An Interview with a CCS Alumna - Kyle Hoover, Class of 2016

Dawn Snellenberger interviewed Class of 2016 alumnus Kyle Hoover.  Kyle is currently a sophomore at Liberty University in Virginia, and he is studying Special Education as his major.


I recently had the opportunity to connect with Kyle Hoover from the Class of 2016. Although Kyle now attends Liberty University, he still has a vested interest in the activities of Cornerstone.  Kyle recently heard about the health scare of our high school teacher, Mr. Jim Kirch. (Mr. Kirch noticed a lump in his neck that required surgery to determine its cause.) When Kyle heard about it, he immediately reached out to Mr. Kirch in support and prayer.  Soon afterwards, Mr. Kirch shared the testimony of Kyle’s kindness during faculty devotions, and I knew I needed to interview him!


Kyle began attending Cornerstone in the 6th grade because, according to his testimony, “I was not thriving behaviorally at the public school.”  His parents were familiar with CCS because they are both CCS alumni!  They thought it would be a better environment for their son, as they wanted a school that supported their Christian values. 


During his time at Cornerstone, Kyle developed a close bond with Mr. Kirch--in class and on the basketball court. In fact, Mr. Kirch had also taught and coached Kyle's parents! When Kyle's mother, Jodi (Duplin, Class of 1992), notified Kyle about Mr. Kirch's health concern, Kyle sprang into action. He contacted a fellow alumnus who is also attending Liberty, Isaac Rivera (Class of 2017), and told him they needed to pray for Mr. Kirch. They stopped then and there to petition the Lord for their teacher, mentor, and friend.


The next day, Kyle called Mr. Kirch by phone, because he wanted to encourage him before he went in for his surgery. Kyle also prayed with Mr. Kirch on the phone. Then Kyle organized a prayer team, and they intercededtogether for Mr. Kirch. Kyle was thankful to be at a Christian college where he was surrounded by others who also encouraged him in his faith!


On the day of his surgery, Mr. Kirch called Kyle back to tell him that his doctor had given a favorable report!  He thanked Kyle for his encouragement and prayer support.  When Kyle hung up the phone, he contacted his friends to also give them the good news.  He said they were all “hyped” and encouraged that God had heard their prayers.


As Kyle reflected on his time at Cornerstone, he said it was the relationships with teachers that made an impact on his life.  When he thinks about the critical developmental period of the middle and high school years, he is thankful for a Christian example like Mr. Kirch, who not only impacted him, but who has impacted hundreds of kids throughout his career!  Kyle knows that Mr. Kirch's influence will be felt for generations.  When I asked Kyle why he felt it was important to pray for Mr. Kirch, he said, “It was the least I could do for my friend and brother in Christ.” 


We are grateful when our graduates go out into the world and live out their faith!  It encourages us that we are accomplishing our mission!  Do you know an alumnus that we should highlight?  Please contact Dawn Snellenberger at!

An Interview with a CCS Alumna - Jennifer D'Appollonio, Class of 1992

Dawn Snellenberger interviewed Class of 1992 alumna Jennifer D'Appollonio.  Jennifer currently lives in Maine and works as the Assistant to the Maine State Cooperative Extension Specialist.


When Jennifer was an elementary student in a public school, she had difficulty making friends because she was so shy. Her parents were not pleased with the school in her town, so they decided to send her to CCS when she was in fifth grade.  That was the beginning of a new chapter for Jennifer!


Once she started attending CCS, her grades improved dramatically.  She believes the smaller class sizes and the personal attention she received from the teachers were the keys to her success.  She speaks highly of her teachers and their influence on her life. She  credits the teachers with setting good examples of how to live as Christian adults.  A few teachers stood out to her.  Mrs. Kathy Peck helped her have an appreciation of theatre, and Mrs. Kara (Kozma) Connor, her biology teacher, cemented her decision to major in science once she attended college.


Jennifer graduated as the valedictorian of her class.  She feels the small environment at Cornerstone even helped shape her college choice, as she desired a school where she would receive more individualized attention from her professors.  She selected the University of Maine at Machias and majored in environmental science where she graduated in 1997.


