Sanctuary, Inc. Executive Director Heather Lancaster speaks at the 2023 State of the School Breakfast on Friday at the James E. Bruce Convention Center.

The Christian County Chamber of Commerce hosted its annual State of the Schools breakfast Friday at the James E. Bruce Convention Center.

Along with updates about the academic performance of local schools’ and plans for the new consolidated high school, the community got to hear Sanctuary, Inc. Executive Director Heather Lancaster express her gratitude for the partnership with Gateway Academy.

“If I’m being honest, the work we do is hard, it’s messy, it’s complicated, but Gateway understands that,” Lancaster said. “We’re grateful for Gateway Academy and the understanding that they have about what it takes to meet needs, even when it means just meeting people where they’re at.”

Last fall, Gateway staff and students participated in Sanctuary’s annual back-to-school bash where there was food, games, backpacks for students and motivational speakers.

“Gateway was the highlight of the day with their robotics and their 3D printing machines,” Lancaster said. “Our children felt seen and they felt loved and they felt supported.”

Gateway Academy principal Penny Knight said the idea to partner with local nonprofits was birthed out of the administrators’ retreat last July.

“Our purpose was to offer the opportunity for our administrators to learn what services are offered by community agencies and to give back to the community by partnering with these agencies to help reach more families,” Knight said.

In addition to Sanctuary, Inc., Christian County Public Schools partnered with Challenge House, Aaron McNeil House Inc., American Red Cross, Boys and Girls Club of Hopkinsville Christian County, Christian County Literacy Council, Christian County Youth Advisory Board, Dyslexia Association of the Pennyrile, Hopkinsville Christian County Public Library/Imagination Library, Joy Closet and Salvation Army.

“These partnerships have proven to be a blessing to us all,” Knight said. “I personally am honored to be partnered with Sanctuary, Inc.”