Blessings In Disguise
High school was about getting noticed, and not necessarily in a good way. Chanel’s life of frat parties and recreational drugs had landed her in a familiar place, but one that she didn’t expect. Her grandmother had been a single mom; her mother was a single mom when she had Chanel… and now, here she was a junior in high school, at 16, facing the same label —single mom…rather, single teenage mom.
Chanel Murray found herself pregnant and conflicted, but she was going to keep her baby, just as her grandmother and mother had done.
In the middle of this dilemma, Chanel was placed in foster care. Luckily, her grandmother knew of a couple in State College who was looking for a teenage girl to foster. Jim (a Grace Prep Board member) and Shannon Burtoft took Chanel in and made her a part of their family. They knew exactly where she needed to go to school.
Chanel shadowed at Grace Prep for a day and thought it was “weird.” But she applied anyway and on her application she wrote that she was pregnant.
Her pregnancy didn’t scare anyone at Grace Prep. When she met Dave Anderson and Jarrod Sechler she felt completely safe. She knew she would be accepted as she was and thought to herself, “I can be pregnant here.”
Bob Gresh has always said that Grace Prep is a school where pregnant girls should get “kicked in to, not out of.” Chanel would test that theory. “People prayed for me and my unborn baby. They didn’t even know me, but they did that for us.”
Every milestone of her pregnancy was celebrated and embraced. As soon as she announced his name, Noah was talked about every day at school—even the guys were fascinated.
Surrounded by family and friends, Noah James Murray was born on June 6, 2014. It was graduation day at Grace Prep and the last day of the school’s 10th Anniversary Celebration. It was also the day that Chanel received the school’s Spiritual Growth Award.
Each day, Chanel faces the challenges that go with an unplanned pregnancy, but now she receives grace from a loving family…as well as a place she once thought was “weird.” A place named Grace Prep.