As we put months of planning into the reopening of our school this year, we knew it would look incredibly different than any other Back-to-School season we had ever experienced. WCCS administrators, faculty, and staff put in weeks of hard work to ensure a happy, healthy, and safe environment for our families to return to in-person, 5 day a week instruction. They have also put in countless hours to ensure an equivalent and seamless learning experience for our temporary remote learners.
We realize that the start of 2020-2021 has not been without its challenges for our families, students, and teachers. Adjusting to mask wearing, temperature checks, extra cleaning and sanitization measures, new technology, and remote learning (for some students) has placed an extra load on both families and teachers this year. It has been HARD, but we are so glad we are back TOGETHER! There have been some really encouraging stories coming out of this first month of back to school. We thought we would share a few of the highlights and comments that we have heard so far, as well as give you a peek into some of our classrooms!
Some Words & Stories From Our Families
The Actions of Teachers, Administrators & Staff in Re-Opening Efforts:
“My son is in Kindergarten and this is our first experience with WCCS. Just a quick note to say my husband and I have been unbelievably impressed with the school’s organization, communication, thoughtfulness, straightforwardness, and I could go on and on, with regards to all matters. We are very happy we made the decision to join the school’s community, to say it mildly.”
"Frankly, we are amazed [...] The communication to parents has been stellar."
“Frankly, we are amazed. We still don’t feel safe eating at a restaurant, but I feel completely safe sending my child to school every day. WCCS didn’t just have a COVID plan, they used the plan when the first case was announced and the communication to parents has been stellar.”
"The response and rational decision-making from the administration has given me such confidence."
"The thing that has been most helpful is the continued communications received from the administration. Those updates are important. When I have shown concerns, the approach to my questions have been gracious and non-judgemental. The response and rational decision-making from the administration has given me such confidence."
“I feel as if WCCS is taking every precaution necessary to keep my kids safe while at school. I am very thankful my kids are IN school and being taught by professionals while keeping them as safe as possible."
"We LOVE that they value in-person teaching and connection with the kids."
“It was obvious how much planning and preparation went into WCCS opening this year. The first day went very smoothly with temperature checking, teachers wearing masks, and the campus was very clean and organized. Administration kept parents informed during the summer and over the course of the first several weeks with continued communication and updates. We LOVE that they value in-person teaching and connection with the kids and feel like they have handled re-opening very well.”
“WCCS handled the re-opening in such a safe and caring way. The staff was available to answer any questions or address any concerns we had. Our son felt very safe going into the school and following the set policies and procedures which were put in place and enforced.”
Continuing to Provide an Excellent Academic Learning Experience
“Remote learning has been a challenge for our family for sure, and has really given us an even GREATER appreciation for what our wonderful teachers do every day! They truly are our unsung heroes! Our child is really looking forward to the day when he can return to school. He misses his friends, teachers and the staff at WCCS so much. Praying hard for everyone at WCCS to stay healthy and well!!”
“We met with our principal via ZOOM while on vacation and afterward, our son said that she was the most caring Principal he has ever met! Talk about first impressions!”
“My child's teachers have also gone above and beyond. Each of them reached out to give me an update and feedback on my son. Since he’s a new student, this small outreach made such an impact.”
"[The teachers] are our unsung heroes!"
“My student's teacher is an answered prayer in so many ways. My daughter loves her as a teacher and as a person. My daughter wasn’t sure she wanted to tell people at WCCS (students and teachers) that she was adopted. She got in the car on DAY 1 grinning from ear-to-ear saying, 'My teacher told me she is adopted!' Then she said ‘She’s so nice, I told her my whole adoption story.’ I had to pick my jaw up off of the floor.”
“My daughter has struggled with language and writing, and that subject is usually a point of frustration for her. I was both excited and worried that she would have it for 2 hours each day, but our ELA teacher has blown her away. She loves everything about her class so much.”
Focusing on the Spiritual Development of Each Student
“Our son now leads our family in prayer, every evening, at dinner. It’s amazing to see how comfortable our son has become praying and referencing the Lord in his everyday life. He has also started showing a much deeper level of compassion. Recently, his sister failed her permit test for her driver’s license. He made her a snack, gave her a pep talk and a huge hug, letter her know it was OK and God had a plan. It was a proud parent moment.”
"How it fills my heart as a parent to know that my children are entering a place where prayer is present, and they are in great care!"
“WCCS is doing an amazing job with all the precautions AND with giving our precious children just what they need to thrive and grow!”
“There is no greater joy than to see a child walk with the Lord. How it fills my heart as a parent to know that my children are entering a place where prayer is present, and they are in great care!”
"My child is here because I need her to be in a small environment and to be given extra support. She is becoming more of her own self-advocate, even during this hard year. I have appreciated the support and guidance of the teachers and principal. The teachers are ROCKSTARS!"
Maintaining a Sense of Community & Connection with Parents
“Our child’s teacher has done an outstanding job of keeping parents involved in what’s going on in the classroom. She invited all the parents to join a class Facebook page and has gone above and beyond to keep the parents involved. She posts live videos of the kids playing on the playground, pictures of kids participating in activities in the classroom, and so much more each day. It is evident how much she loves the kids and wants the parents to feel connected even though we cannot enter the building right now.”
"The teachers are so caring and love my child. They aren’t just there to support the academics, but are there spiritually and emotionally.”
“Typically, we have open house where the students meet their teacher and see the classroom. However, due to COVID, we were not able to do that. I think it was really nice for the teachers to record a welcome video before school started to show the students their classroom and what to expect.”
“The teachers respond so quickly to emails and are always available to help my daughter when needed. The teachers are so caring and love my child. They aren’t just there to support the academics, but are there spiritually and emotionally.”
Blessings From This Challenging Season
“This pandemic has brought out a lot of good for our family, despite the challenges that have emerged. It has shown us the value of slowing down and focusing on what is truly important. We have seen ways to stretch our patience, understanding, and respect for others during this season and come together as a community to face the challenges of the pandemic.”
“WCCS has been a blessing and an answered prayer for us. For us, the 5 day a week schedule with after school care has meant less stress and a calmer home environment. Our child was nervous leaving her friends at her old school, but the transition has been life-giving for us all!”
“The Lord is giving us time to reflect on our lives….He’s making us see that God and family must always come first.”
Words & Stories From Our Faculty & Staff
Learning How to Adjust to School During COVID:
“Bleach spray, masks, social distancing. The joys and laughter of finding out how to follow these guidelines in daily life!”
“Something I have enjoyed seeing is watching the Seniors model and enforce the mask-wearing and social distancing rules for younger peers. They are doing a GREAT job with setting the standard of caring for each other.”
“This year has been quite different from any other year of my teaching for sure. There were many new responsibilities to remember, and the responsibility of keeping everyone safe felt weighty—it still does, but I think we have all gotten used to it more now!”
“ZOOM and Google Classroom feel much easier now with so much practice! I have also started using a site called Loom for making instructional videos. It’s great!”
Academic Highlights & Favorite Moments So Far
"The Westminster Tower residents coming out to wave at the lower school car line each day!"
“Teaching specialization to Seniors in economics through widget simulation has been a highlight of this first month back in the classroom!”
"My favorite moment as Head of School was my first “lap” around the lower school on the second day [...] Hands went up around the room, but one young lady jumped to her feet and came running over. It was a great blessing!”
“My favorite moment as Head of School was my first “lap” around the lower school on the second day. It happened to be a day that Mrs. Polston was taking pics of kiddos in masks. She asked if I’d like to be in a pic and then asked the class who wanted to be in the picture with me. Hands went up around the room, but one young lady jumped to her feet and came running over. It was a great blessing!”
“Transitioning to middle school can feel overwhelming to any student, but especially daunting when you are completely new to the school and do not know anyone. One such student left a card with a personal note on my desk, letting me know how welcomed they feel at WCCS, and how much fun they were having in my classes. This was especially noteworthy because this student struggles with language arts and usually dreads going to English class, but was looking forward to my classes every day.”
Keeping Remote Learners, Parents, and Classmates Connected
“I record my lectures on my phone and have students take pictures of my graphs in class. For US History, I have recorded all my lecture notes and have flipped the way I did things in the past. This means that now we are doing the “fun” things in class and doing the notes at home.”
"The students loved being able to see their friend online and start a relationship!”
“As the College & Career Counselor, I was unsure about the virtual parent nights, but I had the best attendance I’ve ever had to the meeting. I’ve also been able to connect virtually with families who live further away, and it allows me to partner with them easily as we navigate the college/career process.”
“I am the Learning Liason for one of the remote learners. I check in with her once a week via email, and we have met after school to discuss her needs as a remote learner and future plans (since she is a Senior). I’ve enjoyed connecting with this student in this way!”
“We keep communication with our online learners prevalent. This week, my class had the chance to do a ZOOM call with our online learner, and it was really exciting! The students loved being able to see their friend online and start a relationship!”
