The Light

December 2022

Preparing Next-Generation Leaders for Christ

"Jesus spoke to them, saying, 'I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.'" -John 8:12

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Happy December, Harbor Light Christian School families!

Each Christmas, I try to find a gift for the amazing HLCS staff to show my appreciation for their service and bless them with something that helps get our school’s name and logo in the community. One year I got personalized tumblers, and another, a sports blanket. This year, with so many new faces rounding out our staff, I wanted to get everyone a staple item. I opted for a hooded sweatshirt with the logo and wording: “Harbor Light Christian School Teacher” or “Harbor Light Christian School Staff.” As I took time to pass out the sweatshirts, I was blessed as I reflected on what an honor it is to put on such a sweatshirt. It is an acknowledgment that each staff member is committed to being a part of something much bigger than him or herself. It means joining the ranks of the loyal and faithful staff who have previously served, sacrificed, prayed, and walked these halls; men and women like Debbie Ledingham, Pat Wendt, Clark and Heidi Hewitt, Kathy James, and Gary Urman, just to name a few who came before us. It was a humbling and sober thought, earned by the staff serving throughout the school now. In my final letter of 2022, I want to take a moment to share what I’ve learned about being a staff member during my three and a half years at Harbor Light Christian School.

Whether serving as a teacher, office staff member, or student aid at HLCS, I’ve noticed some common characteristics, attributes, and behaviors that bind us together.

First, the staff prays. They pray a lot. They pray daily. They pray with and for our students and each other. Two mornings a week, the staff meets to spend time in the word and pray in small groups over each other. This time together yields fruit and favor and reminds them they are part of a team, a family. When days start centered on the most important thing, God helps smooth paths ahead and provides peace for the storms to come.

Second, staff members fight for the hearts and minds of the students. Teachers are not here to simply get through the day or to impart knowledge to our students. They are here to connect, guide, love, and call students to a higher standard when they are not the best version of themselves.

Third, the staff puts others ahead of themselves. They live out the ideas in Matthew 20:28, “just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Staff members pour out their lives for their students, families, and this school in big and small ways. The staff places eternal value over earthly comfort as they serve.

Fourth, the staff gets to function as part of the body of Christ. HLCS staff members have many different gifts and talents. Some teachers are ideally suited for our youngest learners, while others thrive working with high schoolers. God has placed each staff person in their role and uses their talents to build up the body of believers. And the staff members often don’t seek individual attention or praise; instead, they work to turn praise and honor to our father in heaven.

Finally, a little over a year ago, I gave a short speech at a fundraiser and shared my observation that I still believe to be true today: Harbor Light Christian School has the most loving teachers in the state of Michigan. They stand head and shoulders above the rest when walking in love.

While this description is a pretty high standard to keep, it is true. But, we fall short… we fail, we fall, and have to stand up again. We fight for unity and forgiveness. The final attribute of an HLCS staff member is a willingness to be wrapped in humility. To humble oneself and be willing to admit when we are wrong, to understand that we will continually fail and fall short in our power and might. This humility points to the fact that we need Jesus, and we need each other. We are willing to stand in the gap for one another, to call each other to a higher standard, and to believe the best in each other. Thank you to all of you who actively pray for this ministry and our staff. It is your intentional prayers that make this all possible.

So this Christmas, one of the greatest gifts I have been given is the honor to wear a sweatshirt that identifies my place on the staff of Harbor Light Christian School—belonging to a group of brothers and sisters in Christ who walk alongside one another to carry out the mission of this special school family.

In Christ,

Kelly Dutcher

Mark your Calendar!


17- Wild Game Cookoff/Baseball Fundraiser-- postponed

19- HLCS Board Meeting (6 pm)

21- Elementary Gingerbread House Making

22- Christmas Break begins


3- School Resumes

16- School Board Meeting (6 pm)

18-20 7-12th grade exams, half days 7-12th grade

20- End of 2nd Marking Period, half-day full school

21- Elementary Mother Son Night at Petoskey Field House 5-7pm

Please click HERE for the school calendar, which is updated as needed.

Our HLCS Calendar is updated continually and can be viewed at

HLCS Sports

Sports Schedule
  • Please confirm events prior to attending
  • "vs." indicates the game will be played at home.
  • "@" indicates the game will be played at the opposing team's school.


