Category Archives: Academics

Christ’s Challenge to Young People

Young woman reading bible

Almost all of us, including young people, wish to serve God in some way or another, especially if we are truly connected with Him. And usually, when we think of serving Him, we immediately imagine traveling to a far-off land, living the life of a certain ethnic group, and witnessing to the natives. Fortunately, that’s not the only major way to share God with others. If we were to stop, before boarding the plane, and look around, we would see a desperate need for God here on our own soil. Many people in our country have either left God, or not had much of an opportunity to get to know Him. In my opinion, this calls us to be proactive even at home.

Teen-agers often pounce on the opportunity to visit another country, explore a different culture, and meet new people; all while serving God overseas. We definitely view this as encouraging, as we want our young people to serve God always. But they should also be encouraged to serve God at home, in their every-day lives. If we look at our surroundings, we can find hundreds of opportunities to serve Him where we live.

One major way to serve God at home, especially for us teen-agers, is at school. We hardly ever realize it, but there are people around us, at school, every day, who need God’s love shown to them. Obviously, God loves them always, just the same as anyone else. Yet, depending on what they might be going through at the moment, they do not always realize God’s love for them. This is where we, you and I, come in.

We can show God’s love to others through everything we do. What we say, how we act, where we go, and how we relate to others can all show God’s love to others. Unfortunately, they can all  hide  God’s love as well. We must choose how we’ll come across towards others, since our actions, in fact, can show or hide God’s love. Of course, if we choose to “hide” God’s love with our actions, that doesn’t mean that God’s love isn’t there or is weak. It just makes it that much harder for someone, especially one who’s struggling with life. So, as we can see, it’s important to choose our actions wisely. And remember that what we do and say, and how we act reveals what our relationship with God is like. Now this doesn’t mean to develop a relationship with God only for the sake of others. Developing a good relationship with God should be done for the benefit of ourselves, to become a true friend of our creator. Then, we will be able to share Him  with others easily.

This is what love is all about. God has challenged us, the young people of this generation, as well as others, to show others the love that He has shown to us. And once you start sharing this love, it will be easy to keep on sharing. So let’s get sharing! Talk to the new kid in school, invite someone shy to a party, buy something special for someone else; give of yourself to others. That’s the bottom line. And once we’ve accomplished this, we’ll be fully basking in the light of God, and reflecting it to everyone around us. I’m not sure about you, but I think that it’s worth all the trouble. God has asked us to do this. Let’s obey his commands by loving others. And if we can do this, we’ll do wonders.

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: “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.”

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

AA Seniors Show Their Spirit


Seniors Vanna Giddings and Gielle Kuhn show off their wild side for Animal Day!

The past week the AA seniors have shown their spirit and support in their class through Spirit Week.
The week included several creatively themed days planned by seniors Gielle Kuhn, Noël Harris, and Shelly Grellman then a long awaited class trip on September 16.
Monday, the day which seemed to have the most positive reaction, was animal day. Students showed up as bunnies, zebras, lions and even Sasquatch. On Tuesday students dressed and behaved their best for the convocation service then later transitioned into game mode on the AA football field during the school vs. senior football games. Wednesday, Jersey day, most seniors happily wore their winning team jerseys from the previous night’s game, but some other favorable teams were sported also. Thursday was Childhood career dress up day. Seniors dressed as doctors, cowboys, and even dolphin trainers. The spirit themes ended on Friday with casual day; a day planned for relaxing and taking a break from the new uniforms.

Though many seniors enjoyed the themes of spirit week some thought and voiced other opinions. A happier senior Aram Chong said “I thought it was funny especially the animal day! And it was cool how most of them were nurses, Doctors, PTs, or whatever for today [Thursday].” “They [spirit themes] were decent, but many students complained of having our choices vetoed. Many didn’t want a jersey day or causal day,” said a displeased senior who has asked to remain anonymous. No matter the opinions on the themes at the end of the week the point is the seniors had some time to show their pride, stand out as a class, and also be silly before the weight of the year gets too serious.  You cannot depend on the staff or parents to bring school spirit. It has to come from the student body, which starts with you. The stronger our spirit is, the more enjoyable the year will be.

Respected AA Teacher Takes on New Alumni Job

Thomas Baker has agreed to take on a new position as the Andrews Academy Alumni director this year.

Mr. Baker has a history with Andrews Academy. He taught English and German at the Academy for the past 35 years before retiring last school year. His new job includes corresponding with former students regarding the upcoming AA alumni weekend and helping the school raise money via letter writing to Alumni. Working alongside Mr. Baker will be Ms. Pickett, mother of sophomore Jordan Pickett, who will start her 2nd year working with the Alumni department.

This isn’t the first time a beloved member of the AA faculty has decided to stay around for a little bit longer after retirement. Richard T. Orrison, a former principal of AA who served with and was admired by Baker for 15 years, also became the alumni director after retiring. When Mr. Overstreet proposed the idea last spring Mr. Baker agreed.

