As the school year draws to an end, we look forward to a Geneva tradition of celebration and gratitude: our annual Benefit this weekend. The Benefit is an event in which parents, grandparents, friends and community members are invited to see a sampling of the truth, beauty and goodness our students experience at Geneva. Grammar students perform highlights in their grade levels. Logic and Rhetoric students perform a variety of fine arts with a finale celebrating and honoring our graduating seniors. Each night centers around this year’s theme of TRUTH.
In the spring of 2000, 13 Geneva students (which at the time was the entire school population) presented at our very first Benefit performance to an audience of 150 at the home of a school family member. The school’s founders and Board believed that if the richness of our classical curriculum could somehow be displayed by the children, the school and community at large would “benefit” and be blessed. Since that time, the Geneva community has gathered each May for a Benefit weekend. In addition to displaying our wonderful curriculum, Benefit weekends have also raised funds for many projects, including the purchase of the current campus land as well as buildings like the MPB, the Gym, the Lyceum and the Grammar School.
Benefit Weekend is a highlight of our school year. Our community comes together to celebrate and witness the excellence that occurs in the classrooms on a daily basis. We get to see truth, beauty and goodness in action. And out of the gratitude we hold for this educational community, we encourage all families to be in prayerful consideration about how each one of us can philanthropically support the vision of Geneva’s future.
This year’s donations will fund the I-10 Access Project with a security booth. Our Benefit goal to pay for this project is $1.4M, which is the largest capital ask we’ve put before the Geneva community since 2017. As we link arms together and collectively do something much bigger than we could do on our own, we seek 100% participation from our faithful and supportive community. Please be in prayerful consideration for a transformational gift that can help Geneva create safe and secure access to campus for decades to come. One-time or monthly giving is available.
We look forward to celebrating this school year and to sharing a message of inspiration with you this weekend about Geneva’s path forward.
Here is a series of of Thankful Thursday posts over the last few weeks that give history and context to our annual Benefits and what they have accomplished in the past. Enjoy!
PART 1 – ANNUAL BENEFIT GIFTED US LAND
Geneva’s founders and board believed that if the richness of Geneva’s classical and Christian curriculum could somehow be displayed by the children, the school and community at large would “benefit” and be blessed. Therefore, in the spring of 2000, Geneva’s entire student body of 13 presented our very first Benefit performance to an audience of 150 in the home of a Geneva grandparent.
Since that time, our community has gathered each May for Benefit weekend. It has been a time of reflection on God’s goodness in our lives and the lives of our children, as well as a time for us to see how we could continue to follow God’s call to build a school where we can advance the cause of Christ and raise up student leaders.
Between 2000 and 2004, families gave sacrificially to build the “nest egg” for a future land purchase with the dream of a permanent campus. That faithfulness resulted in the resources to purchase the first 32 acres of Geneva’s campus.
Families and friends gave of their time, energy and resources to purchase the land, bring used portables to campus, build basic infrastructure and turn on the lights just in time for classes to commence on the first day of school in 2004. Robert Thornton, a parent, founder and board member, wrote this letter to parents:
“The gift of this new facility has not occurred without the requirement of a great deal of faith on the part of many. I know that those of us who had the most reason to believe in success had to dig down deep into our pockets of faith. But we have a God of perfect timing, and he knows that our faith “muscles” need a workout—with frequency. The process has required faith in many things – faith in God’s timing, planning, financial resources, pledges, negotiated contracts, in-kind gifts, delivery dates, the weather, and in knowing where and where not to spend our limited resources… yet it has all worked out beautifully.
For each of you I pray that you will experience satisfaction beyond compare knowing that you have advanced the cause of Christ here at this place.”
Our 2022 Geneva community exists today because others followed God’s call to live in community and step out in faith to build a school where we can celebrate truth, beauty and goodness and raise up student leaders who are equipped to do hard things to the glory of Jesus Christ.
May we always be thankful for the gift of those who came before us, the faith of the founders and the grace of God that enables us to be part of an incredible legacy and continue to carry it forward.
PART 2 – ANNUAL BENEFIT GIFTED US THE MPB
With the land purchase of the campus complete, second- and third-hand portable buildings in place, and the electricity turned on just in time for the start of school, Geneva opened the 2004-2005 school year with faith knowing that anything is possible with God.
In those early days on campus, there was no large indoor gathering space. Any assembly, performance, or gathering was held in the outdoor amphitheater, which sat where the current K-1 Gathering Space is, or on the empty field where the Lyceum sits today.
The Benefit in the Spring of 2005 brought parents, family members and community leaders to gather outside on campus in a large tent to celebrate truth, beauty and goodness. After the students sang and presented to the glory of God, Robert Thornton spoke about the need for the community to link arms to raise funds for Geneva’s first permanent building—the Multi-Purpose Building—to house assemblies, Grammar School lunch, fine arts, athletics and other events and presentations.
Rhetoric School Math Department Chair Susan Greenlees recalled a memory from that night. “I felt compelled this week to tell a personal story to my students rather than one from a book to start class. I told of the first benefit performance on these grounds in Spring of 2005, where we performed in front of what used to be the grammar portables, and our stage was the concrete walkway up the steps to the boardwalk. Parents sat in chairs on the road that was finally paved. For the finale, the students crept quietly from their holding classrooms around behind the parents. When we were ready to sing, we broke glow sticks so that it would light up the land where we were and we sang and had lights, and sparklers. I can’t remember how many we were then, but we sang, teachers and all. But what I wanted my current students to know in this image is that we were standing on what would become the foundation for the MPB. The students today are benefitting from that Benefit.”
