Monthly Archives: December 2011

Music Groups Prepare for Christmas Concerts

Practice

This is a busy season for music groups. Two Christmas concerts are just around the corner: Feast of Lights and the Christmas Pops concert.  Students walking the halls can hear music From chorale, band, orchestra or bells as those groups prepare for the year’s biggest concerts.

Every year Andrews Academy gives a gift of music to the community through the Feast of Lights program, a celebration in music of the Christmas story. Feast of Lights will take place in the Pioneer Memorial Church sanctuary this Friday evening at 7:00.  It is a free program.

In addition to Feast of Lights, there is a new concert this year.  The Christmas Pops concert is going to be performed by AA students on December 10 in the Howard Performing Arts Center at 7 p.m.

Under the direction of Mr. Flores, Orchestra, String Orchestra, Chorale and Silhouette are preparing for the concerts. And under the direction of Mr. Graves, Band and Bell groups are practicing every day in anticipation of the performance.

 

 

 

Students Spread Christmas Cheer

SACarol

On December 2, approximately 18 AA students drove to Timberridge Manor to bring retirees a little Christmas cheer with warm smiles and enthusiastic singing.

The SA Caroling Vespers is an annual tradition at AA and one of the many programs that puts students in contact with members of their community in a positive way.  And although students offer a gift of singing to the retirees, they sometimes end up receiving an unexpected blessing in return.

Caroler Cavan Miller said, “Caroling was a great experience.  Just to see the elderly people’s faces light up was exhilarating.”

With the abundance of support from the student body, this SA event was a success in bringing joy and glad tidings to the elderly.

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Spanish II Project Combines Creativity, Knowledge

SpanishBooks

Various class events and projects are in progress at the Academy now. One of these is happening in the Spanish classroom. The students who are taking Spanish 2 are going to make their own children’s book in Spanish, and some will draw pictures for their books.

Señora Sanchez gave students this project a few weeks ago and is expecting this project to be the final exam, earning students a possible 200 points. In order to get full points, however, there are some directions students must follow when making the children’s book, such as making 3-4 sentences per page and using specific words from their Spanish vocabulary.  Each student will make a presentation of their complete children’s book during the final exam class period.

The students who take Spanish 2 have learned Spanish words and grammar for two years and are able to not only read and write some simple sentences in Spanish, but also to speak basic Spanish. Most of the students have started the project with their own particular idea, and some of them have already finished the project.  Many students are working hard to finish the project because it is their first time translating and writing long sentences in Spanish.

Decking the Halls of AA

DeckedHalls4

It seems that the students at Andrews Academy are so excited for Christmas that they decided to bring their cheer to the school. From Christmas lights, sledding snowmen in the showcase, to a big ol’ Christmas tree in the commons, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas at AA. Hopefully students won’t let these decorations distract them from studying for finals.

The SA Mailbox looking festive

Christmas Tree in the Commons

The decked showcase

Special Feature on World Views: Naturalism

Naturalism

Standing in opposition to the theistic worldview – the belief in a divine creator and a personal God – Naturalism (or Atheism) is often looked down upon by theists and rarely studied or given an attempt at understanding. The fundamental disagreement between theists and atheists is that the latter deny the existence of a creator.  What many theists fail to consider, however, is that Naturalism is a deep worldview that has been given great thought over the years and has been aided by scientific investigation.  James Sire’s The Universe Next Door: A Basic Worldview Catalog provides 6 essential ideas to explain Naturalism.

Carl Sagan, an astrophysicist and atheist, replaces God with science, suggesting that “the Cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be.”  His statement reveals two key points: first, “cosmos” – i.e., the scientific universe – is God; second, everything can be explained without God.  This quote is the clearest expression of the first idea of Naturalism: matter is all there is and is permanent. Whereas theists place the origin of nature in a creator, naturalists offer a different explanation: “Nothing comes from nothing. Something is. Therefore something was. But that something, say the naturalists, is not a transcendent Creator but the matter of the cosmos itself. In some form all the matter of the universe has always been.”

The second idea is that the universe cannot be changed in any way, shape or form. This idea asserts that there is no God who has any power to change or create the cosmos.

The third and fourth ideas are that humans are simply highly-evolved monkeys (animals), and that even though we are incredibly unique, Naturalists believe that humans are nothing more than matter and will die.  The only legacy that they have is their children.

