Monthly Archives: October 2012

Preparing for the ACT/SAT


The October and November ACT/SATs are just around the corner. Now is the time to be asking yourself: “Do I really need to take either of these tests? How will they benefit me in the long run?” and “Am I prepared?”

As one alumni of Andrews Academy put it, “other than making friends and loving Jesus, the ACT and the SAT are the most important parts of high school.”

This is true. Such tests measure your readiness for college and, ultimately, decide your academic future.

They provide scholarship opportunities as well, since most colleges rely on high SAT/ACT scores to determine the amount of financial support you would receive.

With so much weighing on the outcome of these tests, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and anxious. But with enough studying, a clear mind, and the knowledge that you’ve been preparing for these tests for practically your whole life you will be able to successfully conquer any challenges either test throws at you.

While a majority of colleges accept both SAT and ACT scores, most recommend that you take both to ensure your ability to apply to the college of your choice. Nevertheless, the similar tests do differ from each other in significant ways.


The SAT is defined as a test over “critical thinking” and “problem solving.”

There are a couple fairly easy ways to study for the SAT. Both options are available on The College Board’s SAT website:

There is a print study guide available for purchase through the website. It is a rather thick book, but it also contains helpful study methods such as the ten official SAT practice tests.

The second option is the SAT online study guide that allows you to practice the tests through an online teaching system.

You can also opt for the “SAT Question of the Day”, which sends sample test questions to your email allowing you to select an answer and check the accuracy.

Whether you chose one of these or both, make sure you invest enough time to make the product well worth your money and time. These tools are your best bets at studying for the actual test.


The ACT is more of a content-based test, examining your knowledge of the subjects you learned in the classroom.

To find out more ways to study for the ACT, visit their test prep page on their website:

They also offer the option of a paperback test prep guide and an online guide, as well as practice tests on their website.

While they advertise an “ACT Question of the Day”, they do not have an option to have the question emailed to you. Consequently, to participate in the question of the day, you must visit their website daily.

Neither test is more important the other. So if you are taking both, neither should be allotted more time than the other on the basis of priority.

It is important to remember to remain calm during the test and to keep a positive attitude. Studying will help but so will a peaceful mindset and confidence in your capability.

Good luck!



Choral program purchases new piano


Thanks to a generous donation, the Andrews Academy choral program received a new baby grand piano on Thursday, September 6. The cost was eight thousand dollars which, according to music teacher Mr. Hector Flores, is a great price for a piano like that.  It’s also a great investment for the school.

Mr. Flores said that the old piano’s tone wasn’t as good as the baby grand piano’s acoustics.

The new piano is a Young Chang, and it will be used by the music department for choir, recitals, and for students to practice on.  It replaces a well-worn upright piano.

A baby grand piano was chosen because the sound is much better than an upright. ‘’I prefer the sound and quality of the grand piano,’’ Mr. Flores said.  The AA music department will be investing in a humidity control system for the piano so that it will stay in tune and last as long as possible.

Mr. Flores really likes the new piano and thinks it is a good investment and a much needed purchase.


Week of Prayer: “Labels”

Pastor Hall warns against the damaging effects of labels.

Wednesday morning, students sat in the the chapel to listen to Pastor Hall speak again.

Even though he was late, God willed that week of prayer would go on for today. With Mr. Overstreet starting out, covering for Pastor Hall, all the students waited anxiously.

Hall soon arrived and delivered a message of how we need to avoid labeling people. Opening up about his personal life and telling a story from the Bible, Hall shared some of the labels that had been applied to him when he was younger.

1 Chronicles 4:9-10 relates how Jabez doesn’t want to live up to his name, which translated means “pain.” He asks the Lord to bless him, and promises that he would be a blessing to others.

We may not realize it, but when we gossip or spread a rumor about someone, others may start thinking about that person negatively. We need to see how that may hurt that person, and instead of talking behind their backs, we should talk to them. We need to see who they really are, and ignore the gossips. You might make a friend for life or, even better, save a life.

The chapel ended and students were dismissed to their classes, which were shortened for the morning.

