Emmanuel Christian Academy in Springfield is proving once again that it is a little school with a lot of heart. National Honor Society members voted to use the money earned from two Community Blood Center (CBC) High School Leadership Grants to benefit every one of their classmates, and to help a faculty family challenged by blood cancer.
CBC awarded $1,000 grants in five categories based on results from high school blood drives held in 2012-13. ECA, with an enrollment of 520 students, is of the smallest schools hosting blood drives in CBC’s 15-county service area. Yet ECA was the surprise winner of two grants: “Highest Percentage of Enrollment” participating in blood drives, and “Red Cord Honor Program Excellence” for the percentage of students who earn a Red Cord by registering to donate at least three times.
NHS, sponsor group for both ECA blood drives, gathered proposals and voted on how to use the $2,000 in grant awards. They elected to spend $1,500 to upgrade the school’s wireless internet connection, immediately enhancing teaching, testing and communications for everyone. In a more secretive process, they set aside a $500 gift to faculty members Brad and Stephanie Barnard to assist with the medical expenses for their three-year old daughter Kaitlyn during her battle with leukemia.
“I was completely surprised,” said Brad, who teaches math and physics and is an NHS advisor. He was called to the stage during the Thursday, Feb. 13 school assembly for the NHS Induction Ceremony and presented with an oversized check. Stephanie Barnard, who teaches speech and online courses, was absent Thursday for a medical procedure. “I took a picture of the check and texted it to her,” said Brad,” so she knows!”
“The students voted on it,” said NHS advisor, guidance counselor, and blood drive coordinator Steve Wynn. “They helped improve our school’s internet, which is very important for instruction, teaching and testing. But they were very sneaky about keeping Mr. Barnard out of the loop!”
Kaitlyn Bernard was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia when she was two years old, and became a source of inspiration for ECA students as they supported the school blood drives. Blood transfusions are a critical part of the treatment for blood cancer patients. “She’s doing really well,” said Brad. “She’s in full remission. She’s basically been cured.”
“We were – as an administration and a board – just very, very pleasantly surprised,” said ECA Superintendent Dr. George B. Simon, II. “That they were willing to take that money and put it into things that you don’t necessarily see but certainly addressed a need, and it was certainly appreciated.”