As the leaders of the Lower school, the fifth graders have specific guidelines and character traits to uphold. They are called to be leaders for the younger students in the way they act, what they say, and how they treat each other. The key verse for the program is John 13:34, “Love one another. As I have loved you… By this all people will know you are my disciples.” The Big Dog program originated from a couple of the fifth grade parents because they wanted to be involved in shaping the kids’ lives. Since then, it has continued being a completely parent led, Christ centered program thanks to the dedicated parent volunteers that give their time and energy for the students.
The monthly lessons provide a good environment for the students to learn about God, leadership, and love. Fifth grade teacher, Karen Krusing, said, “Sometimes when we have Biblical lessons it can seem out of touch for the kids, so these parents transform it into their lives.” The parent volunteers do puppet shows and act out scenes to make the kids laugh. After the lesson they break out into small groups of about four to six kids and one adult to discuss the lesson and how it relates to them. This makes the lessons more personal, easy to connect to, and relevant to the students lives. Not only does the Big DoG program help the students to act as leaders in everything they do on campus, it also helps them transition into middle school. Fifth grade teacher, Lana Hamilton, summed the program’s impact on the students when she said, “Fifth graders are taught that to be a leader is an honored position and it comes with responsibility and they should honor God with their actions. The fifth graders of MCA take this job seriously and rise to the occasion every year.”