North Cobb Christian School students are prepared uncommonly well for life beyond high school.
In middle school, Cole Carden was struggling. It’s not an uncommon story: Boy gets to middle school, starts questioning authority, gets in a bit of trouble and doesn’t find God very relevant. What was uncommon about Cole’s story is what happened next. Cole had started attending North Cobb Christian School (NCCS) in fifth grade, and he knew the middle school principal, Craig Konchak. In fact, they had butted heads. But, rather than dole out detentions, Konchak issued an invitation.
“I was getting into a little bit of trouble after transitioning to a new school, and I was struggling with my faith. Mr. Konchak noticed that,” Cole said. “He called me into his office once a month to have lunch with him. At first, it was against my will, but he said, ‘You’re coming to lunch with me, and we’re going to talk.’ He showed me compassion and modeled what it looks like to live out your faith in an authentic way. He took time to invest in me, and to this day, that bond has greatly impacted my walk with God.”
Ready to Launch
This spring, Cole will graduate from North Cobb Christian School and head to the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, where he has been recruited to swim for the school’s elite swimming and diving team. Cole said he feels very prepared for this next journey, largely because of the investment of the administrators and teachers at NCCS.
“The school is very transparent. They don’t sugarcoat discipline issues, and they don’t dodge social issues. Instead, they try to resonate with kids and show them how to address issues head-on,” Cole said. “For example, Mr. Shaffer, my Bible teacher, leads us in debating real ethical issues you hear about in the news, but with the Bible as the authority.”
The Myth of the Christian School Bubble
Countering the thought that Christian schools are a “bubble” that keeps students from the real world, Cole said, “Our school is definitely not a bubble. Inside our school, we have all the same issues teenagers have at any school. I think the issues breed more in other schools, where they can’t address them how we do, though. At NCCS, we can attack the issue and get to the root of the problem.”
Christina Surcey, a junior at NCCS who transferred from another school her sophomore year, agrees with Cole.
“I wanted to come to NCCS because my previous school was becoming very unsafe, with a lot of gun and bomb threats. Seven police officers had to show up one day. I felt instantly safer at NCCS because it’s fully gated, and there’s a guardhouse and a security team — but it’s the teachers that really make this school feel safe,” Christina said. “The teachers here are absolutely amazing. They’re challenging — my classes are harder here — but they really care and give students a safe space to process life.”
Standing for Truth in a Fallen World
Christina remembers her first day at NCCS and being amazed that another student held the door for her, her teachers asked how she was doing, and everyone stood for the pledge to the flag.
“When they said to stand for the pledge and everyone in the class did it without question, I felt such a flood of relief,” Christina said. “Here, there’s just a foundation of respect being built in us. There’s an emphasis on God that pervades everything. It’s awesome that we can talk about Jesus, worship during chapel, and all come together and pray. Coming from a public school, I am so grateful.”
Head of School Todd Clingman, who has led NCCS since 2007, said that the school’s mission is to help students navigate a world where truth is eroding.
“Our children face so many attacks on their identity,” he said. “We aren’t only equipping students to get into college. We’re giving them a firm foundation in Christ, so they’re equipped to stand for truth in a fallen world.”
Cole echoed this mission: “NCCS is not a bubble that keeps kids from the real world. It’s a training ground that equips kids for the real world. I know I’m ready.”
Spiritual Truth in Surround Sound
A powerful phenomenon happens when children are brought up learning foundational biblical truth from their family, their church and their school. North Cobb Christian School calls this the “three-legged stool.” It’s hard to sit firmly on a stool with only two legs — and even harder to go through life on a pogo stick!
“Hearing the same truths from three different places gives you a solid foundation,” NCCS senior Cole Carden said. “With my faith, I have a solid community building me up and strengthening me to go out into the world.”
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