We are in Year 2 of our 1:1 laptop program at Faith Lutheran. Each freshman and sophomore at Faith has been given a Macbook and brings it to each class each day. Through Apple’s professional development, our teachers of freshmen and sophomores are being trained how to use the software on the Macs, how to increase student learning, use collaborative projects, and incorporate higher order thinking skills. I have joined a group of 15 teachers in the current round of Apple training. We are in Day 6 of 8 full days of training. The days are challenging, frame breaking, and full of accountability as we work in groups and share with the entire group how we have incorporated what we have learned into actual lessons for students. We continue learning about blogs, wikis, iMovie, iPhoto, GarageBand, Photo Booth, iDVD, iTunes, Keynote, and Pages and how best to use these apps and ideas to engage students and, most importantly, enhance student learning. I marvel at the creative juices in our faculty as they share their ideas. With my graying hair, I’m hoping they can teach this old dog new tricks. In either case, I know they will use this amazing technology as a lever and tool to increase student learning.
Tuesday, February 16, 2010 was Faith Lutheran’s school-approved Senior Ditch Day. Seniors were given three options: 1. coming to school, 2. taking the day off, or 3. going to Opportunity Village to volunteer for the morning. The results? 1 senior came to school, 147 took the day off, and 21 seniors boarded a bus with Mr. Dudley and me at 8:30 am and headed to Opportunity Village. Opportunity Village is a not-for-profit organization that serves people with intellectual disabilities by providing them with vocational training, employment, and social recreation services that make their lives more productive and interesting. After a brief tour of the new Opportunity Village campus on South Buffalo, it was time to serve. Some seniors worked in the Art Enrichment area, some in the Enable program helping clients with crafts, and some in the vocational center where they provided social interaction with the clients and helped them package chocolates for the Bellagio and Aria hotels. I walked away very impressed with Opportunity Village. What an amazing organization. I also walked away very impressed with 21 seniors who gave up a free day off from school to serve God while they served others. They each jumped at the chance to make someone’s day a little brighter. Riding back on the bus on our way to Red Rock Resort for a buffet lunch, I sat in the front of the bus and listened to the seniors tell one another about the great experiences they had at Opportunity Village. There was wonderful enthusiasm in their voices. There is great JOY (Jesus-Others-You) when you put others ahead of yourselves. Acts 20:35 sums it up perfectly: “It is more blessed to give than to receive!” Hopefully, this will become an annual tradition that grows each year with our seniors on Senior Ditch Day. These 21 seniors will have been the pioneers that got us started.
Some of the best learning opportunities and memories are made outside the walls of a classroom. I have had the privilege of attending two such off campus events with FL students this fall. The first was on Monday, August 31st. The Wind Ensemble was asked to play for the groundbreaking ceremony and press conference for the opening of the new Bonneville Transit Center in downtown Las Vegas. The Regional Transportation Commission sent two $1 million dollar buses to transport us to the ground breaking ceremony. Among the politicians in attendance were Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman and Congresswoman Shelley Berkley. Our students played pep music as dignitaries entered the press conference and then stood at the front of the stage during the press conference. They were a huge hit with the guests in attendance. Thanks to Mrs. Schlicker who made all the arrangements and lead us on that memorable trip.
On Thursday, October 9 I was at Sam Boyd Stadium to watch our varsity dance team perform at halftime of the first ever United Football League game between the Las Vegas Locomotives and the California Redwoods. Mrs. Chris Harper had our team extremely well prepared for an awesome dance; the girls were cheered loudly by the enthusiastic crowd. The girls, all of whom are diligent students, even worked on homework during the first half! I am proud of our fine arts department who continue to represent FL so well in the community.
Whether it’s choir tour, away athletic contests, the Marine/Desert trip to Catalina, French class trips to LeCordon Bleu Culinary School, a geology class trip to Techatticup Mine, or even going on virtual field trips to faraway places with our computers in class, we need to continue to find unique ways for our students to learn about the world around them.
Faith Lutheran is very unique in that we have competed at every level in the state of Nevada at some point in our school’s 31 year history. We’ve moved from 1A to 2A to 3A to 4A. Each time we’ve moved up, competition has gotten tougher; this move is obviously no exception.
We are several weeks into the big move to 4A athletics. So far, so good! The hard work that our athletes and coaches have put in during the past year is obvious. The recently expanded weight room and new weights are in heavy demand. The boys’ soccer, girls’ soccer, girls’ golf, boys’ cross country, girls’ cross country, our tennis teams, and volleyball teams have all won games/matches vs. 4A competition in the early part of the fall season. The football team has far exceeded expectations in its first two games. They have played both opponents bravely and competitively, and we eagerly anticipate their first 4A win as well.
