“I have been completely and totally blessed by being here. God has challenged and encouraged me,” a parent said.
Laughter, off-the-wall questions and amazement were daily experiences for nearly 75 pre-school to 12th grade students and parents at the 13th Annual GIS Extension Services Department (ESD) conference.
“It was very flexible, and sessions were interesting!” a male student said.
Students said God showed them new things: “I shouldn’t be shy with people I don’t know.” “God said to relax.” “I can be more outgoing.” “Doing a hard thing once makes it easier the next time.” “It’s important to learn things I find boring or unimportant — especially at my age.”
Parents chose from 16 workshops during the week: Praying in Color, Curriculum choices, Biblical Worldview Education, Transient Lifestyles, Teaching Science, Faith of our Fathers, Editing Student’s Writing, Raising Boys, Third Culture Kids, Rites of Passage, How Moms Shape Children, Studying Novels, Stress or Burnout?, Family Dynamics, Reluctant Learners, Preparing Transcripts.
“I learned from and encouraged other moms.” “We liked extended breaks to visit.” “Daily Spiritual refreshment was appreciated, especially with our youth involved in leading worship!” parents said.
Students enjoyed swimming, sports, snacks, Bible devotions and a field trip. Pre-schoolers had stories, music and memory verses. Elementary ages added standardized testing, crafts, prayer, African country study, Science, Geography, music.
Middle and High School students tested and studied writing, Art, College Preparation, Online resources, Budgets & Investment, Bible Study Methods and Evangelism Training.
“Evangelism training was extremely relevant and exciting,” students said. “The best part was night market ministry!” “I learned evangelism is just to be friendly and show God’s love.”
ESD Director Phalice VanderPol said Wednesday had “Dad’s Day” emphasis, with more male presenters. Parents like the focused talks about a dad’s role, with practical things to apply at home — especially raising boys and how to be more intentional.
More than half the students entered 10 project categories, and 25 won awards in: Science; Cultures of the World; Art; Research Project; Poetry; Essay or Short Story; Instrumental, Vocal or Speech Performance.
“We didn’t make ‘awards’ a big deal. We wanted to encourage everyone, so ‘Excellence’ awards went to exemplary work, displaying skill, effort, quality and creativity. And ‘Encouragement’ awards were given for entries showing great promise, creativity and hard work,” ESD consultant Annalisa Benner said.
“I really enjoyed the relaxed, fun atmosphere and Art. We want more of Mr. Miya’s lectures!” teens said.