Blessings From This Challenging Yet Rewarding Season
“God is showing me how to rely upon His peace.”
“I can see our middle school faculty drawing closer together as a staff. I mentioned in my back to school night spiel that weathering fourth quarter last year really felt in many ways like a family standing together during a storm. I feel that we’ve become closer in individual relationships and also as a whole group.”
“If there is one takeaway from experiencing a pandemic, it is to never take for granted the ability to freely interact with groups of people. Face-to-face instruction is wonderful, and I am grateful every day that I am able to teach in person these precious students.”
“The Lord has used this time to force me to evaluate the essentials in my life. Busyness can easily overwhelm teachers and parents, but a pandemic forces downtime and family time.”
Please join us in thanking our incredible teachers and staff for their ability to continue providing an excellent learning experience both in the classroom and for our remote learners. They have gone above and beyond in their ability to be flexible, creative, and dedicated to the success of each student – despite the added challenges!
Above all, in the midst of this celebrating, we recognize and offer up our praise to our SAVIOR who has been and will continue to be our ultimate guide and protector during this school year and beyond as we seek to continue the positive momentum we have had so far. We are already amazed at everything the Lord is doing among our students and families this year! Please join us in continuing to pray daily for the health, safety, and spiritual well-being of our students, teachers, and staff. We are so grateful that you have entrusted us with your child’s education and have chosen to be a part of the WCCS family! Thank you for your continued partnership. We appreciate YOU!
In the fall, we featured a blog from Michelle Embry about how to facilitate a “boy friendly” environment in the home and classroom. This week, we have asked Ashley Sapp, our Upper School College & Career Counselor, to share her thoughts about how to help our girl’s succeed in the classroom and beyond.
What do I know about girls? Well, first of all, I am one. Second of all, I have three children- two of whom are girls. And, I’ve been blessed to work with teenagers, particularly girls, for the last 14 years. When I was 18 years old, God called me to teach teenagers about Him. And since then, I have been blessed to live out God’s call on my life, both in church and as a career. As I serve as a mother, Sunday school teacher, and College & Career Counselor, there are a few things I’ve learned that I believe will be helpful for those raising and/or working with girls.
Mentors Are Needed
In Titus 2, Paul urged older women to live in a way that honored God so that they could train the younger women in love, wisdom, purity, and submission. I am fortunate to have been raised by strong women- my mother, my grandmothers, and countless women who invested in me from a young age. While the women in my life never gave me identical bits of wisdom, all of their advice came from the same source- Jesus Christ and His love for me. My mother was the first woman to teach me about Jesus’ sacrifice for me. I can recall my grandmothers urging me to give my very best no matter the task. Mrs. Martha showed me a love for music. Mrs. Alice modeled a strong prayer life. Mrs. Kay treated me like her very own daughter. Mrs. Linda challenged me as a young Sunday school teacher. Mrs. Leslie and Mrs. Regina helped me navigate a tough time in my life. Along the way, God has placed older women in my life who have answered the call to mentor me as a young lady.
Note- I must stop and say THANKS to Mrs. Jan Odom, who mentors me daily. Jan has been much more than a co-worker to me, and I am so thankful for her advice, prayers, and encouragement. Many of the WCCS women, past and present, have made and continue to make a profound impact in my life! Our students are blessed to have such a strong group of faculty and staff surrounding them with godly support and encouragement.
This is a vital part of a girl’s success. I’m sure those who are reading this now can think of women who have invested in them. Just imagine if these individuals had not invested in us. I encourage you to stop here and ask God to reveal a young lady who needs your attention. A bit of caution here- while girls definitely need older women to come alongside them, we must be careful in how we approach our role. I wouldn’t necessarily call the women I mentioned previously my friends. While these women loved me and listened to me, they ALWAYS shared the truth with me- even when it was difficult. In addition, they modeled godly behavior for me- they didn’t simply tell me what I should and should not do. I’d also like to point out that the women who have had the most profound impact on me were my immediate family and extended church family. I believe strongly in supporting the local church, through faithful attendance, financial giving, and service. If you are not currently involved in a local church, I urge you to join one and begin serving. You will quickly find younger ladies who need you as a mentor.
Define and Observe Success
I get to ask young people the same question all the time- “What do you want to be when you grow up?” When I ask my own daughters this question, my older daughter describes her future bakery. My youngest daughter sometimes mentions computers, ninjas, or teaching. While they both have plenty of time to discover what God has called them to, it’s not too early to teach them that it is God who calls them and equips them…AND God can equip them to do exceedingly more than they can imagine. Girls need help to develop a sound definition for success, and they need to observe successful women along the way. How are we currently defining success for the young ladies in our lives? Do we focus on academic achievement, athletic prowess, or outward beauty? While none of these are wrong, putting too much emphasis on these aspects of life prevent girls from understanding why they were created by God. Proverbs 31:30 says, “Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” Girls need to know that they were created BY God and FOR God, and their purpose is to exalt Him and share His love with others. Success comes when we fulfill God’s purpose for our lives. We must encourage our girls to consider how God has uniquely created them, and how their gifts/talents/interests can be used to exalt Him and love others. We must offer them opportunities to see godly women succeeding in a variety of roles and BE examples of success for them also.
Celebrating the No and Trying Again
In my roles, I sometimes have to help students process a college rejection letter, athletic ineligibility, broken relationships, and more. This part of my job is not easy, but it happens. In recent years, I’ve tried to develop a positive attitude towards the “no” in my own life, and I believe girls need to be challenged in this way as well. We must encourage the girls in our lives to trust that God is in control, and when He says “no”, it is for His glory and our good. A “no” keeps us FROM something. It may be God’s way of protecting us from harm or redirecting us to a place of greater blessing. Whatever the reason, young ladies need help with processing rejection, and they need to be encouraged to try again or to try something new when things don’t turn out the way they hoped. Furthermore, young ladies need to be challenged to see beyond what IS to what COULD BE. As a young teenager and perfectionist, I used to get caught up in my mistakes, and I would overthink so many of my decisions. Of course, this caused me to be anxious and afraid to take risks. Thankfully, I had older women in my life who spurred me on to be brave and to step out of my comfort zone. Our girls need this same push! Bravery is not the lack of fear, but it is action in the face of fear. We need to encourage our young ladies to be brave and to step out of their comfort zones as God calls them.
Be a Blessing
As much as our girls need to be blessed, we must equip them to bless others. This goes back to God’s purpose for our lives. I believe every human’s purpose is the same- to have a personal relationship with Jesus and to share His love (the Gospel) with those around us. HOW we share His love is unique to the gifts/talents/interests God has given to us, and our HOW changes with the seasons of life. Girls need to be reminded of their purpose and given opportunities to discover their gifts/talents/interests so that they can share God’s love. This will produce contentment and joy. This will allow our young ladies to thrive. I want nothing more than for my daughters to fall in love with Jesus and to discover how they can share His love with others. What is your greatest hope for the girls in your life?
In this week's blog, we have asked 4th grade teacher, Jessica Coulter, to share with our WCCS families some ways you can celebrate the Advent season in your homes!
This week marks the start of Advent. Advent is a time of waiting. It is a time of preparing. It is a time to draw closer to Christ as we prepare to celebrate His birth! Imagine the King of the entire universe coming as a baby... to ultimately die for each and every one of us! It is such a wonderful time of year to point your child to Christ because there are symbols of Him all around! The nativity scenes that remind us of His humble birth for all people… the sparkling lights that remind us that He is the everlasting light…. the carols that we sing in praise to Him… the wreaths that decorate doorways and symbolize His everlasting love that has no beginning or end… and the evergreens that we place in our homes that remind us of His eternal, life-giving love and the importance of growing in Him.
As a school, we are celebrating Advent in the classroom in a variety of ways! In the 4th grade, we are making a Jesse Tree, centering around the verses in Isaiah 11:1-4 and talking about a different verse each day that points to the light of Christ and making ornaments. Many of our Early Childhood classes are making Advent wreaths and acting out the Bible story of Jesus’ birth in center time! Our Upper School chorus students bring in the season by caroling around the school and the high school band will visit Westminster Towers for a special Christmas mini concert for residents.
With the symbols of Christmas all around us, don’t miss this season to help your family’s faith strengthen! Don't miss the opportunity to shepherd your child's heart as we celebrate Christ coming into our world.... so that, when Christmas morning comes, we haven't missed HIM in the business of the season! Pray for God to move in mighty ways in the life of your family and our school... that He moves in ways He alone can move... and that ultimately we are all forever changed because our faith has grown deeper and our love for Him stronger.
Be encouraged! YOU are your child’s first teacher and God will use you in mighty ways to shape their faith and in the process strengthen your’s as well! This Advent think of ways to point your child to the true reason for the season... the story of the Rescuer, who came as a tiny baby to bring light to the darkness! That is Good News to celebrate and to share with the world!
