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: 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.


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


SouthLake Christian Academy – Update October 2021

As you head into your week off from school, let me be a cheerleader for SouthLake and give you a few bits of good news.

First, you should soon receive by mail a copy of SouthLake’s Strategic Plan. I hope you will take a few moments to read the document, or at the very least look at the great pictures. This publication reflects hours of collaborative work by many in our community and outlines our school’s strategic priorities for the future. The goals we’ve set are lofty, but I believe you would rather us aim high. A mentor once told me that most organizations overestimate what they can accomplish short term, and underestimate what they can accomplish long term. I am excited to see what God can accomplish as we work together in the years to come.

Second, this week I received a remarkable compliment from the Principal of Hibriten High School, our varsity football rival from one week ago. She called to tell me how impressed she was with our students, staff, and parents this past Friday night. She received many compliments from her staff about how polite and respectful our folks were, and how much they enjoyed having us on their campus. She mentioned specifically that our players were careful to say, “thank you” and “yes sir” or “yes ma’am” when speaking with the Hibriten staff. Whether we win or lose in competition, how we conduct ourselves among our rivals speaks volumes about ourselves, our school, and our Creator.

Third, I would like to recognize SouthLake junior John Levantino for being selected to the North Carolina Honors Chorus. John auditioned with over 700 students from across the state. Only 176 students were selected from 78 participating schools. To put this achievement into context, there are nearly 1000 high schools in the state enrolling over 1.1 million students. This makes John’s accomplishment even more impressive. And let me add that John also plays cello and runs cross country.

Fourth, I continue to observe our teachers in the classroom, and this month’s report comes from our Upper School orchestra. Students are learning an arrangement of Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Procession of the Nobles” from the opera Mlada. How do you take an orchestral piece with 50 different parts and make it work for an ensemble of 5 strings, 2 trumpets, one flute, and an electric piano? Well, our Fine Arts Director Jose Bas is a master at solving problems like this and making music with the resources available. In an orchestra of 9 members, every musician is exposed. Mr. Bas knows all the parts, and can sing them when needed, and he knows theory and technique for strings, brass, and woodwind instruments alike. A virtuoso string player himself, Mr. Bas balances his high demands with frequent words of encouragement. Sometimes during class everything falls into place and genuinely beautiful music results. Heaven knows we have our problems, but in moments like these, I am reminded how much God has blessed SouthLake.

I hope you have a restful and relaxing week. We will return from Fall Break as scheduled, fully in person for all grades. See you on October 11.

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

Fine Arts Leadership Sports

What I Put In My Syllabus for Freshmen

The following statement appears at the end of my syllabus for the course I teach freshmen at Samford University:

“You are here at Samford to be a student.  You are paying good money to be here, or someone else is, even if you are on scholarship.  Make the most of the opportunities this class provides.  I will probably not be the greatest professor you have. I will probably not be the worst either.  I will do my absolute best to teach, but what you learn is largely up to you.  You should not cheer when your classes are cancelled due to bad weather or illness.  Skipping class is wasting money, like not eating what you’ve ordered at a nice restaurant.  You’ve paid for these classes – you should get your money’s worth.  You should never whine or moan or complain about assignments, however long or boring or complicated they may seem.  Refuse to be wimpy students!  Learn everything that you can during this time in your life when your primary responsibility is to learn.  You may never have an opportunity like this again. YOLO.  Carpe Diem.”


What Do Students Care Most About?

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I was reminded in a recent blog post by my son (read it here) that for students, college is about friendships. Professors want students to think high-minded thoughts, to probe the depths of intellectual inquiry, to increase in knowledge. Campus ministers want students to deepen their faith and their commitments to Christ and the Church. Parents want students to make good grades, gain a marketable set of skills, and get a job after they graduate. All good things, but students mostly want friends, at least at first. After they find good friends, then maybe they’ll want some of that other stuff too, especially if their friends want it. This means that for most students, friends can make or break the college experience. With this in mind, here are a few thoughts on college friendships for each of the players involved:

Parents – Talk to your students about finding the right friends. Consider Greek Life carefully and prayerfully, knowing that the choice to pledge could be the most significant decision your son or daughter makes. Think not just about the academic programs and job prospects that a university provides, but think about its campus culture as well. Get to know your student’s friends. Have them over, feed them, help do their laundry. You can learn volumes about your student’s college experience from his/her friends.

Professors – Your students care more about their friends than they do you or your class. They’re probably taking your class because a friend told them it was good. They’ll skip your class to spend time with a friend in a crisis, and they’ll be confused to learn this isn’t an excused absence. They will skip studying for a late night pizza, coffee, or Sonic run. Nothing you say in class will change this. Students who don’t find good friends tend to transfer to another school. And you were probably the same way when you were a student.

Campus Minister – Your events, programs, and activities should capitalize on students’ perceived need for friends. This isn’t pandering, it’s understanding and adapting to a culture, as you would in a missions setting with an unreached people group. Students will follow their friends to a party or to church, to a summer camp job or a summer missions experience, to a campus lecture or a campus ministry. To call this a “herd mentality” is to degrade this stage in a student’s life.

Students – If you leave home for school, and even if you commute to a campus near your home, your life is uprooted, upended, and upheaval is the result. You need friends, good friends, and quickly. Go out and find them, don’t wait for them to come to you. This will sometimes be uncomfortable and occasionally awkward, especially if you tend toward the shy side. Embrace the awkward – all new students feel it, and most older students too. Friend groups morph from semester to semester, so everyone is always making new friends. And most importantly, find the RIGHT friends who share your faith and your values, who want truly good things for you, who will challenge you, confront you, disagree with you, sharpen you, hold you accountable, and keep you from thinking that college is all about you.