There is a reason why all 50 states align athletic conferences and leagues by schools of similar size. Faith Lutheran High School has 720 students. The other schools in our league have between 2235 and 3323 students. I wonder if any other high school in the country is facing a league schedule against teams with 1500-2600 more students each and every game. I know this…our athletes and coaches will do their best to compete and do everything they can within the rules to win games. I am proud of each of them for taking on the challenge of 4A athletics. We have deep respect for the 4A schools in Nevada and look forward to many years of spirited competition with them as we develop new relationships with new schools. Come out and cheer on the Crusaders against the best competition the state of Nevada has to offer. You won’t be disappointed!
It’s the fourth day of the 2009-2010 school year. Though I haven’t blogged since June, the well-oiled machine we call Faith Lutheran Jr/Sr High School is up and running on all cylinders. We welcomed a record 1327 students on Monday to begin our 31st academic year. What a phenomenal blessing from God in such tough and uncertain economic times. It’s clear that parents in the Valley place a high value on the Faith Lutheran experience as they partner with us to give their children the best Christian education possible.
Our school is constantly improving. Our freshmen students are the recipients of our inaugural 1:1 laptop computer program. Each of them received a new Macbook, and as I walk into their classrooms, I already see them being used extensively.
The track has been resurfaced; new lights have been installed in the gym and student center; our outdoor basketball courts have been converted to gorgeous tennis courts for our teams; the weight room expansion is complete and has been furnished with new, state-of-the-art equipment; the campus is now completely enclosed with decorative wrought iron fencing making our campus even safer and more secure.
We are pleased to welcome our new teachers: Rachel Rickman (MS math), Sam Seefeld (HS Theology), Lauren Martin (HS/MS Science), Laura Schumacher (MS Art), Steve Morrill (HS Science and Theology), Paul Pullmann (6th grade), Haley Wheat (HS Spanish), and Karen Jorgensen (HS Math). Each of these men and women brings tremendous teaching skills and great passion to our already awesome faculty. As leaders, we always pray that God will lead outstanding Christian educators to join our ministry, and I stand in amazement to His resounding answer this year in these folks. We also welcome back Bonnie Nelson (guidance counselor) and Maria Castens (MS Math). Great to have them with us again!
So, here we go again. Another year of thinking and learning and creating and running and playing and acting and singing and dancing and teaching and engaging and understanding and laughing and studying and collaborating and designing and painting and drawing and presenting and sharing and explaining and reading and writing and developing and basking- in the glow of God’s grace. I can’t wait!
Wow, Faith Lutheran has enjoyed a phenomenally successful month in athletics! As we anticipate our move to 4A athletics next year, we had one last chance to compete in 3A state tournaments this spring. And compete we did!
The boys golf team won the 3A state championship by three strokes over Lowry. Junior Yuki Kato also finished first as the individual winner shooting a 69-70 in some tough winds in the two day tournament.
Senior Samantha Pearson won the state 100 yard backstroke title while junior Ian Salvatierra took the silver medal in the 500 yard freestyle competition at the swimming championships.
The girls track team won the 3A state championship. Gold medals were won by sophomore Joi Goynes in the 100 meter and 200 meter dashes, senior Keely Bakken in the 3200 meter run, the 4×100 team (senior Dominique Bibbins, sophomore Krystal Onyema, junior Carsen McBeath, and sophomore Joi Goynes), and the 4×200 team (senior Seanie Peterson, sophomore Kiah Mayo, sophomore Joi Goynes, and junior Carsen McBeath).
Silver medals were won by the girls 4×800 team (senior Keely Bakken, freshman Kelsey McCourt, freshman Vanessa Sigman, and sophomore Meghan Vomund), junior Jessica Nelson in the pole vault, and sophomore Krystal Onyema in the triple jump and the long jump;=.
Bronze medals were won by senior Lizzy Lynch in both the shot put and the discus, senior Keely Bakken in the 1600 meter run, and freshman Rene Vogel in the pole vault.
Not to be outdone by the girls’ track team, the boys track team also won the 3A state championship. Junior John Cartier won the 100 meter and 400 meter dashes, junior Ryan Bartholomew won the 800 meter run, and junior Paul Morton won both the shot put and the discus.
A silver medal in the 4×100 was won by the team of sophomore Reed Chicas, senior Sam Thompson, sophomore Johan Coumou, and junior John Cartier. John Cartier also earned a silver medal in the 200 meter dash.
The girls softball team finished third in the 3A state tournament upsetting #1 seed and eventual state champion Fernley in the first round.
The boys baseball team finished as the state runner up team in the 3A tournament losing 2-1 in the state finals against Virgin Valley HS.
Congratuations to Athletic Director Bret Walter and all of the athletes and coaches who used their talents this spring. To God alone be the glory!!
It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything, and since I posted a summary of PTF’s last speaker, it’s certainly appropriate to post one of the PTF-sponsored speaker we had this past week.
Former tennis great David Wheaton came to Faith Lutheran to speak to our high school students on Wednesday and Thursday. He addressed Faith Lutheran parents on Wednesday night.