20- Varsity Girls Basketball @ Pellston (6 pm)

22- Varsity Basketball vs. Atlanta (Girls 5:30 pm, Boys 7 pm)


3- Boys Basketball @ Brimley (5:45 pm)

5- Boys Basketball vs. NMCA (5:30 pm)

6- Girls Basketball vs. NMCA (5:30 pm)

9- JV Basketball @ Vanderbilt (Boys 5:30 pm, Girls 7 pm)

12- Boys Basketball @ Alanson (5:30 pm)

13- Girls Basketball @ Alanson (5:30 pm)

16- Girls Basketball vs. Mackinaw City (5:30 pm)

17- Varsity Basketball @ Maplewood (Girls 5:30 pm, Boys 7 pm)

19- Varsity Basketball vs. Heritage Christian (Girls 5 pm, Boys 6:30 pm)

20- JV/Varsity Boys Basketball vs. Pellston (5:30 pm)

23- Girls Basketball @ Alba (5:30 pm)

24- Varsity Basketball vs. TCBAA (Girls 6 pm, Boys 7:30 pm)

26- Girls Basketball @ Ellsworth (5:30 pm)

27- Boys Basketball @ Ellsworth (5:30 pm)

30- Girls Basketball vs. Wolverine (5:30 pm)

31- Boys Basketball vs. Wolverine (5:30 pm)

Please click HERE for the school calendar which is updated as needed.

Our Month in Pictures

Deliberate Diffusion with Mr. Ernst

There are very few things in this life that I find as beautiful as a group of people working together to accomplish a tangible goal. There is just something special about watching how the amount of work done gets multiplied when carried out by a like-minded, goal driven, cohesive group. And in those moments, when you see this happening, you can sometimes get a glimpse of the possibility of what could be achieved if the human race was able to function like this on the large scale. And luckily, at Harbor Light, moments like these are not few nor far between.

From the first Friday, after arriving at HLCS, I have been blown away by the end of the school week setup of the gymnasium to prepare it for church service on Sunday. Whether it be after the ending bell, the last practice, or the final horn – what looks like a normal high school gym gets transformed into a 300-seat church right before your eyes. Younger students immediately start rolling carpets and laying Velcro. Older students start pulling out the pieces of the stage and using the jacks to level it out. Others start moving, unstacking, and placing chairs. And in about a half an hour, and on the backs of 20 to 30 determined teammates, the special transformation takes place. It’s teamwork. It’s selflessness. It’s beautiful. And it makes us different and makes it take a little bit more to be a Swordsman.

If you haven’t heard, the days of setting the gym on Friday nights are soon coming to an end. With the final inspections taking place in the Solid Rock Center, and the grand opening scheduled for January, the days of setting the gym will become a thing of the past. And as much as I sometimes just want to go home after a game or practice on Friday nights, I will miss watching what most people don’t get to see after the ending bell, the last practice, and the final horn.

From cement pad, to transplanted Mackinac Island wooden floor – the Sanctuary Gym has hosted games and gym classes, church and harvest festivals, graduations and music concerts – it has been the meeting place for this community. And the extra time, effort, and work that it took to transform it from one mode to the next, well, that did nothing but bring us closer together and bind us tighter as a family.

The Solid Rock Center is amazing. The love and passion that has been poured into its planning and execution can be seen in every detail. The tears and prayer and work and sacrifice that has gone into its construction can be felt as soon as you walk through the doors. It will bless this community in ways that we can’t even imagine. I can’t wait for it to open and for us all to be able to experience it together. But as beautiful as it is, and amazing as the project has been, and as needed as it was – it is also only the continued pouring out of God’s blessing on this place and of His perfect, promised, and practical provision.

And as we prepare to enter into the “Solid Rock Center” era of this school, as we continue to grow and expand – it is important that we don’t forget the concrete floor. That we don’t lose the selflessness and teamwork that it took to setup that Sanctuary Gym every Friday night. That as we move on to bigger and better things, that we don’t lose sight of the beautiful history that has made this place what it is.

On Thursday, December 22nd, we will be having our final basketball game in the Sanctuary Gym. Our varsity boys and girls basketball teams will be hosting Atlanta starting at 5:30 PM, and after that, we will be setting the gym for the very last time after the final horn. We would like to invite anyone who has ever rolled a carpet, pulled out the stage, or set out a chair, to join us for this Final Setup. Come help us honor the amazing blessing that the Sanctuary Gym has been, and the beautiful ways that it has brought us together over the years.

God Bless!

-Mr. Ernst

Parents Review It!

We are starting a new segment here in our monthly newsletter where we ask a parent to review a helpful parenting book or podcast, the goal being to equip our families with as many useful resources as possible to build you up as moms and dads. If you want to submit an idea for review, please reach out to Kelly Dutcher

This month's review is from our Guidance Counselor, Erin Barnes, mom of 5th grader Addison.

This past summer I was fortunate to attend the Great Lakes Symposium on Christian Worldview, a Colson Center event. One of the speakers, Brett Kunkle, mentioned a ministry he had founded, called Maven.

This ministry birthed a podcast that exists to equip parents to navigate the journey of parenting children within our current culture. Brett brings the experience of being a father, youth pastor, and author and combines it with his knowledge of apologetics, culture, Christian education, and philosophy. His wife brings her knowledge of parenting, homeschooling, ministry, and sociology. Together they bring their marriage to the microphone to tackle the HUGE issues we are all facing in today's world as we attempt to parent our children to the best of our ability.

