Greetings Shekinah Family,
About the time that I had hoped to write my last update letter, the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic were just beginning to emerge. The year 2020 at Shekinah has been a year filled with one challenge after another, to say the least. The Governor’s mandates in March took our students out of the classroom for the entire 4th quarter. It was easy to undervalue the informal interactions that occur at Shekinah in the classroom and in the hallways until the only form of communication allowed was Zoom. One staff member described it this way. “It seems like our students are buoyed by the opportunity to be together.”
It would have been easy for staff and students to enter the 2020-2021 school year filled with frustration and anxiety due to the disruption to normalcy. Despite the challenges, Shekinah families, staff, and students have responded exceptionally well living out our theme this year “We Are Shekinah” (Romans 15:5-7 NLT). We have remained united together and focused on “doing whatever it takes” to conduct education in-person whenever possible to the glory of God.
When we returned to in-person learning in August after spending the fourth quarter of last school year online, we discovered students had a newfound appreciation for being with friends and teachers in-person. One member of the junior class recently said, “It seems like at Shekinah we are one big family where you can be open with others and they will help you overcome life’s challenges together.” This testimony came from the same student who was forced to miss several weeks for a variety of reasons beyond their control.
Despite the challenges in 2020, we have much to celebrate:
- Graduated 10 students including 1 Merit Finalist in the 2020 National Merit Scholarship Program
- The average ACT score for Shekinah students was 25.8 (5.9 points higher than the national average). For comparison, Shekinah students averaged almost 3 points better than the national average in previous 4 years.
- Shekinah successfully transitioned to online learning with Zoom, Canvas, and Seesaw, in just two weeks.
- Despite the challenges of COVID-19, most families decided to remain with us and we have experienced a significant increase in both in-kind gifts and financial donations this fall which have helped us cover all but $30,000 of our operational deficit.
- In our fall golf season, the team went from a 1-14 record in 2019 to a 10-5 record this year. One student, Carson Yoder, advanced from sectionals to districts in the OHSAA post-season tournament.
- One varsity volleyball player, Sydney Lyons, was named Player of the Year by both our league and our district.
- Added 10 new laptops for student use with a second computer storage cart
- Upgraded the school’s internet bandwidth to accommodate a growing number of devices
- Installed new school-grade exterior doors for the cafeteria, gym, and one classroom
- Replaced the aging, malfunctioning fire alarm system to ensure our building passes inspection
- Added two new sidewalks on the southwest side of the building to comply with MCPH safety guidelines related to the COVID-19 pandemic
- Added two new classroom window A/C units to replace malfunctioning units
Shekinah currently serves 64 families from just over 30 different churches in every direction. Our vision is to become the preferred educational partner of Bible-believing churches and Christian families in our surrounding community.
To help us accomplish our vision, we are launching the “Shekinah Strong” campaign. I believe we are called by God to remain united and committed to our vision and mission despite the difficulties. The scripture that embodies our giving campaign focus is found in God’s words to Joshua after Moses had died.
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be
discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9
By God’s grace, our school family is resilient. Over the last 40 years, Shekinah has endured at times and prospered at times in facing various challenges through the strength of the Lord. Even 2020, with all its struggles and challenges, won’t cause us to lose our focus! We believe that God will provide for the needs of our students, faculty, and staff. He is faithful. Our financial goal for this campaign is $100,000. That’s a lot of zeros! We are praising the Lord for the $14,265.13 in contributions towards the campaign goal already! As we celebrate all that God has done in and through us in 2020 and anticipate all that He will do in 2021, we want to be Shekinah Strong!
Want to join us in continuing the vision and mission of Shekinah in 2021?
- Fund the general operational budget shortfall of $31,930 due to lower enrollment resulting from COVID-19
- Fund the athletic department deficit (projected to be $23,000) due to COVID-19 attendance restrictions
- Expand scholarships for families who qualify through the third-party FACTS financial aid service
- Replace aging teacher technology with updated laptops that allow enhanced use of smartboard technology
- Add interactive projectors to our 7-12th grade science classroom and 1st & 2nd grade classroom
- Install projector ceiling mounts in modular building
- Install electronic access controls for main doors to save many trips each day to “push” open the door
- Replace several exterior double-doors: hardware is worn out and winter weather blows in
- Expand the hours and responsibilities of the school treasurer’s role at Shekinah to support our growing business, technology, human resources, and financial strategic planning needs
- Purchase new laminator for staff
Recently a parent expressed interest in enrolling her two children mid-year. She had heard many good things about the way that Shekinah is like a caring family and wanted to enroll now rather than waiting. We explained that there was the possibility of temporarily transitioning to online learning. Her interest level was unwavering. She was eager for her children to get started as soon as possible because she not only wants them to experience the benefits of a quality education, but also the benefits of mentoring and healthy relationships with Christian teachers and peers. The only challenge for this single mother seeking to enroll two students? The financial cost of Christian education. The reality is that without your generous contributions, we may have to turn away prospective students like these. Will you prayerfully consider helping?
Through the Shekinah Strong Campaign, our hope is to continue to provide outstanding facilities, curriculum, teachers, and staff for the Christian education our students need now more than ever. You can contribute to the Shekinah Strong Campaign by mailing your contribution in the enclosed return envelope. Any donation postmarked by December 31st is eligible for a tax-deduction on your 2020 taxes. You may also visit our website: www.shekinahchristian.org and click on the Donate link, found in the upper right-hand corner underneath the search box, to give safely and securely online. Thank you for your prayerful consideration of this opportunity to invest in the Shekinah family.