Therefore, history goes in a straight line, which suggests that there is no essential meaning – human life is a succession of birth, life, and death, with no ultimate conclusion.  Hardly a satisfying proposition, especially to theists.

For theists, God is the foundation and origin of these values, but Naturalists’ logic for these morals are made from past mistakes and what is good for the society. Ethics, then, is dependent entirely upon a certain context.  That means it is subject to change as society changes.  Theists, by contrast, don’t have a system of ethics that shifts because it is rooted in Christianity, the example of Jesus, and the lessons in scripture.  Naturalists determine their ethical positions in response to shifting cultural values and expectations.

From a critical perspective, naturalism raises some challenging questions.  If humans arrived here by chance, then what is their ultimate purpose?  If organisms are constantly evolving, then why are there still genetic mutations, diseases, and other evils?  How come evolution has not happened in as significant a way since the evolution of humans?

Following are a series of questions posed to Dr. David VanDenburgh, an atheist until the age of twenty-one, after which he was converted to Christianity and became a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, serving as a pastor for the next thirty-six years.  The interview with Dr. VanDenburgh provides a look at why atheists believe what they do.

Q: How could anyone live as an Atheist with the mindset that this world is the best thing that is offered? (For example: There are so many tragedies in this world and deaths within families).

A: Most (perhaps all) atheists think that believing in God doesn’t make any sense.  Some (perhaps many) wish they could believe, but they can’t.  A few (Richard Dawkins comes to mind) are proud of their atheism and think it proves they are better and smarter than believers (who are seen as scared, foolish, stupid or/and ignorant).  For those who wish they could believe but don’t see the logic in it, they do the best they can to live life according to their own principles (which may be quite high-minded) and believe that suffering is just something that happens and they have to do the best they can.  They hope that their life has made the world a bit better for those who share the planet and for those who come after.  For those who are proud of their atheism and militant proponents of atheism, their atheism becomes a reason for living (and kind of religion) and they pride themselves that they are so strong and smart and brave that they don’t need the crutch of religion to make it through life.

Q: How did you make decisions about what was right and what was wrong? Just how did you and other Atheists draw that line?

A: When I was an atheist (up until I was about 21), I prided myself on my high-mindedness and advocated the principle that we should do whatever we want as long as doing so doesn’t hurt anyone else.  I was the independent judge of that and I see – now – that my judgment was very flawed.  When I assessed whether what I wanted to do would hurt someone else, I thought only in very direct and immediate terms, not thinking that my actions were like a stone thrown into a pond, with ripples spreading far away from the point of action.  So, for example, I believed I could smoke dope if I wanted, since it didn’t hurt anyone else, but I didn’t think about the deputy sheriff who got shot trying to stop drug smugglers at the border, or the Mexicans who were brutalized by drug lords who made a fortune off of American college students who smoked dope.  As an atheist, I didn’t acknowledge any rules as legitimate except the ones that met my criterion of “don’t hurt anybody” (according to my limited perceptions).  If I needed a book and couldn’t afford it, I stole it from the bookstore, on the grounds that it didn’t hurt anybody.  Only when I became a Christian did I understand that I had an obligation to do right whether I agreed with it or not, and that “right” was defined by the God who made me, not by me.

Q: Suppose that you are walking along a pier in the winter. Then suddenly, you hear shouts for help coming from the icy water below. A little girl has fallen in the water and will die in minutes unless you jump in. There is no one else around to save her. You can swim. But there is a 50/50 chance that you will both die if you try to save her. Do you try? And how does self- sacrifice play in your old- worldview with no hope after death?

A: As an atheist, I was committed to the idea that we should do good to others because we are all in this mess together and we have to help each other out, and I found that I did feel good when I did something self-sacrificing.  (An evidence that we are made in the image of God whether we know it or not?)  Atheists are not usually monsters; they are usually nice people.  The problem is that neither you nor they can come up with any good reasons why they are or why they should be.  The easiest answer is that doing good to others somehow does you good (perhaps by making the world a little better place), which isn’t far off the reason many Christians give for doing good: “Because God will reward me with heaven.”  Pretty selfish, isn’t it?  Mature Christians are committed to doing good even if doing so does them harm, like it did to Jesus who got himself crucified for doing good, because God wants them to do good, regardless of the consequences.  All human beings want their lives to have meaning and value and purpose, just so they can feel good about having lived, if for no other reason.  Atheists seek meaning, too.  What gives the atheist’s life meaning?  Most often, contributing something to the general happiness of the world.  Why?  I know (now), but the atheist doesn’t.  He thinks he is just a really smart animal.  I know that he is a child of God, made in God’s image, so what makes him happy is different than what makes other animals happy – he seeks a meaning that is spiritual, which comes from God.