A Few Tips for Drawing Closer to Christ as a Family this Advent:
Celebrate the HOPE that Christ provides by sharing your hopes with each other throughout Advent. How do you hope to grow in your faith this Christmas season? In 2019?
Celebrate the PEACE the Christ provides by finding a peaceful place in your home to draw closer to Him. Sometimes we need to be in the quiet to hear His still small voice. In the hustle and bustle of Christmas take time to intentionally seek the quietness as you seek Him. Model this for your children and have them do the same in their own special, quiet place.
Celebrate the JOY of Christ by having a Christmas carol dance party in your kitchen! Play the music loud, light the house with candles, and have fun together singing praises to the King of the Universe!
Celebrate the LOVE of Christ by sharing His love with others. Consider making cards or homemade cookies for a neighbor or service worker. Purchase a new stuffed animal or book to deliver to the children’s hospital to bless a child who might be sick over the holidays. Consider serving at the soup kitchen together. Talk about the brokenness of the world with your child and our need for a Savior for them to see the importance of Him leaving His throne in Heaven for us!
Look for ways to point your child to Christ this Advent through your own family traditions. Get snuggled by your tree and read the Christmas story from Luke…. Or lay under it and stare up at the lights together and talk about Jesus being the light of the world. Dream together and talk about where you hope to see His Light at in your life! Hide a different Bible verse around your house each day for your child to find. Read the verses together and ask them how they see the light of Christ to come through them. Every story, from Genesis to Revelation points to Him as our Rescuer to come as we remember the first Advent and wait for the second Advent of His return. These can be stories like Adam and Eve, Abraham, Isaac, Joseph, Moses… where do you see our need for a Savior in these stories and God’s amazing love and grace? Make new traditions together that point to Him!
Advent… what a wonderful time of year! Use every opportunity to shepherd your child’s heart and help them draw closer to Christ… so that on Christmas morning they really know Him… because their heart has been focused on Him all month and they have fallen deeper in love with the Savior of the World!
At WCCS, it is our hope for our students to not only receive an excellent education, but to discover the God-given talents the Lord has given to each one of them, and in discovering those gifts, to use them to impact the world around them. When we connect classroom learning with service outside of the school walls, we give “hands and feet” to the concepts they are learning.
Service learning is incorporated into curriculum at both the upper and lower school. Just next week, our 4th graders will participate in our annual Box City project. Like most people, the students are accustomed to eating at restaurants and enjoying traditional Thanksgiving dinners to celebrate the holiday. However, on this day, the fourth graders will each bring in a large box and one blanket as well as a rain poncho or garbage bag in case of bad weather. The box is intended to be the student’s “home” and to give them the experience of celebrating the holidays as a less fortunate or homeless person might. Teachers and their students will discuss what they have learned, pray for the homeless and less fortunate, and write about their thoughts in an essay. On Tuesday, they will travel to a soup kitchen, where they will serve lunch to locals. This is just one great example of service learning at our lower school!
So far this year, we have had upper school students serving at the Salvation Army, the Children’s Attention Home, the Adult Enrichment Center, and Pilgrim’s Inn. Art students have done numerous service projects this year including completing art pieces for a local adoption agency and first responders as well as serving at a local church fall festival! Our Beta Club and National Honor Society have several service projects lined up for the remainder of the school year as well.
As parents, we know that you share this desire with us and long for your children to want to be a part of God’s work. It’s never too early or too late to begin cultivating the trait of servanthood in your child.
For this week’s blog, we have invited Nick Turner, Westminster Presbyterian Church Pastor of Families and Children, to share some practical ways in which you, as parents, might instill a sense of genuine servanthood into the hearts of your children.
“How do we teach our children to serve?” Good question, especially in a world that has us staying so busy. As a parent myself, I realize this firsthand. However, the impact that your influence has on your children is invaluable. There is no better way to spend time with your family than to volunteer together and not just during the holiday season, but year-round. Here are a few thoughts…
How Do We Teach Our Children to Serve?
Acknowledge your own struggle. Jesus redefined greatness as serving others in love (Mark 10:35-45). Serving is difficult. Serving with the right motivation even more so. On this side of eternity, our best service is imperfect. We must own our failure to serve, repent, and receive grace from the One who served us.
Model service for your child. While preaching on God’s design for family discipleship in Deuteronomy 6:4-9, Matt Chandler said, “God’s design is so thorough, so good, that you are making disciples. The question is…What are you discipling them in?” Our children will learn to serve by watching us serve.
Keep it Simple. Teaching our children to serve does not require going on a mission trip or creating a fancy service project (though nothing is wrong with both). Simply evaluate where you are currently serving the Lord and bring your child along with you. For example, if you are delivering a meal to someone in your church have your child by your side.
Talk About It. Tell them along the way what you are doing and why you are doing it. Ask questions afterwards like, “How did it feel to serve that person?” or “What other ideas do you have to help others?” or “How do you feel when someone helps you?”
As you talk with your child, remind them that we do not serve Jesus to earn His love. Our service is a response to His love. In love, He laid down His life for us. We serve because He served us. PS – lay down the smartphone…no pictures or video. We are teaching our children that we serve for His glory alone, not for “likes” on an Instagram page.
Looking for ways you and your family might serve others in the Rock Hill community? Check out this comprehensive guide to serving in Rock Hill.
“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45
As mid-term election day approaches this Tuesday, November 6, we thought we would have our 12th grade Government/Economics teacher, Deanne Regier, share some of her thoughts as to how Christians should rightly engage in politics in such a divided political climate.
For the past nine years, I have had the privilege of teaching the Government-Economics course to the WCCS 12th graders. To say the least, the current divided political climate has re-enforced my belief in treating others with kindness, respect and dignity. Regardless of what is happening on cable news networks or social media, class discussions and private conversations for Christians should be gracious and God-honoring. As Jesus states in Luke 6:43b, “For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of” (NIV). Therefore, our conversations, Tweets, posts and demeanor reflect our heart condition.
In an attempt to create a God-honoring classroom environment, I have four foundational beliefs that I implement in my class:
Christians historically have been on the forefront of politics and reform movements in this country. For example, the Second Great Awakening of the 19th century was a catalyst for the wide variety of movements: abolition, temperance, educational and social. Because of their love for God, Christians impacted their community for social and political change. Therefore, we, as Christians, should not disengage in this chaotic and vicious political culture. Instead, we should be more engaged. Each quarter, I require students to earn points from a variety of projects that encourage local involvement in politics and discourse. Students attend city council meetings or volunteer for political campaigns. We, as Christians, should engage in current events even more during this time of division and controversy as a “light” to a dark world (Luke 5:16).
Dishonoring a person cannot be permitted and must be openly challenged. So how does this manifest itself in the classroom setting? First, students are welcome to disagree with policies but cannot crush or disrespect a person. We actually practice how we should say something. Students cannot say, “I hate_____.” But they can say: “ I disagree with ____ policies for the following reasons.” Second, we should challenge “person-bashing” conversations and encourage the respecting of humans as created in the image of God in conversations and social media. If we say nothing, we in effect condone the comments. Finally, we can simply honor our leaders with the correct title. Simply adding “President” or “Secretary” or “Senator” can show this person respect. Our words have meaning!
Condemning someone based on hearsay or rumors without due process, rule of law or respected journalistic practices cannot be allowed. Therefore, only approved news sources are allowed to be quoted in class and used in research. Of course, I encourage students to analyze differing perspectives (i.e. FoxNews and CNN) but encourage thoughtful interpretation of the presentation and content.
Since God is far above our simple understanding of Democrat and Republican Party, God cannot be limited to a certain party. I start each year by saying, “God is not a Republican. God is not a Democrat. He is far above our political chaos.” As Tim Keller, founder of the Redeemer Presbyterian Church (PCA) in New York City, wrote, “While believers can register under a party affiliation and be active in politics, they should not identify the Christian church or faith with a political party as the only Christian one.” (Editorial in New York Times, September 29, 2018) We are commanded as Christians to love your neighbor and defend the rights of the oppressed. But how we “love” and “defend” is open to interpretation.
As I state in my course syllabus, the primary goal of WCCS’s Economics-Government course is to “develop a passion for civic and economic responsibilities as Christians in an international community.” Even though I want my students to be passionate about government and economics that isn’t my primary goal as an educator. My prayer for my students is that they see our hope is not in this government, administration, tax policy, healthcare system or any other current hot-topic. Our hope is in an eternal Heavenly Father who has a purpose and plan for our country and its leadership. As believers in Jesus Christ, we are citizens of the kingdom of Heaven over which Jesus is the King of kings and Lord of lords. We relate to our country as citizens of Christ’s kingdom and direct our actions to please Him. Rest assured -- God is still in charge.
