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Choosing the Right College: A Quick Guide for High School Seniors

April 17, 2017
By Perry R. Banse, Assistant Superintendent, Middle/High School Principal

Spring is an important season for high school seniors. By this time, many of our students are starting to receive college acceptance letters. Some will be offered admission to more than one of their top choices.

This is a great problem to have, but still, the decision process isn’t easy.

Along with their parents and guidance counselors, students have to consider many different factors when choosing the college that is best suited for them. This is a big commitment, and one of the most important decisions a young person will ever make. If the responsibility to choose seems a little overwhelming, simplify it by analyzing options across the following areas.


The difference between small classrooms and large lecture halls may have a huge impact on your learning experience. Consider which environment you believe would serve you best. If you benefit from personal attention from your instructor, a smaller college may be a better fit.


It may be wise to revisit all of the schools to which you were admitted to get a better feel for the community on campus. Can you picture yourself here? Do you connect with the student body? Don’t hesitate to strike up conversation with current students or professors on your campus visits. They are your best resources for learning what the culture is like.


You may be undecided on a college major, but go ahead and make a short list of programs you would consider pursuing. Look at the strength of each of these programs at the school. It is very important that their offerings align with your passions and future career goals. After all, the purpose of college is to prepare you for a lifetime of doing what you are called to do.


You probably already have a general idea of tuition at each of the schools to which you’ve applied; however, a secondary cost assessment might be wise. Consider out-of-pocket expenses, loans, and financial aid. Be aware of scholarships or merit-based discounts you may be able to apply. Running the numbers again and again before making a final commitment is always wise.


The proximity of your college to home may play a role in your overall happiness there. Can family and friends easily visit you? Will you be able to travel home for holidays and breaks without financial strain? Additionally, consider things like climate and urbanicity. If you love warm weather, a school up north may have you feeling cooped up. If you love city life, a school situated in a small college town may not provide the opportunities you’re looking for.

College Prep Matters

IRCS is a private college-prep school in Pinellas County, FL. We equip students to succeed in college and beyond through excellent academics, exciting activities, and Christian education. Our 100% graduation rate and 90-100% four-year college attendance rates are testaments to our program. With 75 percent of students enrolled in Honors, AP, or Dual-Enrollment College Classes, the culture at IRCS motivates students to prepare for the next step in higher education.

Four Ways to Ace Achievement Tests

April 10, 2017
By Perry R. Banse, Assistant Superintendent, Middle/High School Principal

Ask any student what their favorite part of springtime is, and they will undoubtedly say achievement testing. ;)

OK — maybe spring sports, outdoor activities, and a nearing summer vacation would rank higher on the list.

However, with a little planning and prep, achievement testing certainly doesn't need to be a dreaded event. Helping students see the importance of their scheduled exams and equipping them to excel can remove the negative feelings.

Help Students Understand the Why

Just the idea of a standardized test can be demoralizing for some students. “How can someone measure everything I’ve learned by one test?” they ask.

Understand that an objective achievement test is as much for measuring the success of the school as the student. Tests can provide important information about teaching methods and knowledge retention, ensuring classroom initiatives are moving in the right direction.

Don’t Take Studying Too Far

This may come as shocking advice to some students and parents, but going overboard on studying for achievement tests can be counter-productive.

Of course, it’s always wise to review material for a little while each day leading up to the exam, but cramming in the immediate days and nights before will only cause stress, a lack of sleep, and compromised performance on the exam.

Review Test-Taking Strategies

Students should brush up on test-taking tips and develop strategies to help them make the most of their testing time.

Some examples include reading the entire question carefully, using the process of elimination to answer, leaving unknowns blank and making educated guesses at the end, and reviewing all work if time allows.

Start the Day Off Well

The events leading up to the test can have a huge impact on student performance. Studies show that getting good sleep the night before makes a big difference.

Students should dress comfortably, eat a nutritious breakfast, bring glasses if needed, and organize their backpacks with pencils and other test-taking materials in easy reach. All of these things create a positive atmosphere and minimize stress.

Student Success is Our Priority

At Indian Rocks Christian School, achievement testing is just one way we work to give our students a top-notch education. Students receive personal attention in a close-knit environment, ensuring they are not only prepared for tests, but prepared for success in school and life. To learn more about our unique approach, request information today.

