NRCA Knights Honor Wall. The Honor Wall includes names of NRCA alumni who are currently college athletes and those who are currently serving, or have served, in the US Armed Forces.” Additional projects related to welcoming visitors included directional signs in the parking lots, updated banners in the hallways, and relocated display cases in both buildings. The administrative offices and classrooms in the main building received new carpeting, and a number of classrooms received new interactive display systems to replace older SmartBoard technology. NRCA’s athletic facilities received renovations, specifically lacrosse and soccer. “We are resurfacing our soccer and lacrosse field/lower playground area with artificial turf,” said Minnick. The turf projects continued through the opening weeks of the school year. “Thanks to the generosity of the NRCA community in donating to the Annual Fund, supporting Boosterthon, and the Golf Classic, along with excellent stewardship and wise financial management practices, these larger projects are possible,” Minnick said. NRCA’s campus improvements have set students, staff, and families up for a great school year as they continue to pursue excellence in academics, fine arts, and athletics.  By: Ella Weathers, Shield Editor

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Fifth-grade Bible teacher Bobby Jencks Fifth-grade Bible teacher Bobby Jencks joined NRCA’s faculty this year after spending nine years as an international missionary. The Shield sat down with Jencks and asked about his story. What follows are Jencks’ own words, edited for length and clarity. When I was in college, I wanted to be a fighter pilot. I was studying at Anderson University, but I was going crosstown to Clemson University for their Air Force ROTC program. My commanding officer there said, “You know, if you just keep doing what you're doing, you're going to make it into flight school.” I was so excited. 8 — The Shield

My friend said to me, “Why don't you come down to Beaufort, South Carolina? There's a Marine air base. We'll go there, and we'll spend Christmas together.” So, I went with him to spend Christmas with his family. His dad worked at the Marine air base and was one of the people [in charge of] the flight simulator, so

I had the chance to fly in it. I met fighter pilots, and I was living my dream. I felt like God was giving me everything I could ever want. He was letting me accomplish the thing that was on my heart the most. As I experienced all that in Beaufort, South Carolina, I was reading Matthew 19. That's the story of the rich young ruler who comes to Jesus and says, “Jesus, rabbi, what must I do to get into the Kingdom of heaven?” And Jesus says to that young man, "Obey all the commandments.” The rich young ruler says, “I've done all this. What else should I do?” And Jesus says, “Well, give up everything you have, and follow me.” In that moment, God convicted my heart, and he was like, “Bobby, you have all this. I want you to give it all up. And I want you to go and spread the gospel to the nations.” I went straight to my friend and his dad, and I said, “I really believe God's calling me onto the mission field.” And my friend’s dad said, “You know what? The military is a mission field. You'll travel the world and get the chance to spread the gospel. Don't give up on your dream.” So, I didn't immediately change my plans. Then one day, there was a guest speaker on our campus at Anderson University, and he gave his testimony. He said, “I prepared a message, but today I believe somebody in this audience needs to hear my testimony.” And then he said, “I wanted to become a fighter pilot. I accomplished that dream, but God had previously called me into the ministry, and I didn't listen to him. I did what I wanted to do, and I flew fighter jets. It was amazing. But one day...” He told the story of how he was flying through the mountains with his friend in a small private plane. As they were enjoying the view, they hit a pocket of low-pressure and crashed into the side of the mountain. His friend died, but the speaker’s life was spared. His leg was [badly injured] in the crash. The paramedics that found him said that if he had been one degree cooler or warmer, complications would have set in, and he would have died. They told him, “It's a miracle that you survived.” He said that at that moment, he felt like God was giving him another chance to pursue the ministry. They had to amputate his leg. He gave up being a fighter pilot and became a preacher and teacher of God's Word. Although my dream was to be a fighter pilot, I put that on the side and said, “God, I don't need to lose my leg to know you're

calling me into ministry. There's nothing greater than being used to spread the gospel to the nations and see an eternal impact in people's lives.” Then I changed my degree to Christian Ministries and began studying. I went to seminary at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary where I was equipped with the gospel, how to study the Word of God, and how to preach. From there, my wife and I sold all our things and went to Asia with our two young children. I got a job as a teacher, and that's where I started my teaching career. At first, I was just teaching English as a Second Language, but after a couple of years, changed my position to teaching English Language Arts and other subjects as well. When we first got there, my wife and I had to stay in a hotel that the school provided. It was just a small two-room space and super dirty. Our kids were really little—my son was eight months old, and he was crawling everywhere. And my daughter was a year and eight months, and she was a handful to manage. We were going through culture shock, trying to learn how to even say “I need water. Where do I go for food? How do I use the money and currency that you are giving me?” There were a lot of things that were very different about being there, and it was hard at first. But God provided for us. It was a miracle that I got the opportunity to quickly be immersed in a group of believers because in that country it is illegal to have an organized church. If you have a gathering of more than 20 people, you could be arrested and put in jail. For people who are guests in the country, we could be kicked out and lose any right to be there or even come back. It is always a risk to gather. Around the third day we were there, one of the local believers heard that we had a baby, and she had a crib that she didn't need anymore. She came by our hotel room and said, “May I give you this crib?” And we said, “Yes, thank you so much.” She spoke perfect English, and she said, "It's my pleasure. May the Lord bless you.” I said, “What? Are you a Christian?” She said, “Yes, I am. I love the Lord Jesus Christ.” She was so passionate, so on fire for the Lord. In that country, when you're a believer in Jesus Christ, you are really a believer. There are rarely groups of people there who would call themselves believers in Jesus because it's so costly. To align themselves with God and with the gospel and with Jesus, they're giving up everything. They’re giving up their family, they're giving up social status, and they’re being ostracized, socially and publicly. It's a difficult thing to call yourself a Christian in that culture. The Shield — 9

She invited me to come to their small church. While we were there, I got the opportunity to meet her husband and all the other people there, and they asked, “Hey, what kind of involvement do you want to have in our church?”

and writing notes. I went through the Bible, story by story, helping them to see God's glory, his promises to send a Savior, how all those promises and prophecies were fulfilled in Jesus Christ, and how he is our only Savior.

I said I would love to make disciples and train leaders to help the church grow and spread the gospel. They said that's exactly what they needed. It was the perfect match, and from there, I had the opportunity to help build up that church. The woman who spoke perfect English served as my interpreter until I was able to learn their language well enough to share the gospel and teach the Bible with my own language skills.

I said, “The King of kings and Lord of lords has come and taken on human flesh in order to pay the penalty for our sins because only a human can die. God can't die—he had to take on flesh and blood so that he could pay the penalty on the cross. And when he did, he took all of our sins onto himself, completely satisfying the wrath and judgment of God on our behalf, so that we can be forgiven of our sins and have eternal life. And whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

One day she took me to meet another group of believers. When we left to go there, I didn't know where we were going. We started walking up to the building, and I saw it was all dilapidated and old looking. I asked, “Is this the right place?”

They were encouraged. I was blessed to see their faith, all that they had given up just to be there to hear the gospel and follow Jesus.

She said, “Yes, this is it. Come, come.” We went inside, and there was nobody in sight. It looked like an apocalypse had just taken place. It was dusty, and everything was covered in dirt. The windows in a lot of the shops were broken, and I thought, What are we doing? Where are we going? She said, “They're meeting on the third floor.”

There's a poster on my wall [at NRCA], and it's a graphic that illustrates every part of the gospel from beginning to end. I made it to teach the gospel to the local church leaders when I was in Asia. This picture has no words on it—it's a comic book-style illustration of the gospel piece by piece. I made it that way because I needed something that I could just point at, teach them, and then give it to them, and they could go and also point and share.

We walked up the escalators to avoid cameras that are on the elevators. On the third floor, we went down [a long] hallway, and when we finally got to the end and opened the door, there were 30 or more people in the small room about half the size of my classroom here. They greeted me with love and said, “Welcome, welcome, welcome!”

In my [Bible] class [here], all the students have learned the entire gospel from beginning to end, and they have shared the gospel and a one-minute presentation in front of the class. It's awesome. I have a video of several of the students sharing the gospel and even have testimony of some of the students coming to know Christ through that activity.

And I said, “It’s so good to be here. So, we've come here to learn and study the Bible. What do you want me to teach on?” They talked to my interpreter, and she said, “They want you to teach the Bible.”

I know that the gospel is the power of God for salvation. I've seen the gospel personally change people's hearts in contexts that are vastly different than our own here in America. I know that the gospel transcends what we would say are dividing points between us and other people groups, such as language and culture and family values. Although we can be very different culturally, the gospel breaks down those walls of hostility and brings us together in Christ. 

I said, “Okay, what part of the Bible?” They said, “The whole thing.” For the next three hours, I helped them learn the redemptive story from the beginning of the Bible to the end. They were attentive

NRCA’s Rooted Rhythms podcast is live! Listen to the first episode, available on Spotify, Google Podcasts, and Apple Podcasts, or access Rooted Rhythms on the NRCA website. 10 — The Shield


My Favorite Verse For the first time in NRCA’s history, graduating seniors participated in Senior Seminar. Opening the morning were devotions led by senior teachers. During this time, Mrs. Abbie Linton shared these words of wisdom with the Class of 2023.

Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. HEBREWS 7:25 (NKJV) There are three reasons why I love this verse. First, it ties together the Old and New Testament and demonstrates that the Bible, as a whole, is not many different stories, but rather it is one story – God’s story of his redemption of mankind. The verse is situated in Hebrews 7, which tells how Jesus is THE high priest who, having lived a sinless life, offered up himself as the perfect sacrifice for the sins of the world (vs. 26-28). The Lamb of God’s death on the cross fulfilled the law, eliminating the need for any further sacrifice. All that is needed now is faith which leads me to the second reason why I love this verse. Different versions use different phrases – save completely, save forever, save to the uttermost – but they all mean the same thing. It is the same word that

is used when the disciples thought they would drown. A storm came up while they were in their boat, and they called out to Jesus to save, or rescue, them (Matthew 8). It is also the same word that is used when the woman who had the issue of blood touched the hem of Jesus’ robe. Jesus wanted to know who touched him, but the disciples said that the crowds were so great that there was no way to know. Jesus assured them that he felt power leave him. At this, the woman spoke up to admit that she had been the one to touch his robe. Jesus responded that her faith had healed her and made her whole (Luke 8). She had spent so much money over the years of her illness, but when she reached out to Jesus in faith, she was saved to the uttermost. How sad would it have been if her pride had gotten in the way? What if she had said she was too far gone for Jesus to save her or if she had said it wasn’t that bad, that she didn’t need Jesus because she had made it this far on her own? The fact is that we’re not so bad that Jesus cannot save us, and we’re not so good that we don’t need his forgiveness. He is the standard against which we are measured, which means that no one is good enough. But those who come to God through faith in Jesus, he will save completely and forever. The third reason why this is my favorite verse is that it gives insight into what Jesus has been doing since his return to heaven, to the right hand of the Father. This verse tells us that he always lives to make intercession for those who come to God through him (Jesus). In other words, Jesus prays for us. Believers, if this isn’t encouraging, I don’t know what is. John 17

gives us an example of how Jesus prays for us in his High Priestly Prayer. He prays for believers to be in unity so that the world will believe in him (vs. 11, 21), for his joy to be fulfilled in us (vs. 13), for us to be protected from evil (vs. 15), and for us to be sanctified through truth (His word is truth, vs. 17). This is just a small sample of how Jesus prays, but it’s such an encouragement to know that we are not alone in our prayers for our children, our families, our churches, our school, and our world. May this verse encourage you as you choose to begin or continue your walk with God.  By: Abbie Linton, High School English Teacher

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Easter Break on Mission in Costa Rica


uring Easter break, NRCA continued to spread the gospel overseas, this time stopping in Costa Rica. A group of high school students—accompanied by Dr. Mathes, Mrs. Bauguess, and me— traveled 3,543 miles to the capital city, San Jose. Here we were called to share the gospel through word and deed throughout the week. Over the course of the week, students were given opportunities to bless several communities through community cleanup projects, hosting VBS, farming, and working alongside Metro Ministries. It was a sweet time showing the residents we cared about them through the projects we completed each day. Students were given many opportunities to bless others through their acts of kindness. Our first community was small in size but gave us the greatest opportunity as we worked to pick up trash, clean up a playground, create a community garden space, and host a VBS for the students when they were released from school. It

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brought great joy to me as I watched the students love and care for a group of people they had never met. They took pride in beautifying their neighborhood while preparing an outdoor space for them to play and grow a garden. The time spent on these projects will have a lasting effect as people begin to use them in the future. Our second community gave the students the opportunity to join local farmers in their fields. Several of the students had never had the opportunity to be a part of a working farm and were elated at the possibility of helping. It was a sweet time of students working together for the greater good of the people so they could continue providing produce for their community. Our third community gave the students an opportunity to love on the women and children through a morning Bible study and brunch that included a pampering aspect for the moms and daughters. The students who helped in this capacity were given the opportunity to love on the children through play while the moms

learned from God’s Word. I know hearts were touched this day as the conversation and smiles validated this. In each of these communities, the students led several Vacation Bible Schools where familiar childhood Bible stories were told. The students enjoyed bringing to life these biblical accounts of Noah and the Ark, David and Goliath, and Jonah and the Whale through skits, crafts, balloon animals, and songs. It was a great privilege to share the love of Christ with the students who are a part of the Metro Ministry communities. What a joy it was to be used for God’s handiwork as we impacted the people in San Jose. May the imprint these people left on our hearts be a sweet reminder to share the good news of the gospel in the communities in our area. To God be the glory for the great things he did in and through these NRCA students while in Costa Rica.  By: Mrs. Joy Mathes, Lower Elementary Principal

Sharing Christ’s Love in Costa Rica


he sweet singing voices of young children filled the Costa Rican ministry as they were led in worship. The high schoolers of NRCA may not have understood the Spanish lyrics, but they undoubtedly felt the love of Christ flowing throughout the room. NRCA’s high school students were blessed with the opportunity to travel to San José, Costa Rica, with Metro Ministries to share the gospel with children of all ages in local communities. A total of 22 students attended the mission trip over spring break to host three days of Vacation Bible School and returned to the States with rich life

lessons, everlasting memories, and flushed complexions. Tenth grader Reese Ritter said, “Sometimes we played soccer with [the children], we colored with them, and you could just see how happy they were… and they kind of got to escape from the struggles that they have.” Kicking around a soccer ball and pouring out a box of crayons were simple acts meant to help the children feel cared for, showing that a small thing we take for granted can be a blessing for another. The high school students spent time preparing their Vacation Bible School prior to the trip and exemplified excellent teamwork skills to provide a fun experience for the children. “We all had the same goal in mind,” Ritter said. “We were all trying to get there to help the kids because they are struggling in their communities.” Children in the communities NRCA visited are often impacted by poverty and domestic instability. The high school students strived to share the glory of God to instill hope. Student Body Vice President Lillie Wright also attended the mission trip and said, “I was talking to one of the pastors in Spanish, and he asked if I could get together a group to deliver a pamphlet to the village describing how Jesus loves them and encouraging them to get involved in the church.” Not only did the NRCA high schoolers spread the gospel to children in Costa Rica, but they also reached out to adults in hopes of creating a community that is rooted in Christ. Wright said, “I will never forget hearing the phrase ‘Dios te ama’ [God loves you] and the people there who showed kindness and joy in everything they do.” The NRCA students were welcomed with open arms and shown how one’s love for God is expressed in different cultures. “I’ve learned to never take anything for granted and that I am fully reliant on God for my every need,” Wright said. “You will understand more of who Jesus is by going on a trip like this.” The mission trip attendees hope that other students will take advantage of the opportunities at NRCA to travel around

the world and spread God’s Word, both to help others and to grow their own faith. “It’s good to give [the children] some hope and a time that they can remember, hopefully, for the rest of their lives,” said Ritter. The NRCA high schoolers may regret not wearing enough sunscreen while in Costa Rica, but they are more than grateful for the knowledge they gained while immersing themselves in a different culture and spreading the love of Jesus.  By: AJ Toler, Shield Editor

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Students learned what it means to serve others. We chaperones learned that anything is possible with God -BLAKE LEE



his summer, a group of North Raleigh Christian Academy students went to the NC Baptists on Mission Community Center in the Rose Hill area. “It was an old elementary school that has been turned into a hub for missionaries to reach the surrounding area. They have retrofitted the old classrooms into bunk rooms and offices,” said Blake Lee, ninthgrade English teacher. While on the trip, students built three wheelchair ramps for older people in the community, allowing them to leave their homes. With 15 students working on each ramp, most ramps took about four to five hours to build. “Students learned what it means to serve others. We chaperones learned that

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anything is possible with God,” Lee said. The mission trip had an impact on the students who went. Some of the guys were able to pour concrete, and others learned how to chop wood, power-washed vans and cars, built an outside grilling area, and packed over five hundred food care packages. But their obedience to God and hard work will have a lifelong impact on the students and the community. “The impact the trip had on me was that it showed me to look at everyone and everything differently. Not everyone has the things I have. It taught me to have a kinder heart and not to judge someone, but to make sure they’re okay,” said Jocelyn Biletnikoff, an 11th-grade student. The trip opened students’ eyes to how other people live and how not everyone has abundant

resources. The impact the mission trip had on students was life-changing. At North Raleigh Christian Academy, every student is required to go on at least one mission trip during high school. A mission trip consists of three consecutive days of eight hours of work each day. The mission trip must also be outside of the student’s local community (100 or more miles from campus) and must partner with a gospel-centered ministry. “I think everyone needs to experience something like this, whether it’s locally in North Carolina or somewhere like Costa Rica. You understand the importance of how good God truly is and how he works through all,” Biletnikoff said.  Finley Huneycutt, Shield Editor



NRCA Senior Multiplies Impact of Talents


his past summer, senior Gavin Galligan used the skills he developed as part of the NRCA video production team and tech crew when he spent a week volunteering at Royal Family Kids Camp (RFKC), a summer camp dedicated to creating positive memories in a fun, safe environment for children in foster care who have experienced abuse, neglect, or abandonment. Since the camp is more than 100 miles from NRCA’s campus, the week of service fulfilled Galligan’s mission trip requirement for graduation. “It’s called the Royal Family Kids Camp. It’s this summer camp for children in foster care who have gone through abuse [and neglect], and I was a videographer for them,” Galligan said. Galligan’s job was to capture the camp activities on video and create a 15-minute documentary of what the kids did during the week. Because of confidentiality policies protecting the children in foster care, only the people on the official photography team are allowed to photograph or record videos at the camp. Galligan’s video, viewed on the last day of camp, celebrated all that happened during the week. Suzanne Lyczkowski, NRCA’s yearbook adviser and AP Psychology teacher, has worked at RFKC for many years as the camp photographer. Each year, she has a team of photography and videography assistants who help document the fun week by making a photo album for every camper to take home and creating a video so the social workers and caregivers can see what the week of camp is like. Some of NRCA’s Video Technology Coordinator Jason Pizzino’s video students have served as camp videographers in past years. This year, Galligan’s name was added to that list.

