OLS School Peer Helpers Selected

OLS Peer Helpers pic

Education Extra

The 2022-2023 Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic School (OLS) Peer Helpers have been chosen! The students were selected based on their teacher recommendations, grade point average, individual questionnaire, and personal interviews. These ambassadors help host special school events. They also tutor and help other students with reading, writing skills, math facts, and art projects, in addition to assisting teachers with various bulletin board projects in the school.

OLS Peer Helpers pic
The 2022-2023 Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic School 8th-grade Peer Helpers are as follows (from left to right) Left to Right (top):  Olivia Sapalaran, Sofia Arteaga, Caroline Von Hagel, Isla Rohling, Linley Sparks, Sophia Bell Left to Right (bottom):  Hannah McMillan, Joseph Fuller, Caleb Brown, Max Sullivan, Delaney Sparacio

Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic School fosters the religious, academic, and social development of every child, recognizing that knowledge enlightened by faith and realized through service is at the heart of Catholic education. Accredited by Cognia, we provide a curriculum that combines Catholic faith and teachings with academic excellence. We offer a partnership with parents in the religious formation of their children through a family friendly environment to prepare our students to be productive citizens and future leaders. Our school consults with the Diocese of Birmingham Catholic Schools Office, the CDC guidelines, and the recommendations by the American Academy of Pediatrics to maintain a safe environment for our students. To learn more about Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic School, visit olsschool.com. †

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Education Extra

Community Partner Logo 22 FINAL 1Brought to you by: Community Partner Scholarships for Kids

The Scholarships for Kids team are planners that take the responsibility of planning the futures of the students they serve very seriously. The community model of Scholarships for Kids offers students, parents, schools, and taxpayers ‘an in’ on one of the greatest opportunities to invest in our future, and it’s an opportunity that doesn’t cost the Alabama taxpayer a dime. The team has a responsibility to donors to utilize funds donated by Alabama taxpayers toward the education of Alabama’s children.

Scholarships for Kids is a community of fundraisers that cannot do this without support. To ensure that parents and schools can plan accordingly, funds donated in any given calendar year are reserved for the next academic year. This budgeting gives families, schools, and donors peace of mind that the Scholarships for Kids team is accountable for the funds they are tasked to handle.

Scholarships for Kids partner schools establish a safe, welcoming, and culturally diverse environment where students can thrive academically, spiritually, and socially. Scholarships for Kids students work hard not only to succeed in a new environment but to overcome challenges they have faced that many will never fully understand. Despite these challenges, they are rising to the occasion as leaders and becoming Student Government Association presidents, salutatorians, and student athletes. They are finding where they fit in, and they are better for it. 

Scholarships for Kids looks to parents to have skin in the game. This means that no matter the tuition amount, parents are responsible for a portion of their child’s tuition. They too are partners in this process. They are transferring due to safety concerns, or because they see a special quality in their child that should be fostered in a different kind of environment. It’s the ultimate team effort, and it’s making a difference in the future of Alabama.

There is only one way you or your business can tell the state of Alabama how to spend your tax dollars and that is by redirecting up to 100% of your state tax liability. These are tax dollars you already must send to the state, and through the Alabama Accountability Act, you can help give school choice opportunities to students from low-income households. This is a dollar-for-dollar tax credit meaning you get back every dollar you invest in this program! For more information, call 205-246-5613 or visit www.scholarshipsforkids.org. †

Welcome back to first priority kids holding gospel sign

Welcome Back to Class

Did you know that as of last school year there are 163,814 students in 270 schools across Greater Birmingham? First Priority represents 93 of those schools. That means there are 177 schools without a First Priority/Priority Kids club. We are working hard to expand this fall and start new clubs. The vision of First Priority is to share the hope of Christ with every student before they graduate high school. First Priority unites the local body of Christ with a plan of action to influence the school with the Gospel.

First Priority Club
As area students head back to class this fall, First Priority and Priority Kids will play a critical role in helping our youth establish positive peer groups and grow in their faith in Christ.

Did you know that suicide is the second leading cause of death among teenagers? Students are depressed, lonely and looking for a safe place to belong. Christ’s love is the answer and First Priority gives them a great outlet to connect with others who may be going through similar situations. Launching new clubs will allow more students the opportunity to hear the life-changing Gospel of Christ, develop leaders and connect local churches to mentor students.

