The Calvary Family

Written By: Tonja Brunn
After reading Director of Development Gordon Hunter’s blog post entitled--“What is a Cavalier?”--I couldn’t help but reflect on the meaning of Calvary to me personally. I started my Calvary journey in 1981 as a classmate in Mrs. Smith’s 5th grade class. I pulled out the yearbook just now and can’t believe how many of my fellow 5th graders from 1981-1982 are still an active part of the Calvary family. Just to name a few: Michelle (Meyers) Smeltzer, Admissions Assistant, current Calvary parent, parent of CDS grad; Kim (Burgstiner) Zellner, Lower School Librarian and current CDS parent; Stacey (Black) Peacock, current Calvary parent and parent of a CDS grad; Michael Johnson, current Calvary parent;  Spencer Thomas, current parent and parent of CDS grad; and Andrea (Mason) Turner, current parent and Director of the Calvary Afterschool Program. They have been a part of the Calvary family their entire lives, but, why?
Why do we invest our time, resources, and energy into Calvary Day School? Is it because we have top notch academics? Well, yes, we do. Our students consistently score at the highest level on all academic testing; we are a Blue Ribbon School of Excellence; and our students attend some of the most prestigious universities in the county. As a parent of a successful sophomore at the University of Georgia, I can say unequivocally that Calvary prepares our students for academic success throughout their lives. Do our families stay here because of great programming for their children? Sure. We have won local, state, and national awards in engineering, yearbook, and art; put on some of the finest art/music shows that I have ever seen; and had multiple region and state championships in a wide variety of sports. We have ribbons, banners, and trophies all over our beautiful campus. But, are academics and programs the reason why people stay a part of the Calvary family even well after their kids graduate?

I would say, “no.” The people are why we are still here. Caring, compassionate, Christ-centered members of the Calvary family that love us, encourage us, hold us up to godly standards, and have our back...that is why we give of our time, resources, and energy. There are so many people that I can name who have impacted me and made me a lifelong Cavalier. When I think of our Purpose Statement--FAITH.ACADEMICS.EXCELLENCE--three special Cavaliers come to mind.

Faith - Lynda (Broussard) Jones: CDS graduate (℅ ’77), parent of two graduates, former Physical Education teacher and coach Mrs. Jones served as my HS PE teacher and cheerleading coach. She was the most energetic, enthusiastic person I had ever met. No matter the circumstance, she was upbeat, encouraging (but yet while constantly challenging), and you knew that Christ was the center of her life. She poured truth into my life when I needed it the most, so much so that I wanted to be just like her. I desired to have a strong Christian family, faith, and a job that I loved. I actually became a Health and Physical Education major in college because I wanted to impact young lives just like Mrs. Lynda Jones did.

Academics - Ronda Johnson: parent of Calvary grad, former HS English teacher, club sponsor
I will never forget Mrs. Johnson, “Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn and cauldron bubble.” She would read Shakespeare using voices, in this case, creepy witchy voices. She would hunch over and act out the scene as if she were on stage. She brought English to life. At this time in my life, I really did not like to read (I know that shocks those that know me as a voracious reader today), but through her passion for literature, I began to embrace Shakespeare; I can still quote many lines of Poe’s The Raven today because we had to memorize it; I laughed out loud when she read from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. However, the biggest impact she had on my life was when she murdered my papers. These papers looked like they had been shot on the battlefield--full of bloody red markings and scribbles. She saw me and knew that I had more to give. She never took mediocrity from me or the other students. She challenged me daily to be my best self. Today, I edit papers just like her (ask any student or staff member who has had the pleasure of a Tonja Brunn edit), and I do it for the same reason as Mrs. Johnson: I want writers to give their best and keep getting better at their craft, whether on a college application essay, an English research paper, or a staff blog post, such as this. Thank you Mrs. Johnson for setting the academic bar so high!

Excellence: Mr. Josh Brewer: parent, Bible teacher, and Advisor for the nationally award winning Beacon yearbook Mr. Brewer is an excellent Bible teacher, providing solid Christian teaching that is both challenging and inspiring. But, his work as the Beacon advisor tops the charts for what it means to be excellent. Every year, the Beacon as a staff and writers/photographers/designers individually win local, statewide, and national honors. It is so excellent that sometimes I believe the Calvary family overlooks the amazing achievements. Just to name a few honors received this year alone: Quill & Scroll Blue and Gold Excellence Overall Award (top yearbook in the NATION), Blue and Gold Staff Excellence in Comprehensive Writing, Blue and Gold Staff Excellence in Comprehensive Visuals, 13 individual National Excellence winners; Georgia Scholastic Press Association (GSPA) All-Georgia (best is STATE), 16 individual awards; Columbia Scholastic Press Association (CSPA) Gold Medal rating; Southern Interscholastic Press Association (SIPA) All-Southern rating; and an All-American rating from the National Scholastic Press Association (NSPA). And these awards are only for last year’s book Shift! These achievements could not be possible without the blood, sweat, and tears (and harsh critiques) of Mr. Brewer. As a parent of a former Beacon editor, I can attest to the fact that excellence isn’t just expected--it is mandated. Every story, every photo, every spread must be excellent. Mr. Brewer is truly a coach who keeps encouraging and challenging his players to be their very best individually and collectively. The Beacon every year is a symbol of excellence, dedication, and hard work. I am so thankful that Mr. Brewer leads an excellent staff to produce and excellent book every year which beautifully tells the Calvary story. Thank you Mr. Brewer for demanding excellence!

FAITH.ACADEMICS.EXCELLENCE wouldn’t be possible without each of you. Thank you parents, staff, students, friends of Calvary who have invested your lives to making Calvary the unique and special place it is today. The people--YOU--make Calvary. Many thanks!

Tonja Brunn is a 1989 graduate of Calvary Day School and is the Director of Media Services. Mrs. Brunn most enjoys her job because of the family atmosphere and the direct impact on students that she witnesses every day. She counts it a true joy to see the physical, academic, social, and spiritual growth of the students at Calvary Day School.

Calvary Day School

Calvary Day School offers a Christ-centered educational experience for grades Pre-K – 12 through the development of the total student- spiritually, academically, socially, and physically. We provide the best, most affordable private education in Savannah, Georgia.