SouthLake Christian Academy Update – December 2022

Dear SouthLake Christian Families,

As Christmas approaches, our fall semester draws to a close. Between now and winter break we have much to accomplish and I have several updates to give you.

Giving to SouthLake
Thank you for your generosity this month. In recent weeks we asked for donations for faculty/staff Christmas gifts, Caterpillar Ministries, and Giving Tuesday. SouthLake families came through is a big way. November brought nearly $90,000 in donations to the school. Giving Tuesday alone saw a 271% increase in donor participation over the same day last year. Participation totals matter as much as dollar amounts because they show broad support for our mission. I know the end of the calendar year means many people asking you for money. We never take your generosity for granted. We are a better school because of your kindness.

New Turf Field
We are making progress toward adding a turf field and track to our campus. UDC Sports continues work on the design, in conversation with Mecklenburg County and the Town of Huntersville, to determine the possible scope of the project and what regulatory requirements we may face. When I have options to review, I will solicit feedback from you about project possibilities and associated costs.

Website
We are also working on a redesign of our website. During my time at SouthLake, I have noticed an increase in the number of families applying to SouthLake after finding us online. Word of mouth remains the number one way people learn of our school, but our website is now a close second. Part of the redesign involves producing a new school video. Around the first of the year, we will begin shooting footage on campus, conducting interviews with parents, students, and teachers. The finished product should go live shortly after Spring Break.

Christmas Concerts
We have several fine arts events next week. Our Orchestral Christmas Concert will be Tuesday, December 6 at 7:00 pm. Our Choral Christmas Concerts will be Thursday December 8 at 7:00 pm (Middle and Upper School) and Thursday December 15 at 6:30 pm (Lower School). All three events will take place in the newly renovated Sanctuary in the First Building. Even if you do not have children in these programs, I encourage you to attend, see the good work of our teachers and students, and enjoy the sounds of the Christmas season.

Winter Break
The last day of the semester is December 16. That will be a half day; buses will run in the morning but not after school. We return to classes next semester on Wednesday, January 4. Everyone appreciates a shortened week coming back from a break.

In case you don’t hear form me until next year, I wish you and your family a wonderful Christmas holiday and blessed new year. I will pray the distractions of the season do not keep you from the peace and joy of Christ in the days ahead.

In Christ,

Matthew S. Kerlin, Ph.D.
Head of School
SouthLake Christian Academy

Education

SouthLake Christian Academy Update – November 2022

Dear SouthLake Christian Families,

Every fall I am grateful to live in North Carolina, but particularly this year. Not only have cooler temperatures and colorful trees made our campus particularly beautiful, but we are also enjoying one of the most peaceful semesters in years. Thank you for all the ways you help our school thrive.

Staff Christmas Fund
As the holidays approach, the Parent Teacher Fellowship (PTF) begins their annual fundraising effort aimed at showing our teachers how much we appreciate them. Here is how you can participate. Think about the teachers, administrators, and support staff who impact your children each day. Don’t forget those who teach enrichment classes such as music, art, PE, foreign languages, or our lunch workers, bus drivers, and After School caregivers. Think about an amount of money you might use to purchase a gift for those individuals, and click here to donate. All money collected will be divided equally among faculty and staff members. A portion of the donations will also be used to support the Employee Christmas dinner. The deadline to donate will be Tuesday, November 15. At the Christmas dinner on December 2, each employee will receive a Visa gift card and a name-only listing of participating families so employees will know of your generosity. Participation in this program is not mandatory, nor does this preclude you from choosing to purchase your own teacher gifts. Should you have any questions about this program, you may contact PTF President Tracy Helms at trcy_helms@yahoo.com.

Sanctuary Dedication
You are invited to a Service of Dedication for our newly renovated sanctuary in the First Building. We are extremely pleased with the outcome of this project, which by God’s grace was completed on time and on budget. We want to set apart the space to God’s honor and glory for the church and school to use for many years to come. The service will be Sunday, November 27, at 10:30 a.m. in the Sanctuary. SLCA families and employees are cordially invited to attend as your present church commitments may allow.

