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Changing the Culture for Christ: Loving Like He Loves

March 15, 2017
By Perry R. Banse, Assistand Superintendent, Middle/High School Principal

March is always a much-anticipated month for the IRCS family. Every year during Ministry Mester, our entire high school student body shares God’s love with the world. Some stay put completing service projects right here in our community while others travel across the globe. Regardless of the destination, the mission is the same: changing the culture for Christ.

This year, students are serving in Europe, Guatemala, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, and in various U.S. cities. Projects include building stoves, painting walls, digging cisterns, visiting schools, and just playing with children who need to know that someone cares. It’s not about the specific service — it’s about the lives that are changed by seeing people love like Jesus does.

When students return, they are forever changed. With calloused hands and ruined clothes, they eagerly share their experiences and stories of impact. It is our goal to keep the momentum going — to encourage students that it’s possible to love like Jesus in everyday life. Here are three practical ways to change the culture for Christ.

Speaking Truth With Compassion

Let’s face it: we live in a hostile world. Never have differing opinions been so evident, and people are quick to turn against one another after debating current issues. Changing the conversation, and ultimately the culture, requires brave truth defenders who are able to speak in love.

Students should be able to be a part of important discussions without pushing people who may not know Christ further away from His grace. This requires compassion, strong communication skills, and a heart for showing people how the Gospel is living and relevant in today’s world.

Random Acts of Kindness

Life gets busy. It seems everyone from elementary schoolers to working parents have full schedules and many commitments. However, if we slow down and are mindful of others around us, we will realize that there are many opportunities to make someone else’s day.

Kindness is contagious, and when carried out in the name of Jesus, it has a potentially life-changing effect. It’s not just about treating others the way you want to be treated, it’s about realizing that authentic faith cannot be separated from good deeds and a genuine love for others.

Living Missionally

There is a common misconception that you have to travel overseas to be a missionary. This is simply not the case. Students have numerous opportunities to share the Gospel in their families, schools, communities, and the world.

We encourage students to live as “everyday missionaries,” adopting a lifestyle of truth sharing and pursuing opportunities to reach those who may not know Christ. Whether traveling to a third-world country or simply mentoring a peer, God is honored just the same.  

Learn More About IRCS

Students at IRCS are exemplifying the love of Christ in the world around them. If you are looking for a school that emphasizes spiritual development alongside academic excellence, request more information about our program today.


Our Students Are Already Changing the World

February 27, 2017
By Perry R. Banse, Assistant Superintendent, Middle/High School Principal

Each year during the week before Spring break, Indian Rocks Christian High School undertakes a Ministry-mester. During this week all normal classes are set aside and the focus for the students is placed on serving. Service opportunities may be local, in the state, in the USA, or international. The purpose of this is threefold:

  1. It transmits the Gospel to people who need to hear it and empowers students to be the vehicle God uses to tell his message. Their faith becomes real and practical.
  2. It transforms and expands a student’s worldview by exposing them to new thoughts, ideas, and appreciations for the world in which we live. They begin to understand the blessing they have of being born in the United States.
  3. It transposes preexisting social barriers. Student travel assimilates diverse groups of people for a specific event, creating new friend clusters and relationships. Friendships are formed with others that they may have had little interaction with previously.
  4. It transcends our normal ability to impact a student for Christ. Students that travel develop an openness and vulnerability that if acted upon, can be life changing. Each leader is asked to implement regularly scheduled devotions. These times reveal God’s Truth, help students understand all they have seen and experienced, as well as grasp how God is the “Artist” of the big picture.

In addition to students who will serve right here on the property as an aide we have a work crew to clean-up Pinellas County parks and beaches, a street ministry team, and a team going to Shepherd’s Village (a housing unit for families in crisis). Mission trips out of the area include Lakeland, North Carolina, Wyoming, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Austria, Germany, and London. These are life changing experiences that have not only impacted the lives of the students that participate but have changed the spiritual climate of our school as a whole.

This year 164 students and 23 adults will be traveling on the out of area trips. Over the past 16 years we have sent 2426 students and 352 adults to 25 different countries and 13 different states. Our students are already changing the world!

One senior put it this way: “The mini-mester has changed my outlook on life. I have realized how incredibly blessed I really am, despite my shortcomings. God has used these trips to open my eyes and soften my heart. Every time I go on a trip, my heart breaks for the people there. God has used me in different ways every time I went, even if I went to the same place.” Another said, “Mini-mester is one of the greatest things schools can do for their students. It creates good memories, new friendships, and gets you closer to God. I love the feeling of helping and serving people.” One of our juniors put it this way, “When you go to a different culture and you see all of these faces and meet all these new people that you didn’t know existed, you are humbled and amazed by God’s greatness and grace. He has such a big plan and I am privileged to be a part of it every year.”

People ask, “Isn’t it a big risk?” Anytime you have that many students traveling to so many different locations there is risk involved. For us, the benefits far outweigh the risks. In the business world (please understand I am not saying this is a business) the adage is that you get bigger results from bigger risks. We believe the results gained by this program over the years are phenomenal. Make no mistake, the success of these trips could not happen without the dedication, preparation, and commitment of our staff. Our teachers devote hours and hours to the training required to prepare to go. They receive no extra pay for their time. We have an outstanding staff that truly serves the best interest of our students.

