Summer has a way of slipping away before you know it. After a full-fledged 10-week summer camp program, two crews of UKANDU work teams doing painting projects and playground repairs, a massive supply delivery from Enchanted Backpack, and a steady flow of visitors and perspective students, it is easy to see why the summer passed so quickly here at Grace. Even through the summer, we have been busy working on how best to serve you and your children as we further our mission to provide quality and affordable Christian education in Little Village. Whether your summer was filled with vacations and an abundance of activities or the never-ending chorus of “I’m bored,” it seems August has a way of bringing about mixed emotions over summer’s end and the return to school and routine.
Grace is certainly not the same with most of our kids and staff gone for the summer. Our students, our staff, and all the families that make up Grace are really what make it such a special community. As our teachers, staff, students and their families slowly make their way back, we hope this summer has been a chance to rest and re-energize, catch up with family and friends, and enjoy some time in the sun.
August 22 is only a few weeks away! For those who are more than ready for their kids to get back to school, we are excited to welcome you back. To those who will be joining us for the first time, we want to say welcome to the Grace family. We hope each of you enjoys this last bit of summer as you start getting your kids excited for another great year of learning.
The annual Grace Christian Academy Early Childhood Block Party is around the corner! Our Block Party is a time for Pre-K through 2nd grade students to bring their parents, friends, cousins, or neighbors to a night of playing with blocks, enjoying snacks from Chick-Fil-A, and even entering a raffle for a chance to win their own sets of blocks to take home. The tradition began three years ago as a way to celebrate the importance of Preschool and Kindergarten as we gear up for the fall. We are also excited to welcome other visitors to the school who are exploring options for the fall and want to check out what Grace has to offer.
While 7th and 8th graders are focused on the year end trip to Washington D.C., and 5th and 6th graders are still reminiscing about their trip at WalCamp, we think it is important to remember the importance of play, creativity and family time for our little ones. As Chicago lags behind in Early Childhood programming, we see the difference quality pre-school programs make in the lives of our children at Grace. We know these early years are so important for fostering creativity, social skills, vocabulary and communication skills, early literacy and math skills, and building a foundation of knowledge of God and his love. It is our vision to see every student who graduates from Grace prepared for success in high school, college, and beyond, and that preparation begins now! We invite all our current Pre-K students – 2nd graders along with any guests or visitors to join the fun on Wednesday, May 9 from 4:30-6:00PM and celebrate what early childhood is all about.
Lutheran Schools Week is filled with fun activities and traditions as students and parents gear up for the 2018-2019 school year. Registration is officially open and the class competitions are in full swing. While students are having fun with spirit days and fun dress up themes, the learning never stops. Right in the middle of the week, students in 5th - 8th grade are challenged to prepare and present a speech to their classmates, teachers, parents, and three guest judges for the annual speech contest. The task of speaking in front of so many people inside the beautiful Grace Lutheran Church is an intimidating assignment for many of our students, but we are so proud to watch them grow in skill and confidence each year as they present.
We celebrate a winner in each grade and an overall winner for the entire speech competition. While in many cases, the winning speech was only a point or two ahead of the competition, we are pleased to announce this years winners.
Fifth Grade: Zoe Radford
Sixth Grade: Grace Giannotta
Seventh Grade: Citlali Velazquez
Eighth Grade: Daniela Plascencia
Overall winner: Alexandra Plascencia
We invite you to check out all the winners on the youtube channel gcachicago (search gcachicago speeches). If you want to locate a speech by your son, daughter, niece, nephew, brother, sister, or friend, on youtube you can also search gcachicago speeches and their first name.
For parents who have been anxiously awaiting the new application date for full, 75%, and 50% tuition scholarships through the Invest in Kids Scholarship program, the time is here!
Tuesday, February 27 at 7:00PM the application will re-open at Empower Illinois! We encourage you to be ready in front of your computer at 7:00PM! Empowerillinois.org/students
We invite you to join us at Grace on the night of the 27th at 6:45PM if you need access to a computer and internet or if you would like assistance with the process. The application process with now be two steps. On February 27, you will be asked to set up your account which will put you in line for the scholarship (first come, first served!). This is why it is so important to be ready at 7PM!
After you create your account on Tuesday, watch for an email from Empower Illinois. They will invite you to complete the application (at which point you must also submit all documentation). Once you receive the email, you will have 3 days to complete the process. We do not have details on how soon to expect the email from Empower, but make sure you watch for it (double check spam folders as well just in case!).
Once you are invited to complete the application, please let us know if you would like to come in to complete the application on a computer at Grace. We are happy to set up a time to help!
Lutheran Schools Week is almost here! Grace Christian Academy is following the tradition of Lutheran schools around Chicago and across the country as we get excited for the 2018-2019 school year. From silly dress-up days to speech competitions, a Home Run Inn fundraiser, volleyball games, and an all-school picnic, we hope our students and families kick off pre-registration week experiencing how much fun it is to be part of a Christian community. At Grace, we value our close-knit community of 120 students and their families so we celebrate the return of each student for the 2018-2019 school year as pre-registration begins.
It is our hope that every child in Little Village and across Chicago would have the chance to receive a top-quality education and experience a loving Christian community. As our current families get ready to return to Grace in the fall, we also look forward to Lutheran Schools Week as a time to welcome new students to our growing family. Whether you are looking to start preschool or looking for a different school environment, we invite you to join in on the traditions and fun of Lutheran Schools Week and experience the community of Grace Christian Academy!