That’s all for now. I will see you in carline, which for the time being is a most pleasant duty. When you see my bald head, feel free to say hello. And if you have a dog, they are most welcomed in carline. I would love to say hello to you and your furry family member. I may even have a treat for the dogs.

Blessings,

Matthew S. Kerlin, Ph.D.
Head of School
SouthLake Christian Academy

Uncategorized

SouthLake Christian Academy Update – October 2022

Dear SouthLake Christian Families,

My first-of-the-month correspondence comes to you a few days later than normal because I know you don’t read emails during Fall Break, and I don’t blame you. Each Fall Break I go off grid and hike in the mountains, mildly disappointed when I return to technology. I hope you found an equally rejuvenating way to spend your days away from school.

Fall Break 2023
While we are on the subject, next year’s Fall Break will occur a week later than usual. Typically we break the first full week of October, which falls awkwardly just a few days before the close of our first quarter. Next year we will bring equity to our four quarters by scheduling Fall Break for October 9-13, 2023. We will keep it the second full week of October in future years.

School Board
We have new members to welcome to our School Board. In our quarterly meeting last month, the Board welcomed four new members – Kim Sailors, Ken Barna, Jed Belvin, and Hank Capps. All four have a long tenure of service to the Academy. Mr. Belvin and Dr. Capps both return to the Board after hiatuses of 2 and 3 years respectively. Dr. Amy Alexanian has been appointed to the role of Chair. The Session of SouthLake Church and the School Board have approved a new set of bylaws for the Academy which are set to go into effect next academic year. The new bylaws call for an expanded School Board to include between 9 and 12 members rather than 7 as it now stands. This Spring we will request nominations for new Board members, seeking those with outstanding leadership ability and a tenure of service to the Academy. Stay tuned for more information next semester.

Honor Chorus
This fall six students were selected from SouthLake to the North Carolina Elementary Honor Chorus, a choir of about 190 students selected among nearly 500 who auditioned. These students will have the opportunity to sing with the best vocalists in North Carolina, working with a nationally acclaimed choral conductor to prepare for a concert in Winston-Salem, NC the weekend of November 5-6. Congratulations to fifth-grader Julia Herring; sixth-graders Tony D’Ovidio, Gus Godfrey, and Ella-Rose Romero; seventh-grader Matthew Caputo; and eight-grader Jesse Smith. Incidentally, Ella-Rose tied for top score in her audition. Thank you to Mrs. Mary Ann Foltz for directing our increasingly impressive choral program.

School Counselor
This month we welcome to SouthLake our new school counselor, Caroline Conklin-Ortiz, a Licensed Mental Health Counselor Associate who will join us full-time after her wedding this weekend. She comes to us from private practice, having worked previously in school settings. Her deep faith in Christ and compassionate approach to counseling will help us better care for our students, faculty, and staff. Stronger mental health support remains an important initiative of our school’s strategic plan.

New Athletic Complex
SouthLake has contracted with UDC Sports to begin design work for a new turf field and running track on campus, the exact location to be determined. A parent committee has formed to raise 100% of the funds necessary to complete the project without the school incurring debt. As you may know, 80% of our students in grades 6-12 play a sport, and 9 of our 35 athletic teams compete or practice on our existing turf field, which is scheduled for replacement in two years. Several additional teams use our existing field to train and condition, creating scheduling challenges that often keep students on campus late into the evening. Track and cross country combine to form our largest athletic teams and they must travel to train and compete. We often relocate PE and recess from our current field to prevent sound conflicts with standardized testing in our field house classrooms. A new athletic complex will meet a host of logistical, athletic, and academic needs. I look forward to sharing more details with you as they become available.