We covet your prayers. Please consider praying for our teams as they go out next week. A good way to remember what to pray for would be to remember the acronym F.I.S.H.

  • F is for Focus – pray they will remember the purpose of their trip and function as a team
  • I is for Impact – whether or not the team sees immediate results, their impact would be felt
  • S is for Safety – pray for safety in travel and protection wherever they are
  • H is for Health – pray our teams and the missionaries would stay healthy throughout

Outside of school, a student’s future is shaped by the places they go, books they read, and people they meet. Mission trips directly impact two of these three areas and have greatly influenced our students’ spiritual, educational, and emotional growth.


A Dream Come True

February 08, 2017
By Perry R. Banse, Assistant Superintendent, Middle/High School Principal

It was old and tired. When it was young and new there were many good years, but now it sagged in places. The lines blurred into new wrinkles and ruts. Its once clear complexion was now pock marked and faded. A face-lift was considered but it was too late for that. The asphalt track had come to the end of its storied life.

It had seen a lot through the years. There were two individual state champions, Nathan Holden twice in the 3200 and Bobbi Labrandt in the pole vault. There have also been many other state qualifiers that won medals for placing in the top eight. There was Diane Weaver’s broken jaw. Numerous homecoming parades circled it that included convertibles, firetrucks, tow trucks, busses, 4 wheelers, motorcycles and boats. For several years it was the home to the Race for Education fundraiser. It was even responsible for a couple of broken arms on football players whose cleats slipped when running on it.

Yesterday, IRCS was able to host a middle school track meet for the first time in three years. It has been four years since we have hosted a varsity track meet. After a total renovation of the track, we were able to welcome 15 middle school teams to the Eagle’s Nest. The event was well run and enjoyed by all who attended.

We will be hosting a varsity meet on Thursday of this week that will include 11 teams. This is a special meet called the Lipham Relays. This event was named in memory of Coach Lance Lipham who coached here and many years at Keswick Christian School. We will also be hosting the Class 1A Region 2 track meet that is the qualifier for the State track meet to be held at the IMG Academy in Bradenton in May.

For our track athletes, this is truly a dream come true. Feel free to come out and see it for yourself.


An Amazing Weekend

January 30, 2017
By Perry R. Banse, Assistant Superintendent, Middle/High School Principal

This past weekend the Fine Arts Department of Indian Rocks Christian School staged three performances of Singin’ In The Rain. The reviews have been fabulous. Once again our students have pooled their talents to provide a synergy that allowed them to perform a difficult musical at an incredibly high level.

It is one thing to have students that excel at acting, or singing, or even dancing; but to accomplish all three of these so well in one production is extraordinary. I tell people all the time how talented our students are and this weekend it once again showed to be true.

It is so hard to start the “thank you parade” without leaving someone out but I am going to make the attempt.

Thank you students for all of the hours and hours of hard work you put into rehearsals. Your dedication truly showed in the magnificent outcome. 

Thank you seniors for stepping up and providing the leadership to help make this an incredible success. Your abilities and experience helped to train the younger students in what success looks like.

Thank you rookie actors for trying out. This production had a number of students that were in their very first “big” production. You displayed awesome talent that will make our fine arts program shine for years to come.

Thank you chorus members. You don’t get a lot of recognition but what you did added so much to the musical. It couldn’t have been the same without you.

Thank you backstage and technical people. Your unselfishness to be willing to work behind the scenes allowed those on the stage to do their best.

Thank you to all the volunteers that built sets, painted, procured props, cleaned up, and did everything else necessary for success.

Last year at the conclusion of The Sound of Music, Mrs. June-Marie Rhine told us that she was going to need to step away from directing. As the head of the yearbook the deadlines and the workload fall at the same time period making it incredibly difficult to manage both. Or concern was that it would be very difficult to find someone that will continue the excellence that had been established. Class of 2015 grad, Carly Faller, served as June’s director last year. She was willing to step into the head position of Executive Director. So, you ask, wasn’t it a little scary to put the reins of a huge production into the hands of a 19 year old just two years removed from being in the musical? Normally I would say I was terrified except for the fact that Carly had proven herself through the years as an IRCS student and a coach. She has displayed exceptional ability, great organizational skills and a strong work ethic. She was also surrounded by well-seasoned help and a lot of experience. If you saw the show, you know that she did an outstanding job! Thank you, Carly! And thank you to the leadership team that helped her. Your skills all worked together for an end product that was phenomenal. 


History is Made

January 25, 2017
By Perry R. Banse, Assistant Superintendent, Middle/High School Principal

Every once in a while something will come down the pike that hasn’t ever happened before. You would think that after all of the years we would get to a point where there would be no surprises. Fat chance. The biggest question is whether it will be a good surprise or a bad surprise. We get both. This past week we were able to experience an IRCS first, and it was a good surprise.