Tonight we have a week of prayer evening meeting at 7:00 in the AA Chapel. Hope you go!

Week of Prayer: “Jesus Wept”

Week of Prayer with Pastor Hall continued this evening in the AA chapel. Although the chapel wasn’t full, many students showed up with their parents.

Charela Evans and Melisa Ruhupatty gave a special music to start the program. It seemed almost immediately that laughter went through the audience as soon as Pastor Hall stood up and opened his mouth, first giving greetings to us from his wife and son, then moving into his topic for this evening.

Basing his talk on John 11, Pastor Hall explored Lazarus’ story and compared it to our walk with Jesus. “Where is our best friend we need Him the most?” he asked.

As the sermon continued, the tone became more serious as Pastor Hall related his personal story to: how he found out last year that he was supposed to die of an incurable heart disease. Before surgery Pastor Hall said  goodbye to his wife and son, not knowing if he would ever see them again.  Unable to control his emotions any longer, he cried in fear of losing the ones he loved.

As Hall wept, so in John 11:35 it says that “Jesus wept.” Jesus cried because his heart had also been broken.

Pastor Hall concluded by saying that we need to stop keeping the stone there, the pain that binds us.  Instead, we need to roll it back, give it to Him, and our Lazarus’ will come forth.

Why didn’t Jesus come when He was most needed? Hall asked. Because He saved his Greatest miracle for his best friend, and He will do the same for you!

Week of Prayer: “Don’t Hang Up Your Harp”

Pastor David Solomon Hall begins Week of Prayer on Tuesday.

After delivering 11 sermons in nine days in Australia, Pastor David Solomon Hall arrived at Andrews Academy this morning to present the annual Fall Week of Prayer. Although this week was supposed to be his vacation time, he said that he could think of “no better way to spend it than with you,” the students of AA.

And Hall should know: He taught religion at AA for several years before taking a job as youth director for the Nevada-Utah Conference a few years ago.

His talk for today, entitled “Don’t Hang Up Your Harp,” focused on Psalm 137:1-4:
1By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept
when we remembered Zion.
2 There on the poplars
we hung our harps,
3 for there our captors asked us for songs,
our tormentors demanded songs of joy;
they said, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”
4 How can we sing the songs of the Lord
while in a foreign land?


Hall related personal experiences from his life that were filled with sorrow, pain, and despair – times when he, like the Jews, had little reason to be joyful.

After being being diagnosed with an incurable heart disease, undergoing a successful operation to fix his heart, and then enduring subsequent complications, Hall was informed that his nephew had died “under dubious circumstances.”

His family and friends turned to him for hope and comfort. “What do you say when there’s no rhyme or reason to life?” Hall asked the student body. “What do you say when YOU have the questions about life itself and people look to you?”

“It was one of those days when life made no sense,” Hall said. He then asked the students, “Have you ever had one of those days when you feel so all alone?”

“If you’ve ever felt all alone, then you’ll know how those in scripture felt.” And like the Jews who were taunted by their captors, so the devil taunts us when everything falls apart.

“Bad stuff bubbles up and there’s nobody to talk to and you don’t know what to do,” Hall said. “That’s when the devil appears and asks ‘Where was your God when this happened or that thing happened?’ The devil torments us.”

That torment, Hall urged, is not a reason to “hang up our harps,” but a reason to “sing” because through all of those challenges the “Lord has planted you and is growing you; you’re going to come back better and bigger and stronger,” he said. “How can I NOT sing the Lord’s song?!”

Hall described a time during his illness when he was at his lowest, confined to bed, unable to move, and convinced that he’d had enough of life. At that moment, he says, God replied, “I am right beside you.”

In one of many moments of levity – and in his characteristic fashion – Hall revealed his affinity for Susan Lucci and the soap opera “All My Children.” After several years as an Emmy nominee, Lucci had every reason to abandon the hope that she would win. When Lucci finally did win, the host announced “The streak is over, Susan Lucci!”

“If you say, ‘Jesus, I’m going to try you again,'” Hall said, “you will hear Jesus himself pull out the card and say your name. Give Jesus one more try.”