Lyczkowski explained that the camp’s purpose is to give the children, from 7 to 11 years old, a chance to experience carefree fun in a protected environment. Camp activities are designed to build self-esteem, self-confidence, and autonomy while also sharing the truth of the gospel. “There is a big event every night. Dan the Animal Man came one night this year. We had a carnival with inflatables. We had an ‘Amazing Race,’ where the kids run through camp accomplishing tasks together with the goal of team building,” Lyczkowski said. “One of the best parts of camp is the surprise ‘Everybody’s Birthday Party.’ We sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to every camper, and each camper gets a bag of presents with his or her name on it. Some of these kids have never had a birthday party before, so this is a very special time.” Galligan’s video had a big impact, allowing the children to see themselves having fun and for important people in the children’s immediate community to get a glimpse of the camp experience. Now he is continuing his volunteer service by editing a “safe” version of the documentary where identifying features will be obscured so camp organizers can share the program’s successes on public platforms to help raise awareness and support for future camps.  By: Shield Staff with contributions from Izzie McLawhorn

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s his senior year starts, his 13th at NRCA, Gavin Galligan has committed to becoming one of many student leaders in the school who impact the community by volunteering to serve. High school students are required to spend at least 25 hours serving in the local community for every year of high school that they attend NRCA. Students must complete community service hours within 100 miles of NRCA’s campus and earn at least half their required hours off-campus. “What started off as just like a remedial chore turned into something that I enjoy doing, helping others,” Galligan said. Through their hours of volunteer work, students learn many life skills, helping to develop their leadership and confidence while becoming engaged in their community both on and off campus. Galligan started volunteering on campus when he joined NRCA’s Student Tech Crew in eighth grade. Since then, Galligan has earned the title of Student Tech Director, using the skills that he’s learned over the years in tech to give back to the NRCA community on campus and beyond. Students can earn community service hours in a variety of ways, including serving with their local church or partnering with a number of nonprofit organizations in the area. To help students schedule their independent and off-campus volunteer

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hours, students have access to a list of local ministry partners with contact information through the school website. Organizations like Raleigh Dream Center, EasiHorse Farm, and Urban Ministries of Wake County are always looking for volunteers. “I do the majority of my volunteering through the school, but through stuff I’ve done at school, I’ve been given opportunities to volunteer outside of school as well,” Galligan said. NRCA views volunteering as a way of giving back to the community and serving those in need while also building up students with leadership skills that can be used in school clubs and organizations and in the years after graduation. “NRCA has definitely encouraged me to fulfill my volunteer hours because of the requirement we have to meet each year,” said senior Mathis Meares. “It has encouraged me to keep volunteering throughout the years.” Meares has been volunteering since she was in eighth grade. As co-president of HOSA, Meares organizes and manages all events that the club hosts each year. “I am co-president of HOSA, and we make cards and donate packages to nursing homes through our bake sale.” Health Occupations Students of America, HOSA for short, is an international club with dozens of NRCA students who are registered members. Outside school, Meares volunteers during the year at one of

The Summit Church’s local campuses. “At The Summit Church, I volunteer in the children’s programs with the two and three year olds. I help play with the kids and go to a worship service with them while their family members attend the church service,” she said. Meares first started volunteering in Summit’s children’s program with her mom and sister when she was 14 years old. “I also encourage my peers to come volunteer at Summit Kids.” During her four years of high school at NRCA, Meares has been encouraged and has encouraged her friends and classmates to serve in their community. “I would say to other high schoolers to reach out to the communities you consistently are in because you will be able to experience a different view of what goes into providing for that community,” she said. Current seniors receive a silver honor cord to wear at graduation for completing more than 100 hours of community service during high school. Starting with the Class of 2025, seniors who have exceeded their graduation requirements by completing more than 150 hours of community service will be honored with a silver cord at Baccalaureate. Zoe Richardson, a junior in NRCA’s Class of 2025, volunteers at her church for community service hours. She serves in the kids’ ministry, on the worship team, and at the Vacation Bible School

hosted at her church. “I’ve discovered places to serve through my youth pastor and NRCA’s [Student Leadership Academy (SLA)] service leadership opportunities,” Richardson said. At school, she serves with NRCA’s Knights League, where she coaches volleyball for the lower grades. “I encourage many of my friends to join in VBS and SLA because it’s not only super fun, but it’s also super rewarding to serve others in our community!” Richardson said. SLA is a student organization at NRCA that focuses on encouraging all students to take initiative in leading NRCA’s student body both spiritually and physically. Starting in 2024, NRCA will offer Community Service Days for high school students throughout the school year. During Community Service Days, students will be able to spend the day serving with one of NRCA’s partner organizations off campus. By participating in a Community Service Day, students earn six hours toward their off-campus community service requirement. Richardson said, “The best advice I can give to anyone unsure of where to find hours is, to put it simply, ask your teachers or youth pastor. There are so many opportunities for us to serve our school, and there are so many churches that need helping hands, so don’t be afraid to ask around for ways you can help!” Many students, either new to NRCA or high school, aren’t sure where to start volunteering, but many seniors will agree that the best way to find organizations to serve is by asking the people around you and becoming involved within your community.  By: Izzie McLawhorn, Shield Editor

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Grace, Provision, and Peace:

Lessons from Central Asia I f I have learned anything over the last few years, it is that the Lord is always working for your good and his glory. My favorite part of this truth is that, more often than not, he works in ways that you could never ask for or imagine. Allowing him to direct your paths is never easy, but it has certainly taken me places I never thought I would go. In March, the Lord led me to join a spring break trip with my church to Central Asia. When they first announced the trip in the fall, I had only two words to say, “No way.” The idea of

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serving in Central Asia was terrifying to me. It is a region that is, at least institutionally, harsh to the gospel. War has marred its reputation and defined its past. It is, however, a place full of people made in the image of God, whose souls are destined for eternal destruction if they never hear his name. In the midst of all this darkness, God is building a vibrant kingdom. In his own unique way, he called me to spend a week in the pursuit of opportunities to expand it. Traveling to a place with such a challenging history was

anxiety-inducing, to say the least. I feared the unknown and how effective I could be for the gospel if struck by debilitating fear. But, as God always does, he provided an amazing peace and energy that I could never have created for myself. Upon arriving in Central Asia, we quickly settled into the homes of our partners. Staying with those who are actively laboring for the sake of the gospel was such a special experience. They warmly welcomed us into their lives, and we enjoyed rich times of fellowship gathered in their living room. The highlight of my time there was teaching English at the local humanitarian center. The first day was grueling. My teaching partner and I struggled to fill the time with activities that would excite and engage the children. We found it difficult to manage the class in a language unfamiliar to them. At the end of the first day, I felt discouraged. I brought up my concerns to the partner and another woman serving with us, and they helped us to develop a game plan for the following day. The next day in the English classroom was one of the best days of my life. It was a joy to see the children’s faces light up as they repeated words from the storybook and hear their shouts of triumph after winning a vocabulary game.

Their sweet voices together as we sang songs only deepened my joy. God further provided amazing, unpredictable opportunities as the other half of my team worked at a refugee camp. I joined them one day and saw the devastation of displacement firsthand. In the community of little shacks and homes, the dirt roads had been flooded by only a morning’s worth of rain. Despite the dreary day, the children were excited to play. They enjoyed a snack, crafts, and English lessons. I was honored by the opportunity to serve with a people that has been on my heart since I was young. We finished our time in Central Asia with prayer walking. In this, the Lord surprised me with a budding desire to pray fervently for the people in the region. The Holy Spirit opened many doors for conversation with many women. It was amazing to hear their stories and connect with them so quickly. The power of prayer was evident as we walked around with hearts open to the opportunities available. Showering the park with prayer, we left that day encouraged by what the Lord is doing in Central Asia, comforted by the knowledge that his work goes on even when we are not there. God’s grace, provision, and peace reigned over this trip. He gave our team unity, discernment, and opportunities for gospel sharing. He blessed us with safety and energy to aid in the important work our partners do. Throughout my time there, I clung to the truth of Psalm 73 that “my strength and flesh may fail, but the Lord is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” He was our strength and portion in every moment of the Central Asia trip, allowing each member the opportunity to use their spiritual gifts to strengthen our efforts. I am so glad the Lord called me to participate in this experience. He used it to show me that his ways and thoughts are not my own. He was faithful to equip the team for the work needed there, and I know that he will be faithful in the future to wherever he may lead me next.  By: Isabel McInnis, Class of 2020

Isabel McInnis graduated summa cum laude from NC State’s Poole College of Management in May 2023 with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. In the short term, she is working with missions-focused organizations, and in the long term, she plans to leverage her marketing skills to impact the world for the gospel and serve vulnerable people groups.

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Greek Knight:

NRCA Alum Impacts College Campus for Christ


hile there are many students at NRCA currently serving Christ, there are also alumni who are living on mission on their college campuses. Nick Armstrong, an NRCA alumnus from the Class of 2020, is serving with other alumni at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in a campus ministry to fraternities. Bible studies and worship nights are some of the events Beta Upsilon Chi holds. “My second day on campus, I got involved with a campus ministry called Summit College. Through that, I met a guy in this fraternity called Beta Upsilon Chi, and then through small conversations with him, I got interested. But I didn’t really know what it was until I went to one or two rush events,” Armstrong said. Beta Upsilon Chi is a social fraternity at UNC. The organization is part of the Interfraternity Council (IFC), the governing body that oversees 21 fraternities and over 1400 young men. The IFC is the largest men’s organization at the university. “Beta Upsilon Chi is very much like any other fraternity on campus in some ways, but we do other things slightly differently. Everyone who is in it goes through pledging, but it’s a different type of pledging than many people are used to. It’s all meant to build guys up and grow them in their faith,” Armstrong said. “Through all of our social events, we have opportunities to share the gospel with everyone there.” Their gospel-centered mission extends to other Greek organizations. “We started a Bible study with another fraternity. We started meeting every other week, and we’ve gained a lot of momentum. We’re getting a lot of interest from other fraternities,” Armstrong said. The excitement for a Christian alternative to traditional fraternity events is growing. Armstrong said that in addition to the Bible study, “we have sororities reaching out and wanting to have worship nights with us. So, that’s been encouraging.” Armstrong isn’t the only NRCA alumnus who joined the Greek organization that reaches out to other fraternities with the

gospel. “I pledged fall of my freshman year. In the spring of my freshman year, Grayson Coleman (2020) pledged, and then that following fall, we had Garrison Peppers (2020), Micah Braswell (2021), and Tyler Christensen (2021) join.” In the spring of 2023, Armstrong stepped into the role of Beta Upsilon Chi president. “I’m learning a lot of new things, figuring out a lot of new responsibilities and doing a lot of things,” Armstrong said. Although he did not anticipate taking on the main leadership role for the fraternity, he was well prepared for the opportunity when it came. “NRCA prepared me by giving NRCA prepared me more knowledge than I realized me by giving me about the Bible and laying a good more knowledge foundation,” Armstrong said. When he was a student at NRCA, than I realized Armstrong was part of Speech and about the Bible Debate, and he was president of and laying a good the first year of the high school Leadership Club. Armstrong foundation. also attended FCA and served in -NICK ARMSTRONG leadership with Student Life. Working, learning, and living alongside a group of godly friends has grown Armstrong as a leader and as a young man of faith. “It’s taught me a lot of valuable lessons on what it looks like to be a Christian in college when it’s your decision. Being around people who are also striving after the same goal is one of the biggest lessons. Surround yourself with people who are like-minded and are following Christ with you.” By: Parker Hodgeson, Shield Editor, and Shield Staff