In closing, let me add that the weather is outstanding and campus is beautiful this time of year. Enrollment is at capacity and many exciting projects are underway. God has indeed been good to SouthLake.

Onward,

Matthew S. Kerlin, Ph.D.
Head of School
SouthLake Christian Academy

Education Sports

SouthLake Christian Academy Update – September 2022

Dear SouthLake Christian Families,

As we head into Labor Day weekend, I am grateful to you for a remarkably smooth and peaceful start to the academic year. I know the first few weeks of school can be stressful as you learn new teachers, schedules, technologies, and logistics. Whenever you run into difficulty, our administrative team is here to help so don’t hesitate to reach out to us. If you aren’t sure who to contact, let me know and I’ll point you in the right direction.

Moms in Prayer
Beginning September 8, Moms in Prayer will meet on the second and fourth Thursday morning of each month to spend an hour praying for SouthLake students, faculty, and administration. Moms in Prayer is an international, Christ Centered, interdenominational prayer ministry made up of moms and grandmothers who desire to pray for children in schools. Moms in Prayer will meet at The Gathering Place, the house located adjacent to campus behind our large playground. You may park along the gravel drive leading to the house. If you have any questions, please email Jeanie Mason at jeaniemason7@gmail.com

Parents Bible Study
Beginning September 9, and each Friday morning this semester, we will host a Bible study for parents in the First Building Sanctuary at 8:00 AM. SouthLake Church Pastor Dan King and I will share leadership responsibilities. If you’ve ever wondered what your students are learning in Bible class and chapel, or if you have not found a church in the area, we invite you to join us. We know many of you work so we will keep our meeting time to 30 minutes.

Picture Day
Picture Day will be Thursday, September 8 for grades JK-4, and Friday September 9 for grades 5-11. These pictures will appear on ID cards and in our yearbook, and proofs will be available online for parents who may wish to purchase prints, holiday cards, banners, etc. Please be sure your children are in full dress uniform on the appropriate day. For more information about full dress uniforms, see our website under the Campus Life tab, under School Uniforms. In the event of inclement weather, we will reschedule picture day and notify you by text alert.

Carline
Rule number one for carline – don’t change lanes. We double stack our carline to minimize congestion on the main road, and we move each line forward in the order cars arrive. Changing lanes disrupts the process and usually means you wait longer. You should feel no pressure to arrive early for carline. Typically carline takes less than 10 minutes if you arrive at the designated time. If you arrive excessively early, the process takes you longer and you may get mixed in with traffic from an earlier dismissal. It may seem confusing when you see an adjacent line moving while you’re sitting still, but trust the process. There is a method to the madness.

That’s all for now.

Blessings,

Matthew S. Kerlin, Ph.D.
Head of School
SouthLake Christian Academy

Bible Prayer

SouthLake Christian Academy Update – August 2022

Dear SouthLake Christian Families,

Summer is winding down. Students return to campus in 10 days. People often ask if we are ready. My answer is always “No, but we will be.” As we prepare to begin a new academic year, you will likely be bombarded with information. I will try not to add to your burden, but do want to highlight a few details.

Open House/Orientation
We look forward to having you on campus next week for open house or orientation meetings. For those in grades JK-4, we will announce classroom teachers later this week and you will meet in your teacher’s classroom. For everyone else, we will direct you to the correct location when you arrive on campus, or notify you by text alert. We are finishing renovations in the First Building so some locations are still TBD. Here is the schedule:

  • JK-4 – Monday August 8, 1:00 – 2:00 p.m.
  • Grade 5 – Monday August 8, 9:00 a.m.
  • Grade 6 – Monday August 8, 10:30 a.m.
  • Grade 7 – Tuesday August 9, 9:00 a.m.
  • Grade 8 – Tuesday August 9, 10:30 a.m.
  • Grade 9 and all new High School students – Tuesday August 9, 1:00 p.m.

