Annual Harvest Celebration Banquet Address by Mrs. Tonya Snyder

On Saturday, October 10th, we held our annual Harvest Celebration Banquet. During the evening many parents and students stood to share testimonies to the way God has used Cornerstone to touch their lives.  Mrs. Snyder closed the evening by briefly sharing about the past year and the year ahead. Below is the transcript of her speech from the evening.

According to the, 1981 was the first year that the word “Internet” was ever mentioned.  1981 was also the year of the First Flight of the Space Shuttle Columbia.  Ronald Regan became the United States President as Jimmy Carter completed his term, and Muhammed Ali retired from boxing after winning 55 matches and losing only 5 in his entire career.  The AIDS virus was discovered in 1981, and my favorite invention…Post-It Notes…was brought to stores internationally by the company 3M.  Present-day pop stars, Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears, were born in 1981.  And…in September 1981, God opened the doors of the Cornerstone Christian School for its very first school year.

God has been incredibly faithful to His vision for Cornerstone as we enter this, our 35th year, serving the Greater Hartford Area through the provision of a solid Christian education. 

God’s vision for us is that we would “capture and equip the hearts, minds and energies of young people for the sake of knowing Christ, and unleash them to engage the world in which they live, that they would make an impact in it according to God’s principles and power.”  Cornerstone’s faculty and staff, administration, school board, and host church,

The Manchester Church of the Nazarene, are deeply committed to God’s vision for our school.  And we continue to be encouraged and strengthened by our partnership with people like you who faithfully support—through prayer, time, and finances—the work that God is doing through Cornerstone.


If you attended last year’s annual banquet, you will remember that this gym looked quite a bit different than it looks tonight.  In fact, you may remember that I shared our school’s budgetary challenge at that time, which isn’t all that unusual for schools like ours that are 100% privately funded.  At this same time last year, I had been avidly working with our finance team developing financial contingency plans for a lowered budget than originally forecasted—a trimmed budget on top of a very lean budget to begin with.  However, at that same time, the school board felt impressed upon by God to commit to a long-term initiative that would begin to address some much-needed renovations to this very room in order to make it a safer place for our Pre-K through Grade 12 students.

In faith, we launched an initiative at this event just one year ago—a campaign to begin raising funds for a gym renovation project.  In less than one year from this same night last year, we not only met our budget, ending the year in the black, but we were also able to raise an additional $50,000 needed to fully complete the renovation project beyond even our original vision.

I am convinced that God absolutely loves to show His provision when we most recognize our need and cannot figure out our own plan to make it happen.  We truly serve a great God!

God provided for the school last year through the generous gifts of time and talent by…

  • enabling us to completely meet our annually budgeted $70,000 of fundraising needs to meet our general budget.
  • He enabled us to completely renovate our gymnasium.
  • We were able to establish two new graduate recognitions.
    •  Our Legacy Graduates are those graduating seniors who are the children of CCS alumni.  Jodi Hoover’s daughter, Avery, received our first Legacy pin at this past year’s commencement ceremony (after having graduated in 2014).  This June, we will award our second Legacy pin to another of Jodi’s children as Kyle also graduates.
    • Our Alpha & Omega graduates are those students who attended Cornerstone during all of their compulsory education years (Grades 1 through 12).  We were able to officially recognize our Alpha & Omega graduates all the way back to the Class of 1993.
  • We established this past June the CCS Scholarship Endowment Fund, which is funded by alumni and friends of Cornerstone and will be used to provide tuition aid for future CCS students.
  • We established the CCS Chapter of the National Honor Society and are planning for our first induction of qualifying juniors and seniors that will take place later this month on October 23rd.
  • We received dual accreditation this past spring that includes our continued membership with the Association of Christian Schools International and now includes accreditation through the Middle States Association: Commissions on Elementary and Secondary Schools. 


This weekend, the CCS Harvest Celebration Weekend, leads into the launch of our annual Brochure Campaign, which is our most substantial fundraiser each year.  It is our hope that each family at Cornerstone will use our brochures to invite 15 friends, families, and businesses to support the school’s initiatives for the 2015-2016 school year.  Those initiatives are as follows:

  • The school board met a goal from their Continuous School Improvement Plan by funding substantial salary increases and enrollment-based bonuses for our teachers and administration this year.
  • We expanded the use of our Foundations & Frameworks reading program to include Kindergarten through Grade 2, making it a K-8 program.
  • In response to research, we also adopted a new phonics program to accompany our Foundations & Frameworks instruction in our lower elementary program.
  • The school board is in the process of establishing a 7-Year Strategic Planning process that will be used to help us continually remain centered on our school’s mission and vision.
  • Our initial fundraising efforts this year, as always, will first go towards meeting our $70,000 annually budgeted fundraising needs in order to end the year in the black.  Due to having graduated 19 students this past June, I am once again working alongside the school board finance team to reduce our current budget in order to accommodate our lower-than-projected enrollment this year.  We are confident, however, that God will provide!
  • In the event that God enables us to meet our projected budget and once again provides over and above, we hope to begin saving towards some cafeteria renovations.  We are looking to replace two cafeteria tables in the elementary building and to add a new floor to the cafeteria in this building.  We also hope to add a fresh coat of paint and some other aesthetic facelifts to the cafeteria, which is an important community-building area used by our high school students.

It is our tradition each year to invite you at our annual banquet to consider partnering with us in the year ahead by holding us up in prayer, spreading the word to others about CCS, and giving financially. 

This year, we’re inviting you to take the “Coffee Less for CCS” Challenge.  This is just a creative way to help you prayerfully consider how you might be able to support God’s provision of Christian education through the Cornerstone Christian School.  You are invited to contribute tonight towards the cost of this evening’s dinner and towards this year’s initiatives.  We will provide you with pledge cards that you can complete and leave in the baskets provided.

You are important to us!  We know that we cannot fulfill God’s vision without you.  Thank you so much for your partnership in providing Christian education to the Greater Hartford Area.  We enthusiastically, filled with hope and expectation, look forward to the next 35 years of fulfilling God’s vision for our children and their children.  It’s hard to imagine what it will be like in the year 2050 (35 years from now), but I suspect that there will be an unprecedented need at that time for God’s provision of Christian education.  May God continue to provide, sustain, and equip us and our children after us for this important work!

Thank you for coming tonight!