Thursday, August 27, 2015

"Feed the Need" & Our Partnership with Haiti

“We love, because He first loved us.” — 1 John 4:19 

In an effort to instill the virtues of charity, compassion, and gratitude in the hearts of our students, Bethany Christian School will be partnering with Mission of Hope to offer outreach and assistance to children in Haiti. Mission of Hope was founded in 1998 by Brad and Vanessa Johnson, and it has since partnered with hundreds of American churches and businesses to provide relief and hope to more than 100,000 Haitians in eleven different villages. Until now, Mission of Hope has never partnered with a school. This year, Bethany Christian School will be serving needs and building relationships with the children on Mission of Hope’s main campus. We will be doing so through a four-pronged approach.

#1 - “Feed the Need” – During the 2015 fall semester, Bethany will be launching a campaign pledge drive that will support the ministry of Bethany Christian School and enable Bethany’s students to purchase, pack, and ship more than 10,000 meals to children in Haiti. Each bag of food costs $5 and contains multiple meals. This campaign, which will replace the Boosterthon Fun Run, seeks to accomplish three primary objectives: (1) to instill in our children a love of missions and service to those in need, (2) to raise funds for Bethany Christian School, and (3) to pay for the costs of meals, packing materials, and shipping. 

To "become a fundraiser," click on the following link:

Or text "BOBCAT" to 71777.  

After registering as a "fundraiser" on the website, you will be supplied with a link that is specific to your family. There will be one link per family. You can then share this link with your family and friends via text, email, or on social media -- encouraging others to support the cause. 

#2 - Village of Hope School Supply Drive – Bethany will also be partnering with the Village of Hope — the primary orphanage on the Mission of Hope main campus. We have pledged to provide for the educational and clothing needs of sixty-two orphans — with ages ranging from preschool to high school. In this effort, we will be collecting backpacks, pencils, pencil pouches and sharpeners, pens (blue ink), erasers, scientific calculators, geometry sets, underwear, undershirts, and belts.

Watch the Story of Jean Marc. 

#3 - Pen-Pal Program – In addition to offering our assistance in supplying nutritional, educational, and clothing needs, Bethany will be launching a pen-pal program to build relationships of love and hope between our students and these 62 children. Each of our classes will “adopt” 4-5 students. Psalm 68 declares that our God is a “Father to the fatherless,” and He “sets the lonely in families.” It is our prayer that our students will become an extended spiritual family to these kids who have lost their families.

#4 - Our Spring Break Mission Trip – Finally, Bethany and Rio Vista Community Church will be offering Bethany families an opportunity to take a short-term mission trip over Spring Break to visit the Mission of Hope campus and to see the fruit of your generosity. During the trip, we will be leading students in the SAINTS sports camp and working to improve their campus. Our students will be able to meet the children with whom they have formed these relationships. Our families will have the opportunity to visit the orphanage, see the supplies, play with these kids, and be blessed in witnessing the amazing redemptive work that our God is doing in the lives of these children.

For more information on how you can support our efforts, contact Marne MacPhee at For more information about the spring mission trip, please contact Scott Carson at

About Mission of Hope

The Mission of Hope website declares: “As an organization following Jesus Christ, we exist to bring life transformation to every man, woman, and child in Haiti. Mission of Hope was founded in 1998, and continues to serve Haiti daily by meeting the physical and spiritual needs of the Haitian population. Our desire is to serve the nation of Haiti, and see lives changed. Our passion is to see the hopeless find hope through Jesus Christ, and empower future generations through education to bring their country out of poverty.”


1.       Intentionally modeling Christ’s love through relationships.
2.       Repeatedly sharing the Gospel message in targeted geographies.
3.       Strategically developing national leaders to carry the vision to the nation.
4.       Pursuing God’s physical, mental, social and spiritual destiny for every man, woman and child.
5.       Responsibly utilizing all resources and talents to their fullest potential for God’s glory.