Priority Kids is a strategy for churches and parents to partner together around schools to empower elementary and intermediate students to influence their school with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We do this by teaching them “What Jesus Said” in the Bible. We believe as they READ IT, SEE IT and LIVE IT for themselves they will have a desire to TELL IT to everyone they meet. A young boy recently told his mom the only reason he wants to attend school is to go to Priority Kids.

First Priority and Priority Kids clubs are much needed on school campuses as they provide a safe environment and positive peer group for students. Will you help us expand this year and launch new clubs? There are multiple ways you can be involved. Visit www.firstpriorityal.com for more information or email us directly at info@firstpriorityal.com. If you would like your elementary student to participate in Priority Kids this fall or if you would like to volunteer, visit www.prioritykids.com. We hope you’ll be a part of this unique movement to reach every last student with the hope of Christ! †


Banks Academy's New Location

Welcome Back to Class

Banks Academy partnered with Huffman Baptist Church for a new location! “We are excited to have such a great Christian high school utilizing our facility enabling our church to further serve the surrounding community,” says Rob Paul, Pastor of Huffman Baptist Church. “The Huffman Baptist facility has everything we need to grow the school to 300-400 students and fulfill our mission of empowering Birmingham area students to fulfill their potential through delivering excellence in education, character, and life skills to live productively in a diverse community,” says Darryl White, Board president and school founder. Banks Academy was founded in 2015 by alumni of the old Banks High School in Eastlake. The school has grown and just celebrated its fourth graduating class continuing its 100% graduation rate and 70% attending higher education. 

Banks Academy's New Location
Here is a look at the new Banks Academy location.

The school is run by Dr. Cathy Trimble, a nationally recognized and awarded educator. “Our mantra for the next five years as the Banks Academy Jets is ‘to Soar to Higher Heights.’ Soaring means continual improvement in character, faith, academics, and athletics.” Banks Academy offers a dual curriculum of college prep and technical and trade through a dual enrollment program with area colleges. Banks Academy is accredited by ACSI and Cognia and is a member of the Alabama Independent Schools Association. The school offers football, girls’ and boys’ basketball, girls’ volleyball, cheering, and track and field. Applications are still being received for the 2022-23 school year. To apply, go to www.banksacademy.org. Come celebrate with the board and faculty at the Open House on September 13 from 5:30-7 p.m. at 700 Huffman Road. Free event, RSVP requested, bhart@banksacademy.org. For more information visit www.banksacademy.org. † 

Back to Class Spotlight American Village BCF

Welcome Back to Class

The American Village in Montevallo invites students to experience the stories of America’s journey for independence, liberty and self-government. Step into the scene and experience the risks, uncertainties, and dramatic events as they unfolded during America’s revolutionary decision to declare its independence. The American Village offers an opportunity for students to become active participants in “Securing the Blessings of Liberty” and leave with a better foundation for good citizenship.

American Village logoMore than a field trip, the American Village educational programs are tied directly to objectives in state courses of study in history, citizenship (civics) and government, as well as graduation standards. Students from every grade level benefit as they participate in experiential learning. Unique in its mission to strengthen and renew the foundations of American liberty and self-government through citizenship education, the American Village is an educational experience like no other. Coming to the American Village is a great adventure! Students are stepping into an immersive experience that is impactful, engaging, inspiring,…and FUN! Learn more here.

OLS Students with Library employee holding gift basket

Education Extra

Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic School(OLS) recently celebrated Catholic Schools Week focusing on the school’s high-quality, faith-filled education while honoring those who contribute to the school’s success. The week included theme-filled days as they celebrated students, families, faculty and staff, in addition to volunteers, community supporters, and local leaders. 

OLS Tree with children
Special trees were decorated on Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic School’s campus with handwritten notes from the children and staff.

