If you enter the foyer at Genesee Country Christian School (GCCS) in March, you may be surprised by the sights and sounds of the sandy beach, a pine forest, a hot air balloon, or an Italian cafe. No, you’re not lost. It’s just the first sign of the annual Focus Study.
Each year, teachers at GCCS choose a science or social studies topic for the school-wide study. Topics included China, Italy, the Middle Ages, the forest, the ocean and flight, to name just a few. The teachers select areas if interest within that topic that are appropriate for the grade level they teach. As part of the ocean focus, kindergartners learned about whales while the 6th graders investigated icebergs, coral reefs, sonar, and oil spills.
For three weeks, the program consists of classroom instruction, research, report writing, and project work. As much as possible, teachers integrate math and language arts with the topics. Literature, art, and music teachers coordinate their lessons with the focus topic as well, reading stories, studying art and music from country or period, and getting ready to put on a play related to the theme.
Parents, grandparents, local university professors, and missionaries at home on furlough have all had the opportunity to share their expertise in areas such as medieval studies, hot air ballooning, international cuisine, and foreign language and culture when they have served as guest lecturers, chapel speakers and workshop leaders. All school field trips to state parks, museums, and aquariums take students out of the classroom for hands-on experience with the topic under consideration.
When teachers coordinate the study with chapel and mission projects, there is a positive impact on students’ spiritual formation and worldview. These chapels helped connect the academic with the spiritual and powerfully reinforced the concept that all knowledges and truth comes from God and can be used for His purpose and glory.
The focus study culminates in Focus Week, when students participate in assemblies, special events and an all-school lunch. In the sharing assemblies, families get the opportunity to hear the classes give a brief presentation about what they have learned.
The Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI) honored Genesee Christian with the award for Exemplary School Program in recognition of Focus Study for “an educational program that provides opportunity beyond the traditional.”
Please click here for a list of activities for this year’s Focus Study- “We the People 1776”