Normal Operations
For the first time since 2019, we begin the school year with mostly normal operations. Yes, COVID infections remain somewhat common, but decreased virulence from current strains of the virus mean we are mask optional and will not have to quarantine those exposed to COVID. If you have symptoms, however, it is important to stay home and test. Those with a positive COVID test will coordinate return to school with Nurse Elizabeth Metzger. Even though now most appear to experience mild symptoms from COVID, we still want to minimize spread and decrease student and teacher absences to the greatest degree possible.

Academic Development Center (ADC)
SouthLake provides robust services for students with specialized learning needs. Students needing academic accommodations of any kind, or specialized therapy from one of our certified NILD teachers, will have interaction with the ADC. This year Mrs. Iva Bas assumes the role of ADC Director, bringing a wealth of knowledge, experience, and compassion to the position. Those currently receiving services from the ADC will communicate with her to arrange schedules. Those needing academic accommodations based on professional testing will also communicate with her in the days to come. Support for students with learning differences is one of the things we do well here at SouthLake and we are thankful for Iva Bas, Gail Woods, Lynn Moore, and April Belcher for their work in this arena.

SouthLake App
Last month we introduced you to the SouthLake app. We know many have still not downloaded the app. In the days to come, we will rely heavily on this tool for communication, so please take a moment to download the SouthLake App which is available by name in the App Store (iOS users), or the Google Play Store (Android users). The app can connect you to school calendars, announcements, financial information, grades, homework, lunch orders, and everything you need to be an active member of the SouthLake community. We are still building content for some features of the app, and some features require login credentials for Renweb or Orgs Online.

Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians
This fall, in Middle and High School Chapel, we will be teaching through the New Testament book of Ephesians. In this letter, Paul reasons that because we are one in Christ, we should evidence a unity that transcends whatever might divide us. In the beginning of chapter 4, Paul urges us to walk in a manner worthy of our calling “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” In the midst of contentious times, this is my prayer for SouthLake.

A Few Miscellaneous Details
A quick reminder that we will begin a new Bible study for parents when the First Building sanctuary is finished. Also, we are hiring a new School Counselor, and in cooperation with SouthLake Church, an Assistant Pastor/Spiritual Life Director. If you know of qualified candidates, direct them to our website. We will begin the school year with nearly 630 students. At 18 students per classroom, full capacity is 634. Ever so close.

I pray you have a great start to the school year.

Onward,

Matthew S. Kerlin, Ph.D.
Head of School
SouthLake Christian Academy

Academics Bible Education Leadership

SouthLake Christian Academy Update – July 2022

Dear SouthLake Christian Families,

I hope you are enjoying time away from school. Things on campus remain busy and productive, but we will be closed next week for the Independence Day holiday. When we return, we will be only a month away from the start of the fall semester. Allow me to pass along some important information as we prepare for classes to resume.

New School App
As of today, the new SouthLake Christian Academy app will replace the Renweb app. The app is available for download by name in the App Store (iOS users), or the Google Play Store (Android users). The app can connect you to school calendars, announcements, financial information, grades, homework, lunch orders, and everything you need to be an active member of the SouthLake community. We are still building content for some features of the app, and some features require login credentials for Renweb or Orgs Online. Thank you to Jennifer Thomas and Brooke Hondros for their diligent work getting this app launched.

Parent-Student Handbook
I have sent by email an updated copy of the Parent-Student Handbook for the coming academic year. We have made minor changes or additions to our Escalation, Disease Mitigation, Behavior at Athletic Events, and Email Communication policies. Additionally, we have added a policy prohibiting the use of ride share services to transport students to or from campus. The updated handbook will also be loaded to our website before school starts this fall. For those who may need to order uniform items, Land’s End is running a promotional sale through July 11.