We are incredibly impressed by our parents at Grace Christian Academy. More than 50 families were prepared on January 31 to complete their applications for Invest in Kids Scholarships. Despite the technical glitch at Empower Illinois, I was impressed by the overall positivity and gratitude of our families in the midst of very frustrating circumstances. The application website crashed again and again while parents anxiously tried to reload and try again, some working and waiting patiently (unsuccessfully) for as many as seven hours. The resulting news of a crashed system and an unknown amount of time before it would relaunch was not what anyone wanted to hear, but our parents still took it in stride. While the application process might not have gone as planned, we thank our parents for the sacrifice of their time and for their perseverance. We are looking forward to parents returning with the same enthusiasm and readiness when Empower relaunches these applications later this month.
If you are interested in supporting these parents in affording quality Christian education, tax credit donations are a great way to give more for less. By reserving a donation credit with the Illinois Department of Revenue, every dollar you donate to this scholarship fund receives a 75% refund as a state of Illinois Income Tax credit. When you give to Empower, you can designate your donation for Grace Christian Academy to ensure that Grace's students are able to directly access your gift in the form of a scholarship. Please visit empowerillinois.org/donors for more information or contact Ms. Crowder at Grace
Tax Credit Scholarships: Donation Credits are going fast! DATE CHANGE: Student scholarships applications open January 31 through Empower Illinois.
Illinois made history by approving $75 million in tax credits to create scholarship funds for private schools. For every dollar a donor gives, they will receive 75% back as a credit on their Illinois income taxes! Donations opened on January 2 and the credits are being claimed fast! Donors must claim their credit through the Illinois Department of Revenue before donating to a Scholarship Granting Organization (SGO). Donations from corporate donors will go to a general fund while individuals can give to an SGO and then select an individual school (like Grace Christian Academy!) or a scholarship organization (like CLEF!) and designate their dollars so that our students receive those scholarship dollars directly.
At Grace Christian Academy, we have partnered with the SGO Empower Illinois. If you are interested in supporting Grace Christian Academy scholarships and reducing your Illinois Income Tax bill, check out the Empower Illinois website for details about how to secure your credit and make a donation. You must first register with mytax.illinois.gov to obtain a pin. This pin then allows you to request your credit with the Department of Revenue. Once the Department of Revenue approves your credit, you will have 60 days to make your donation. The full details are available at: empowerillinois.org/donors/
For families interested in applying for the scholarships, you must also apply through Empower Illinois. Scholarship eligibility is based on family income. Check out the income limits on Grace's tuition page: www.gcachicago.org/tuition.html. This information is also available on the Empower Illinois student page. To apply, you will need a copy of your 2016 or 2017 tax returns, proof of residency (driver's license or utility bill), and your child's birth certificate or passport to submit via an online application portal. Current and potential new students can apply for these scholarships beginning January 31! It is first come, first-serve so apply on DAY ONE! Check out the details and prepare to apply at: empowerillinois.org/students/
Christmas is a busy time for a Lutheran school! With only a week to go, we are in the middle of countless events and traditions. The Gift’s Galore Christmas Store is open for business. Christmas dinner tickets are sold out. Christmas surprises for our students and families are almost ready to go. And our teachers are busy helping their students in the final practices for the Christmas program while wrapping up lessons, projects and tests before our Christmas parties next Tuesday. We are definitely in the middle of the Christmas hustle and bustle, trying to ensure our list of things get done before we send our kids (and teachers!) off for a much needed break!
We also are reminded in the season of advent to pause. The Christmas music and lights and gifts and traditions are part of what we do at Grace Christian Academy but we do not lose sight of why. Christ has come. God with Us. We have received the greatest gift of all in the form of a baby in a manager. We hope the sense of wonder and awe does not miss you this Christmas as we focus our minds on a God who so loved the world that He gave us his Son. We pray his peace and his blessings over you and your family this Christmas season and throughout the coming year. Thank you for being a part of our Christmas traditions and for joining us in celebrating the coming of our King! Have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Thanks to all our families that made it out to the Grace Christian Academy annual cultural fair. We had quite the mixture of food, song, poetry, and dance as we experienced the cultures of Ireland, Israel, Papua New Guinea, Australia, United Arab Emirates, and more! Irish potatoes, hummus and pitas, Egg Drop Soup, Arepas, Banana pancakes, and fresh fruit were only a few of countless dishes that helped students and parents alike get a taste of the many different cultures represented at our fair.
Parents, extended family, and friends packed the gym to enjoy a great rendition of "O' Canada" by Preschool 3, Koala Bear poems from Pre-K 4 as they shared about Australia, Irish song and dance performed by Kindergarten, greetings from around the world by 1st grade, a reciting of the 10 commandments from 2nd grade from their studies about Israel, and a performance in Mandarin by 5th/6th grade. As a Lutheran school located in the diverse, multi-cultural city of Chicago, we know how important it is for our students to learn about the many people, places, and cultures all around the world. Cultural Fair was a great way to celebrate various cultures and showcase all of the hard work our students have done over the last several weeks. If you missed any of the fun, please check out our Facebook page for video recordings of these wonderful performances!