"NCA is an environment where the teachers truly care for the students and seek to point them to Christ."
-- High school parent
Sometimes we are asked if NCA has a "religion" class. Our answer is no. Instead, we state that all of our classes are taught from a Biblical perspective by Christian teachers who love God and have a strong desire to see their students growing in their relationship with Jesus Christ. When our students study science, they are studying about God's creation. When they study history, they are learning about God's involvement and redemption in the story of man since He created us. Every subject is taught with the aim of acknowledging the Lordship of Jesus Christ over all areas of life, with no division between "sacred and secular".
All students do have Bible classes, which are taught 3-4 times weekly at every grade level in the school. In preschool and elementary, the Bible class is taught by the main classroom teachers. In grades 7-10, students are divided by gender so that we have smaller groups and a more intimate setting for classroom discussions. Our 11th and 12th grade Bible courses are specifically designed to help prepare our students to continue making God-honoring decisions even after their graduation from high school. In addition to Bible class, all students begin each day with a 10-15 minute period of devotions and prayer.
The purpose of our chapel program is to pause during our academic week and focus on the spiritual growth of each individual in our school community. All of our students participate in the Wednesday morning chapels, which are organized by our school chaplain with high levels of teacher involvement. Students attend chapel in one of three groups: Preschool through second grade students meet from 7:45 to 8:15, third through sixth grade students meet from 8:30 to 9:00, and secondary students meet from 9:15 to 10:00. Chapel programs include praise and worship, Bible teachings, videos, small group discussions, and many more activities. Parents are always invited to join us during their children's chapel time.
Middle and high school students (grades 7-12) are invited to participate in our Youth Group, which meets on Friday evenings about twice each month. Youth Group activities include singing and worship led by student musicians, games led by student leaders, a Biblical teaching, testimonies and snacks. We regularly have 60-70 students participating in this exciting program. In addition to NCA International students, our Youth Group is open to students from other schools and homeschooled students.
NCA International students have many opportunities to serve others. Students in 7th through 12th grades have the option to participate in Ignite, our community service club that spends 1-2 Saturday mornings each month going out into diverse communities to help meet people's physical and spiritual needs. All students in 4th through 12th grades participate in at least one required field trip each year with a focus on community service. These field trips take our students to orphanages, feeding programs, ministries for children with special needs, nursing homes and other similar outreaches. In addition, our teachers frequently prompt our students to consider specific ways they can use the gifts and abilities God has given them (including their education) for service in His Kingdom.
All students in grades 3-12 are organized into small groups for the purpose of discussion of scriptures and topics relevant to their lives. The majority of the elementary and secondary small groups are led by older student leaders, who receive training and guidance from our chaplain and staff in how to lead a small group. The small groups meet between five and ten times during the year, usually in place of the weekly chapel period. These meetings provide opportunity for students to share with each other on a more informal and intimate level, help build healthy relationships among students, and provide leadership training opportunities for our high school students.
Retreats provide a wonderful opportunity for our youth to take a step away from the normal routine of life and to focus on their own relationships with Jesus Christ. Because of the value of spending this time away from school and with specific purposes of helping our students grow spiritually, our teachers and staff plan a number of retreats for our students each year. Most of our retreats are held in retreat centers for 2-3 days and are packed with games, praise and worship, team-building activities, camp food, focused sessions, bonfires, and life challenges. Our annual retreats include the Upper Elementary Retreat (grades 4-6), Middle School Retreat (grades 7-8), High School Retreat (grades 9-12) and the Junior-Senior/Leadership Retreat (grades 11-12).
Almost all of our students in grades 7-12 have the opportunity to participate in an optional after-school Bible study group that meets 1-2 times per month throughout the school year. These groups are led by teachers, school parents, or community members who have a heart to help disciple our students during this critical time in their lives.
Spiritual Emphasis Day
Spiritual Emphasis Day in January is a day set aside from the regular routine of academic classes to allow students in grades 7 to 12 to focus on their spiritual walk with the Lord. We help our students prepare for this event by inviting our keynote speaker to share during chapel on Wednesday, and we add an additional chapel period on Thursday to elaborate on the theme for the week. On Friday, instead of attending their regular classes, students spend the whole day at school attending seminars on topics of their choice, participating in praise, worship, and prayer, and engaging in games and activities designed to build a sense of community. Small groups meet during the following week in order to develop further the lessons learned and ideas presented on Spiritual Emphasis Day.
Older students who have a clear love for God and a commitment to live a genuine Christian testimony are invited to apply for student leadership positions in our school, giving them an opportunity to help lead their peers and younger students. These student leadership positions include Youth Group, worship band, Ignite (community service), small groups for elementary and secondary levels, and Student Council officers. In addition to training from the faculty advisors for their leadership area, student leaders also meet with mentors to help them focus on their own spiritual growth and troubleshooting any difficulties that may arise within their leadership area. Our goal is to provide leadership opportunities for our students and to help them develop their leadership skills, while also providing support for them to be successful in those leadership roles.
Spiritual Life Committee
Many of the programs listed above are organized and overseen by our Spiritual Life Committee, which is led by our school chaplain. This group of students, teachers, administrators and parents spends time on a monthly basis reflecting on the spiritual growth in our school, both corporately and individually. One of the best aspects of this committee is the student involvement. The two juniors and two seniors help to ensure that the plans and programs being discussed are grounded in the reality of the student body and focused on the greatest areas of need. This committee also regularly spends time in prayer for our teachers and students.