We encourage our families to go out and vote next week in the election! Take your students with you and be sure to have some thoughtful conversation about how we, as Christians, have the opportunity and responsibility to honor our Savior in the political arena and point others towards His grace and hope.
This week's blog comes from Katie Tassy, who we all know as our Upper School Assistant, but did you know that she is also teaching our SALT class (Serving and Learning Together)? Check out this great post about learning to serve in a fallen world!
What is service? How does it fit into the Biblical lens of human history—Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Restoration? How do we discern our motivation for serving? What is the difference between Christian service and philanthropy?
This year, I have the privilege of teaching a new elective class called SALT—Serving and Learning Together, and these are just some of the questions and topics we are discussing with students. SALT is the brainchild of Lora Holladay, our school board chair, who has a vast amount of experience with serving in the Rock Hill community. Currently, six seniors are enrolled in this class, and it has been a joy to dig into this topic with students in learning to identify and use our gifts to serve and glorify God.
One of my passions as a teacher is helping students understand how serving in our communities and the world around us flows out of our acknowledgement that God has given each one of us gifts for the purpose of being a blessing to others. At the beginning of the year, I wrote the familiar scope of Creation—Fall—Redemption—Restoration/Reconciliation on the board. Between each of those four captions were arrows to show the flow of human history through the lens of a Believer. My question to the students was this: “Where does service fit in to this model of human history?” Through our discussion, we agreed that the WHY of service came from the Fall—that all of life is broken because of the Fall; therefore, we serve as we respond to brokenness in a sinful world.
Student, Seth Russo, put it so beautifully, “I think service is the arrow between Redemption and Restoration. We are redeemed by Christ, we go out to serve, which brings reconciliation. Some of the ones we serve will then be redeemed themselves, and they also will go out and serve.” Brilliant! I was done for the day!!
"Service is the arrow between Redemption and Restoration..."
One highlight for us has been hosting our outside speakers every Thursday. Our students are hearing from guests with service experience in organizations such as the United Way, Renew Our Community, the Salvation Army, and more. As we listen to the journeys of each one of our speakers, it is obvious that God is so personal in how He utilizes different gifts and passions for His glory in service to the world around us.
This week, we even gave senior students an opportunity to use their gifts throughout the Rock Hill community, serving in various organizations for Senior Service Day. Senior, Ann Preston Campbell chose to spend the day at the Adult Enrichment Center in Rock Hill. “I didn’t realize the number of non-profits in our area and the ways those non-profits extend help to our neighbors. I have come to realize the need for more services to effectively help [others] in our community.”
From these interactions and through various exercises which help us to explore our own gifts, it is a treat to see these students become passionate about various social issues such as homelessness, addiction, mental illness, veteran needs, and others. Our hope is that our students will develop the skills and discernment that they can evaluate any community of which they are a part—college, work, or town—and decide how they can use their gifts to help build into that community. These students have some amazing ideas, and I cannot wait to see how God uses them to continue to build His kingdom!
Below is a link to a comprehensive guide to serving in the Rock Hill Community. My prayer is that each one of us--no matter how old, or how young, would learn to serve wholeheartedly in this fallen world—to look for opportunities to truly be a blessing to those around us. I know currently our 3 year old classes are collecting socks for Renew Our Community (ROC), and in the month of November, our 4th graders will partake in “Box City” where they learn about homelessness and serving in a soup kitchen.
Won’t you join us in serving in this fallen world?
In this week's blog, Joanna Swofford, our EXCEL Director, shares a moment she had observing some of her staff recently that really gets to the heart of what makes a WCCS education exceptional. Read on!
I wanted to share with you all an encounter that I had with our WCCS exceptional ed team at the lower campus the other day, because I think it is so characteristic of what makes a “WCCS education” so distinctive.
I was sitting with three women who—combined-- have 90 years of experience in education. They were asking each other for advice and sharing the recent failed attempts they were working through in trying to facilitate learning. 90 years of experience, and they didn’t have the answers. 90 years of experience, and they were perfectly at ease with seeing ideas not work, not having answers, and looking to each other for insight. I was touched with their humility and dedication to the calling, and most importantly to the success of their students. They were not going to give up on working through the messy until the students could shine. During that meeting, I saw them LEAN IN to our Lord and Savior as they worked together for His Children. What a difference this makes in the education of YOUR child! I thought I would share a few other distinctives that I have noticed over the years of my serving here at WCCS.
A Westminster Catawba Christian School education is:
Christ-centered – whether our teachers are instructing students in math and science, to art and social studies, every part of a WCCS education is taught from a Biblical worldview. Students are taught to think critically in every subject and encouraged to know and support why they believe what they believe.
Led by Experienced, Christ-Called Teachers – Our faculty members are well-trained and meet ACSI and AdvancED certification requirements and over 43% have advanced degrees. More so, I have seen first-hand that each of our WCCS educators strive to see that there is no greater joy than to hear our children are walking in the truth (3 John 4) by pointing students to Christ as they teach through each subject area, desiring that students find and pursue their God-given and individual callings.
Focused on the Individual – It has been exciting for me to see WCCS teachers brainstorm together and be willing to try different and new strategies when working with individual students. They work hard to see that each student finds and discovers his or her unique path to learning and God-given strengths.
Grace-filled – WCCS strives to make the learning environment one in which students are shown God’s redeeming love-- through every learning situation, recess, chapel, and disciplinary moment. We realize that only when our teachers and administrators operate from a place of grace can our classrooms become a place of learning where true and lasting change can take place in the hearts of our students and God’s will shine through in their lives.
Whether you are a teacher, special educator, parent, or student, God has every one of our steps numbered and stays right beside us—especially when we get off track. Each day, when we are blessed with the opportunity of another day, He’s eager for us to get up and do something with it. We may not always have the answers, or many times, even the questions, but we do have each other. We do what we can, lean in to Him when we stumble, recognize failed attempts as opportunities to try something else, and work our way through it—together!
In this week’s blog, we are excited to have our new Upper School Assistant Principal, Michelle Embry, share some of her heart as she reflects on her own calling as a Christian school educator, and what she hopes this will bring to the students of WCCS.
As I look back over the twenty years of Christian school service the Lord has given me, I am confident that every step of the way the Lord has been preparing me for the next call that he has on my life. Most recently, this has brought me to this outstanding school, and I am so excited as I join the Westminster Catawba Christian School community. I have really enjoyed getting to know everyone in these first few weeks of school!
It is such a high honor and a special task to lead and disciple those children and teens the Lord has given to us. It’s also a lot of fun! The fact that educators are placed in a learning environment with our students for such a sustained amount of time each day and over the course of the year, creates a setting in which we can love them well and speak verbal and non-verbal life-affirming messages into their hearts. As Christian educators at WCCS, this is a calling that we do not take lightly!
My desire for the Upper School students at WCCS is that they fully understand that their identity and worth is based on who they are IN CHRIST…that they are beautiful image bearers of God. It isn’t based on academic, athletic, or musical performance. It isn’t based on how well they obey our rules. It isn’t based on the number of extra-curricular activities they involve themselves. I want our students to know they are invaluable to us because they are invaluable to God.
"I want our students to know they are invaluable to us because they are invaluable to God."
It is very easy to make a statement like the one made above; but a much harder thing to truly communicate it to students, because in order for this message to be received, it takes time. Students must hear the message of their value communicated in many ways and through many circumstances - when they do well, when they mess up, when they feel proud of themselves and when they disappoint themselves. The message of their great value must be communicated during exciting times and mundane times. Regardless of the circumstances of their lives, we, as Christian educators of WCCS, must pursue our students in a steady, constant, even relentless manner - so that our pursuit further communicates the message of their great value in Christ.
This call of reaching out and investing into others is placed upon all believers; however, as Christian school educators, we are tasked to do this as a part of our job! It is an absolute thrill and a privilege. Would you pray for us as we use every day classroom opportunities to reach the hearts of your children?
Many folks are surprised to learn how varied our opportunities at WCCS are in the fine arts and athletics!
We created these two promotional videos to highlight some of the activities that are available for WCCS students in these two areas, as we desire to point students to Christ in all we do. Check them out!
Additionally, if you would like to learn how your business can further support the arts and athletics at WCCS, check out the WCCS Corporate Sponsorship Program or contact Jane Wilson at email@example.com. Corporate sponsorship dollars directly support athletics and fine arts. Your financial contribution allows our students to have the resources they need to thrive!
Thank you to all the faculty, staff, students and families who participated in the creation of both videos. Do us a favor, share our videos on your social media pages and comment below something that YOU love about WCCS!
At WCCS, we provide students with a well-rounded academic experience. However, it is also our desire that the student experience extend beyond the walls of the classroom to bless the community around us. This week, we have asked student council president, Jessica Hicks, to share some goals that student council has for the student body going into the new school year. Check it out!