This year IRCS will celebrate its 23rd graduating class. The school started in 1984 with a pre-school, kindergarten and first grade. They then added a grade each year until its first graduating class came through in 1995. When our 62 seniors of the class of 2017 don caps and gowns on May 19, IRCS will have had 1,154 students walk the aisle to receive our diploma. For the first time in our history, we have a three-way tie for the Valedictorian honor. We have had a two-way tie before for both the Valedictorian and the Salutatorian spots, but never a three-way tie for either.

Congratulations to Kristi Byun, Joshua Guzman, and Shannon Jones (in alphabetical order) for achieving and sharing this incredible honor each with a 4.459 grade point average (GPA). Our handbook states that a student must attend IRCS for at least their junior and senior year to qualify for this award, but these students go way beyond that. Shannon and Kristi have transcript entries from Kindergarten and Joshua’s begins with first grade. We would need to go back that far to find a difference in the grades for these three. (Fortunately the honor is only based on their 26 credits required for graduation.) I think it is safe to say that these three are definitely our product.

So you may be wondering how this whole thing works, I’m glad you asked. Our high school grading scale is a 4.0 system. An “A” in a class gets 4 points for their average, a “B” 3 points, a “C” 2 points, etc. Additionally, it awards higher grade points for more challenging classes. Thus, if a student takes an Advanced Placement (AP) class, they are awarded 5.0 points for an “A”. They also get one full extra point (or 5.0) per semester for Dual Credit (DC) classes taken in the areas of English, Math, or Science. All three of these students took the exact same number of 5.0 level classes. Honors classes in our grading scale are awarded 4.5 for an “A” or an extra .5 point per class per semester. Again, all three had the exact same number of Honors level classes. And of course, they all three got “A’s” in everything. What are the chances? The classes for each student are then hand figured to come up with final average. That is when we discovered the tie.

This year our senior class had seven students that were all within hundredths of a point of each other. So in a very close race, our Salutatorian honor goes to Lukas Miranda. Lukas currently has a 4.438. All four of these students have earned the honor of speaking at our graduation ceremony this May. You will want to be sure to put that on your calendar as it is always an incredible time of celebrating and honoring the graduates. It takes place May 19, at 7:00 pm in the Worship Center. Hope to see you there.


The Importance of Giving Back: IRCS Ministry Mester

December 21, 2016
By Perry R. Banse, Assistant Superintendent, Middle/High School Principal

The holidays are here!

Gift giving is a meaningful tradition that celebrates the birth of Jesus and reminds us of the presents given to him by the Wise Men. While it can be a Christ-honoring component of Christmas, it is easy to get wrapped up in material things over the holiday season. Children and teens are especially subject to product marketing, desiring the hottest items in stores and focusing heavily on what they will receive when Christmas morning comes around.

A Culture of Selflessness

At IRCS, we are proud to say that our students go against the grain in this regard. They are others-oriented and mission-minded during every season. We always notice this most throughout the month of December. During a time that can quickly become "all about me," our students focus on serving others and finding ways to impact the world for Christ.

Making Christmas Brighter for Those in Need

This year, students participated in four special Christmas giving opportunities. The Honor Societies led the middle and high school in our annual Christmas Community Outreach, and the third graders and K2 Preschool class also participated in special projects. Thanks to the generous hearts of IRCS students and families, our four projects included:

Providing Angel Boxes for teens in long-term foster care. This ministry is now in its 18th year at IRCS. Teens receive a Bible, encouraging notes, gift cards, school supplies, flash drive, toothbrush, toothpaste, and snack items.

Filling Christmas Stockings for elementary school students who have little food over school breaks and are part of the Pack-a-Sack food program. Now in its third year at IRCS, this outreach project puts a new book, encouraging notes, gift cards, school supplies, toothpaste and toothbrush, snack items, and a bookfair voucher in each stocking.

Blessing Bags for people without a home were created by IRCS third graders. These bags included toiletries, socks, and a Bible.

The K2 Preschool class collected diapers, wipes blankets, and toys for New Life Solutions, a ministry to assist Moms who face an unplanned pregnancy.

Ministry Mester

Many of our high school students are already gearing up for Ministry Mester — our annual mission trip program that sends teens out into the world to meet tangible and spiritual needs. IRCS students have brought the good news to 22 different countries and 11 states. In the spring of 2016, they visited states across the southeast, as well as Chicago and New York. We also sent teams to Honduras, Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, and Guatemala.

This year, we’re gearing up to send even more teams to local cities, other states, and countries around the world. Projects range from working with children in schools to building homes in underserved communities. While the nature of our students’ work varies, the goal is always the same: bringing the hope of Jesus to a place where it didn’t exist before.

Words From a Student Missionary

“The goal of every mission trip is to go and be a blessing to the people of the area you are visiting, but I can promise you that in some way or another you always come back being the one who was blessed. One of the many blessings that is inevitable about mission trips, is that you will make new friends, and get to share memories with those friends that will surely never be forgotten.” - Conner, IRCS Class of ‘16

Learn More About IRCS

If you are looking to develop strong character traits in your student, IRCS can partner with you. We have an academically excellent K-12 program while providing opportunities for students to develop their faith. When graduates leave our campus, they have established a lifestyle of service that will glorify God for years to come. Request more information today.

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