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Students Grow in Faith and Leadership through Family Chapel

February 11, 2016
By Kristy Bingham, Chronicle writer

Family Chapel is a unique program that takes place at all Cascade Christian elementary campuses. It consist of an average of seven students, representing each grade, including Kindergarten. Students meet monthly and, under the leadership of their sixth grade leader, learn a 30-minute Bible lesson.

Lessons are written by teachers and, prior to the day that the Family Chapel groups meet, the principals of each campus meet with their sixth graders to ensure their understanding of the lessons.

"I appreciate that our principal, Mr. Broberg, meets with us to discuss solutions to any situation that might come up," said Puyallup campus sixth grade leader Amanda Bussard. "He offers us ideas to make the lesson fun and interesting, as well as ideas of what to do if we finish early."

Fellow sixth grader Jansyn Pihl agrees. "I like that he meets with us to show us different ways to ask questions, to get the most out of our groups," she said.

The significance of their leadership position does not escape these sixth graders. "Right before the very first family chapel of this school year, I had goose bumps because I didn't want to mess up," said leader Calli Nohr.

“The opportunity to train leadership skills into our older elementary students is a joy,” said McAlder Principal Joyce Blum. “They take this responsibility on with great enthusiasm and are eager to work with the younger students.”

Both Nohr and Pihl have been at CCS since Kindergarten, while Bussard joined the Cougar community three years ago when she transferred in from a different school. All three agree upon what makes a great family chapel leader. "My favorite leaders have been enthusiastic," Nohr stated.

Pihl and Bussard echoed Nohr's thoughts. "I can look back at my past leaders and I hope I am as good a leader as they were," Pihl said. "I care a lot about making things interesting for my group members. I always keep in mind that some of my group members may not go to church, and this may be their only experience with God. I want their time in my group to be a good experience and I want them to think I was a leader who made things fun."

Bussard thinks it is exciting to have teachers and the principals believing in them as sixth grade leaders.

"It isn't every day that you have someone letting you teach the word of God to younger students," Bussard explained. "It is cool they believe in us that much."

Puyallup Elementary Principal Terry Broberg said Bussard's perspective is what the core of Family Chapel is all about. "It is our desire to integrate biblical truth into all aspects of our school," he said. "Family Chapel is great at doing this because the students learn great lessons from the Bible from each other."

"As the students move up through the grades, there is a lot of anticipation that builds to be the sixth grade leader," he continued. "Family chapel provides wonderful cross-age interaction for our students.  The older students learn leadership skills as the younger one see positive role models."

Blum agrees, “Helping the students learn to unfold spiritual truths to others is a life skill they will always have with them.”

Embracing their leadership roles, all three girls say they love teaching the younger students how to pray. "I love helping the younger students learn to pray," Pihl said. "Often they might say they don't know what to say and I always tell them to pray and get as far as they can and I will take over after that. I love that our group members are willing to try, and that we get to be there to help them along the way."

“As a parent, I was brought to tears, watching my son grow as a mentor and as a Christian. This program is truly about building leadership in our youth through Christ. I am very thankful my son is a student at Cascade Christian.” ~ Cascade Christian dad, after observing Family Chapel