This year, I was voted student council president by the WCCS students. It is such an honor to represent my fellow classmates and work hard to help improve student life. This year, the theme verse chosen for student council is 1 John 3:18 which reads, “Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” With this verse in mind, one area I have encouraged our student body to focus on this year is service. By serving others, it allows us to show our Christ-like attitudes to our brothers and sisters in Christ. Remember, our actions
speak louder than our words, so we must be willing to actually serve others in order to please God. Students will have monthly service opportunities in the Rock Hill community that they can choose to participate in, however not all service projects have to be large and drastic. It’s the little things that can make a huge difference! The student body should strive to make a difference in not only the community, but also in the school hallways, classrooms, and lives of fellow students and teachers. Here are a few more ideas that I pray will make a difference in this school daily!
Flash a smile at someone having a bad day or leave an encouraging note in their locker.
Say a little prayer for a friend. It can make a difference in their life that they will never forget.
A little bit of kindness can go a long way. Everyone’s story is different and you never know what someone may be struggling with.
Lead by example and reach out and form relationships with underclassmen. This will grow their love for Christ.
Show appreciation to your teachers! Volunteering to pass out papers, cleaning up after yourself, or simply saying “thank you”, can give them a glimpse of gratitude that will make their day!
To the WCCS community as a whole, I challenge all of you to do the best you can. Start serving the ones around you, and to make a real difference this school year!
In this week's blog, we have invited Ruth Lykins, a "new" WCCS parent from the 2017-2018 school year, to share some of her reflections on what she hopes all of our new families know about WCCS going in to the first day of school.
In anticipation of the beginning of a new school year, I’m reflecting back on the 2017-2018 school year. My three sons began the year in 1st, 4th, and 6th grades at Covenant Christian Academy in Cumming, GA. Covenant was the only school they had ever known aside from preschool, and they loved it. In September, we learned that my husband received a job transfer to Charlotte. The children were apprehensive when we told them the news, in fact, my 4th grader burst into tears. Change is hard, especially when life is good! In addition to a wonderful school, we had a great neighborhood, a thriving church, and competitive soccer teams. The boys had friends they’d known since birth, so the thought of starting over in a new place was overwhelming!
"...the thought of starting over in a new place was overwhelming!"
As we began planning for our move, we immediately began looking for Christian schools in the suburban Charlotte area. We were drawn to WCCS from the beginning. We really wanted the boys to be in a covenant school, where their peers would be coming from other like minded families and where the faculty and staff would partner with us in raising our children to know and love the Lord. It was clear WCCS was going to be the perfect fit for our family.
We decided the easiest way to help them transition would be to have them start at WCCS after Christmas break. As much as I knew they would be taken care of, it was hard leaving them that first day! I prayed a lot for them during that time, that the Lord would bring them new friends and help them to feel at home in their new surroundings. In no time at all, they adjusted to WCCS.
"I prayed a lot for them during that time..."
As some of our WCCS families might be new to our school, I thought it might be fun to give some insight and tips for new families adjusting to WCCS. Hopefully, this will put you (and your student!) at ease about starting new at WCCS.
The faculty and staff are so welcoming and kind. We were able to meet their teachers when we toured and then again when we came in for our family interview. Their teachers were so sweet and very approachable with any questions or concerns we had. Don’t hesitate to reach out to your child’s teacher via email and be assured you’ll get a quick response. In the front office at the Lower School, Amy Scott is an excellent resource for any general questions or concerns you may have. She is so sweet and gentle with the children! We really appreciated it when she took care of our very disappointed 1st grader when he misspelled his word during the Spelling Bee. At the Upper School, Katie Tassy is a great resource for any questions or concerns you may have.
The other students were really good about including the boys in their circles and even inviting them for after school play dates. Our 6th grader was assigned a “buddy” who helped him learn the ropes of middle school. We have found the families at WCCS to be very friendly! There is an online directory you can access for contact info.
After school activities are a great way to engage with families outside of school. Our middle son was on the Art Team, which meets monthly after school. Our oldest son was on the crew for the annual school play, Fiddler on the Roof. This helped him make several new friends as they invested lots of time into the production.
Lastly, and most importantly, I encourage you to pray with and for your children about the year ahead. Pray for your child’s teacher and friends. Encourage your children to be the kind of friend they want to have. Pray that your child will grow in wisdom and knowledge. And, lastly, remind your child how blessed he/she is to be a part of the WCCS family.
Blessings from my family to yours!
We are excited to introduce to our WCCS families several new faces for the 2018-2019 school year! We can't wait to see how God uses these individuals to point our students to Christ!
Click on each of the banners below and get to know a little more about our new Kingdom educators.
Your new Chaplain, Jake Tassy, here. I’d like to introduce myself to all you WCCS friends, families, and students and let you know why I’m so excited to be here!
First of all, let me tell you a little bit about me and my family (because we’re a packaged deal)!
I am a follower of Jesus. I love to talk about God’s Word. I enjoy family. I married up (for sure) to the new WCCS high school administrative assistant, Katie Tassy. We’ve been put in the same office space so we can tag team when needed. We have enjoyed 25 years of marriage and are still going strong with Jesus’ help. 17 of those years we lived in Charlotte. The last 8 we lived in Ecuador and then Kansas City, Kansas. We have three children all born in Charlotte. Stephen just graduated from NC State, Jenna is currently at John Brown University in Arkansas, and Micah will be a Sophomore here at WCCS! Together, we have been involved in Education, Family, and Youth Ministry for over 30 years. Katie and I have loved all of the stages of our family growth. That’s probably why we love working with families.
"I believe God has called our family here..."
I believe God has called our family here, and I’d love to share a little bit of our journey in answering this call with my new WCCS friends and families. You might even be wondering what a Chaplain’s role is in a school environment, so I’ll share my thoughts on that as well!
When considering whether or not this position was for me, I came across this quote, “The chaplain role is a crucial one in terms of setting and overseeing the spiritual tone within the school. The chaplain is responsible for actively engaging students and staff in developing the Christian/Spiritual culture of the school.”
Now, when I read that, I said to myself… “Self, can you really do that?” And then I went, “Ah, Nope! Not without the Holy Spirit’s help.” To tell you the truth, when I took in the job description from Scott Dillon, my wife, Katie, and I reviewed it, and I told him “No” at first.
My initial “No” had nothing to do with the job description. It was more about all the realistic parts that came with this kind of position. Realities mixed in with perceptions can simply be messy in a school community. Teachers, families, and students each have their own ideas about the responsibilities of a school chaplain.
But, after some heavy persistence, pursuit, and prayer, Katie and I began to see God’s hand was indeed moving our family to WCCS. We love education both inside and outside the school walls. My degree is Elementary Education, and I have learned a lot through many environments. We love the “Ah-Ha” (good, bad, and ugly) moments when Jesus does His things in and through students and their families, and I’m excited to experience A LOT of those moments at WCCS.
I am an exhorter and a bridge builder. There is already a solid team here, and from what I know so far, a community that likes being with each other. I plan on being a listener and a learner this first year, especially.
Here are a few things I am hoping you will get from the guy who is now your WCCS Chaplain.
Spiritual support of both staff and families
Chapel development on both campuses
Making of connections with local youth and family pastors for additional support
Developing of students into disciples throughout grades
Presentations of the gospel that are never boring or dry
Lastly, I love to help make the “climate and atmosphere” of any environment simply be joyful. Honestly, I’m not sure all God has for me in this Chaplain seat for the WCCS community. What I do know is that when students grab hold of the Gospel, it affects everything. I’m living testimony of this. God is never surprised by anything and DOES do impossible things.
Pray for our family as we join in here. We count it a great privilege and task to help bring Biblical grace & truth, which will motivate us all to love and good deeds. There is no greater thing to live for today, and to see our children walking in the truth. So let’s go be and make some disciples! I can’t wait to meet you all.
Let's take a minute to talk about the benefits of getting your student involved in the wide range of not just athletic opportunities, but fine arts and service opportunities at WCCS! These after school activities can enrich your child’s school experience, help them perform better in class, and even enhance their relationship with Christ.
We recently came across an article from the National Federation of State High School Association (www.nfhs.org) that sparked our interest and wanted to share five great points that speak to the benefits of student engagement outside of the classroom.
BETTER ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE
Some students might be hesitant to join a sports team or after school activity because they don’t want it to interfere with their grades. However, studies actually show that students who compete in high school activity programs such as sports, theater, and band have better educational outcomes, including higher grades, higher achievement test scores, and higher educational expectations beyond high school.
A study of this group of students showed that they “earned higher grades, graduated at a higher rate, dropped out of school less frequently, and scored higher on state assessments than did non-athletes.”
Participation in high school activities is a valuable part of the overall high school experience, enhancing students’ school engagement and sense of belonging.
A study looking at social adjustment in making the transition from middle school (8th grade) to high school (9th grade) found involvement in sports helped students with friendships during the transition. Continuous involvement in sports and other after school activities was associated with having more friendships.