For more information about Mission of Hope, visit their website at

Facts about Haiti

Ø  FACT: Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.
Ø  FACT: Two out of every three Haitians live on less than $2 per day.
Ø  FACT: Eighty percent of the Haitian population lives in abject poverty.
Ø  FACT: Haiti ranks among the three worst countries in the world for daily caloric intake.
Ø  FACT: The 2010 earthquake killed more than 200,000 Haitians and left 1.5 million homeless.
Ø  FACT: There are currently more than 400,000 orphans living in Haiti.
Ø  FACT: Roughly 100,000 Haitian children under the age of five suffer from acute malnutrition.

Thanks in advance for partnering with us in this effort to bless our students and the children of Haiti.

“We love, because He first loved us.”

In Christ,

Sam Kastensmidt
Head of School

Bethany Christian School

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Top 20 Summer Campus Improvements @ Bethany Christian School

Hello BCS Family!

I wanted to offer a HUGE thank you to the selfless generosity of Bethany's Parent Teacher Fellowship. Your generosity has allowed us to make many significant improvements to the campus facilities, which I am confident will have a very positive and lasting impact upon our school. 

While Bethany has always had a beautiful campus, I am truly grateful for your generosity that has enabled us to make the following improvements at Bethany:

#1 - Newly Renovated Reception Area 
During the course of the summer, we renovated our administrative offices in order to offer a more professional and welcoming reception area. As you enter the doors located off of SE 8th Street, you will be greeted by smiling faces behind a counter top.

#2 - Resurfaced Gym Floor 
After more than a decade, Bethany has resurfaced our gym floor. The new gym floor was installed by the same company that installed the flooring at the American Airlines Arena for the Miami Heat. This flooring couples the appearance of a professional hardwood floor with the safety of a padded laminate flooring. In addition, the new stripes have been painted in accordance with regulation standards.

#3 - Air Conditioning in Hallways
We have installed air conditioning ducts in the Elementary and Middle School hallways. Prior to this summer, all air conditioning on the south side of the campus was sourced into the classrooms only, which prevented the necessary circulation to keep the hallways both cool and fresh.

#4 - New Ceiling Tiles
In our talk with designers, they told us that the 2x2 ceiling tiles are much warmer and more attractive than the 2x4 ceiling tiles used previously. All common hallways now feature 2x2 tiles.

#5 - New Glass Doors for 9th Street Entrance
During the summer, we replaced the shoe-print stained wooden doors at the 9th Street entrance with impact-resistant glass doors. These doors are not only safer, but they allow plenty of light to pour into the hallways -- making the elementary hallway far more open and welcoming for our students.

#6 - Newly Designed Exterior Landscaping  
The landscaping surrounding the main campus was entirely redesigned. This three-tiered landscaping makes the campus look absolutely beautiful and welcoming to students, parents, and visitors.

#7 - New Lighting and Covers for Stairwells
For decades, the stairs ascending to the Middle School and upper Elementary classrooms were merely painted concrete. In an effort to make the stairwells both warmer and safer, we have installed rubber coverings over the stairs (for better traction and softer corners). We've also improved the lighting.

#8 - New Sign on the Western Wall
During the opening weeks of school, we are planning to install a back-lit sign on the western, second floor exterior of the school that will help to identify the school. Currently, the only significant sign for northbound traffic on Federal Highway is the marquee. This new sign will increase visibility for our guests and prospective families.

#9 - Improved 8th Street Curb Appeal
We have launched an effort to enhance our curb appeal for the 8th Street entrance. This entrance into the administrative offices often presents prospective families with their first impression of Bethany. In addition to redesigning all of the landscaping, we have installed new signs and a new awning. We have resurfaced the parking lot. Goodbye pot holes! We have re-striped the parking spaces, and we are planning to install new brick pavers in place of the existing sidewalk.

#10 - Re-Coating the Parking Lots and Pick-Up Lanes
As you will notice, the pick-up lanes and the teacher parking lot have been resurfaced and re-striped to present a fresh and professional appearance to families.

#11 - Plaster Coating Over the Cinder Block Walls
All of the upstairs classrooms have received a bit of a makeover. The cinder block walls, which were present in all of the upstairs classrooms, have received a smooth plaster coating. This smooth coating goes a long way to make the classrooms far more welcoming and warm for our students. We will certainly not miss the institutional look of block walls.