Q: Do you and/or do most atheists believe that we were just a random accident, with no purpose or belonging? Did you believe that you had a purpose in life?

A: I think most atheists believe that their existence on the planet is an accident.  They don’t acknowledge the reality of God in any personal sense, so they can’t believe that any intelligence planned for them to be here or made it happen somehow.  Life is the result of chance working in (lots of) time.  They are the result of evolutionary processes that can be understood scientifically (which they pride themselves on), not the purposeful act of some powerful being.  For me, this was the core issue and when I realized that it required more faith to believe that my existence was accidental than it did to believe it was intentional, I switched.  Since the atheist believes that his existence is accidental, he should believe that everything else about him is accidental too: his thoughts, his intentions, and his possessions.  But atheists aren’t usually this consistent.  They take credit for who they are and what they accomplish.  They even take credit for their thinking, which, if they were consistent, is as accidental as their existence.  But – again – human beings are not known for their consistency.

Juniors Host Fundraising Event

On the afternoon of Sunday, 20th November, the juniors of Andrews Academy hosted their neighbors and their friends to a Mexican dinner for a junior fundraising event.

For this event, not only the junior sponsors and officials hoped for excellence, but also the rest of the juniors strived to make it a good dinner for their guests. The juniors were responsible to host people and to sell the tickets.  Mr. Flores, who is a sponsor of the junior class, and his wife were responsible to prepare and to cook the Mexican food. Mr. Flores says he was preparing the food for the event for about three days.  He and his wife received help from some of the juniors, who didn’t leave the school and stayed until 3 pm to help set up for the event.  The rest of the juniors came to school to help him to prepare and cook the food on Saturday night and Sunday.

The academy doors were open from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. for the Mexican dinner. People came to the academy and enjoyed their meal with some traditional Mexican food such as rice and beans, salads and soups.

The dinner was well attended, and the junior class managed to raise a good deal of money for class funds. It was truly a combined effort and an example of what can be accomplished when students work together.

Auto Mechanics: How They Roll

AutoDill

Most Andrews Academy students are more accustomed to seeing Mr. Anderson as he speed walks up and down the halls, but a smaller group has the pleasure of seeing him at work in his own habitat: the auto shop.

Mr. Anderson points out specific engine components.

This semester a small class called Personal Auto Care has seven guys and one girl. In this class they learn the basics of auto care and how to apply those skills to their family vehicles (or their own if they are fortunate enough to have their own vehicle). Some of the things they’re learning are how to change the oil, fix tires, check the battery, check brake pads, rotate tires, and other critical repairs.

John Henri jumps in for "repairs."

Typical class structure includes a lecture at the beginning of the period.  The remainder of the time, they practice and learn the correct techniques with hands-on experience with the supervision of Mr. Anderson’s eagle eye. These students practice their skills in groups of two on their appointed car for the semester. Those vehicles are donated to the school.

John Henri Rorabeck, a student in Personal Auto Care, says that he is glad to have had the opportunity to learn and apply this newfound knowledge. He reported that he actually changed the oil in his dad’s car all by himself. Impressive work.

Check out Personal Auto Care if you are interested in learning more about how to take care of your car and save some money.

What’s All the “Buzz” About?

School Security

It’s the talk of the school, and yet it’s just a plain old buzzer that allows people entry into the building’s front doors.  Change their environment, though, and students are bound to chatter about it.  And some of the chatter has led to confusion and the question: “Is the buzzer to keep people out, or to keep people in?”  Well, depending upon how one looks at it, maybe both.