Get More Info About IRCS

The Link Between Student Activities and Academic Success

March 29, 2017
By Perry R. Banse, Assistant Superintendent, Middle/High School Principal

The Link Between Student Activities and Academic Success

If you’re like most parents, you are primarily concerned with your student’s success in the classroom. While it brings you joy to see them involved in things they love, you worry that extracurricular activities may become a distraction and ultimately interfere with academic progress. This is a valid concern, as children are still learning to balance multiple responsibilities while pursuing their individual passions.Today, we want to ease your mind by reiterating the positive impact that activities can have on student success.

Reinforced Lessons

According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), participation in extracurricular activities promotes attendance rates, grade point averages, social skills, and college opportunities. Activities do not take away from what is learned in the classroom; they reinforce it. Students need venues to apply their skills in a real-world context, and extracurriculars provide just that.

A Well-Rounded Education

The NCES also indicates that activities make for a well-rounded education. Fine arts, athletics, clubs, and volunteer activities are not all fun and games — they are rich in content that develops invaluable skills. Learning through diverse experiences, students become strong collaborators, communicators, critical thinkers, and creative learners.

Goal Setting Focus

Activities require students to challenge themselves. Just like academic success requires perseverance, students must prepare to accomplish what they set out to do in the extracurricular setting as well. Balancing schoolwork with other commitments fosters organization. As students set out to accomplish things in their personal and academic lives, they learn that time management and self-discipline is required to reach goals.

A Spirit of Teamwork

Whether your student is interested in athletics, fine arts, or some other activity, teamwork is the common thread. When students get involved with activities, they learn the value of working together toward a common goal. This prepares them for success in college and future work environments where group projects are a part of everyday life.

Noteworthy Student Activities at Indian Rocks Christian School

Indian Rocks Christian School offers a wide variety of extracurricular activities to help our students reach success. These opportunities include:

  • 45 athletic teams in 16 sports, including football, volleyball, golf, track and field, cross country, basketball, softball, soccer, and tennis.
  • A variety of music programs, including instrumental, vocal, and theatrical groups.
  • Arts programs, including visual arts, digital arts, and performing arts
  • Ministry teams with global travel opportunities and local outreach

Learn More About Student Activities

Every extracurricular program at IRCS serves a greater purpose. We are not just providing opportunities for students to have fun; we are helping them discover their passions and develop skills that will be beneficial for years to come. Contact us to learn more about the opportunities on our campus.

The Value of Continuity in the Formative Years

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

The Value of Continuity in the Formative Years

It’s not uncommon for families who choose private education to start at one school then move to another as their child gets older. Sometimes a school change simply cannot be avoided due to one circumstance or another. However, research indicates that consistency is linked directly to success in both academia and social development.

If you are thinking about a school change for your student, it is obvious that you see beneficial opportunities in another environment. While new opportunities are exciting, it is also important to be aware of the advantages a consistent school experience provides. Consider these points before weighing your options.

Laying Foundations

In the formative years, students build critical foundations across all core subject areas. This is a time of rapid growth — not only academically, but socially and emotionally. Changing schools can be taxing for young learners. While they navigate a new environment, they have the unique challenge of maintaining acquired knowledge in order to avoid cracks in the foundations they’ve already begun to build.

Curriculum Continuity

Allowing students to move seamlessly from one grade to another is paramount in an environment that is designed to foster meaningful growth. Teachers from the elementary, middle, and high school levels are able to work together closely when they are within one school to ensure they are building on what has already been learned in a valuable way.

Building Community

Students thrive in intimate learning environments that feel like home. This is a primary benefit of private education. As students develop relationships with staff, teachers, and their peers, they build confidence and have their strengths, as well as their challenges, addressed on a personal level.

While we strongly emphasize the value of continuity and consistency for young learners, we recognize that there are a few very valid reasons for sending your student to a new school. These include, but are not limited to:

1. The teachings at your current school don’t align with your family’s morals and values.

2. Your student has special learning needs and services are unavailable to meet those needs.

3. Your family has to move so far from your current school that a commute is not possible.

Thinking about changing schools?

At Indian Rocks Christian School, we strive to be an extension of every student’s home. Developing long-term relationships with families allows us to help children reach their full potential and to make a lasting impact on the world. We encourage you to download our free infographic on Christian education to learn more about the experience we offer.



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.


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