#12 - Expansion of Middle School Mathematics Classroom
We have added several hundred square feet to our Middle School Mathematics classroom. In addition, we have added sound-proofing between the Elementary and Middle School classrooms.

#13 - Privacy Fence for Eastern Walkway
We have installed a fence and all new landscaping on the eastern side of the school. This has provided privacy, additional security, and a more beautiful view to our east-facing classrooms.

#14 - Added Security Cameras
During this summer, we have installed several new cameras to help ensure the safety and security of our students. Two of these new cameras will monitor events in the gymnasium and the lunchroom.

#15 - Replaced Breaker Boxes to Accommodate Growth
In an effort to ensure safety and efficiency, we have replaced two electrical panels on campus. As our school grows, our infrastructural needs grow as well. These new panels should accommodate our needs for a long time to come.

#16 - Additional Motion Lights
In order to improve safety conditions for evening events, we have installed motion lights around the campus. This will ensure that no one is forced to walk through dark passageways to reach their cars.

#17 - New Doorknobs with Interior Locking
Prior to this year, most of our classroom doors were fitted with knobs that were locked by exterior-facing keyholes. To improve response-time in the event of an emergency "lock down," all of our classrooms now feature high-security doorknobs with interior, push-button locking mechanisms.

#18 - Exterior Facelift 
The exterior of the campus has been painted; the bricks have been pressure washed; and the existing awnings on SE 9th Street have been professionally cleaned.

#19 - Carpet Cleaning
For the second consecutive year, ServiceMaster by Robinson has completely donated their services to clean our carpets and to wax our floors. They are a HUGE blessing to our ministry.

#20 - New Flatscreen Display Monitors
We have installed three new flatscreen TV display monitors in our hallways to add a touch of life to the campus and to provide important announcements about upcoming events to our families.

This is merely a sampling of the work that has been done this summer to enhance our school's facilities. It does not include the redesigning of storage facilities, the addition of a classroom, the purchase of additional technological resources, or new elements to our classroom curricula.

All of these improvements were made possible by the generosity of those who have chosen to invest in the mission and future of Bethany Christian School.

The Front Office reception area was renovated to offer a more welcoming presentation for BCS families and visitors.

We resurfaced the gym floor to improve the appearance and to bring it up to regulatory standards.  

We have installed motion lights around our campus to ensure safety for our guests during evening events.   

We have installed a privacy fence and added landscaping to enhance the aesthetics for our east walkway. 

We re-coated our 8th and 9th Street parking lots to make the exterior of the school look much sharper and cleaner. 

We installed additional lighting and covers to the stairwells to enhance both safety and appearance.  

We have installed three flat screen display monitors around campus to announce upcoming events.  

We resurfaced the 8th Street parking lot to eliminate dangerous and unsightly potholes. 

We added all new landscaping around the campus to provide a beautiful tiered effect. Special thanks to Kara Sher. 

We have installed additional cameras on campus to enhance security eliminate blind spots. 

Why Well-Maintained Facilities Matter to You 

Experience and common sense dictate that poorly maintained facilities can lead a person to feel that an environment is unsafe or oppressive. Our souls naturally long to be surrounded by beauty and order. Being a statistics nerd, I was curious if there were any scientific studies pointing to the measurable benefits associated with making campus upgrades. Indeed, recent studies have shown that the condition of campus aesthetics actually has a dramatic role upon student performance, their levels of happiness, and the frequency of behavioral issues.

One scientific study found that something as simple as exposure to sunlight inside the walls of a building actually increases students' academic performance by 19%. Exposure to attractive landscaping also yields a myriad of positive benefits. Another study found that the cleanliness and beauty of a campus has a direct correlation to student creativity and work ethic. It also serves to increase teacher morale and retention rates. Another major study found that the condition of a school's facilities has a direct influence on student motivation, confidence levels, graduation rates, and their overall sense of security. Orderly and beautiful campuses also see fewer behavioral issues like truancy, suspensions, and incidents of student bullying.