OLS takes pride in providing the opportunity for academic excellence and achievement, orienting its students toward service and love of neighbor, and establishing a family-friendly environment. As a part of the week’s festivities, the students participated in a special service project. They performed chores at home to earn money for the purchase of books for Better Basics. The nonprofit organization provides books, literacy intervention, and enrichment programs to Birmingham and Fairfield City Schools and Talladega Schools. The children and staff also decorated two trees on the school campus with handwritten notes. Their prayer petitions were written on paper petals and placed on a Prayer Tree, while notes of thanks and blessings were place on another, they call the “OLS Tree.” †

OLS Students with Library employee holding gift basket
Pictured above are Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic School 8th grade officers presenting Homewood Library with a basket from the school. They also delivered baskets to the church office, the Homewood Post Office, Fire and Police Departments, and Piggly Wiggly to thank them for their support of the school.
Highlands College Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

Church Leaders

On February 3, 2022, more than 1,300 people celebrated the grand opening of a new cutting-edge campus for Highlands College, a Birmingham-based institution founded in 2011 that each year sends hundreds of graduates into full-time Christian ministry around the world.

President Mark Pettus speaking
President Mark Pettus addresses the crowd of 1,300 at the ribbon cutting ceremony.

Students, faculty, staff, alumni and supporters heard remarks from Chancellor Chris Hodges and President Mark Pettus, commemorating the College’s growth and global impact. The new campus, featuring learning studios and training labs instead of traditional classrooms and auditoriums, highlights the institution’s immersive approach to biblical education fashioned after America’s military academies. Students pursue a rigorous four-pillar program of academic instruction, hands-on ministry training, character formation, and spiritual development that advances their spirit, soul, and body. “The greatest investment we can ever make is pouring into young leaders who in turn will impact thousands of people for the rest of their lives,” said Hodges. “Students learn and grow in world-class facilities where they are educated, equipped and empowered to make an eternal impact in a complex and changing world.”

The new state-of-the-art campus was carefully designed to facilitate this innovative model of higher education. Its 14 learning studios are equipped with the latest in audio-visual technology to support a cutting-edge approach to classroom instruction. The new facility also contains eight ministry training labs, each uniquely designed to train students for distinct areas of ministry concentration such as worship leadership, student ministry, and creative arts. These educational spaces are joined by multiple collaborative areas, a multi-purpose auditorium, screen-free food hall, coffee shop, media center, and campus green to create a vibrant campus community.

Pastor Chris Hodges speaking
Pastor Chris Hodges of Church of the Highlands speaks to the audience.

The campus is located along one of Birmingham’s busiest thoroughfares in the former headquarters of HealthSouth Corporation, now Encompass Health. Church of the Highlands first acquired a portion of the property in 2016 as a new church campus and expanded to include central office space and the future home of Highlands College. The $50 million renovation to convert the former office building into an institution of higher learning began in 2020. The renovation was designed by Birmingham-based TurnerBatson Architects and built by JohnsonKreis Construction.

“Leadership is influence underpinned with the character to overcome. It is taught through experience and galvanized in challenge. That is the environment we’ve built on this campus,” said Pettus. “We believe that this is just the beginning of Highlands College’s transformative impact on biblical education and communities around the world.”

Highlands College alumni that returned to open the campus were in awe of the variety of resources available to current students through the new facilities. “Our season at Highlands College impacted us deeply, and we cannot begin to fathom how much more current and future students will grow on this life-changing campus,” shared Josh and Courtney Gardner, 2017 and 2018 graduates of the college, respectively. “We are thankful to get to invest in Highlands College and call this God-inspired institution our alma mater.”

Learning Area at Highlands College
Pictured above is one of the learning areas at Highlands College.

The college’s first residence hall, made possible by a $20 million gift from Hobby Lobby’s David Green family, is currently under construction on the 70-acre campus and is scheduled to open early next year. Highlands is a private two-year institution that is scheduled to pursue a four-year program within a few years. Its strategic plan calls for growth to 1,000 students by 2029, with a vision for all students to graduate debt-free. To learn more about Highlands College, click here. †

Briarwood Ballet Dancer

Education Extra

Since 1980 Briarwood Ballet has been offering excellent instruction in classical ballet and dance education within a Christ-centered environment. 

Briarwood Ballet Dancer
Briarwood Ballet is located at 2200 Briarwood Way, Birmingham, 35243. To learn more, visit www.briarwood.org/ballet or call 205-776-5284.