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hen Tripp Lilly’s mom asked him what he wanted to dress up as for “What I Want to Be When I Grow Up” Day in kindergarten, he said he wanted to be a coach. Fast forward a few years, and the fall of 2023 saw Lilly, Class of 2020, return to NRCA as an assistant athletic director, middle school boys basketball coach, and physical education teacher. “I never thought I would be back at NRCA,” Lilly said. “I was here for 13 years. It’s funny, when I was little, I used to joke about how I would love Steve Lykins’ job, or I would love Coach Carruth’s

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job.” Lykins retired in 2022 from his role as athletic director, and NRCA alum Josh Diamond stepped out of the history classroom to fill Lykins’ former post. Carruth retired in the spring of 2023, opening the door for Lilly to fulfill a goal that had been bouncing around in one form or another since he was five. A “lifer” in NRCA terms, Lilly officially became part of the student body in kindergarten and graduated at the height of the early COVID-19 pandemic in the only commencement ceremony ever held in Knights Stadium. Heading into his first year of college

at NC State, Lilly faced the challenge of building a new life in with the team, but I realized it wasn’t really what I wanted to do the middle of gathering restrictions and mask mandates. As he for the rest of my life.” wondered how he would meet people, members of the college On the heels of this realization, Lilly learned about the opening ministry of The Summit Church, Lilly’s home at NRCA. “I thought this could be something that church for many years, reached out and helped I would really enjoy doing,” Lilly said. “Being in him plug into their community. a place where your staff believes the same thing “For one of the first times in my life, I saw as you, and you are on the same page with what For one of the first people who were the same age as me really you’re trying to accomplish and what you’re trying times in my life, I saw believing what they said they believed and living to instill in the students you have. That’s gamepeople who were the it out. And that was life-changing for me,” Lilly changing. It’s so refreshing. I’m just really glad to same age as me realsaid. be back.” ly believing what they Lilly stayed plugged in with Summit College Lilly was on track to graduate in three years and said they believed throughout his time at State, spending his had only one requirement remaining—a Sport and living it out. summers in their GoNow programs and training Management internship. Having built connections And that was for living a life on mission. After his first year, Lilly in college basketball but deciding not to go that life-changing for me. participated in City Project, where he took classes direction with his career, Lilly needed to find on the campus of Southeastern Baptist Seminary an opportunity to work with a student-focused -TRIPP LILLY in Wake Forest. Following the classroom portion organization. of training, Lilly spent a week on mission in Miami immediately Lilly’s mom, Amy Lilly, who teaches seventh-grade English at after the Surfside condominium collapse. NRCA, had run into a former NRCA student a few weeks earlier. “We served on ground zero, giving meals to people and Emily Arbelaez Sweet (Class of 2014) and her husband live in serving as a disaster relief team. Seeing that kind of brokenness Lynchburg, Virginia, and work with Sports Outreach, a ministry really opened my eyes. We haven’t had anything like that happen that uses sports camps to share the gospel both in the US and in Raleigh, and I’ve spent my whole life here. I hadn’t seen a internationally. Mrs. Lilly suggested that her son contact Sweet to community rally around something like that until I was there,” see if an internship with Sports Outreach was possible. It turned Lilly said. out that the internship was possible but only if Lilly could spend The summer after his second year at NC State took Lilly to the summer in Lynchburg, working on-site at Sports Outreach South Asia with Summit College’s Second City program. Traveling headquarters. to remote places with full-time missionaries and church planters, “I reached out to my buddy Zack Weekman [Class of 2020], Lilly felt a growing burden for sharing the gospel. He returned who’s up at Liberty University running track, and he let me stay in with other NRCA alumni who were living on mission in college to his apartment because he was back at NRCA doing his internship share his experience as part of a special Chapel series in October for the summer. So we did a little flip-flop, and it worked out 2022. Little did he know that one year later, he would be on staff great,” Lilly said. at his alma mater. During his internship, Lilly worked in the Sports Outreach Lilly’s plan in college was to major in Sport Management and office coordinating athletic camps in Lynchburg and then running make his way through the ranks in college basketball. He was the program on-site the week of camp. His summer concluded on target for that goal in December 2022, working as a student with a weeklong mission trip to the Dominican Republic, where manager with the Wolfpack men’s basketball team. He planned to he met a Sports Outreach staff member named Jorge. advance from student manager to graduate assistant and parlay “Jorge does a lot of baseball clinics, and he has a club baseball that experience into a career in college basketball. team. You have this guy from the Dominican Republic sharing “This was the dream. Who wouldn’t want to work in college the gospel with others in the Dominican Republic, and it works basketball?” Lilly said. Then a different trip to Miami resulted in a whole lot better than this random guy coming down to the a pivot of career goals. One of the men traveling with the team Dominican Republic to share the gospel [and leave],” Lilly said. brought his five-year-old daughter on the trip because it was Realizing the difference between being a gospel-presenter and a her birthday. He shared that it was her fifth city in five years to disciple-maker fueled Lilly’s excitement to return to NRCA and celebrate her birthday. “This was when the switch flipped in my begin his ministry in the athletic department. Lilly was a threehead,” Lilly revealed. sport athlete at NRCA, playing soccer, basketball, and lacrosse. “I thought, ‘Oh my goodness, it’s one thing when it’s zero to When he played middle school basketball under Coach Carruth’s five and it’s five cities. And then if your kid’s 12 to 17 – those are leadership, Lilly’s teams won two conference championships, and core memories.’ I enjoyed college basketball while I was working in his eighth-grade season, the team went undefeated. His return The Shield — 23

to NRCA meant he was going back to the environment that shaped him in order to disciple others as they traveled a similar path. In May of 2023, Lilly had the opportunity to shadow Carruth for a few days. “That was where I got to see the job from the perspective of the coach and not the student,” Lilly said. “[Coach Carruth’s] biggest strength was showing the kids the love of Jesus in any way he could. In PE, you don’t have as much time to talk to kids, so it’s a lot more [teaching through] actions. While you’re coaching, there are little moments when you pull the kids aside and teach. I think he was really good at praying over kids and speaking truth into their lives.” His former coaches prepared Lilly to take the lead of his own team as head coach. “Coach Carruth left me his whole playbook. He has a couple of pregame talks he left for me to use. I also had Coach [Bruce] Dial, who is just the best. I think he is really good at discipleship and also the X’s and O’s. He’s a really smart basketball guy.” As he starts his career as head coach of his first NRCA team, Lilly feels the weight of the role in which he gets to help shape the lives of young men at a critical point in their development. “I was at a men’s retreat at Summit, and the speaker said that different cultures have different definitions of when you’re a guy or when you’re a man. In some cultures, you have to do a ritual task at a certain age [to enter manhood]. And then in America, manhood often begins at 26 when you get off your parents’ insurance. But if you find the mean throughout history, it’s 13. And that’s the age of students in eighth grade, which is what I’ll be coaching,” Lilly said.

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Discipleship is Lilly’s main goal for his players, but athletic excellence is also an important lesson for these young men as they learn to steward their gifts. “I think the biggest goal is to get this group of 12- to 13-year-olds to become men. By the end of the season, they’re accountable, they’re responsible, and hopefully, I’ve taught them a little something about how to compete,” Lilly said. “I think that just because we’re Christians doesn’t mean that we check competition at the door, but we teach our athletes how to compete and how to honor God in their attitude and effort. I think back to Chariots of Fire when Eric Liddell says, ‘When I run, I feel His pleasure.’ It’s a game at the end of the day, but this is something that God created for us to enjoy and for us to honor him in what we do.” In the course of a week, Lilly will teach 435 students from second through eighth grades in physical education. During basketball season, he will pour into his players daily, shaping their character, faith, and skills. His impact as a disciple-maker is most important and often most difficult to measure, but he is committed to the big picture. Lilly said, “It’s like Dr. [Ted] Hassert talked about during Inservice—in the work that we do, we’re not going to see the fruit for some until we get to heaven, and that’s a long time to wait. So you never know when it’ll click or what they’ll remember from here, but you know the measure of what you’re doing is from an eternal perspective.” 