VIDEO – You asked. Pastor Hall Responds.

The Smoots: Adventurers of Africa


When you think of Africa, what do you think of? Perhaps you think of a desert containing a slithering snake and a local riding a camel under the hot sun? Or maybe you think of villagers carrying water on their heads to their grass huts? Or even tribal warriors gearing up for a skirmish, complete with war paint, spears and a loincloth?

Beautiful. That is how Heidi Smoot sees Kenya, where she lived for ten years. Eric, her twin, enjoyed the consistent weather. Haley, her older sister, loved the stillness and peacefulness of the desert while they lived in Mauritania for almost a year in-between their period in Kenya. Although it was beautiful, their stay was littered with periodic violence and riots.

On a day-to-day basis, life was pretty normal though. The Smoots would get up, go to school, go to basketball practice or other extra-circular activities, go home, do their homework, and go to sleep.

Haley played forward on the varsity basketball team for her local public school. “I never played for tournaments on Sabbath, it was hard because it felt like I was letting the other team members down, but usually they were good about it.” She admirably kept her convictions even when her friends pressured her and it wasn’t the easy to do. Haley continues talking about her faith and how it was easier in Africa to be a Christian compared to the States. “I went to school with a lot of missionary kids, and those who claimed to be Christians were legit. Here [USA] there are a lot more fakers.”

Heidi had a different take on things.  She believes living a Christian life and keeping a close relationship with God was harder in Kenya, “It was difficult because not all the kids were Christians, but our church community was helpful and all the beauty around you showed God.” She continued to say it is easier in the States going to an SDA school where you don’t have to explain yourself.

Although it is a beautiful continent, there were more than a few terrifying moments in Africa. Haley and Heidi’s father, Chris Smoot is a humanitarian aid worker. He worked in Bangladesh for 3 years with ADRA, Somalia (stationed in Kenya) with World Vision for 10 years, and many other countries. Haley described his trips as the “usual,” complete with caravans of pickups full of machine guns mounted on the back, and Kevlar vests.

While living in Mauritania there was an unsuccessful coup d’état (an overthrow of the government usually by the military), which was highly dangerous. “It was scary, there was no way for us to evacuate, if you left you would get shot!” Haley relates. This military rule lasted for a little while, but it was the most intense the first three days, after that [you] could at least leave the compound for necessities. Haley continues to describe the situation, “it would be completely silent, then in the middle of the night gunshots would erupt. Tanks patrolled the streets and guards with AK-47’s were present.”

Heidi describes how her parents set up a bunker to keep them safe through this ordeal.  “The gardener and my parents dug a hole and covered it with boards and put a blow up pool on top of the boards to disguise it.” Heidi describes the coup as “scary and interesting.”  The family hunkered down and waited till the worst of the fighting was over.

The family moved back to Kenya 11 months after moving to Mauritania, and was stationed there during the violent 2007 elections.  They were told to bring an overnight pack to school in case they had to stay overnight due to violence. “Instead of snow days we had riot days,” said Haley, “At home they were supposed to stay down and keep all windows shut.” Eric liked the riots because he got to stay home from school. Heidi told a story of how they had been walking down a main road and not even fifteen minutes later a riot began there and many were killed. Haley tells of the destruction, “it was horrible! People would buy machetes in bulk, many churches were burned, towns were desolated, and many politicians paid young people to protest.” Everyone was evacuated, but Mr. Smoot refused to leave; he didn’t think it would turn out to be so severe. The Smoots weren’t targeted, but if the US government had taken sides Haley has no doubt their lives would be a lot more dramatic.

Throughout all these hardships and trials, the whole family held to their faith, and was able to find beauty in everything. Heidi’s favorite part of her whole experience was simply camping. She enjoyed the peace and tranquility. Haley found beauty in the “premium” weather, “it began cold, then hot, then back to cold.”

The Smoots are an inspiration; their adventuresome experience excites one. As illustrated in the Smoot’s testimony, God can work through a willing person, and He never fails to care for His children.  Haley’s favorite bible verse is 2 Cor. 12:9-10, “ Each time he said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’ So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.10 That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Noel Harris

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