Water Bottles
If you’ve spent any time on campus during a school day, you likely have noticed the prevalence of plastic disposable water bottles on campus. In addition to its environmental impact, plastic creates a mess around campus and causes a massive accumulation of trash we must pay to dispose. For the past two years, we have been adding water bottle filling stations across campus to decrease our dependence on disposable plastic. Beginning this fall, therefore, we will no longer provide disposable water bottles with school lunches. Students will be expected to have a reusable water bottle with them at school. We plan to stock some in the school store as well. This will allow us to better care for God’s creation, keep a cleaner campus, and contain rising costs for our hot lunch program.

Personnel Changes
This month we welcome our new CFO Dawn Johnson. Dawn joins us from Providence, Rhode Island and brings experience as an accountant, finance executive, auditor, and controller for various corporations and non-profits. We also say goodbye to Rebekah Leonard, who leaves SouthLake after 22 years of service at the Academy, most recently as Associate Head of School. She will be entering semi-retirement, excitedly following App State athletics, and operating a consulting business that provides services to private schools and home school families with special needs students. God speed Rebekah. We will miss you.

Fiscal Year Ends
Today marks the end of the 21-22 fiscal year and another successful annual fund campaign netting $257,547 in undesignated gifts to the Academy. We continue to see strong participation rates from our parents and employees. The annual fund allows us to complete projects above and beyond what tuition dollars alone can provide. Last year’s giving allowed us to begin major renovations to the First Building to create a first-rate meeting space for chapel, fine arts presentations, and school assemblies, a project scheduled for completion this August. We hope to have an announcement soon about our next facilities improvement project. Thank you for your continued generosity.

Enrollment
It appears our enrollment will be near capacity when we start school this fall. With our commitment to small class sizes, we have an enrollment capacity of 634 school wide. Our retention rate remains high at 94% and we have already added 100 new students for the coming year. We have space remaining only in grades 3, 4, and 11, and we have 38 students on wait lists for other grades. Word of mouth has always been the most common way people hear about SouthLake, so thank you for spreading the news about our school.

Parents Bible Study
Have you ever wondered what your students are learning in Bible class or in chapel? Beginning this fall, I will help lead a Bible study for parents one morning per week where we will study some of the same things as your students. We will keep the study brief for those needing to get to work. If there are particular topics or interests you have for us to consider, please let me know and we will do our best to incorporate those into the study. I will be back in touch with more details as the start date approaches.

That’s all for now. Schedules will likely be released later today. We will see you soon.

Onward,

Matthew S. Kerlin, Ph.D.
Head of School
SouthLake Christian Academy

Uncategorized

SouthLake Christian Academy Update – June 2022

Dear SouthLake Christian Families,

Welcome to summer! I hope you have already had time to rest and recover from the hectic school year.

Graduation Ceremonies
Last week we celebrated the 20th Graduation Ceremony in SouthLake’s history. The class of 2022 is particularly meaningful to me because these students were freshmen when I started at SouthLake, and my daughter is a member of the class. These seniors needed remarkable resilience, perseverance, and patience to make it to graduation. During their high school tenure, they experienced hurricanes, tornados, earthquakes, snow storms, economic uncertainty, social unrest and violence, and a pandemic. Like no class before them, they were online, in person, hybrid, masked, unmasked, re-masked, quarantined, exposed, infected, re-quarantined, reinfected, and finally recovered, and in perfect attendance for the graduation service. Among the largest classes in recent SouthLake history, this class of 68 members was also among the most accomplished. Here are a few facts about the class of 2022:

  • 27% of the class are lifers, having attended SouthLake continuously since junior kindergarten or kindergarten.
  • 100% of the class participated in student organizations, sports, or fine arts.
  • 50% of the class earned scholarships totaling more than $8 million for academic achievement, leadership, athletics, and service to the community.
  • 15% of the class will compete as student athletes at the collegiate level in baseball, basketball, football, tennis, soccer, and lacrosse.
  • Our graduates were accepted to 89 different colleges and universities across the country.
  • Our graduates will attend 33 different schools in 13 states and the District of Columbia.
  • 47% will matriculate in state while 53% will leave North Carolina to attend schools in the Southeast, Southwest, Northeast, Midwest, and Mountain West.