This is no ordinary dance school! Why else would parents drive from as far away as Gadsden and Sylacauga to bring their children to a dance class? It is true that some students have received dance scholarships to major universities as well as to nationally recognized summer ballet programs; some have gone on to dance professionally or even start their own ballet schools. But the uniqueness of Briarwood Ballet is found in every classroom – from creative movement for three-year-olds to intensive workshops – where each student learns that the gift of dance is from God and can be used for His glory.  

Each year Briarwood Ballet serves over 400 students of all ages and abilities with varying goals and aspirations. The school includes a preschool division, a graded division for first through fourth graders, and a two-track program for fifth through twelfth graders to concentrate on either contemporary or classical dance. Ballet performances, unlike recitals, are story ballets written as a vehicle for sharing the good news of Jesus Christ. Briarwood’s performing companies have also had the privilege of using dance to spread the gospel in many foreign countries including Russia, Cuba, and China. 

This Christmas, you are invited to experience the unique telling of the drama of redemption through dance at Briarwood Ballet’s Christmas production. Light Eternal will be presented at Briarwood Church on Sunday, December 12 at 6 p.m. †

Briarwood Ballet logo

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Education Extra

College. For some, it’s a word that brings to life fond memories, a greatly anticipated goal, a task left undone or a barrier that keeps them from moving forward. For the adult who wants to finish what they started or begin a new family legacy, Faulkner has accelerated degree programs designed for working adults with start dates every eight weeks! Classes are accelerated and take place in the evening or online. Masters and doctoral degrees are available online too. The Executive MBA can be completed in just under one year.   

Faulkner Birmingham comes alongside adult learners, especially busy moms and working adults, to give them the support and confidence needed to achieve their goal. The impact of a college degree is so much more than simply achieving a goal though. It has the power to increase lifetime earnings, reduce the likelihood of unemployment, obtain careers with better pay and benefits, plus the graduate’s children often go on to obtain a degree too. It really is an investment in your future and the future of your children and grandchildren!

New Offering. Born out of an interest in providing something unique for homeschool parents and their children, Faulkner Birmingham has added homeschool dual enrollment courses. Our objective is to come alongside parents, umbrella, and church schools by providing an option not available anywhere else. Classes are taught by Christian faculty through the lens of a Biblical worldview. Tuition is affordable at $150.00 per credit hour. Faulkner is SACS accredited which helps the credits your student earns transfer to the college of their choice when they graduate from high school. Registration for spring 2022 begins October 18.  For more information about our Homeschool Dual Enrollment program, call 205-879-5588 or email BhamHomeschool@faulkner.edu. Also new for the fall 2022, the Birmingham campus will add the Bachelor of Health Science degree. This is a traditional program to prepare students seeking a graduate degree in the health sciences. Four tracks will be available: Speech Language Pathology, Physician Assistant, Physical Therapy, and Occupational Therapy.

Whether looking for a private Christian University for children following high school, going back to college to finish what you started, providing your academically advanced homeschool student a Christian environment with age-appropriate peers as a head start on college or beginning your own college journey- Faulkner University is here for you! Learn more at www.faulkner.edu. †

Liz Lewis with Laurie

Liz Lewis with LaurieLiz Lewis, Birmingham Christian Family’s (BCF) 2021 $1,000 College Scholarship recipient, planned to attend Judson College this fall where she also had a softball scholarship. However, while healing from a wrist/elbow injury this summer, she received the news that Judson College was closing. “I was devastated when I learned that my plans had been turned upside down. However, I had forgotten that my plans may not be His plans and Jeremiah 29:11 was continually put on my heart.” Lewis shares that after looking into several colleges, she did not feel at peace with any of them until a friend mentioned that Jacksonville State University (JSU) was offering scholarship opportunities for Judson students. “I decided to fill out the application and go for a visit. I loved the campus’ atmosphere and a few weeks later after much prayer, I made the exciting decision to become a Gamecock. I would have never considered attending JSU unless God had closed the door to Judson, but His plan is always better.” Lewis is excited about pursuing a degree in accounting! BCF wishes all the best to Liz Lewis in her future endeavors.

BCF will begin accepting applications for 2022 scholarships in early January 2022. Click here for more details!

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