KNIGHTS ANNUAL FUND DRIVE God’s hand has been on NRCA since the beginning, and each year during the season of giving, we celebrate His fingerprints on all we do. Join us this year as we take a closer look at what God is doing on our campus. The growth we have experienced over the past few years continues in 2023–2024, providing us with new opportunities for stewardship. During this year’s admission season, we reached capacity or near capacity in almost every grade. What a praise that so many families are a part of Kingdom education here at NRCA. As a result, we are close to capacity in two key areas of our campus: the cafeteria and the Sherrill Center for the Performing Arts, both spaces where we gather regularly. We invite you to partner with us this year as we grow these spaces wisely to meet our current needs while preparing for what the Lord may have for us in the future. We ask you to prayerfully consider adding your fingerprints to what the Lord is doing at NRCA. Please join us by including the 2023–2024 Knights Annual Fund in your practice of generosity this year.

We plan to increase the size of the cafeteria by close to 1,600 square feet, allowing for optimal flow during lunch. We anticipate adding 180 more seats to accommodate growth, which has been significant in the elementary and middle school divisions.

Our auditorium is close to capacity as we gather for Chapel and events where we invite parents to join us. The expansion will add up to 125 seats within the existing footprint and provide an opportunity to renovate the space.

NRCA’s Tuition Assistance Program aims to partner with families who desire to participate in Kingdom education but find it cost-prohibitive. NRCA has an established Tuition Assistance Program to help lessen the financial burden of full tuition for these families.

Support the Knights Annual Fund Drive GIVE ONLINE AT Giving options: Once, Weekly, Biweekly, Monthly, Quarterly, Yearly The Shield — 25


Meet “Nurse Bruce” S

herie Kemp-Bruce, RN, keeps the school’s Nurse Aide I training aligned with federal regulations and NRCA’s nurse aide students passionate about the program. “Nurse Aide I training is run by federal government laws. Every single supply that I have, every single piece of curriculum that I use, down to the credentials of the teachers who can teach this class and the credentials of a person who is called the program coordinator” is spelled out in the Code of Federal Regulations under CFR 42, Kemp-Bruce said. While the federal government makes the rules, the state of North Carolina oversees them. “I have someone who comes to school every two years and does hands-on inventory of all my supplies. I have a three-page list of supplies that specifies how many stethoscopes I have to have for how many students, the square footage of the classroom, the square footage of the privacy curtain pulled around the bed, how many mannequins I have to have, how many washcloths, how many towels, how many tubes of toothpaste, and so on and so forth,” Kemp-Bruce explained. Her position as program coordinator comes with its own requirements: “A program coordinator has to be an RN with an unencumbered license in the state of North Carolina, who has over 4000 hours of management experience in a long-term care facility,” she said. “Long-term care facilities in the United States are among the most highly regulated businesses in America, second to the nuclear industry.” Kemp-Bruce’s entry into healthcare inspired her passion for training nurse aides. “I was 16. I thought I wanted to be a nurse. My dad said, ‘You think you want to be a nurse, but you don’t know anything about it. So, I’d like you to get some



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experience.’ So, I rode my bike to the nearest nursing home, and after three interviews, I got a job,” she said. “And this was my training: they walked me around the facility for two hours. They showed me the cafeteria, bathrooms, patient room, the dining room, how to wash clothes, the medicine room, and then they gave me 15 people to take care of by myself.” As a result of her personal experience, which was typical of many who entered the profession before 1987 when CFR 42 became law, Kemp-Bruce sees federal regulations and state oversight as a way of assuring better care for “the frail and elderly of our country.” State oversight doesn’t stop with equipment, supplies, and facilities. As lead instructor for the program, Kemp-Bruce is also responsible for adhering to the mandated curriculum. “When they come to do the audit, they audit my paperwork,” she said. “They look at every test, and they look to see if I corrected it correctly. They make sure that I put the correct percentage on the tests so that if you missed one out of 10, then you got 90%. They look through all my tests. I probably give 30 tests a year. Then they come to a lecture, and they watch me teach. Then they watch me do a lab check-off, and they watch me teach a lab. If I do anything that’s against the federal law, if I’m not following the rules, they can shut the program down—just like that.” A well-regulated, high-quality training program facilitates better patient care and allows nurse aide students to explore the realities of health care under strict supervision. Completing Nurse Aide I training in high school enables students to make an informed decision about whether to pursue a healthcare degree in college. For those who continue into the medical profession, becoming a certified nursing assistant (CNA) by successfully completing a Nurse Aide I course and passing the written and skills-based exams opens doors for starting a career. “It is an occupational health care class. When you finish this class, you have a certificate and can go out and get a job at a hospital, doctor’s office, nursing home, assisted living facility, or any number of places. I have a niece who’s a certified nursing assistant in Minnesota, and she does in a public school what I do here,” Kemp-Bruce said. Many students who earn a CNA license through the Nurse Aide I program at NRCA find healthcare jobs that allow them to accrue the clinical hours working hands-on with patients required before applying for nursing programs. Outside her classroom lab, Kemp-Bruce is NRCA’s school nurse, caring for the health of students and staff. Additionally, she is the advisor to NRCA’s student-led HOSA: Future Health Professionals. Her passion for excellence is evident in every task she undertakes. 

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NRCA’s Nurse Aide I Program: An Overview 28 — The Shield



he Nurse Aide I program, known unofficially on NRCA’s campus as the CNA program, has been offered in one form or another as an elective since the 2007–2008 school year. This medical science class focuses on health science and hands-on nursing skills. Students are given the opportunity to participate in clinical lessons to prepare them to work in the medical field. At the conclusion of the course, high school students are eligible to take the National Nurse Aide Assessment Program for North Carolina state exams, written and skills, to obtain a Certified Nursing Assistant certification. At NRCA, Nurse Sherie KempBruce, RN, heads the program. Admission to NRCA’s Honors Nurse Aide I class is limited. Currently, only 20 students may enroll in the course each year. Although an unlimited number of students are allowed in the lecture portion of the course, the lab and clinical ratio is one RN to 10 students. The program increased enrollment from 10 to 20 in 2022–2023 because two nurses volunteered to rotate teaching once a week with Kemp-Bruce to meet the ratio requirements. Since the enrollment cap is low, the elective is open to juniors and seniors only. Classified as an occupational healthcare class, the curriculum’s main area of focus is the human body systems. The concepts taught through this course are based on elderly adults. The teaching modules cover content such as the skeletal, cardiac, respiratory, urinary, and immune systems and cognitive changes in the brain. Healthcare law and ethics modules help students understand the legal aspects of medical care. Hands-on instruction is a critical part of learning in the course. While lectures present information about the science of nursing, hands-on learning further enables students to comprehend the material and its application. At the conclusion of the course, students will have completed 35 hours of clinical study and be proficient in more than 90 skills. Many colleges and institutions look for well-rounded nursing students who have hands-on hours with patients and their CNA certification, which is hard to find. Kemp-Bruce feels that NRCA gives students interested in going into healthcare a head start by allowing them to pursue the medical field early on. Most nursing schools in the state of North Carolina require that first-year nursing students have their Nurse Aide I (listed on the CNA registry) and have a minimum of six months of experience before formal admission into a nursing program. Graduating high school with a CNA certification allows students to gain experience early, before beginning the application process for nursing school. In the fall of 2018, Kemp-Bruce, known to NCRA students as “Nurse Bruce,” took on the role of NRCA’s Nurse Aide I program coordinator and lead teacher. Kemp-Bruce knew when she was just 16 that she wanted to be a nurse, and now she has over 30 years of experience. She has a passion for teaching students in the

field she loves, and she finds that discussing her own professional experiences in the classroom is a great way to show real-life applications of the information taught in class. Honors Nurse Aide I is overseen and audited by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. The state oversees nurse aide programs to make sure they meet the federal laws established in Title 42 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR 42). Because Nurse Aide I is overseen by the state, there are certain requirements and tests that are mandatory to operate this program. Kemp-Bruce spends countless hours making sure NRCA’s program meets federal regulations and passes state audits. Yet she and her assistants teach the materials in fun and engaging ways, keeping the human element of healthcare at the forefront. The NRCA Nurse Aide I program is a great opportunity for students to get exposure to health science and healthcare skills before committing to further training in the field. Kemp-Bruce views this program as “an experience to find out whether you really want to be in the medical profession.” Many NRCA alumni who completed the Nurse Aide I class use their certification in nursing school and in their careers immediately following high school graduation. Many who graduated from this program have become nurses, doctors, and specialty therapists. Preparing students with both experience and a passion for what they do is the goal of the course. NRCA’s Nurse Aide I is a great example of how NRCA is forward-thinking and actively prepares its students for life after high school. By: Izzie McLawhorn, Shield Editor

Students interested in exploring the Honors Nurse Aide I course at NRCA with the goal of becoming certified nursing assistants (CNAs) can view more information about the program’s curriculum and requirements in the NRCA High School Insider’s Guide.