We are proud of these students and grateful to God for the time they spent here. They will forever be a part of our history and lifelong members of the SouthLake family. We look forward with anticipation to what God does with the gifts and abilities they have developed in this place as they take what they have learned to a needy world beyond this campus.

SouthLake App
We are excited to announce the upcoming launch of the SouthLake Family App which will be available for download on Android and Apple devices within the next few weeks. We recommend that families access Renweb via a web browser from their phone or computer until the new free SLCA-branded app is available. We will make another announcement at that time letting you know the download is live.

Annual Fund
June is the final month in our fiscal year to donate to the SouthLake Christian Academy Annual Fund. The Annual Fund provides us with resources for value-added projects like renovations, new equipment, security improvements, and technology upgrades. We are using last year’s contributions to make major renovations to the First Building Commons, a space we will use each week for chapel, Sunday worship, fine arts presentations, and school meetings. If you have not contributed to the Annual Fund this academic year, would you consider making even a $1 contribution? High participation totals show your appreciation for and confidence in our school. To contribute online, go to the following link: https://factsmgtadmin.com/give/appeal/y9LNeED3D. Thank you for your support for SouthLake Christian Academy.

School Safety
I know recent events have all of us thinking about school safety, so allow me to highlight the security measures in place at SouthLake. We have a security team on campus comprised of individuals with law enforcement and/or military training who are prepared to respond in the event of an emergency. We have new gates controlling access to campus and a new state-of-the art camera system covering every common space, playground, parking lot, sidewalk, hallway, and and stairwell. We practice hard and soft lockdown regularly, and we do so in a manner that minimizes stress for students. We do security training with our staff each August. We consult periodically with security experts and the Huntersville Police Department to shore up campus security, plan emergency response, and practice good prevention. We have other security protocols in place that we do not discuss. And most importantly, we keep our class sizes small so our teachers can know our students well and quickly identify potential problems. We take campus safety seriously, and will continue to work diligently to keep our campus safe for your students.

Head of School Evaluation Survey
In February, I asked the School Board to empower me to complete an official 360 degree evaluation of my leadership as Head of School. I worked with the Board to come up with a survey tool for Board members, employees, and school families to provide feedback to the Board about my leadership. The survey is completely anonymous; I will have no access to the data until the survey closes and the report is delivered to the School Board. The survey should take you about 5 minutes to complete. I appreciate your feedback and promise to honor your time by using your responses to improve as a leader. SouthLake families will receive the link via email.

Blessings for a wonderful, restful, and safe summer.

Onward,

Matthew S. Kerlin, Ph.D.
Head of School
SouthLake Christian Academy

Safety

SouthLake Christian Academy Update – May 2022

Dear SouthLake Christian Families,

Friends, we are on the home stretch. The month of May provides us many opportunities to celebrate with year-end programs, awards ceremonies, chapel services, and graduation. With fewer than 13 school days left, we are all tired, so let us pray for endurance to finish the academic year well.

I have an update about the relationship between SouthLake Presbyterian Church and SouthLake Christian Academy. As you will recall, the church and school comprise one legal entity with the church Session (the pastor and elected elders) serving as our final governing body. The Session grants the School Board authority to oversee many school matters. For more than two years, the Session has prayerfully considered alternative ways to structure the church-school relationship. A proposal last December for the two entities to separate fully would have required a transfer of property assets from the church to the school, but the transfer was rejected by congregational vote. The Session is now considering a proposal whereby the school would become a subsidiary of the church with a degree of governance autonomy and an expanded School Board. The Session is working with a school committee to finalize new bylaws for the Academy. Pending legal review and final Session approval, we will apply for our own tax ID and 501c3 status sometime this summer, the final steps in the subsidiary process. I hope to have more details to share with you at my next update.

