History of Greater Cleveland Christian School
by Kirk Rattray
Remember in high school, when going to the principal's office meant certain doom?
This is not the case at the Greater Cleveland Christian School, where a visit with principal Michael Edds leaves a student uplifted, wiser and appreciative of his visit.
Edds, 52, has just begun his second year as principal at the 7th to 12th grade school.
Having previously worked at eleven schools, he was planning to retire from teaching, to concentrate on hosting grant writing workshops and educating teachers about their retirement packages. Additionally, he was a "part-time preacher on the weekends" when GCCS contacted him. After several refusals, Edds finally agreed "the Lord sent me here."
The concept for an evangelical Christian high school was birthed six years ago, when a group of area businessmen, led by Dudley Blossom, had "a burden to start a series of Christian schools where a school did not exist." GCCS started four years ago with forty children, and Edds notes "this year we are really growing" to over ninety students drawn from eighteen communities. Next year's goal is one-hundred and twenty-five kids, and an expansion beyond that is planned.
Although Edds has a vision for academic and spiritual excellence at GCCS, he admits "It's really not my vision, it's God's vision." He explains that in 1830 John Baldwin started the first Christian school in this area. Edds believes that GCCS "is part of an old well that was dug a long time ago, that quit flowing and is beginning to flow again. I believe God is going to use this school to finish what John Baldwin started." The preacher in Edds comes out as he quotes from the book of Joel in that God "will restore to you the years that the locusts have eaten. I think that's why we are here."
The curriculum, faculty and facilities of GCCS provoke students to excel. GCCS is a place where students can "first of all, have an encounter with Christ, and secondly, find out what their gifting is and develop it." High standards are expected of teachers, and the school has a new computer lab that offers the latest software for business, office and CAD applications. Additionally, Edds is implementing a two-year computer studies course that prepares seniors to enter the job market as a network specialist, an excellent entry-level position. The focus on academics at GCCS puts each grade "about twelve months ahead of public schools." Success here is further evidenced by the high marks in the state proficiency tests and the number of seniors receiving college scholarships.
Athletes and artists are also represented at GCCS. The school offers all sports programs, as well as a "praise band, choir, handbells, painting, drawing and pottery. I'm a really strong proponent of the arts," Edds continues. So exciting are the happenings at this quaint Bagley Road campus that the building itself cannot contain the enthusiasm. Principal Edds is looking to secure 3.1 million dollars in grants for a massive expansion of the school. He cites the fact that "To get funding you have to have a vision. There is $16 billion dollars out there in private foundations alone." And that the school is in contact with the office of Attorney General Ashcroft "about some of the faith-based monies." Eventually, the current site will be a junior high, and a new high school would be built elsewhere. This would begin to fulfill the original vision of a series of GCCS schools throughout the area.
Dudley "Bun" Blossom, Chairman of the Board and co-founder of GCCS, articulates that this vision "of a place where they (students) could openly worship Jesus started with the Billy Graham crusade about nine years ago. He fondly remembers that "a remarkable coalition of churches" united in principle to plant a Christian school in this area. Blossom, who believes life will "be richer with a good education, especially a Christian one," recalls one memorable incident with a disciplined student. The student shook his hand, thanked him for his efforts, and announced that "I have discovered what I want to do with the rest of my life, and it's because of this school." That student is now a graphic artist.
The book of Proverbs tells us "a good teacher makes learning a joy." Good teachers, a principal with vision and enthusiastic board members make the future of Greater Cleveland Christian Schools one of excitement and expectation. Principal Michael Edds sums it up this way. "God is the author of all wisdom and knowledge, and He is the essence of all truth." This is the greatest lesson one can learn anywhere.
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