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Looking Back: CNA Alumni Find Program Valuable NRCA’s Honors Nurse Aide I is an elective that has allowed juniors and seniors who are 16 ½ or older to get hands-on experience and even their nursing assistant certification. Students who have taken this class are grateful for the opportunity to explore their interests in healthcare. Several NRCA alumni who took this class are now in healthcare programs in college. One feature that the NRCA class offers in comparison to most nursing assistant certification programs is the Christian worldview from which it is taught. These students learn how to glorify God through their talents in caring for others. “The CNA program at NRCA provided me with invaluable skills that fostered my healthcare career. I am so incredibly thankful to be able to have a Christ-centered healthcare perspective to launch me into college and eventually into nursing school and hospitals,” said Margaret Ann Andrews, Class of 2020. The Nurse Aide I program is perfect for students who are considering healthcare as a career because it gives an idea of what a future in the medical field involves. This class has changed the lives of many students, helping them find their passion for caring for others. Past students who have taken this class leave with gratitude for the program. “I would not be who I am right now if I had not taken the CNA course and been encouraged to pursue my dream of becoming a nurse. If you are considering Ellie Bauguess 30 — The Shield

going into healthcare, take Nurse Bruce’s class. If you want to go into healthcare but aren’t sure you’re mentally strong enough to handle the emotional burden, take Nurse Bruce’s class. God will give you the strength to handle the challenges in your career,” said Emily McAteer, 2021. For some, being in the class with like-minded students sparked excitement for a healthcare career. Honors Nurse Aide I offers classroom and clinical experiences along with coaching and mentoring to help students to realize their potential. Anna Grace Austin, 2021, said, “Meeting others with a similar passion for nursing, getting hands-on experience, and starting my journey in the nursing field through NRCA was such a highlight of my high school experience. My favorite part of the program was gaining more experience through going to clinical. We got to work alongside another CNA to see what their day-to-day looks like with their patients. I will take those experiences of providing care for those patients with me for a lifetime. Those small yet impactful experiences with patients really sparked my passion for continuing the field of nursing as a future career.” In addition to the other benefits, the Nurse Aide I training program gives students an advantage in college healthcare opportunities. “What I have found is many pre-health majors in college end up needing a CNA or EMT license to stand out on applications and gain clinical hours, which is important for medical school, nursing school, PA school, etc. Many people I know are currently halfway through college and are just starting CNA courses or programs this summer. Given that I took this class in high school, I am well ahead of my peers and have been able to get in clinical hours and experience that will help me long-term,” said Emily Cromer, a member of the 2021 graduating class. The NRCA Nurse Aide I program is a valuable opportunity for learning and growth in high school and beyond. By: Taylor Mills, Shield Editor

Alumni Voices Several former students from NRCA’s Nurse Aide I training program shared their thoughts about the class and their experiences since heading to college. We included a few of their comments in “Looking Back,” but these alumni said many other things that we wanted to share but did not fit in the original article. In this section, additional excerpts from their responses appear, edited for length and clarity.

Margaret Ann Andrews, Class of 2020, finished up her first year of nursing school at Barton College in Wilson, North Carolina, this spring. She took the CNA class at NRCA during the 2018–2019 school year. I have so many memories that have lingered with me from my time in the CNA class, but there is one that has been relevant in my life recently. During my CNA skills and lecture time at NRCA, I learned about the process and nursing care surrounding death. It was a skill that I have used this past semester as I experienced my first death of a patient during clinical. With Nurse Bruce’s insight and as a Christian, navigating the process was very different for me than my peers, and I am so very thankful that I was able to learn this during my time at NRCA. There are so many times that I reflect on the support that I experienced during both class time and clinical with my NRCA nurse aide peers, and I am so incredibly thankful for our time together. After junior year, I will begin an externship at Duke University Hospital in the Operating Room for 10 weeks. After this summer, I will start my last year of nursing school at Barton College and plan to graduate in May of 2024. I have not exactly decided what specialty I would like to go into. I believe that I will either go into the operating room or go into oncology, specifically breast cancer, then eventually become a certified nurse navigator to aid women in their breast cancer journey. I am excited to see where God takes me in these next few years. I would also like to mention that Nurse Bruce is the angel behind this program who has made it what it is, and I am so incredibly grateful for her and her dedication to NRCA and her students. Anna Grace Austin took the CNA training class as an elective during her junior year (2019–2020) and served as Nurse Bruce’s teacher’s assistant during her senior year. She is a rising junior at Baylor University and has been accepted into the Baylor Louise Herrington School of Nursing. She officially begins the program this fall. As of now, I plan to complete my Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) at Baylor. Afterward, I am definitely going to get my master’s in a specialty where I feel called to work. Right now,

I am thinking of becoming a nurse anesthetist (CRNA), but we will see where the Lord leads! It was honestly such a blessing to be a part of this amazing program for two years, as many other schools don’t offer this kind of nursing experience this early. The skills I have learned through the CNA program at NRCA will definitely give me a jumpstart for the practical hands-on skills needed for nursing school. Since I’ve already had practice in many of these primary skills before, I feel more confident going into nursing school in the fall!

Ellie Bauguess took the CNA course during her junior year, 2018-2019. She is a rising senior in the School of Nursing at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, and will graduate in May 2024 with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. Since I am a nursing student and have my CNA license from the course at NRCA, I was able to work at Duke University Hospital last summer between my sophomore and junior years as a Professional Nursing Assistant in their Nursing Student Externship Program. I worked over 10 weeks in the Cardiothoracic Operating Room, assisting surgeons and nurses with open heart and lung surgeries. I am working again this summer, before the start of my senior year, in the same position to gain even more experience. The CNA program at NRCA allowed me to apply for the externship opportunity at Duke because the nursing students applying for the position had to have their CNA license to work there. Since I already had this qualification and worked as a home health aide the summer before that, my application was more appealing to the hiring staff. Also, the skills I learned in the CNA course allowed me to have more confidence in the nursing program at Liberty because I already had practice with clinical skills and interacting with patients. I was able to go on a medical mission trip to Uganda while still in high school, right after I finished junior year, made possible by my CNA certification. Even though I had loved the idea of becoming a nurse my sophomore year [of high school], which led me to take the CNA course, the Lord revealed that nursing was truly the calling he had set out for me through this trip. The CNA program was the first big step in my career in the healthcare field and set me up for success in my mission trip, nursing school, and job opportunities along the way!

I would not be who I am right now if I had not taken the CNA course and been encouraged to pursue my dream of becoming a nurse. -EMILY MCATEER, 2021 The Shield — 31

Emily Cromer graduated from NRCA in 2021 and took the CNA class in her senior year of high school. She is currently a rising junior Biology Pre-Med major at Campbell University. Her plans lean towards pre-med, but she is also open to pharmacy and physician assistant programs. My freshman year of college, I worked as a CNA at The Forest at Duke for a year. I recently accepted a CNA position at Duke Regional Hospital and am strongly looking forward to it. This class is definitely a great elective and is such a great learning experience. Especially for those who want to pursue healthcare, I strongly recommend it. There is such a difference between the classroom and the reality of the job. There is only so much one can learn in the classroom before reality. Given my class did not have a real clinical experience [due to COVID-19 restrictions], my first real patient was my first day on the job. My first resident greeted me with rampant cussing and even tried to hit and spit on us. Though we had been prepared for these situations in class, the reality of them was starkly different. But these experiences build skill and character. Through the shifts I’ve worked, I had to learn how to respond to those negative experiences, deal with stress, and learn to ask for help. It is critical to learn how to serve those patients even when they are not kind back. I have found this job hard but very worth it. I believe getting this course accomplished early is a strong advantage to a student for several reasons. First, it can help determine if they want to pursue a career in healthcare. Second, getting it done early helps the student get ahead of their peers and gain hours early. Third, it looks great on a resume for graduate school applications or the respective programs. And lastly, there are SO many lessons that are learned through being a CNA that cannot be taught. You cannot teach compassion and patience. Lastly, Nurse Bruce taught a lot of things in our class. However, aside from academic material, the main thing that stuck out to me was how passionate she was about us. In everything she did, you could clearly see her love and care for us as students and her love of the subject. I never left that class feeling unloved or unvalued. She truly cared about us and her mission to prepare us for our service. I strongly recommend anyone to take this class with Nurse Bruce at NRCA. I certainly am thankful for the opportunities it has landed me!

Emily McAteer, Class of 2021, took Nurse Bruce’s CNA class during the 2020–2021 school year. She has been accepted to Campbell University’s School of Nursing and will begin the program in August 2023. She plans to specialize in obstetrics and gynecology, labor and delivery, or pediatrics in an in-patient setting. I have fond memories of the effort Nurse Bruce put into our ‘clinicals’ during the height of COVID-19. She made our

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experiences as lifelike as possible and gave me hope of a future in a real clinical site experience in college. NRCA’s CNA program motivated me to pursue my dream of nursing. Healthcare is a difficult field to go into, with physical, mental, and spiritual challenges. Nurse Bruce’s experiences she shared with us from her own nursing career motivated me to pursue this career in order to make an impact on others. Nursing isn’t about making the most money or publishing the greatest amount of research possible. It’s about making a difference, even in just one person’s life. It’s about making a personal connection with a patient and their family and giving them hope in a hopeless situation. As a nurse, it is your job to do no harm and to share the love of Christ with those who need it the most.

Katie Ochoa, Class of 2019, took the CNA training class in her senior year at NRCA. She graduated from Liberty University in May 2023 with a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies: Health Science and Psychology. The first day of clinical was a lot of fun. Also, learning about other people’s stories within the class. The CNA program at NRCA helped me realize my passion for the healthcare field and how [a job where I have] patient interaction is somewhere I hope to work someday.

Drew Solomon took the class during the 2019–2020 school year, his senior year at NRCA. This past year was his first in East Carolina University’s nursing school. He plans to transfer to Watts School of Nursing in the fall of 2023. The memory which sticks with me most from my time in this class was my first experience working in the nursing home. Although we were only able to spend one Saturday at the home and I did end up getting bitten by a patient within the first hour, it was my first time taking care of real patients. Our time there was a very beneficial experience to help better prepare me for the long clinical days at the hospital in nursing school in the coming years. My future plans include finishing nursing school and pursuing a job specializing in cardiac or pediatric nursing. I am too early in the program to decide on a specialty, so I am currently testing the water and figuring out what I enjoy the most.

