I was absolutely thrilled this week as the finance department finalized on the Hike IT Forward scholarship recipients.
When I got the list of students the trail came crashing into my memories once again. I think about the trail every day but when some special like this reminds me of the adventure, certain things immediately flood my mind.
I remember the handful of change that a kindergartener brought in to support my hike, the inspiring high school senior who held many bake sales and raised over $1,000 for the scholarships, the faithful family members and friends who gave sacrificially to encourage my heart and spirit. I reflect back on the balloon launch in the school courtyard to send me off to Georgia. As the balloons floated into the air and took flight in the winds of God, I was impressed that I would be lifted up in prayer by the students and their families during my long walk. My mind replays the video of the sidewalks lined with students to welcome me back home from Maine. I was overwhelmed and humbled by the hero’s welcome. The smiling faces of the elementary students and the genuine cheers of celebration from the student body made every step of the journey seem meaningful.
As I glanced over the names of the scholarship recipients I realized that there are fifteen students attending the school this year that would not have been able to afford to enroll without the Hike It Forward scholarship. Some of the names are new to me but at least two of the families involve alumni parents. The mother in one of the two families was a teacher at Dayton Christian High School prior to starting her beautiful family. I was so happy to be able to help her and her husband. Both of them have been such an encouragement to me over the years. The parents of the second alumni family are both DC graduates that walked the halls at the Homewood campus in the 1990’s when I served as Principal. They are powerful voices in the Christian community and stand tall as great examples of parenting. How special it is for me to be a small part of the education of their children.
I was at a recent parent meeting at the Xenia campus. After the meeting, a couple came up to me and introduced themselves as recipients of a scholarship. It brought tears to my eyes as I saw their appreciation. The dad quickly pulled out his cell phone and showed me a picture of their two beautiful children (a son and a daughter) standing together in their cross country uniforms. He shared how excited they were that their children were able to run together at the school. As they turned to leave I could not help but think that my crazy desire to hike the Appalachian Trail truly helped to change the world of this family. God is faithful!
This wonderful group of fifteen students is now a very important group to me. There are four high school students: 3 sophomores and 1 junior. Four students are in middle school: 2 in eighth grader and 2 in 6th grade. Seven elementary students round out the total number of fifteen recipients: 1 fourth grader, 2 third graders, 2 first graders and 2 enrolled in kindergarten. My prayers are with each one as God continues to transform their lives.