Standing in front of a room full of junior high girls staring at them, expectantly waiting to hear them speak words of wisdom, does not intimidate some high school students here.
What began as a small Bible Study geared for 5th through 7th grade girls led by two parents, has turned into a tradition of high school students teaching the younger girls here over the past 7 years.
Today, a total of seven junior and freshmen girls mentor a room full of elementary girls in a bi-monthly Bible study entitled “Girls of Grace.”
“We wanted to return the favor,” said Junior Melody Burris. “Girls of Grace had a profound impact on me as an elementary student through junior high. We built stronger friendships that will last a lifetime.”
In the 2008-9 school year, the first Girls of Grace (GOG) was formed by Alumn Parent Jennifer Manley for her 7th grade daughter Brooke at the time. She invited 7th and 8th grade girls once a month at lunch, and nearly every girl showed up. Two years later, Junior Parents Kara Kinney and Gennie Noe expanded the group to include elementary students, which was also well-attended.
Kinney and Noe envisioned a place where elementary girls here could come together to play games, eat candy, and connect with each other through a devotional, all while developing relationships that would last throughout high school and life after graduation.
“Our goal was to create an environment for young girls to receive Godly direction and encouragement through meaningful relationships with peers and mentors,” said Kinney.
At first, the elementary girls meet after school. Once they transition to junior high and their schedules differ, they meet during lunch through 8th grade.
The story doesn’t stop here.
Once several girls had completed their time in GOG, they decided to begin leading it. Current Juniors Maggie Bullington, Melody Burris, Sarah Peck, and Lauren Kinney returned to lead the fifth grade girls in 2013-4. Today, they are still teaching the girls, who are now seventh-graders.
Each group of leaders meets each month to discuss upcoming lessons. In the past, topics have ranged from women of the Bible to defining beauty found in Jesus.
“I think it’s helped me grow in my faith because not only does it hold me accountable to study God’s word but the wisdom I receive back from my girls is amazing,” said Peck. “They teach me so many new things! They’re like the little sisters I never had, and they’re just such a blessing in my life. I might be the leader, but they’re definitely teaching me so many things that I will cherish forever.”
The leaders are not the only ones who have been impacted.
“Having all the girls together in one room gives us the opportunity to form a bond with each other,” Seventh Grader Bonnie Davis said. “I would love to lead in the future!”
And the legacy continues.
Last semester, three freshman students, Hannah Kinney, Jenna Turner, and Kay Lee Sedwick returned to bless the current 5th grade girls by leading their own GOG.
“I think they have taught me more than I have taught them!” said Freshman Hannah Kinney. “They are such a sweet group of girls, and I am so excited to see what God has for them in the future.”
Girls of Grace meets every two weeks for a time filled with laughter, cookies, candy, and a whole lot of Jesus.