More importantly, as they compete, perform, and serve together, students and athletes get to represent not only our school, but Christ to the surrounding community—impacting the world around them.
DEVELOPMENT OF POSITIVE LIFE SKILLS
Sports and fine arts activity programs promote positive youth development and provide opportunities for learning a number of life skills and values not typically taught in classroom education.
In a study looking at learning life skills through high school sports, a very diverse group of students participating in high school soccer reported learning skills related to initiative, respect, and teamwork/leadership.
A study of life skills developed through sports found that the process of participation and striving to win taught life skills such as discipline, work ethic, and emotional control.
Participation in the fine arts provides similar results. Students develop self-confidence and personal responsibility, experience enhanced communication skills, and learn to better time manage as they are required to use organizational skills and planning to get both schoolwork and after school activities completed.
Data shows that participation in school athletics was correlated with many positive educational achievements, behaviors and aspirations in the end of Grade 12 as well as two years later. The positive outcomes included “school grades, coursework selection, homework, educational and occupational aspirations, self-esteem, university applications, subsequent college enrollment, and eventual educational attainment.
A National Survey found that 18- to 25-year-olds who participate in sports activities while in high school were more likely than nonparticipants to be engaged in volunteering, voting, feeling comfortable speaking in public settings, and watching news.
It’s not just about college prep, either. We believe that God has gifted each student with a set of unique talents and abilities. Involvement in activities such as athletics, theater, praise band, MODEL UN, and others help students discover what these gifts are so they can carry them beyond their time at WCCS in preparation for an eternal service to our King!
POSITIVE CHRISTIAN MENTORS
At WCCS, our teachers and coaches act as Christian mentors to our students, pointing them to Christ in every situation. Players and performers play, pray and serve together alongside positive authority figures. It is our desire that through these opportunities, we teach students to use their gifts to glorify God and bless those around them.
If you have a student that is thinking about trying out for a sports team or other activity this year, encourage them! There are plenty of opportunities for greater involvement outside the classroom. I would love to speak with your student and help him or her figure out what gifts or abilities God has blessed them with. If athletics isn’t their thing, we have plenty of fine arts opportunities, service activities, and clubs to check out!
Ever wonder what it's really like to be a student at WCCS? We are continuing with our "Day in the Life" blog series where we give readers the opportunity to hear from one of our students on what it is like to learn, play, serve, and worship at WCCS! This week, International Student, Danbi Jung, shares what a typical day is like for her at the Upper School.
Before School (7:30 a.m.)
I arrive at school a little bit earlier than other students for praise band practice every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I play piano and Cajun, a type of box drum. I am glad that I can use the gifts God has given me to serve him in class chapel. I love when people praise God with us. This experience is so different from the other schools I’ve attended. When I decided to come to America, one of the main reasons I chose WCCS was because it was a strong Christian school.
First Period - AP Calculus (7:56 a.m.)
After the praise band practice, I take AP Calculus first period. Mrs. Kendrick, my math teacher, starts the class with prayer and board work exercises. Today, I took a quiz about the area of a curve in a graph.
Second Period - ESL (8:47 a.m.)
During second and third periods, I have ESL classes. I do my homework and ask some questions to Mr. Shaduk. He also helps me to study for tests.
Third Period - Bible Study (9:38 a.m.)
Every Tuesday during third period, ESL students meet with our counselor, Mrs. Sapp, to learn about the bible with a Bible study book. I always look forward to Tuesdays because this class is my favorite. Currently, we are learning about being humble, which is something I try to show with my actions.
Fourth Period & Fifth Period - AP Physics & Modern History (10:29 a.m.)
My 4th period is AP Physics. We do lots of lab activities. We have been using a special machine to measure the relationship between distance and time of different objects that we drop. After this class I have Modern World History.
Lunch - (12:07 a.m.)
After fourth and fifth periods, every high school student eats lunch. During lunch on Mondays and Wednesdays, I have model UN meetings. We research, study, and debate about countries’ international relations. Recently we attended a conference at Winthrop University. Almost every high school in the state of South Carolina participated in this conference, with each school representing different countries in a debate. I really liked this experience because it directly connects with what I want to do in the future. Options like these helped influence my decision to come to school here.
Sixth Period - English (12:41 p.m.)
In the sixth period English class, we are learning about schemes and tropes-- speech patterns that affect structure or impact meanings. My favorite scheme is an oxymoron. The class activity we did for review today was “seriously funny.”
Seventh Period - Band (1:32 p.m.)
I play saxophone in band during seventh period. This semester's theme is entertainment, so we play a lot of songs from movies such as "Jurassic Park" and "Rocky". Dr. Furrow said we are going to learn a second instrument, and I am very excited! I want to try flute and clarinet because those are what my grandparents play.
Eighth Period - Computer (2:23 p.m.)
In eighth period, I have computer class. Here I learn about business, how to use Excel and Word, and how to make an effective presentation. When I finish my work early, I can go to the media center and do research for other projects or finish my homework.
After School - (3:10 p.m)
After school, I have Student Council meetings every Wednesday. We plan for spirit weeks, dance parties, and many other school events. All students in STUCO participate so that we can have better events and make some good memories! I will especially not forget the Spirit Week we had. We dressed up like farmers, people from the 70's, and food. It was so much fun! Being in STUCO has helped me engage with my classmates at WCCS and have lots of fun experiences with my friends.
Home! (5:00 p.m.)
When I finally get “home” I do my homework with my 12-year-old host sister. She’s a competitive swimmer, and she encouraged me to join the school swim team. On weekends, our family loves to hike, camp, and do other outdoor activities. I love my host family because we just match! I’m so glad that I met them, and I’m thankful for how they have helped me adjust to American life. Sometimes, international students only spend one year at their host school, but I’m hoping to stay here with my school family and host family until I graduate. I love it here and could not see myself anywhere else!
Last Friday, April 20th, I had the privilege of speaking in our Upper School Chapel about God’s call on His children to “Love Your Neighbor” from Galatians 5:14. For those who were not able to attend, we did stream this talk on Facebook Live, and it is currently posted on our Facebook page – click HERE to view.
The goal of that chapel message was that we would all acknowledge our own sin, seek forgiveness that comes from Christ alone, and then ask that God would grant us the gift of repentance so that we could love God and others well. As is often the case when I speak in chapel, I was personally convicted of my need to heed my own challenge to love MY neighbor. That got me thinking of relationships that I have that are not what they should be. It also got me thinking that I needed to be the one to work toward healing a few friendships. But HOW? Well, I am glad you asked…
Step 1 – Acknowledge the speck in my own eye before pointing out the plank in my neighbor’s (Luke 6:41-42)
When I think about relationships that are not healthy, my mind goes first to what the other person did wrong. If I am honest, it was this thinking that probably got me where I am today. So, I need to ask God to show me where my behavior has caused the strain and own it.
Step 2 – Confess to God (I John 1:9)
Once I see my own sin, I must confess it to God, asking Him to grant forgiveness and the gift of repentance. I must love God (by honoring, obeying, confessing) before we can appropriately love our neighbors.
Step 3 – Confess to Neighbor (James 5:16)
Given that God is holy, and I am not, the hardest part of healing a relationship ought to be my confession before God. But, my pride usually makes my confession to a friend very difficult. But, it is just as necessary. I must initiate contact. I start by acknowledging that the relationship isn’t right. I confess my part in the damage, as specifically as possible. And, then I ask them to forgive me.
Step 4 – Plan for Repentance (II Corinthians 7:10)
I follow up on my confession by immediately jumping into sharing my “plan for repentance.” Basically, I tell him what I hope my actions will look like to him to show that I desire a healthy relationship - and that I am going to work toward that end. If my confession and pursuit of repentance are sincere, then they are unconditional. I will confess my part whether my friend own’s his part or not. I said that I “immediately” jump to my plan for repentance SO THAT I don’t leave time for the other party to confess at that time. IF I hesitate, I am saying, “I am sorry, and it is now your turn.” That is not owning your part. That is presuming a shared role and implies that I am sorry if and only if you are as well. The same is true with my plan of repentance. I will pursue my plan even if my friend chooses a sick relationship over a healthy one.
Step 5 – Stop Talking and Accept the Response (Proverbs 10:19)
Once I have confessed and shared a plan for repentance, I then need to be quiet. My tendency is to fill the silence with more words, which usually turns into excuses as to why I did what I did. This negates the confession. I can only control my actions, not the reactions of my friend. Therefore, I must simply stop talking and allow for any response that I may receive.
Step 6 – Seek God’s Grace (Titus 2:11-1)
I said above that the confession to the friend is difficult, and it is. BUT, so is keeping the promises you have made – especially if they were one-sided. So, the last step in healing the friendship is to ask God to grant me His grace to honor my plan for repentance, and if God wills, to restore a friendship to a health greater than it has ever seen!