They have a light, playful banter as a couple, but bring reverence to the topics we are facing every day. Topics range from picky eating and chores to heavier topics such as gender ideology, biblical identity, and anxiety.

I have really enjoyed listening to this couple and hope you will too!

Volunteer Spotlight- Debbie Theriault and Shelley Horniman

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Debbie Theriault & Shelley Horniman are sisters who volunteer on Thursdays at Harbor Light. Debbie’s grandsons, Jake (8th grade) and Andrew (11th grade) attend Harbor Light. Debbie & Shelley also have 1 Great Niece (Pippa) and 2 Great Nephews (Lincoln and Crew) who attend Harbor Light. Shelley’s daughter, Sarah, graduated Salutatorian from Harbor Light in 2015.

Deb and Shelley start the day off helping Miss Spencer and the 1st grade class with math. They enjoy seeing the children learn in such a positive, fun, Bible-based environment. Another highlight of starting the day with the 1st graders is the privilege of sharing in their Pledge to the American Flag, Christian Flag and to the Bible. The children have each pledge memorized and repeat it with great zeal and respect! It gives them “goosebumps” to share this special time with the kids.

Then they are on to 6th grade where they file papers and help Mrs. Kruger with any task she may have. No job too big or too small!

They then move onto lunch where they love the interaction with the big kids and the little kids. Getting to know each student by name and knowing/learning something about them is a great way to interact with each age group. The children are very enthusiastic and show Jesus’ love and concern for their fellow students.

An extra blessing is the “sister time” they have as they serve alongside each other. They agree, “It is our privilege and pleasure to serve at Harbor Light where Jesus shines brightly through the students and staff!”

Thank you, Deb and Shelley! We love having you at Harbor Light!

Grants We Have Received

This past month HLCS was blessed to receive 2 grants- one from the Meemic Foundation providing our 1st Grade class with 12 brand new boogie boards (battery powered writing devices that mimic a chalkboard), and one from the Petoskey Youth Advisory Committee providing us with $6500 for school security items!

Meemic is an insurance agency for educators and staff, and they also have the Meemic Foundation Club, open to Current employees of a qualified educational institution that is physically located and operating in Georgia, Illinois, Michigan or Wisconsin.

The Youth Advisory Committee (YAC) involves youth as decision makers and leaders in the community, promotes positive youth development, and involves youth in philanthropy and volunteerism. YAC participants act as advisors to the Fund for Youth and twice per year review grant applications and recommend grant awards to benefit young people and families in Emmet County.

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Thanksgiving Feast

We enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving feast with the entire student body. We love to give the students time to work on friendships between the age groups.
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Solid Rock Update

The day we have all been waiting for is almost here! The walking track is laid, the elevator is in, the classrooms are having final touches done, and the kitchen is being finished. We are ready for final inspections this week!

If all goes well with these inspections, we will be able to welcome students into their new classrooms in January, as well as FINALLY host basketball games in the new gym (HLCS's first new gym floor!).

If you haven't been inside this incredible blessing of a building, call the school today at

231-347-7859 to schedule a time, or just stop over!

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Call for Box Seats at Sporting Events

Do you have a season pass for box seats at Red Wings, Tigers, Lions, or Pistons games? We are thinking ahead to our annual Spaghetti Dinner (now renamed the HLCS Jubilee), and something popular that has been auctioned in the past is a "VIP Night" at a sporting event.

Have any leads? Contact Jennie Cope at


Has HLCS had a positive or life-changing impact on your life or that of someone you love? Please share these stories with us so we can keep letting others know what a wonderful difference we can make! Send your experience to

Considering a Gift to HLCS?

As we near the end of the calendar year, many people are looking for ways to give back. This is mutually beneficial for the giver and for HLCS. We are a 501(c)3 organization, which means any gift that you give is tax deductible. But, in addition to that, your gift is being used for Kingdom purposes.

At Harbor Light Christian School, we have 3 major areas that giving can support:

  1. The Beacon Fund - handles the general needs of the school, not addressed by tuition
  2. The Scholarship Fund - provides financial assistance to students who desperately want to be at HLCS, but may not have all of the funds necessary to do so
  3. The Solid Rock Center Fund - to bring our expansion project to completion ($70,000 left to go)

If you would like to give a gift in one of these areas to spur us on into the next season of growth, please contact Jennie Cope.

Ways to give:

1. Mail a check to:


8333 Clayton Rd

Harbor Springs MI 49740

2. Give a gift of stock (contact Jennie Cope
for transfer instructions)

3. Set up a recurring donation through PushPay

4. Give through your IRA

5. Text HLCSGIVE to 833-245-7331


We are grateful to partner with Oleson's and D&W this school year. Receipts collected from these grocers may be dropped off in the office at any time! This is such an easy way to help the school raise money!