In 2002, Jennifer was forced to move back home with her parents due to detached retinas.  She began working at her grandmother’s antique shop in Ashford, CT, where she encountered God in the most miraculous way!  As she was polishing silver, she heard a voice in her ear saying, “Go sit behind the cash register and be still.”


She obeyed, and immediately a full-sized Ford pickup truck came flying through the front window of the building where she had been standing!  She could feel the wind of the truck on her face; after the truck came to rest, she could feel the truck’s grill in front of her.  She was wedged behind the counter and the cash register.  Other than a cut on her cheek and arm, she was spared!  After she survived that ordeal, she knew God had saved her because He had a plan for her life.   She decided to continue her education and pursue her master’s degree in forestry.


Today she has a job at a university where she researches wild blueberries for the state of Maine.  She continues to give to the ministry of CCS as an alumna, because she feels it is critical for students to have the right education from the start.  She strongly believes in teaching kids to live for Christ and feels CCS is able to train children in the way they should go.


We are blessed by Jennifer’s testimony and faithful giving to Cornerstone.  We would love to hear from additional alumni about how God has used CCS in their lives.  Please contact Dawn Snellenberger at if you would be willing to be interviewed. 

An Interview with a CCS Alumnus-Vin McCauley, Class of 1996


Dawn Snellenberger interviewed Class of 1996 alumnus Vin McCauley. Vin currently lives in  Edgewater, Florida, with his wife Elise and their two young children. Vin also happens to be Dawn's brother!

Vin began attending Cornerstone in the middle of his fifth grade year.  At the time, he had a friend who was enrolled at CCS, and he asked his parents if he could switch from the parochial school he was attending.  They agreed, and he ended up remaining through graduation.  He says that CCS provided several “core benefits” which have helped him throughout his life.  

First, Vin believes the uniforms provided a “normalizing” experience.  Because of the school's uniforms, students were not trying to impress each other with designer clothes, and it created a level playing field for everyone, regardless of one's economic status.  Second, the small classes provided extra accountability. The well-rounded Christian education he received allowed him to transition well to college.  However, Vin says that the biggest benefit he recalls is that he was forced out of his comfort zone.

For sports, Vin played on the soccer and basketball teams.  If he had attended a large public school, he knows he would not have been selected for the teams, but at Cornerstone he was able to participate.  He saw that character development was woven into the sports arena, which also taught him the value of being part of a team. 

Another challenging, yet beneficial, activity was getting involved in a large CCS theater production called Narnia.  While Vin wasn’t necessarily interested in drama, the group needed participants, so he volunteered. It taught him the value of seeing something through to completion and being part of something larger than himself.

After graduation, Vin attended Gordon College in Wenham, Massachusetts, and he took some general education classes at Manchester Community College. 

Vin acquired a job at Brown Brothers Harriman & Co., a premium global investment bank in Boston.  After working there, he moved on to the car business, where he worked for Honda, Mini Cooper and BMW.  At BMW he was the youngest general sales manager for a tier one (largest sized) dealership in North America.

Over the years, Vin has also had the opportunity to become involved in several entrepreneurial efforts, including a restaurant, hair salon and Internet start-up businesses.  Currently Vin is the owner of a small boutique Web firm called Level One Sites with offices in Florida, the Philippines, and India.  He also became involved in the early stages of a successful start-up company called  It is a Christian-run, grass-fed meat subscription service with revenue in the tens of millions.  Vin says that it has been proven in his experience that foundational Christian principles align well with great business practices, and this has contributed to any success he has experienced.

Cornerstone is blessed by the ways that God uses His school to equip students for His calling!

An Interview with a CCS Alumna-Carrie (Benson) Butler, Class of 1998


Dawn Snellenberger interviewed Class of 1998 alumna Carrie (Benson) Butler. Carrie lives in New Hampshire with her husband, Greg, and children Luke, Maddie, and Jacob. She teaches Humanities and Writing at Laconia Christian School.