Is this easy? NO! Does it always work to heal any and every relationship? No. Will relationships heal on their own if we just ignore the problems? Again, no.
I have done this in the past, and God has blessed with restored relationships in some situations. And, it is time for me to do it again, seeking to heal relationships that are not honoring to God. I commit to doing so. Who’s with me???
We hope you've bought your tickets for our spring musical, Fiddler on the Roof! Wondering what it's all about? Senior, Lauren O'Steen, gives us a behind the scenes look in this week's blog.
Tech Week is finally here, and I am very excited to see how everything has come together! The lights have been set, the stage is locked in, and costumes are labeled on the racks. The show seems as if it has been ages in the making, even though rehearsals only began a little over three months ago. Cast and crew members alike are counting down the hours until the curtain opens on Friday night for Fiddler on the Roof.
Fiddler on the Roof explores the story of Tevye (Gerald Wheaton), a poor milkman, and his wife Golde (Paige Turney), who, along with their family and entire Jewish community, face Russian oppression in the early 1900s. One of the things I love most in this play is that through Tevye’s story, the audience can clearly see how the love of God plays out into their lives. Tevye’s family is poor, but God still provides for their needs, protects them from persecution, and provides joy in times of trouble. Tevye’s relationship with God is more like one with a friend and mentor, whom he argues with when he feels wronged and celebrates with in good times.
"the audience can clearly see how the love of God plays out into their lives"
God can be seen not only on stage, but behind the scenes too. Of course, Fiddler on the Roof would not have been possible without the talents and direction of Mrs. Hali Christopher. Through her (albeit sometimes stern) guidance, every student is given the tools necessary to be successful in their role in the production, whether they have the main role or sweep the floor. God has also blessed the show with parent volunteers such as Jan Porter and John and Alice Olvera who are willing to spend hundreds of hours of their time to assist with sets and teach students about construction and natural painting. We also were given an abundance of community support that can be seen through business advertisements, as the program is longer than ever. Furthermore, cast and crew members were able to grasp a deeper understanding of Jewish heritage through the lessons of Mr. Berg, who is well-versed Jewish traditions and prayers, so the scenes can be as culturally authentic as possible.
As the line reader in the production (Yes, it was my job to read off the script during rehearsals when an actor called “Line!”), and being new to the program, I was able to watch the development of Fiddler on the Roof from an outsider’s viewpoint. I was there to experience the pure joy of when the boys performed the song “To Life” all the way through for the first time, and the tears that came when a rehearsal did not go as well as hoped. I have been amazed at the amount of effort the cast has put in over the past couple months, and I am extremely thankful to have been included in the show.
So how can you be a part of the show? Tickets can be bought at the door and pre-ordered on showtix4u.com. Performances are Friday night, April 20, at 7:00 p.m. and Saturday, April 21, at 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.
Please take time to pray for cast and crew members, that they will have the confidence to do their jobs to the best of their abilities and to glorify God from the opening monologue to the last goodbye.
What a week this is! We go from shouting "Hosanna" to "Crucify Him!" We weep at the death of our Savior and rejoice that "He is risen, indeed." As we look forward to Easter vacation, may we be mindful of the reason for this season and worship our God who saves sinners unable to save themselves.
It has been less than six weeks since I last wrote to the entire WCCS community after the tragic school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Over these last weeks, we have grieved, we have asked tough questions, and we have sought to shore up our own emergency management plans. In my previous letter, I shared some of the precautions that we have taken over this school year as we focused on school safety. While not complete, I believe our efforts have been successful.
As we look to wrap up this school year and move to next, we are transitioning from our current focus on SCHOOL SAFETY to an intentional focus on SCHOOL CULTURE. We will continue to do all that we can to provide a safe physical environment for our students but need to move beyond this to providing a safe emotional and spiritual environment as well. We are very aware that most of our safety efforts treat the symptoms without getting to the heart of the matter - the hearts of our students!
It is with immense joy that I announce that WCCS has hired a full-time School Chaplain beginning with the 18-19 school year! His name is Jake Tassy, and I believe that God is bringing him (and his family - wife, Katie, and high school son Micah) here at this time to help ensure that every student is cared for, both emotionally and spiritually! Jake has an impressive resume that uniquely qualifies him for this position having been a(n): second grade teacher, professional soccer player, junior high youth director, inner-city (Charlotte) ministry director, school chaplain at international school in Ecuador, and family ministries director. He will organize our chapel programs, counsel students (and families) in need, and point all of us to Christ. Studies have shown that students "thrive" when they have at least ONE adult (often at school) whom they trust and can count on, especially when hurting. Part of Jake's job will be to work alongside the faculty and staff to be sure that every student has that "someone!" As he does so, we all will be working to help students treat each other well. I would ask you to begin now praying for Jake and the rest of us as we seek to broaden our definition of "safety" at school.
You may have already noticed some of our efforts to partner with our parents to impact the culture of our school. Our Lower School has begun Love and Logic training for our parents. On our Upper School campus, we invited our parents to chapel on March 16th where we had a special speaker come in and talk to our students (and faculty and parents) about social media. I have heard from many that both efforts have been helpful!
There are also more efforts on the way through the end of this school year. We are planning one "culture-shaping" activity each week. There will be more information coming, but I wanted to put the big rocks on your radar:
School-wide "day of prayer" in partnership with ACSI on Thursday, March 29th
Lower School "grow a new friendship" activity - during week of April 9
Upper School Love Your Neighbor day / chapel / prayer time - April 20
School-wide "heal a friendship" exercise - during week of April 23
School-wide parent training in citizen active shooter response (tentatively evening of May 3)
Blessing our graduates effort - second week in May
Celebration of blessings from 17-18 - third week in May
Prayer for continued grace in 18-19 - fourth week in May
It is my great hope and prayer that you will join us as we seek to honor Christ, educating students to bless our world as disciples of Jesus Christ!
Imagine for a minute that you are a delegate to the United Nations tasked with representing your country in a massive debate in the topic of the Israeli-Palestine conflict.
Sound intimidating? This scenario is just a small glimpse into the Model UN experience of several of our WCCS students. Located at Winthrop University, the Model United Nations hosted schools all over the area over the course of the three day event. Westminster students had the privilege of representing the countries of Pakistan, Somalia, and Indonesia and tackled such subjects as human rights, drug trafficking, terrorism, illegal immigration and territorial disputes (just to name a few). 11th grader, Luke Hancock, received the “Top Delegate Award” for his work on the African Union Committee. It was a great opportunity for students to debate policies and discuss issues that affect us all on the global level. Hear what some of our students had to say about the opportunity to problem solve some of the world’s most pressing issues in the simulated debates!
“Diplomacy can be slow and frustrating. [The work that goes on at the United Nations] is a great way to make sure disputes don’t turn in to war.” – 10th grader, Justin Kirk
“I never paid attention to the UN before. I didn’t know the veto powers of Russia and China, and how if they don’t want something to happen, it won’t happen. I learned that Indonesia has lots of human rights violations. Since I was on the Human Rights Committee and had to defend their practices as a country, it was eye opening to see the violations and a bit embarrassing.” – 11th grader, Seth Russo
“Diplomacy requires working together with lots of people. Model UN is a great hands-on experience to show us what social studies is really about.” – 10th grader, Parker Dhillon
Teacher and Model UN Sponsor, Deanne Regier, had this to say about the event: "I find simulation games/activities to be one of the best ways to communicate historic and political information to students. Students love to pretend they are something that they aren’t. The first day students are nervous and say they will never talk. By the second day, they are engaged and often leading their committees discussions. It is a true delight to sponsor this activity for WCCS for the past 17 years! What a blessing to watch students become global learners, engaging in the Kingdom of God!"
Ever wonder what it's really like to be a student at WCCS? We are continuing with our "Day in the Life" blog series where we give readers the opportunity to hear from one of our students on what it is like to learn, play, serve, and worship at WCCS! This week, 11th grader Joel Haley shares what a typical day is like for him at the Upper School.
Before School Devotions (7:30 a.m.)
Arriving at the lower campus, I wait for my two friends Haidyn and Ann Preston to come. As they arrive we go over the plans we have made for the fourth and fifth grade weekly devotions that we lead together. We walk into the gym and await the elementary school students to gather. Then we walk to our room with our teacher sponsor, Mrs. Hunter. We gather together and we lead them in a time of devotion, going over our topic of unity in Christ, taking prayer requests at the end.
This time always makes my day and fills me with joy. It is such a blessing to see these younger students taking a real appreciation of the Lord.
First Period - AP U.S. History (7:56 a.m.)
After our devotions, we leave to head back to the upper campus. As we arrive we come to our first period class, history. We sit down and start our journal entries that are up on the board. We then begin to take notes from the always enthusiastic Ms. Regier, who instills in us a passion for history. She shows us that we must consider the past to plan for the future. Through lessons, such as the ones we learned from World War II, we see how poor leadership and corrupt ideals can lead to poor decisions and horrible events, and we learn how we can avoid this in our own lives.