We want to shine brightly in every conceivable category, and we are confident that these improvements will enhance your child's experience at Bethany Christian School!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

"We Love, Because He First Loved Us"

Dear Bethany families,

I hope that you all had a fun, restful and rejuvenating summer filled with lots of precious memories with your families. Our theme for the 2015-16 school year will be “Reflecting Christ,” and our selected Bible verse for the year comes from 1 John 4:19: “We love, because He first loved us.” Not only is this an easy verse to memorize, but it is an empowering verse for all of life.

Before we launch into this year, I wanted to share some thoughts for why we chose this theme, as well as a sampling of some of the exciting ministry opportunities that Bethany is launching this year.

“We Love, Because He First Loved Us”

Though God’s love can be defined in a variety of ways, there are two particular aspects of His love that are extremely comforting to me. First, God’s love is infinite. In mathematics, we know that when infinity is divided by any other number (no matter how large), it still remains infinity. Therefore, if God’s love is infinite, this means that God loves each of you and your children, infinitely. There is no limit to His love!

Second, God’s love for his children is unconditional. This means that neither you nor your children can ever stumble too many times or fall so far that our Savior is no longer there to catch you.

So if we truly believe that God loves us with THAT sort of love, how should it impact our lives?

Finding Freedom & Value in Christ’s Love

When we realize that we are secure in Christ’s love despite our faults, we are freed from the temptation to find our value and identity based solely upon our performance. We don’t need to look for validation in the opinions of others. Our God, who is perfectly wise, has already set a price tag on our lives, and He did so on the Cross! And if God loves us that much, the flawed opinions of others lose their power over us.

In Christ, we can pursue excellence in all things out of a sense of gratitude for His love, rather than mere obligation to His laws. There is a huge difference. A person who seeks to gain God’s favor through unfailing effort and obedience will eventually find religion to be slavery, because we can never measure up to God’s perfect standards. But a person who experiences the love of God in the midst of struggles and failures (and we all have them!) will actually want to please God out of an abundance of gratitude.

I wholeheartedly believe that this brand of Christ-centered love makes Bethany special and unique as a school. We seek to love others out of the overflowing abundance of God’s love for us. We strive to ensure that each and every child is loved — not based on performance — but upon the model of Christ’s infinite and unconditional love expressed toward us, even in the midst of our own flaws and failures. When we reflect Christ’s love toward others, we discover the key to authentic joy in the Christian life. We find joy in loving the lowly and the broken, because Christ loved us when we were lowly and broken. At Bethany, we want our students to experience the joys of this brand of selfless compassion and charity.

Bethany’s Partnership with Mission of Hope

Out of this desire, I am excited to announce that Bethany is launching a partnership with Mission of Hope — a Christian ministry located in Haiti. Specifically, we will be sponsoring the Village of Hope Orphanage, which currently houses 62 kids. Each class will be building relationships with a few of these precious orphans. Our classes will receive a full personal profile on each kid; we will develop pen-pal relationships with them; and we will seek to ensure that these orphans are equipped with all the back-to-school supplies necessary for success. In addition, instead of hosting our annual Boosterthon fall fundraiser, we will be hosting a “Feed the Need” campaign drive, in which Bethany’s students will be packing more than 10,000 meals to feed malnourished children. Half of these meals will go to the students who are located on Mission of Hope’s campuses. Last year, several of Bethany’s teachers, parents, and students visited the main campus, and they were greatly impacted by this ministry. This upcoming fall and spring, several others are planning to go on mission trips to their main campus. During these trips, our students will meet their pen-pals and see how their generosity has helped to enrich the lives of these children.

If you would like to learn more about Mission of Hope and its impact upon the lives of Haitian children, please watch the following videos. They are truly inspiring!

The Story of Mission of Hope & Village of Hope

The Personal Story of Jean Marc (a rescued orphan)

If you would like to get involved in the “Feed the Need” campaign drive, please contact Marne MacPhee at If you are interested in participating in future mission trips to the Mission of Hope campus, please contact Amanda Mason at In either case, this is an extraordinary opportunity to help shepherd your child’s heart in “reflecting Christ” to a hurting world.

It is my sincere prayer that this year’s ministry and service projects will have a profound impact upon the hearts and minds of each and every child who calls Bethany home.

“We love, because He first loved us!”

See you soon!

Sam Kastensmidt
Bethany Christian School