In April, the Session appointed to the School Board the first SouthLake alumnus to serve, Mr. Jacob Slavik. He is a member of the class of 2007 and serves as a Senior Manager at Sawgrass Partners, a firm specializing in services for senior adult living providers. As a member of SouthLake Church with experience in accounting, auditing, and board governance, Mr. Slavik brings a wealth of both professional and personal experience to the Board. This summer, the Academy will submit two candidates to the Session for approval to replace members whose terms are set to expire. If you wish to nominate someone to serve on the School Board, please let me know and I will send nominees an application. Completed applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis and the most qualified candidates will interview with the Head of School and Session.

We have released the calendar for the 2022-2023 academic year. This summer we plan to work on the academic calendar for 23-24 to help those of you who plan your vacations far in advance. Speaking of summer, please note we have a host of on-campus enrichment camps for all ages in June and July, as well as online classes available for high school students wanting to get ahead. More information can be found on our website and various social media channels.

In closing, let me say a word of thanks to our teachers for what they have done to get us through another unusual school year. I keep praying for a normal year, to no avail. Now I am wondering if perhaps God’s answer to such prayers is to give us the resilience to face whatever circumstances come our way. Our seniors selected Philippians 4:13 as their class verse, which in context reads, “I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” I see the truth of Philippians 4:13 in the ministry of our teachers every day. Be sure to tell them thank you whenever you get the chance. A kind word goes a long way.

Blessings,

Matthew S. Kerlin, Ph.D.
Head of School
SouthLake Christian Academy

Education Leadership

SouthLake Christian Academy Update – April 2022

Dear SouthLake Christian Families,

I greet you on day one of Missions Week as we begin our celebration of 20 years of missions at SouthLake. For two decades, SouthLake has partnered with 32 missions organizations, provided financial contributions of $436,290.07, and given untold hours of labor in support of mission efforts around the world. This week we will host special chapels on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, students may wear their Missions Week tee shirts each day, and on Friday we will cap off the week with our Spring Festival. I want to thank Kristin Ledford for her stellar efforts to plan and execute our spiritual life activities this year. And thanks to the efforts of the Parent Teacher Fellowship (PTF), this year’s Spring Festival will be free for all who attend, with the notable exception of the food trucks on campus. Please plan to drop by after school Friday to enjoy the festivities.

The April 1 deadline to withdraw from SouthLake without incurring tuition costs has passed, and I am pleased to report a retention rate of nearly 95%. School wide we have fewer than 20 spots left for the coming academic year. All grades are full except JK, 1, 6, and 11 and we have more than 40 students now in a waiting pool. We continue to tour and test students daily with the busiest months of our admissions cycle still to come. There is a very real possibility we could operate at maximum capacity for the 2022-2023 academic year. The only way this happens is when satisfied parents tell their neighbors. We spend almost no money on marketing because word of mouth remains the most common way our new families learn about SouthLake. Thank you for your continued trust in us and for helping to spread the good news about our school in the community.

In December I told you about Autumn Solesbee, a SouthLake third grader who won the regional round of the national Drive, Chip, and Putt competition. This qualified her to compete in the finals at Augusta National this past weekend. Well, we are proud to report that Autumn won the competition, placing first in her age group. The competition was aired on the Golf Channel and in a post-competition interview she was congratulated by Bubba Watson. Congratulations Autumn! You are a champion at Augusta National.

This month we will say goodbye to Harrella Wedington, our Chief Financial Officer. At the end of April, she will become the Controller for a national non-profit organization serving at-risk youth. I cannot overstate the impact she has made on our school, providing stellar leadership of our financial operations for more than four years. During her tenure, SouthLake has gained remarkable financial strength, even while navigating economic fallout from the pandemic. As a CPA with an MBA and vast experience in educational settings, Harrella possesses a rare skill set that will be difficult to replace. I will miss her integrity, business acumen, and good humor, but she will remain on the job until she trains her replacement. We wish Harrella the best as she takes on a new challenge.