That night, Robert used the words below to make the case for the MPB fundraising efforts with the hope that the MPB would be a place to:
- “articulate what is being learned in the classroom; dramatic expression, theatrical production and recital, a gathering place where God’s word is spoken and memorized
- be a home for fine arts, music, training teachers and staff, and weekly assemblies
- develop physical bodies and athleticism, competitive events, teach sportsmanship and discipline, provide the first home for Geneva Eagles, and provide a shelter for physical education classes
- build community and be a place to develop relationships and refine leaders. Geneva is a strong family of believers following Christ’s call to be in community with one another.”
With the faithful and sacrificial gifts of our 113 earliest families, the needed funds of approximately $560K were raised to build the MPB.
After all these years, it’s amazing to see that these hopes came true and that the MPB has far surpassed its intended use. It has been the home of countless assemblies, events, games and memories that we couldn’t have imagined back in 2005, including days like House Induction Day.
May we always be thankful for the gift of the faith of the founders, the families who came before us and the grace of God that enables us to be a part of an incredible legacy that we continue to carry forward.Blessings to you in this busy and full season.
*Aerial shot of the campus in 2008 with the MPB
PART 3 – ANNUAL BENEFIT GIFTED US CLASSROOMS AND GYM
By 2006, Geneva had quickly grown to 427 students. The school leadership started planning for Geneva’s first capital campaign to build the next permanent buildings. The board was convinced that the school needed to build a classroom building that could house the growing Logic and Rhetoric School. At that point, Geneva’s lead class was in eighth grade with 20 students and were the pioneers to start the Rhetoric school.
A master campus plan was developed for a two-story Logic and Rhetoric building, Lyceum and competition gym. The bid for all three buildings was roughly $12 million. Unfortunately, the feasibility study told the board our community could raise about $4.5 million, which put the Board in a difficult situation.
So, the leadership did what Geneva’s leaders have always done—they prayed. The idea of an academic village came to the forefront as an intermediary step between portables and permanent buildings. This launched the exciting plan for an academic village which proved to be a blessing on several fronts because students and teachers valued the “outdoor, boardwalk” style campus. The boardwalks have been lifegiving to Geneva for years.
In 2008, Geneva launched the “Not for the Sake of Stone, but for the Hearts and Minds” Capital Campaign. Board members and Geneva parents Leslie Moeller and Kevin Young co-chaired the committee. The board was deciding what to build next for the fast-growing student population. The leadership was committed to having only short-term, minimal debt.
Even though there was a strong desire to build the Lyceum first, the Board came to understand how important a competition gym was to the ethos of a high school and how it fosters activities that draw a community together.
“We were committed to formative, classical and Christian education,” Moeller said. “Having our first two permanent buildings serve as athletic facilities might give the wrong impression about our priorities. But after more prayer, the board unanimously voted to build the gym. The campaign kicked off in November of 2008 while the stock market plummeted. We had volunteers holding meetings, making calls and writing thank you notes. It was truly a community effort. The $4.5 million goal seemed daunting, but joy and hope led the way in the uncertain times.”
The families of Geneva gave generously, exceeded the goal and built the Logic and Rhetoric academic village for the 2009-2010 school year and the competition gym in time for the 2010 TAPPS 1A athletic season.
My hope is that knowing and celebrating God’s faithfulness to Geneva and learning the school history might spur you on to consider how your family can join in this legacy of giving. May we all rise together to strengthen Geneva.
PART 4 – ANNUAL BENEFIT GIFTED US THE LYCEUM
Having completed the Logic and Rhetoric Academic Village and Competition Gym, the “Not for the Sake of Stone, but for the Hearts and Minds” Capital Campaign turned to the third and final stage of building a student center called the Lyceum. The Benefits of 2011 and 2012 raised the money needed for a necessary gathering space for lectures and teaching—a Lyceum.
In May 2011, the first graduating class took over the MPB for most of a week in May to present their senior theses. Grammar lunch, P.E. and athletics were displaced for that week, and it was clear that the building was once again overloaded. The need for a Lyceum was fully realized by our community.
Construction of the Lyceum began and was well underway at the start of the 2012-2013 school year as Geneva was bursting at the seams for gathering spaces with a population of 582 students. It was completed in January of 2013 at a cost of $1.3M and was ready in time to host Senior Thesis Presentations for the 22 seniors in the Class of 2013.
“The Lyceum was the first space on campus to really have a true presentation space. It quickly became a functional space for many important events, but also a beautiful space to be proud of,” former Board member and parent Kevin Young said.
The total cost of the three projects—the Logic and Rhetoric School campus, Gym and Lyceum, including the planning and architectural fees and campaign costs—was approximately $7 million and was finally complete after five years. This amount was far more than the consultants said our community could raise, and it was done during one of the worst recessions in a generation. All of it was further evidence of God’s faithfulness to this place.
Our 2022 Geneva community exists today because others followed God’s call to live in community and step out in faith to build a school where we can celebrate truth, beauty and goodness. Geneva is a school that is committed to develop student leaders who are equipped to do hard things to the glory of Jesus Christ.
My hope is that these Thankful Thursday posts have given you a brief history lesson of some previous Benefits and how God has brought people, resources and buildings at just the right time over the 23-year life of Geneva. As we continue to step out in faith together to raise the funds needed for the I-10 Access Project, may we each be prayerful about what gifts we can bring to fund this project and then trust the results and future to our faithful God.
This year’s donations will fund the I-10 Access Project with a security booth. This project is $1.4M, and is the largest capital ask we’ve put before the Geneva community since 2017. Please be in prayerful consideration for a transformational gift that can help Geneva create safe and secure access to campus for decades to come. One-time or monthly giving is available.
*Future Home of the Lyceum
*Lyceum being built
Blessings to you, and I look forward to seeing you at Benefit!