Second Period - Spanish 3 Honors (8:47 a.m.)
The bell rings and I head to Spanish class. We gather our folders and begin on our morning work, translating or answering Spanish questions on the board. I always enjoy Ms. Janaveich’s fun lesson plans, including telestrations, where we compete in groups to see who can draw and translate the words the fastest.
Third Period - PreCalculus Honors (9:38 a.m.)
After the bell rings, we head over to our pre-calculus math class, where we are greeted by Mrs. Kendrick. We start with some board work, where we go to the whiteboards to work on math problems before class, and then move on to the lesson, where the animated and passionate Mrs. Kendrick teaches us a new lesson in math. Through her enthusiasm, chants, and passion for math, we learn different principles and apply them to various problems. We continue to do math and do some homework until class is done.
Fourth Period - AP Physics (10:29 a.m.)
We then move on to Physics, where we gather around to talk to our teacher, Mr. Cooke, until class starts. Then we take our seats and get out our lab journals. We then finish off the rest of class doing our lab and reporting it in our journals, expressing some specific rule of physics. Right now we are considering how waves move through different mediums, observing the wave generator creating visible waves through the string, which provides a great visual representation of what we have been learning in our class.
Fifth Period - Bible (11:20 a.m.)
After Physics we head to Bible and are welcomed by our teacher Mr. Krueger. We begin by having a fun class discussion about a current topic, then he takes prayer requests and we start our lesson. He teaches us about our life calling and we take notes on the lesson he is presenting. He helps hold the Bible closely to our daily lives and circumstances. We then head to lunch after the bell rings.
Lunch (12:07 p.m.)
Lunch is a great time to take a break and catch up with friends. We can order hot lunch or bring our own. We get some great hot lunches that come from the kitchen at Westminster Presbyterian Church. The school also orders from Papa Johns, Golden China, and Lee's Chicken. I like to order when it's pizza day!
Sixth Period - AP English (12:41 p.m.)
After lunch, we head to sixth period, English. Here our teacher, Mrs. Lindemann, discusses various literary elements such as schemes, tropes, and rhetoric with the class. We have in depth class discussions where we apply all of these literary devices to various situations.
Seventh Period - Finding God in Film (1:32 p.m.)
After English class we start our elective periods. For seventh period, I go to “Finding God in Film”, where we have been watching Indiana Jones and discussing biblical themes seen throughout the movie, such as good beating evil and the uncommon hero. This class is always a nice, relaxing break.
Eighth Period - Study Hall (2:23 p.m.)
After Finding God in Film I head to my last period of the day, Study Hall. This class is usually filled with either finishing homework that I received throughout the day, or playing games with friends. This period can be a real-life saver on some days that are filled with lots of homework. Today we played several games including card games such as Gin or Spit, which is always fun.
After School (3:10 p.m.)
After eighth period lets out, I go to the Student Council meetings that are on Wednesdays. Then I head to swimming practice where we work hard learning different aspects of swimming, especially strokes and drills. The practices are hard but are always a rewarding experience by the end. After swimming I head home and finish the night off with some homework.
I love WCCS for many reasons. It offers great relationships between the faculty and the students, allowing for more personal connections and friendships to grow between us. It also really promotes a Christian worldview, and it is easy to tell the teachers have a passion for Christ that they show to us through daily experiences. These connections and friendships that are rooted in a Christ-centered worldview have helped me to grow as a Christian and reach a more personal level of relationship with Christ.
Ever wonder what it's really like to be a student at WCCS? We are continuing this week with our blog series, "A Day in the Life". Each week, you'll hear from one of our students about what it's like to learn, play, serve, and worship at WCCS! This week, 7th grader Ashlan Stephens shares what her day is like at the upper school.
1st Period Math (7:56 a.m.)
Math class is fun and has allowed opportunities to study advanced topics such as trigonometry, geometry, algebra, and calculus analysis. Having studied the seventh grade curriculum along with teachers making themselves available to teach some of the advanced topics mentioned, has allowed me to prepare to take the PSAT and ACT exams early.
2nd Period English (8:47 a.m.)
English has allowed lots of “creative thinking time”. We are currently reading our second novel, The Westing Game and will soon begin reading The Diary of Anne Frank. Our typical day usually includes journaling to allow us to express our thoughts on the topic provided by our instructor, Mrs. Jordan.
3rd Period Science (9:38 a.m.)
Science class has meant a time for exploration. We have done experiments like dissecting chicken legs to observe muscles, tissues, bones and ligaments. In the past week, we have started learning about the heart and its critical role in the circulatory system.
4th Period Grammar (10:29 a.m.)
Grammar is thought to be very difficult. We focus on things like pronoun agreement, independent/subordinate phrases, helping verbs and pronoun types. Mrs. Turner makes this learning enjoyable by teaching with nifty jingles, colorful cut-and-folds, and interactive games. She presents the material using various approaches and styles to encourage student participation and thought.
Lunch (11:16 a.m.)
Upper School students can order hot lunch or bring lunch from home. We also have a few extra minutes tacked on to lunch as an "unofficial" recess to help let off steam!
5th Period Computer - A Schedule (11:54 a.m.)
Computer class has presented a time to develop our typing skills and conduct low level programming/coding.
5th Period Physical Education - B Schedule (11:54 a.m.)
This year has been spent understanding teaming (working with others) through various sports - badminton, basketball, football, soccer and ultimate frisbee.
6th Period Art - A Schedule (12:41 p.m.)
Messy on occasion, but always fun! We get to use many different mediums (oil, pastel, and watercolor paints, paper mache’, and clay.) Right now we are making paper mache’ vases, which have a history dating back to Ancient Egyptian times. Art class participants have also been able to show off their skills through the WCCS Art Department's support of volunteer opportunities at various local businesses. With "A Schedule" and "B Schedule", we have A classes 3 days a week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday), B classes 2 days a week (Tuesday, Thursday), then the next week we switch!
6th Period STEM - B Schedule (12:41 p.m.)
STEM is one of the most popular classes and only has limited enrollment each year. We have learned to think “out of the box” to create a table out of newspaper, a rollercoaster from cardstock paper, and a grabber from popsicle sticks.
7th Period Bible (1:32 p.m.)
This class has included poster projects, completing Bible workbook exercises, Bible challenge games, movies and opportunities to compare Bible stories to real life situations. We are now learning about God and how Esther was placed in a position to save His people, display tremendous faith in God, and present the message that God has a plan for all of us.
8th Period Regions of the World (2:23 p.m.)
We have learned about the Middle East, Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Our teacher is very hip and challenges us to think! We get to display our knowledge by creating Powerpoint decks that focus on research we’ve done on assigned countries that include focusing on culture, food, geography, language and other features that make us unique, but appreciative of God’s creation!
At WCCS, we are taught that God has blessed each of us with unique gifts and to think like Christ through our daily lives and activities. As it says in Proverbs, the Lord honors those who commit their works to Him and who strive for excellence in everything they do (Proverbs 16:3; 22:29).
Ever wonder what it's really like to be a student at WCCS? This week, we are starting a new blog series entitled, "A Day in the Life". Each week, you'll hear from one of our students about what it's like to learn, play, serve, and worship at WCCS! This week, 3rd grader Mason Metcalf shares what his day is like at the lower school.
When I get into school I copy down my homework for the day. Then we start Bible study. We study verses, play games, and read from our workbooks. Right now we are working on Samuel’s life. On Friday we do the quiz on our verse of the week. I am pretty good at memorizing that.
Next, we do Math. Most of the time we do models, quizzes, and worksheets. We can also play math games. This week we are learning division by nines. Math is not my favorite, but it is ok.
Then, we go to other classes, like P.E., Music, and Art. Sometimes we even have two, but that’s another story. My favorite is P.E. I don’t know why I just do.
Next, we do Language Arts time. Sometimes, I go to Reading Groups with my partner Birdie Means. I like working with Birdie because she comes up with good ideas. Reading Groups is when you read books and talk about them with teachers and students. We do papers and other writing about the books. We are working on a report about a man named Frederick Douglass.
My most favorite part of the day is Recess. We play in the sandbox, playhouse, and mud kitchen. We do this for 30 minutes.
Next, we go to lunch. At lunch we eat the food we brought or ordered and talk with friends. My favorite is when I order pizza.
Last, we look over our language papers and do Science and I rock it! In Science, we are learning about erosion and doing experiments in the Explore Lab. We can also do History depending on which half of the year it is.
At the end of the day we go to car line and go home. I really like Mrs. Winn’s class because we get to sit where we choose like sitting on the carpet. Also, I only have about 10 kids in my class which is fun because you get called on more often! I think this school is different because here we talk about God and do lessons about him. Everything we do points back to God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, even in Science!