If you come to Andrews Academy in the middle of the day, the new procedure for getting into the school is as follows: When you walk up to the doors, you’ll notice a little shiny box with a button on the wall by the far right door.  Depress the the button for a couple seconds and wait for the receptionist to say “hello.”  You should then look into the camera in the middle of the box, state your name and the reason you are at the school. At that point (provided you’re not a threat) you should be able to open the door closest to the box.  Oh, and make sure to sign in at the front office as a visitor or a student.

Some say the system is long overdue. Ruth Murdoch Elementary school has had security like this for quite some time now, along with Village Elementary school.  Area public schools have had a strict admission policy, too, for several years.

While most teachers and administrators think of safety first, students are having second thoughts about the new system.

“It makes this school feel like a prison,” said Victoria Curtis, a Junior at Andrews Academy.  Her complaint was echoed by several students near her.

There may be an explanation for such a strong reaction to a system designed to keep students safe, and it may have something to do with the law of unintended consequences.

“I won’t be able to go to McDonalds anymore without someone knowing when I come back,” stated one student.  So, the larger issue, it seems, is students lamenting the loss of the freedom to come and go easily.  When people leave to go get food for lunch, a lot of the times other students want to come along and join for the thrill of the ride, only to find that being caught skipping is not worth leaving in the first place.

Of course having this system in the school will not only increase accountability, but the students will have a lot more safety now than Andrews has had before. Allowing people to just freely walk in, go wherever, and do whatever they wanted in Andrews Academy, was not only a way to show the trust and loyalty of the students, but it put them at an extremely high risk. Students should be able to come to school without any fear that something may happen to them – and with this buzzer, that is possible.

Yes, the students may grumble and feel like it is unfair, but the reason for the new system is to “keep the bad guys out,” as Principal Overstreet said.

 

Meet Extreme Teen Daniel Greene

Daniel Greene takes to the air

If you were to ask the average teenage fellow what he does for fun in his free time, the response would usually be something pertaining to Xbox, the internet, and other thorough thumb exercises. This is not so with Andrews Academy freshman Daniel Greene, who states he “doesn’t do games.”

Instead he spends his free-time pursuing an activity far more exciting – mountain biking.

“I first became interested about a couple years ago when my brother got a BMX [bike] and started building trails,” Daniel reflected. “I started out with just BMX dirt jumping and then went to more full suspension, fast, technical rough terrain.”

Since then he has acquired much knowledge about BMX bikes as well as constructed extensive and impressive biking trails behind his house.

These tracks take dedication and knowledge to construct, Daniel informed me. “It takes a lot. It took us over a year just to get the dirt packed down super hard on a good pump track [a short rectangular hilly course].  We had to shower the tracks and it took a lot of work.  We have to sweep it off every time [it is used] and it takes a lot of maintenance.”

Daniel Greene hits the trails.

Daniel also approaches his bike with as much dedication and pride as he does his homemade tracks. “I got my brother’s bike,” Daniel reflected, smiling at the memory of the beautiful blue bicycle, shocks and cables running throughout the precision-curved frame. “ It cost me $1,600 and I had to sell two of my other bikes and my whitewater kayak, but it’s a lot better.”

With a comitment to bike and track this strong, it is no surprise that many interesting stories were made while being in and flying off of the bike seat.  “I’ve broken my tailbone and I’ve kind of damaged my internal guts,” laughed Daniel, reflecting on his painful mishaps. “I got [hit with] a handle bar around the waist area and had a yellow and purple stomach for like half a year. That was really bad.”

Despite all of the bodily damage he has received pursuing his passion, Daniel says that he has never wrecked or broken a bike aside from a snapped shifter cable, which had to be refastened with a shoestring.

As our interview drew to a close, Daniel explained to me his passion for biking. “It’s a pretty big blood rush to the brain I guess when you’re hitting a 15 foot drop off. I mean motto-cross is cheating; in biking you get the speed with the exercise. You have to be always learning how to move your bike right so that you’re not slammin’ it down and bending your rims.”

When asked to describe his favorite biking excursion, Daniel laughed, “I’m out there shredding every day! Why need a favorite?” In the future, he says he wants to purchase a Yeti mountain bike and become a professional mountain biker.

Other than his extreme passion for the extreme sport, Daniel said that he also enjoys rock climbing, snowboarding and skateboarding – which was evident when a staff member marched outside and ended our interview by scolding Daniel for skateboarding on school grounds.  Extreme sports can have extreme consequences, apparently.

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