Honors Nurse Aide I Student: Lily Kate Watson


enior Lily Kate Watson is a student in NRCA’s 2022-2023 Honors Nurse Aide I course. She sees passing this course and the state licensing exam as a first step toward her future goal as she plans to enter a nursing program in college. “My goal in the CNA class is to pass the exam and earn my Nurse Aide I certification. When I enter into the nursing program in college, the completion of this class puts me ahead of others in the same program and will allow me opportunities for internships in college as well,” Lily Kate said. The Nurse Aide I program has grown this year thanks to the addition of nurses who assist the program coordinator and lead instructor Nurse Sherie Kemp-Bruce, RN. One of the nurses volunteering to help NRCA meet the instructor-to-student ratio mandate is Lily Kate’s mother, Nurse Cristen Watson, RN. The other is Nurse Tammy Koscal, RN, who is also an NRCA parent. “Having my mom and Nurse Koscal help has allowed more students to take the course as a ratio of one RN to 10 CNA students is required by the state. Since they have started assisting with the class, we now have 20 students instead of just 10. It has also been very helpful to have different types of nurses teaching us because they have all had different experiences based on their types of patients. My mom is a Mother/Baby, Newborn Nursery Nurse, Nurse Bruce has worked primarily in nursing homes and psychiatric hospitals, and Nurse Koscal is a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA),” Lily Kate said. The Nurse Aide I program has given Lily Kate the tools she needs to grow her knowledge and skills. The program has helped solidify her decision to pursue nursing as a career. “I plan to work in the Pediatric Emergency Room, and this class has assured me that nursing is the path God has for me. Through the CNA class, I have been able to shadow pediatric nurses and apply for jobs this summer that will give me the experience I need to enter into nursing school. This class is my favorite part of the day. I look forward to lab days where I can test my abilities and learn from my mistakes in order to care for people well in clinical,” Lily Kate said. The program has helped Lily Kate find her passion and calling to help others. “I feel called to pursue a career in nursing because I want families experiencing illness to have the same hope, love, and joy I have experienced through my relationship with Jesus,” she said.  By: Mykal Williams, Shield Editor, and Shield Staff

Editor’s Note: Lily Kate was a senior in the Honors Nurse Aide I class during the 2022–2023 school year. The Shield — 33

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Teaching Future Engineers W

hen walking into the robotics classroom at NRCA, you will find relics of the program’s accomplishments, projects spread out on tables, and a Stark Industries plaque on the lab door. It is evident that robotics teacher Zackery Dean is more than passionate about his program. Dean has served as the director of NRCA’s robotics and engineering program for three years and has helped his students prosper in their STEM education. Dean has also led his students in several robotics competitions, bringing multiple awards back to the castle. Dean received his master’s in technology education from the engineering program at North Carolina State University. With a degree from such a prestigious program, ranking in the Top 25 best engineering schools according to US News, Dean is equipped with the knowledge and skills to help NRCA students follow their passion for robotics and engineering. “I was a dual-employed DOE [US Dept. of Energy] and Dept. of Navy employee, handling specifically naval nuclear propulsion materials,” Dean said. Dean’s experience shows in his curriculum as he challenges his students to explore different fields of engineering. “I keep telling the class, any engineering field

When I first came

to NRCA, I literally brought the

curriculum from NC State’s Technology, Engineering, and

Design program in which I completed my MEd.

-ZACKERY DEAN you want to go into, I can prepare you,” he said. “Mainly, I focus on creative problemsolving and computer programming. Creative problem-solving prepares students for a future in engineering in that we look at problems and build things to fix those problems.” Dean radiates passion for his job and is

dedicated to helping his students succeed in all technology degrees. He is committed to engrossing their minds in the fascinating world of modern technology. “When I first came to NRCA, I literally brought the curriculum from NC State’s Technology, Engineering, and Design program in which I completed my MEd,” Dean said. Dean paves the way to success for students by supporting them in their academics and guiding their faith. He incorporates worship into his curriculum to spread his love for God to the robotics and engineering students at NRCA. “Most important is that the people that come to take my class love the Lord more when they leave than when they started,” Dean said. NRCA has been blessed with an enthusiastic teacher for students interested in pursuing careers in robotics and engineering, as well as individuals hoping to grow their relationship with Christ.  By: AJ Toler, Shield Editor

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What is Robotics? At North Raleigh Christian Academy, robotics is on the rise. Robotics teaches students to solve problems and expands their future in technology by participating in competitions. The robotics team functions like a business. “You get sponsors who will give you money for the program… And then you have builders, and you have coders and lots of different jobs [all working together] to have a final product,” said Anna Burckart, a student in NRCA’s high school Honors Advanced Robotics class and FLL team mentor. Each year, the teams are given a challenge to complete using their knowledge of robotics and engineering. In the 2022–2023 season, the team’s robot had to be capable of taking cones and cubes and putting them on different heights of poles and shelves. Robotics prepares students for a future in many different fields. “Robotics [impacts many jobs, such as] building, mechanical engineering, electricians, computer science, computer engineering, software engineering— things like that,” Burckart said. The robotics team at NRCA is the product of a commitment to excellence, making the school increasingly competitive in developing students to contribute to the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math.  By: Presley Harrison, Shield Writer

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Engineering a Bright Future in Robotics


he junior robotics team competes in the FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL) and has accomplished many amazing things in the last two years. The team made it to regionals, where they won second place in robot design and fourth overall in robot run (coding and programming). They also made it to the state championship at NC A&T University and won second place in core values. The middle school club is advised and coached by Zack Dean and Bracken Gentry. Dean is NRCA’s system administrator

and heads NRCA’s robotics program. Gentry, a fifth-grade teacher, is also the assistant coach of NRCA’s FIRST® Robotics Competition (FRC) high school robotics team. The junior robotics team is made up of seventh and eighth graders. The middle school robotics team performed well in Greensboro at the state championship. “They took second place in core values, which is probably the top thing you can win there. There’s a robot design, a robot run, and an innovation project,” Dean said. Winning second in core values is a major accomplishment. The core values for the award are discovery, innovation, impact, inclusion, teamwork, and fun. “Getting second in the state is a great testament to all the work that the robotics club is doing,” Dean said. During the 2022–2023 school year, the middle school robotics class coordinated efforts with high school robotics to teach NRCA elementary students about green energy. Dean had the middle school students recreate some of the projects students from the past year had made. Individual green energy projects included a solar power panel, a windmill, and an electric car. Not only did they recreate the individual projects, but also the coordination between divisions maximized teaching and learning. The

high school students taught green energy projects to the middle school students, who then taught green energy engineering concepts to the K-5 students. To add to the students’ learning experience, Dean invited an NC State electrical engineer PhD to talk to the middle school robotics class. “[Rahem Ariwola] leads the green energy initiatives at NC State, so this was a really helpful conference I set up for our class. He was able to provide feedback for our project and give insight into innovations they are doing at the next levels in education,” Dean said. Ariwola also works in the US Department of Energy. The middle school robotics class and the junior robotics club help prepare students for high school robotics, which then prepares students for college and their jobs later in life. Dean says he’s always thinking about what will benefit his students in the future, and he wants them to find what they love and find a way to use it in their day-to-day lives. “I also find that aligns spiritually with finding out what your gifts are and using them so that we are found to be good stewards like the parable of the talents,” Dean said.  By: Finley Huneycutt, Shield Editor

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Highest Ranking in Program History:

High School Robotics Team T he FIRST ® Robotics Competition (FRC) events that NRCA’s high school robotics team participated in during the season were the Johnston County and Wake County Regional events. These competitions were held at Rolesville High School. The robot that the students created in 2022, their premier season as an FRC team, was fast and agile and was just enough to get them through the competition. Their second season gave the team a chance to advance their robot. “In 2023, we

40 — The Shield

added a robotic arm as well as an intake motor, which picks up cones and cubes interchangeably,” said Mr. Zackery Dean, who heads up NRCA’s robotics classes and teams at both middle and high school levels. “We were also able to program the robot to start out with a cube or cone autonomously before the start of the event and balance on the charge station backwards, allowing our team to score immediately once teleoperated mode began,” Dean said. In competition, the robot has to complete tasks to show its skills. This year’s regional

CHARGED UP games featured two alliances of three teams each, completing tasks to “charge up” their community. The overall theme for the 2022–2023 season was ENERGIZE and focused on the future of sustainable energy. Each exhibition began with an autonomous part where the robots could play using autonomous coding. “Our code was quite advanced to be a rookie team,” Dean said. In the teleoperated portion of the competition, “the basic tasks are to pick up cones and cubes and place them in links

of three. At the end of the exhibition, if all three robots can balance on a charge station that is built like a seesaw, you receive bonus points.” Throughout these competitions, the team did their best, despite the challenges they faced. At the first regional event, the motor for the arm broke, setting the team back. “By the second regional, one week later, we welded a part together to make the motor for the arm work and were able to place our highest seed ever. This means that we did the best we’ve ever done in the regular season of play,” Dean said. NRCA was seeded as the eighth team captains. With the way seeding works in FRC, that meant that NRCA’s robotics team finished the regional ranked 15th. “That would mean, as a rookie team, we are somewhere around the middle of the pack. I honestly could not have dreamed we would even be doing FRC before last year, so the fact

that we won a district last year at ECU and placed our highest seeding this year means our program is in great shape,” Dean said. Although the broken motor for the robot arm in the first regional competition may have cost the team a return to States, Dean is grateful for past opportunities and excited about the future. “I think the sky is the limit for this program and especially for these students that I get the great privilege and responsibility of teaching,” Dean said. “I think Ephesians 3:20-21 sums it up perfectly: Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”  By: Avery Galligan, Shield Writer, and Shield Staff

What is FIRST ®? FIRST® Robotics Competition (FRC) brings high school students together with mentors to design, build, and tweak robots built from a Kit of Parts (KoP) shipped to each team. The Kickoff Kit contains starter parts specific to that competition season, and teams add more parts, as funding and availability allow, to improve the robot’s performance. Across the world, FRC teams gather in early January to watch the live broadcast announcement of the theme for the year. FIRST stands for “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology.” It was founded in 1989 by notable inventor Dean Kamen, who hoped to build a network of team-based robotics programs for students in grades PreK-12 that would run either as part of in-school classes or afterschool activities. Two philosophies underscore FIRST programs—Gracious Professionalism ® and Coopertition®. Gracious Professionalism emphasizes treating others with respect and kindness. Coopertition encourages teams to cooperate and support each other in the midst of competing with each other. These philosophies are expressed in the FIRST Core Values, which emphasize sportsmanship and community. See a clip of the 2023 CHARGED UP game animation on the FIRST Robotics Competition YouTube Channel. The Shield — 41