Apparently 35 years of service to Andrews Academy wasn’t enough for Mr. Baker. He has a deep love for AA and its students.

“I love the students; they are great,” says the new Alumni director. “They’re the most wonderful group of students I have ever taught.”

When asked how long he plans to work with the alumni department before retiring completely, Mr. Baker answered, “It’s not how long I decide to work with the alumni department, it’s how long the alumni department decides to work with me.”

Rainy Skies Can’t Dampen Campers’ Spirits


Students fell asleep late Friday night on September 7 to the soothing sound of a soft rain gently beating against their tents. Warmly snuggled into their sleeping bags – some of the boys packed together like sardines – the campers dozed off during the first night of SA campout at Muskegon state park. Little did they know they were in for a long night.

Waking up, several students felt a sense of discomfort. Their feet were extremely cold and wet and the bottoms of the once cozy sleeping bags were soaked. Scrambling around to find a flashlight to survey the scene, many wet campers came to the same conclusion: Their tents had flooded.

Rain was the theme this year on SA campout, giving the students a new view on camping that they probably won’t soon forget. Surprisingly, a cheerful attitude was abundant around the campsite.

“Even throughout the rain and wet tent,” said senior Serena Wineland, “we still had a ton of fun laughing and hanging out with friends.”

The 60 AA students that attended the campout enjoyed various activities such as  swimming at the beach, making s’mores, constructing fires to roast them on, and hanging out with old friends while making new ones.

Hamblin and Mutz wait patiently for food.

The group gathered in the pavilion for worship, meals, and games.

Sabbath afternoon the group canoed down a nearby river. Some of the boys who thought that they didn’t have to listen to the instructor’s advice about paddling and handling the canoe found themselves barely keeping up with the pack, while other groups paddled swiftly down the river, arriving at the pickup point early enough to overturn canoes that arrived later.

Every night Dr. Kuhn, father of senior class president Gielle Kuhn, gave words of encouragement to the students. He captured the students’ imagination with many stories about how God had miraculously protected him in different situations. His overall message was that God has been there for him, and that He will be there for students now and for eternity.

Saturday night all 60 students climbed the nearby dune to play a traditional game of Capture-the-Flag on the beach. The beach air was filled with laughter and screams. A group of students did their best spy-impersonation while sneaking among the beach grass. After the second game, a storm appeared on the horizon, sending the group scrambling back over the dune to camp.

Luckily the cooks for the weekend, Ms. Metzger and Ms. Gracie, had bought a pinata to go along with their Spanish themed food they had prepared. Students showed their ability to see the silver lining of a bad situation again, and a game of “Smack the Pinata” began. Every time the wooden club collided with the pinata the crowd would go wild.

A game of “Chubby Bunny” followed the pinata party, requiring contestants to see how many marshmallows they could fit into their mouths while reciting the phrase “Chubby Bunny” after each new marshmallow. Andrew Simpson wowed the crowd as he enunciated the phrase with 15 marshmallows jam-packed into his mouth.

Throughout the weekend students were able to make light of the rainy conditions. Even though it rained every night, spirits were not dampened. Many memories were made, and students devised creative ways to keep their tents and gear dry.  For the students who attended, SA campout will be a memorable experience.


Andrews Academy Students Take Part in Puerto Rico Trip


Cavan Miller

On an early morning, June 5th, 2012, students boarded the United Airways flight 97, headed to San Juan, Puerto Rico. “This tour is an educational tour that helps open up new opportunities while using the Spanish language,” said group leader Señora Keila Sanchez. Spanish teacher Keila, along with her husband Luis, and PE teacher John Reichert were the group leaders.

The group was to stay in the Universidad de las Antillas in Mayaguez, a town about three hours west of San Jaun. The trip was approximately a week and a half, and the schedule differed with many interesting activities. The entire group traveled to famous places such as Plaza las Delicias, Parque de Bombas and many more. “There was much more poverty; some people even rode horses in the streets,” explained sophomore Nathan Hamblin.

The students were also “immersed” in the culture, not only allowing them to use and practice their Spanish, but almost requiring it as they ordered food, asked for directions, or just tried to talk to the natives of the island. The students enjoyed much of the coastline, actually visiting the well-known “Playa de Ponce,” which is a beach in the city of Ponce.

During their 10 days on the island, the group visited a number of different places. One of the most interesting places that the group was able to be a part of was at Icacos Island, where students had the opportunity to go sailing, snorkeling or swimming in the bright Caribbean waters. The group also visited the San German de Auxerre Casa, which is the most photographed and widely recognized house on the entire island.

“The trip in general was very fun because I used a lot of Spanish, ate lots of food, and broadened my horizons,” said junior Ricky Moore.


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