To conclude, I would like to highlight the outstanding instruction of our Choral Director Mary Ann Foltz. In addition to teaching music and choir to every age group at SouthLake,

Mary Ann directs our annual spring musical. This year’s performance was Once Upon a Mattress, a humorous adaptation of the fairy tale “The Princess and the Pea.” Mary Ann is a master at casting, placing each student in an ideal role for their abilities. She can tell a brilliant story with a minimalistic set that can easily be transported and assembled for the off-site performance. She helps build a genuine sense of camaraderie so students feel supported and comfortable around each other and in front of an audience. She works tirelessly to construct sets, sew costumes, and rehearse music after hours, all while teaching a full load of music classes during the day. She is a program builder who has seen voluntary participation in choir more than double during her tenure. SouthLake is a better school because of the dedication and hard work of teachers like Mary Ann.

As I proofread, I see a lot of superlatives in this email. Maybe that is because we have much to celebrate. Certainly my job is to fix problems, but my job is also to highlight what is good about this place. As we near the conclusion of a tough academic year, I am thankful for all of those who quietly roll up their sleeves and put in the hard work to help make this place great. Hang in there. Spring is here; summer is coming.

Onward,

Matthew S. Kerlin, Ph.D.
Head of School
SouthLake Christian Academy

Education Fine Arts Sports

SouthLake Christian Academy Update – March 2022

Dear SouthLake Christian Families,

My typical first-of-the-month correspondence comes to you a day late so I can report good news about our dual reaccreditation process which wrapped up this afternoon. 

Reaccreditation
We are accredited by the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI) and by Cognia, the K-12 division of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). Every five years we complete a lengthy self-study to document our compliance with required standards, and then accreditors conduct a site visit. A team visited our campus this week and conducted interviews with administrators, teachers, support staff, students, parents, and School Board members. They also observed 47 different classes across campus. The team met with me today to deliver the expected good news of their affirmative recommendation to the ACSI Commission on Accreditation. Although their final report will not be complete for another month, I can highlight a few of their commendations and recommendations. The team commended our commitment to excellent financial stewardship, our focus on the wholistic development of children, our research-based approach to instruction and supporting technology, our emphasis on critical-thinking skills and biblical integration, and our policies and procedures to ensure the health and safety of our people. The team also gave recommendations for improving our ACSI teacher/administrator certification process and enhancing our curriculum guide documents. We learned much through the process to help us become a better school. I am particularly grateful to Mrs. Suzy Deneen for her stellar leadership of our highly successful reaccreditation process.

Town Hall
I want to thank those who attended our Town Hall meeting last month. While I question whether such meetings move us forward in the most relevant ways, I do believe they have helped us disseminate facts and express disagreements, both healthy practices for our community. I remain encouraged that almost all interactions at our Town Hall meetings this year have demonstrated civility and Christian charity. Our next meetings will likely be division specific (Lower School, Middle School, or Upper School) and we will be back in touch with you about dates and the topics we plan to discuss.

Exemplary Instruction
This month I would like to highlight excellent instruction by an Upper School teacher who wears many hats. Nathan Simpson teaches AP Computer Science, Algebra I, and Bible. He also serves on our Security Team, Technology Team, and coaches our Wrestling Team. In five seasons, Coach Simpson has coached four state champions, all of whom have gone on to compete nationally, placing 16th or better each time. This year, Coach Simpson had the honor of coaching his son Kaden to a state championship and an appearance at Nationals where he placed 12th. And did I mention that Kaden is a freshman? High School wrestlers have three more years to contend with Kaden’s fierce competitive drive and work ethic, and Coach Simpson’s skill as a mentor and coach. Congratulations to father and son on a remarkable season!

Our spring sports have started and we have great teams for you to watch as the weather warms. Spring Break begins in only 16 days.

Onward,

Matthew S. Kerlin, Ph.D.
Head of School
SouthLake Christian Academy

Education Sports