More than 280 guests, donors and community supporters alike joined together in Norfolk, Virginia, to raise more than $1 million toward equipping nation changers with a biblical-centered education through StoneBridge School.
Guests filled the tables at the SBS Nation Changers Gala held at Hilton Norfolk The Main, Saturday, April 15, to hear from keynote speaker Pete Hegseth, FOX & Friends Weekend co-host and author of Battle for the American Mind.
Hegseth told the crowd that since COVID gave parents an inside look into the classroom, we are now on the cusp of an educational insurgency to counteract the Marxist ideology the American school system is indoctrinating into our children. Biblical-centered education, like StoneBridge offers, is a counter-offensive to that erosion. For him, the move is personal.
“I love my parents, but what I had was a secular core with a Christian veneer and I didn’t even know it. And I wasn’t prepared for the world I was entering into,” Hegseth said. “My life has been riddled with craters that have required mountains of grace.”
Hegseth believes that classical Christian schools like StoneBridge are the solution to the problems facing our country today. He exhorted guests to invest in this kind of education rather than giving to bloated college institutions that perpetuate an anti-biblical worldview.
“Armed with a network of schools, with thousands of classical Christian education graduates going into higher education and the workforce, our insurgency can start to go on the offensive—challenging the viability, legitimacy, and monopoly of the government school system,” he said.
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Gala attendees were also treated to performances and testimonies from current StoneBridge students and parents, showcasing how StoneBridge is empowering them to stay firm in their faith and make an impact on their world.
A contingent of Lower School students led by Mrs. Jennifer Gillette kicked off the evening by leading the audience in pledges they traditionally recite during their weekly chapels. The Upper School chorus, directed by Ms. Lisa Hurst, followed with a beautiful acapella performance of “America the Beautiful.”
Before dinner, class reps Garrett Maye, 11th grade, and Adriana Niculae, 12th grade, presented SBS Alumni Danny Gonzalez, Class of 2001, with the Alumni Service Award for his commitment to the school community and his servant leadership. Throughout the evening, videos featuring alumni were also highlighted.
A standout moment for the evening included 5th grader Aiden McClung, who brought the audience to their feet with his impassioned delivery of the Declaration of Independence, the speech he mastered for this year’s speech meet. McClung is one example of many StoneBridge students who learn how to communicate with confidence at an early age and who learn to think and reason from biblical principles.
Head of School Noel Thomason shared how StoneBridge achieves this goal from the earliest grades throughout high school.
“We accomplish this by focusing on molding the character of every student. StoneBridge School uses a discipleship model of education,” he said. “Many Christian schools strive to have a Christian environment and host Bible classes, but we cultivate a biblical worldview by demonstrating how God is revealed in every subject. Our students learn to use biblical principles to seek truth and understanding.”
That kind of education is the answer to our nation’s ailments and one both Hegseth and Thomason believe should have the highest investment priority.
“This is why my hope is for tonight to be about more than just asking for money, but rather an exhortation to join a movement that can accomplish something much more that we can ever hope or imagine,” Thomason said.
Student worship prefects Noel Beckwith and Lauren Howard, along with SBS teacher Andrew Garrett, led attendees in praise and worship after dinner. Spiritual Life Prefect Julia Parkerson shared how donor giving has impacted the student body positively for Christ.
SBS parents Lauren Scholl and Tina Stimson capped off the evening explaining why they support StoneBridge and how their children’s lives are eternally impacted through that support. They exhorted those in attendance to financially support the mission of the school that has given so much back to them.
Thomason closed the night thanking everyone who made the night possible and leaving attendees with one last challenge.
“I leave you with this tonight, one child, one person makes the difference in this world that needs light in the darkness,” Thomason said. “I know no better way to prepare our children to be lights than by giving them a StoneBridge education.”
Of course, the SBS Nation Changers Gala could not have been successful without the help of our generous volunteers and sponsors. We are grateful to all our volunteers: Chris Wingard, gala chair; Daren Wingard; Kim Lambert, decorations; Mandy Crawford, decorations/childcare; Karen Thompson, registration Chair; Ginny Smith, advertisements; Lauren Scholl; Tina Stimson; Mike Dillender (who emceed the night); Lisa Hurst; Jennifer Gillette; Julia Parkerson; Aiden McClung; Garrett Maye; Adriana Niculae; Lena Cologgi; Eve Frost; CaSandra Robinson, registration; Autumn Leggett, registration; Jennifer Perez, registration; Susannah Dillender, registration; Nick & Melissa Bowlin, book sales; Andrew Garrett, Noel Beckwith, Lauren Howard, worship; and Carey Woodruff, FACE.
Thank you once again to our generous Gala sponsors: Mr. & Mrs. John Adams, Patriot; Mr. & Mrs. Greg Akins, Patriot; Mr. & Mrs. Lawton Baker, Steward; Mr. & Mrs. Mike Dillender, Patriot; Mr. & Mrs. Ryan Frost, Patriot; Mr. & Mrs. Bo Garner, Steward; Mr. & Mrs. Paul Huber, Patriot; Mr. & Mrs. Jeff Kreutzberg, Patriot; Mr. & Mrs. Greg Lee, Scholar; Mr. & Mrs. Joe Liberatore, Scholar; The McClung Families, Patriot/Video; Mr. & Mrs. Brian Obal, Patriot; The O’Halloran, Qualls & Rader Families, Patriot; Mr. & Mrs. Brandon Oswald, Patriot; Mr. & Mrs. Victor Reza, Patriot’ Mr. & Mrs. Jim Shirley, Steward; STAND, Patriot; Mr. & Mrs. David Thompson, Patriot; Dr. & Mrs. Daren Wingard, Patriot; Mr. & Mrs. Jeremy Woodruff, Patriot; The Word In Praise (WWIP)/The Lighthouse (WPMH), Media
Finally, we are grateful to our Board of Directors and all our founding teachers for their faithful leadership. We are especially grateful to our school’s founder, Dr. Carole Adams, for her faithfulness in making it all possible.
There is still time to make a pledge today to invest in the biblical-centered education StoneBridge provides and help restore the Christian character of our nation.