Ascension Student to Compete in World Games

Spiritual Lessons Learned at Ascension Provide Strong Foundation

Tess Barlow, a seventh grader at Ascension Lutheran School, looks like a normal middle schooler, hanging out with friends and finishing homework. But what you don’t know about Tess might surprise you. Earlier this year, Tess was selected for the U.S. Martial Arts Team and will be competing at the World Martial Arts Games in South Africa.

But the building blocks for her success at karate started long before her selection on the national team, when the Barlow family discovered Ascension and started their daughter in preschool.

“I can’t say enough good things about Ascension,” her mom, Chris, says. “She was baptized here and what I have seen is a beautiful confidence in her faith.”

Her mom says that Ascension’s “Learn by Heart” Bible memory program has made an impact on her daughter by helping students commit scripture to heart.

“It’s one of the distinguishing things about Ascension,” Chris adds. “They learn a Bible verse, catechism, and the first verse of a hymn every week.” The program has a three-year curriculum that builds on itself. After three years, students repeat the program with longer verses.

By providing a strong Christian foundation for the students at Ascension, students like Tess learn to tackle the hard questions in life.

“Several years ago, a family lost their son to an accident,” Chris says. “The Sunday after their son was buried, I was sitting behind that family and Tess was next to me. Tears were falling down my face. While we were driving home Tess said, ‘Why were you crying? Their son is in heaven and he’s okay now.’ That’s just an example of her confidence in her faith.”

As Tess has grown up, she continues to make new discoveries—the most recent being a talent in the martial arts. After asking her mom for years if she could take karate lessons, Tess approached her mom with a coupon from the newspaper for a free lesson. That first lesson led to a dream come true experience.

“She had only been training for less than a year and was at a conference where one of the head coaches from the U.S. martial arts team was attending,” Chris explains. “They saw her working, and they recognized that even though she had been training for a short time, she had natural ability and [they] asked if she would join the U.S. martial arts team.”

Tess accepted the invitation and will be traveling to the World Martial Arts Games in Johannesburg, South Africa this October. Her mom adds, “It’s been a great part of Tess’ life. [She’s] learned a lot about respect, hard work and humility.”

But no matter how Tess performs at the World Martial Arts Games, the lessons she’s learned at Ascension are far more important. These lessons, especially about faith, are why the Barlow family can’t say enough good things about the school.

“I always encourage people to consider Ascension,” Chris adds. “It’s a special place students get to grow academically, physically [and] spiritually.”