When Carrie was young, she and her family lived in the Berkshires, but she had family ties in Manchester where her grand-mother owned a children’s clothing store on Main Street.  One day Evelyn Banning, a CCS board member at that time, entered the grandmother’s shop, and they struck up a conversation about Christian schools.  Even though the shop was on the same street as CCS, Carrie's grandmother had never heard about Cornerstone! Evelyn encouraged the grandmother to find out more about the school.

On that recommendation, her parents investigated CCS, compared it with other Christian schools, and eventually enrolled her.  This was a huge decision, as it required Carrie and her mom to stay with her grandmother during the week and only be reunited as a full family on the weekends; however, her parents were willing to make the sacrifice because they valued the Christian atmosphere, small class sizes and the individualized instruction.

Eventually, Carrie's family relocated to Connecticut, and she was able to graduate from CCS. Carrie said she loved the core of students from her class, because they felt like an extended family. That's a big deal when you're an only child! She also felt loved and cared for by her teachers, and she was well prepared for the rigors of college after graduation.

She began attending college at Gordon College and then transferred to UCONN, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English. She then went on to receive her Masters of Education degree, where she hoped to become a teacher and follow in the footsteps of her CCS English teacher, Karen Orfitelli.

After graduation, Carrie realized her goal of becoming a high school English teacher!  She also realized two other large milestones:  marriage and motherhood.  In time she enrolled her oldest son, Luke, in preschool at CCS.  During that school year, her husband felt a call to full-time ministry, so they moved to New Hampshire where Greg began working for a church.  While in New Hampshire, their family expanded.  They also chose Christian education for their own children.

In November, 2016, Carrie received horrifying news that she had breast cancer.  With her characteristic optimism, she tackled the biopsies and treatments while holding onto her faith.  At times the treatments made her unable to read or focus, but she was able to recall the memory verses she tucked away in her heart while at CCS.  Her parents didn’t know at the time that God would use their investment in their daughter’s education to strengthen her through her illness.

Today Carrie is feeling stronger and taking life day by day.  She said, “Bad things happen.  Life doesn’t ever go back to the way it was, but we make adjustments.”  She chooses to live in the present and does so by reminding herself of the important verse found in Exodus 14:14:  “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

Thanks, Carrie, for your willingness to share how God used CCS to shape and prepare you for where you are today. If you would like to share your CCS story with us, we would love to hear it.  You can reach Dawn Snellenberger at

A Message from a CCS Alumna - Sarah (Loftus) May, Class of 2011


“It is all about COMMUNITY. Community is about friendship-- true, godly friendship. It is about bearing your soul to the godly people that He has placed around you. It is about being honest about your struggles...and letting others be honest with you, without judgment or quick advice. It is about celebrating others, often and well, and letting others celebrate you. It is ALL about community, because it is true that real friends are hard to find.


They are the ones that stick closer than family, the ones who often know you better than family. They pray bigger things for you than you pray for yourself. They believe with you when your faith is weak. They make space for you when life falls apart, and they rejoice with you when all is well. Most importantly, true friends remind you in every encounter who and what is most important.


The true essence of Christian friendship is companionship founded on two great things. The first is that only Jesus can satisfy the soul, and the second is that His kingdom alone is worth living for. Christian friendship is a treasure because it helps us cling to our greatest Treasure. Jesus is our Bread of Life, our Living Water, our Pearl of Great Price, our Light, our Resurrection, our very Life.

Secondly, true friends expose the sin in us that keeps us from God. 'Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.' (Proverbs 27:6)


Sin deceives us. It darkens our understanding and makes us much so that we may be walking in sin and convinced that we are obeying God (like the Pharisees). This is why we desperately need friends.


Third, true friends encourage us to obey God. Hebrews 10:24 says, 'Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.' While it is true we need friends to help us see our disobedience, we also need them to spur us on to obedience. Often, obedience to God takes more courage than we can muster alone. Without the faithful cheerleading of Christian friends, we easily shrink back into stagnant apathy, not wanting to willfully disobey, but also too afraid to step out in faith.


