- How long has your family had a connection with Gaston Christian School?
We moved from Charlotte to Gastonia in 2000. Benjamin had previously been attending Charlotte Christian School, where we had begun to see the value of Christian education. Upon moving to Gastonia, we specifically wanted to seek out a school for our children which would provide academic excellence in a Christian worldview.
- How did you decide that GCS would be a good “fit” for your family?
We looked at multiple options, asked people in the community, attended various open houses, and eventually met with Opal Parks, who was the head of school at the time. We were impressed with the accelerated academic curriculum, emphasis on Christ-centered service and a vision for the future. (The school had just purchased the old Lowell Fairgrounds property). Ultimately, after much prayer and consideration, it became clear that God was leading us to this school. Therefore, in the fall of 2000, we enrolled Benjamin in first grade at the Parkwood Campus. Elisabeth followed the next year, beginning in three-year-old pre-school.
- What are some of the ways that you decided to become involved in volunteering at GCS?
We felt very strongly that we wanted to be active participants in our children’s education. We took every opportunity to be involved and get to know fellow parents, students, and faculty. It was our desire to be a part of the Gaston Christian family. Some of our favorite activities included field trips, morning car duty, sports, and serving at special events. After a time, Robert was asked to pray about joining the Board of Trustees and did so, serving as a member, Vice-Chairman, and Chairman. As Elisabeth became more involved in the drama program, we both worked to support the theatrical performances by working on sets, selling tickets, and managing concessions. Susan helped to form and lead T.A.G (The Arts Group) which served as a fine arts booster club.
- You have two children who are GCS graduates. When did they graduate and what are they doing now?
Benjamin graduated in May of 2012 with highest honors, attended UNC Chapel Hill, and graduated from there in 2016 with a BA in Romance Language Linguistics. He is currently living in Durham, NC and working as an English instructor for Chinese students. His interests include teaching Lego programs, and he is active in the political arena.
Elisabeth graduated in May of 2016 with highest honors and is currently attending Queens University of Charlotte. She is working on a double major in Creative Writing and English-Literature. Her primary extracurricular interests revolve around her leadership with Signet, the literary magazine at Queens University of Charlotte, where she serves as an editor. She also enjoys writing serialized Fiction, which she shares through an online media outlet.
- You have remained involved in GCS – even since your children graduated. Why is that important to you?
We believe in the mission of Gaston Christian School. We live in a modern, secular culture where it’s more important than ever for the youth of this country to be grounded in a firm, Christ-centered foundation. In a world where morals and ethics are falling by the wayside, Gaston Christian is a beacon of hope. During the years our children attended the school, Gaston Christian became part of us. It lives in our hearts. Thus, we will forever, passionately, advocate for and promote the success of the school.
- Your family is making a very generous investment in the M.O. Owens Worship and Fine Arts Center. What do you think this facility is going to mean to GCS and to the community?
Beyond its practical use as an outstanding facility for the fine arts, allowing for growth and full expression of the school arts programs, it will become the heart of campus as the central location for worship. While grateful for the gym facility, the space and atmosphere for worship is far from ideal. But, what is perhaps most unique about the Gaston Christian Worship and Fine Arts facility from others in the area is that it will also be available to serve the community, providing an opportunity to expose those outside the GCS family to the message and ministry that we value.