NRCA Robotics:

Funding and Partnerships T

he North Raleigh Christian Academy Knights robotics team hopes to raise $10,000 annually to support their FRC (FIRST® Robotics Competition) team in their future endeavors. The head of the NRCA robotics program, Mr. Zackery Dean, is working to earn funding to sustain the program as it grows. Running a competitive robotics program is expensive. The kit of parts alone costs almost $6,500 each year. If the team advances to States, the program’s annual cost climbs to $10,000. For two years, the Knights robotics team received Program Growth Grants from NASA to help get established in competitive robotics. The program is looking at other partners and funding sources in the future. The NASA grant was specific only to the FRC team and helped get the program started by paying for most of the robot parts and events. In the future, the team hopes to find financial support from community partners as they continue to grow their FRC team. “So, we have the NASA grant that started [in 2021–2022], and that is what is known as a Rookie Grant Program growth

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grant. They’re trying to sustain us until we get up and running, and it’s really cool because we were one of 115 teams to get sponsored in the country,” Dean said. In 2022-2023, the program also received a boost from team parents’ work organizations, and several agencies responded to Dean’s requests for help funding scholarships to send students to competitions. The dean of Liberty University’s College of Engineering, Dr. Mark Horstemeyer, stepped in to sponsor the team in the fall of 2022. Dean is excited about the partnership and looks forward to continuing to work with the Liberty College of Engineering in future endeavors. The robotics course has also received outside funding. “I also received $16,000 in grants for a new engineering curriculum for high school in which we will be working on Computer Integrated Manufacturing. We also received a ShopBot CNC machine that I picked up and installed here on campus. My hope is that with the CIM class and the CNC machine, we can make robot parts in the future here locally without having to get custom parts online,” Dean said. Dean has also received a $9,100 grant

for the middle school curriculum, which would allow continued growth and change for both his classes. Since Dean doesn’t anticipate as large of a NASA grant for FRC this year, if they receive one again, he plans to have the FRC team help with NRCA’s Robotics Camp this summer to help raise money. “We are working on an FRC team-contributing summer intensive to help raise funds for the team so that we no longer need NASA’s funds, which has been our goal all along,” Dean said. Learning engineering principles, competing, and collaborating are essential, but they are not the most important elements of NRCA’s robotics program. “Most important is that the people that come to take my class love the Lord more when they leave than when they started. That’s the most important thing to me,” Dean said. Dean hopes to instill a love of robotics in his students while teaching them to love and glorify the Lord.  By: Tori Rowlands, Shield Writer, and Shield Staff

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My FAIR Y D A L 44 — The Shield

Squire Theatre Prepares for A Season of Consequence


or the 2023–2024 school year, the Squire Theatre will perform the play Our Town by Thornton Wilder on Nov. 2–4 and the musical My Fair Lady by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe on March 14–16 and March 21–23. This year’s theme for the theatrical productions is “the season of consequence.” Both Our Town and My Fair Lady portray the season’s theme, and there are consequences when others are not treated with respect and dignity. “Our Town is a story about a town in New Hampshire and the daily life and struggles but looking at them through the lens that everyday things are important. You walk through a day in the town. These people are experiencing life, love, marriage, and death—all the things we experience as human beings. So it’s a very universal play,” said NRCA Fine Arts Director Zachary Roberts. One of Wilder’s best-known works, Our Town is different from other plays because it does not rely on sets and props to tell the story. Instead, it focuses on storytelling through actions and words. Reese Ritter, who plays George Gibbs, said, “The set, as well as the props, are very minimal in Our Town. The playwright wanted less focus on the spectacle of the show and more focus on the characters and the themes in the play.” Actors find their skills stretched as they meet the demands of Our Town’s unique features. “The actors have a lot to get used to as most of our props are pantomimed, meaning we need to pretend we have them. We need to be able to clearly show what action we’re doing while also staying consistent with the source material, and that’s been hard. As the Stage Manager, I mostly speak directly to the audience, so learning to focus mainly on memorizing lengthy lines while maintaining an interesting character has been a challenge,” said junior Bailey Baker. Our Town has an impact as a work of literature for its ability to create a world that is relatable throughout the years as it explores the consequences of missing the moments that make up daily life. “Our Town is commonly argued as one of the best American plays ever written, and it owes that to the overall

uniqueness of the show. Wilder tries to create a world that balances immersion while keeping an emphasis on the broader topic of the show. He [accomplishes] this [goal] by keeping a relatively clear stage... and through the character of the Stage Manager, who keeps audiences focused on the themes of the show. Now, the theme itself is a beautiful one that we should integrate into our lives even now, that being to slow down and really enjoy the little things of life; otherwise, it’ll be over before you know it. It’s a beautiful commentary on how society needs to take in the beauty of every aspect of life so we don’t regret our choices later,” Baker said. After performing Our Town, Squire Theatre’s cast, crew, and musicians will turn their attention to a well-known musical, My Fair Lady, for their spring production. “My Fair Lady is a classic Broadway musical. It’s very traditional, and the music is very specific. The meaning behind [My Fair Lady] is how we take others for granted, especially Henry Higgins, who is the male lead. He is taking a lot of people for granted, and there are consequences for that,” Roberts said. Theater education is beneficial for actors to grow their talent and acting ability while exposing them to new styles that challenge them. “I’m looking forward to challenging our actors. We have a lot of talented people. I don’t want them to take that for granted. I want them to challenge themselves to do things they have never done before and to grow in their approach to acting. To come in and work, that’s the joy of theater – it’s the work. That’s my goal for this year and to see the students blossom in their technique and acting abilities,” Roberts said. Theater plays a vital role in building community at NRCA. “In many different ways, I think [theater] is an opportunity for the community to come together. To bring us all together, for us to sit in a room and experience the same thing—there’s something powerful about that because we don’t have a lot of shared experiences,” Roberts said.  By: Cami Wheeler, Shield Editor

In many different ways, I think [theater] is an opportunity for the community to come together. To bring us all together, for us to sit in a room and experience the same thing—there’s something powerful about that because we don’t have a lot of shared experiences. -ZACHARY ROBERTS The Shield — 45

46 — The Shield

The Gospel & Theatre

The gospel is the climax of the greatest drama ever to be played “I regard the theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being.” With these words, Thornton Wilder, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright of Our Town, paints a picture of the power of theatre. Theatre must be more than simple entertainment or didactic education. Theatre can and should remind each member of the audience about the privilege of being human. Theatre is a shared experience between actor and audience renewing afresh in each participant the powerful themes that connect us all including life, love, and death. In a sense, the gospel is the climax of the greatest drama ever to be played: Christ redeems fallen humankind through his sacrificial death and resurrection to prepare believers for a consummation of life and eternity with God. The incarnation of Christ serves as a reminder of the great significance of the human experience. Jesus took on and remains in human flesh, and by doing so, he demonstrates the importance of the human being as a creation. Theatre that serves to remind actors and audiences of our humanity is a theatre that can point to the mission of the gospel. The drama of the gospel produces great meaning in life, great joy in love, and great redemption in death. No part of the human experience remains unchanged by the gospel. At the heart of Our Town is a call to remember the vital importance of life. Whether in the monumental moments such as birth and marriage and death or in the quiet moments of reflection such as making a meal or washing and drying clothes, Our Town seeks to call the audience to cherish the present moment. In Act I, Wilder reminds the audience of the importance of daily life. There is great beauty in sharing a moment over breakfast, enjoying the sweet flavor of an ice cream soda, or reveling in the beauty of the moonlight. The Apostle Paul, a man radically changed by the power of the gospel, reiterates the importance of simplicity in daily life: “Aim to live quietly” (I Thessalonians 4:11, CEB). Although we tend to think in terms of the big moments of life, there is great beauty and joy in the little encounters we experience each day. Although the Gospels themselves record the significant moments of Jesus’s

ministry, they also capture the quiet moments of Jesus’s time on earth. Mark 1:35 reminds all of us that even Jesus withdrew to the quiet and enjoyed simply being in prayer with God the Father: “Early in the morning, well before sunrise, Jesus rose and went to a deserted place where he could be alone in prayer” (CEB). In the first act of Our Town, Wilder urges his audience to revel in the ordinary. In Act II, the action of the play shifts to love and marriage. Wilder ponders the sacrament of marriage as a beautiful design of man and woman to live together in a relationship despite the ups and downs of pure romance. Emily and George, the protagonists of the play, aren’t truly well suited for each other, yet they are thrust into matrimony at a young age and expected to simply learn along the way. The power of the gospel transforms marriage into more than a transactional relationship that only lasts as long as the feeling lasts. In fact, the gospel pictures the relationship between Jesus and his church as that of a groom and bride. For Wilder, in the second act of Our Town, marriage is a beautiful metaphor of joining together not only a man and woman but also families and a town as well. In Act III, Wilder turns to the final great equalizer of all humankind: death. The playwright carefully relays that those in death aren’t simply wasting away, but they are waiting for something important: “They’re waitin’. They’re waitin’ for something they feel is comin’. Something important and great. Aren’t they waitin’ for the eternal part of them to come out clear?” Although not fully fleshed out in the play, Wilder hints at the consummation at the end of human history when soul and body will be united for eternity in a glorified state reflective of Jesus himself. Through the power of the gospel, death no longer marks the end of life, but the beautiful beginning of an eternity with God for those who confess faith in Jesus Christ. Our Town presents universal themes that connect everyone who encounters the play with the uniting human experiences of life, love, and death. Read in light of the Christian gospel, the play takes on even more significance and importance as a means of revealing the truth found in Scripture.  By: Zachary Roberts, Fine Arts Director

The Shield — 47


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48 — The Shield

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