So, who did I rely on throughout the wild ups and downs of high school? My 15 best friends--my class. Whose house did we go to for dinner throughout high school and many years after? My math teacher: Carol Jones. Who did I fall in love with and marry? My high school sweetheart: Robbie May. Who stood beside me as I married Robbie? My high school best friend: Rachel Monahan. Who did we move in with when we first got married? Our Bible teacher: Beth Russell. Who did we share our entire lives with and pour out our all to start a business with? Our guidance counselor: Tammy Gerhard. Who did I run to with questions about adoption? My middle school teacher and cheerleading coach, Wonderwoman Joy Press.


You see, the biggest thing that I was able to take away from my time at Cornerstone, was my community. Because...true friends are hard to find, and when you find them, you have to keep them.”

An Interview of a CCS Alumna - Becky (Fox) Gilbert, Class of 1996


Q:  How old were you when you began attending CCS?

A:  I began attending in 7th grade.  I asked my parents if I could either go to CCS or be homeschooled because I didn’t want to go to the large public middle school in town.  I knew I wouldn’t thrive there because I was shy and would get lost in the crowd.  My parents said yes and I was thrilled.

Q:  How did you feel about the school after you started attending?

A:  I loved the family "feel" of the school! Everyone felt like a brother or sister to me.  I loved the arts focus at the time.  We were encouraged to be expressive through our writing, acting and singing.  We had many opportunities to stand in front of others, whether in class, chapel, or in a major production called Narnia.  It was great for me because it forced me out of my shell. The teachers also made learning fun, because they interacted with us.

Q: So after graduation from CCS, what did you do?

A: I went to Cedarville College (now University) in Ohio. I felt very prepared by the education I received at CCS.  In fact, I was able to CLEP (College Level Examination Program) out of classes, which allowed me to take other classes instead of the prerequisites.  I majored in Exercise Science and graduated in 2000.

A few years after graduation, I met and married Barry and started having children (Logan, Tate and Vivian).  I felt a call to homeschool them, but I also had ambition to have my own business.  I became a fitness trainer and started a home business which focused on sales.  I was then introduced to a product called Juice Plus.  I started using the supplements and eventually invited others to try the products for themselves.  In no time, I had developed my own business.

Now, I use the communication skills I learned at CCS in a variety of ways.  I talk to groups of people about the benefits of a plant-based diet and also share my faith with others.  My husband and I are both active in our church, serving on the worship team and helping with a Bible club called the Olympians every Friday night. We place a high emphasis on how to communicate, serve and use our gifts.

Thanks, Becky, for sharing your insights with me!  I appreciate hearing your story of how your parents’ investment of Christian education has paid off in your life. 

If you would be willing  to share your story with me, please contact me at

Our Cups Overflow with Love - For Coffee & For People!


This weekend Silk City Coffee will open on Main Street in Manchester! This unique coffee shop was born of a vision shared by Rob May (Class of 2011), Sarah Loftus May (Class of 2011) and Glenn and Tammy Gerhard (CCS Parents / CCS Guidance Counselor).  It was through Cornerstone that Rob & Sarah first met Mrs. Gerhard, and then the rest of her family.  As "Mrs. G" led Sarah & Rob through the high school leadership program, she became invested in their lives. Later, after they graduated and married, they shared their passion for coffee and for people with the Gerhard family. Together, they heard God calling them to this unique business and ministry opportunity.

Their hearts for the people of Manchester -and for good coffee - can be seen in the Silk City Coffee mission statement. 

Silk City Coffee is a specialty coffee shop that serves quality coffee and delicious food in a warm and inviting atmosphere. Silk City is a place where employees greet customers with a smile and take an interest in their lives. We designed a comfortable space where customers are loved and welcomed.

Silk City seeks to bless their community by bringing people together and empowering them to meet each others needs. We also plan to give back a portion of our proceeds to support programs that bring light and hope to our area.

We aim to do business with integrity to the glory of the God we love, who first loved us to even make this possible. Our greatest desire is that your time at Silk City Coffee leaves you feeling refreshed, encouraged and excited to return for another cup!
— Silk City Coffee