I was recently reading a monograph put out by Woodburn Press entitled “How to Get the Most out of High School.” Here is a summary plus some of my thoughts:
1. Understand Your Academic Record: Almost every university cares about the grades students earn once they begin high school. Students should care, too! Students should know how many credits are needed for graduation (30 here at Faith), what their GPA is and how it is calculated, what their class rank is, and what will go on their high school transcripts that are sent to colleges.
2. Know Your School: Students should be very familiar with the Student Handbook. Students should be familiar with the school calendar – paying special attention to when the grading periods (quarters) begin and end and when school will be closed for holidays and vacations. Since there is typically a close correlation between attendance and academic achievement, students should be familiar with attendance and tardy policies. Students should be aware of all policies and rules regarding behavior; in fact, students should take an active role in making Faith Lutheran a safe and welcoming place to learn and grow.
3. Be in School Every Day: A no brainer, yet there are some students in every school who don’t prioritize being in every class every day. Since classes would not be held were they not deemed important, it is critical that students attend every class. If you know you are going to miss school ahead of time, communicate with your teachers. If you miss school for an unexpected reason, be sure to talk to each teacher when you return so you know clearly what you missed.
4. Know How to Get Good Grades: Be organized (use your student agenda, have phone numbers for classmates, know the best way to contact your teachers when you’re not at school, keep your locker and backpack neat, and get everything organized for the next day before you go to bed). Manage your time well (Use any extra time given in class to get started on your homework since the teacher will be there and can answer questions, break down larger assignments into smaller parts, and create a study plan that works for you). Side note: even more than getting good grades is make sure you learn; that, ultimately, is why you are in high school. Be Successful in the Classroom (learn how to adapt to different teachers, be on time to each class every day, have everything you need with you when you go to class, participate in class, always do your homework, don’t leave class with unanswered questions, treat others with courtesy and respect). Take Good Notes (be an active listener; think about what’s being said, recognize and write down important information, take notes that are neat and easy to read, and if you’re absent, get copies of the notes you missed). Know How to Read a Textbook (SCAN the assignment to get an overview, READ the assignment, and REVIEW what you’ve read). Study Smart (find a good place to study, organize your study time, allow more time for homework than you think you’ll need, know how to use a computer, and use memory tricks to help you memorize things). Use Test Taking Strategies (have everything you’ll need for the test, before you start be sure to look over the entire test, mark the questions to which you would like to return, check your answers, and use all of the time available).
5. Set Goals: Setting goals helps you determine where you want to go and what you want to accomplish. While goals can be short term (get a B on tomorrow’s exam) or long term (graduate with a 3.5 GPA), every goal should be specific, measureable, and attainable.
6. Get Involved: Research consistently suggests that the more students are involved, the higher their GPA is and the more they enjoy high school. While school is pretty cool from 8 am til 3 pm, it’s amazing from 3:30 – 5:30 when clubs, groups, ensembles, and teams practice, perform, and play. The best universities in the United States make admissions decisions not simply on high grades and ACT/SAT scores, but also what you do with your free time. Getting involved in after school activities at school, at your church, and/or in the community is very helpful for students’ resumes as they apply to college. Faith Lutheran offers a multitude of opportunities to run, play, hit, throw, sing, dance, tackle, act, score, perform, serve, and lead. There is definitely something for everyone.
7. Make Good Choices and Decisions: In high school, students have more freedom and independence. With that comes more responsibility. The world is filled with people living with the regret of one (or more) poor decision or choice. Prior to making decisions, students should consider how they will respond when placed in various tempting situations so when the time comes, they will know how to respond. I have seen many students in my office over the years in tears with deep regret and in trouble for poor decisions they have made; more importantly, I see countless students each year who make good decisions at school and on weekends whose lives are filled with hope, confidence, and joy. Choose to be one of them.
8. Know How to Handle Stress: Get enough sleep, eat right, and get plenty of exercise. Talk to a trusted friend, counselor, or family member about what’s causing your stress.
9. Use Available Services: Principals, assistant principals, teachers, counselors, librarians, secretaries, coaches, and tutors are here to help you. Don’t ever hesitate to ask any of them for help.
10. Plan and Prepare for Your Future: The better you do in high school, the more choices and opportunities you’ll have when it comes to colleges and majors. Choose your high school courses carefully; challenge yourself. Choose a career that’s right for you.
And finally, pray. Each day, pray for God’s guidance, strength, wisdom, courage, and discernment as you use the gifts He’s given you to make a lasting impact for His kingdom.
Hosted by our PTF, it was an interesting evening as Hara shared the insights gleaned from her research. Attendees asked thought-provoking questions which helped facilitate discussion.
Whether or not you were able to attend Tuesday night’s presentation, I thought I would summarize some of her talking points. On the main slide, she stated that the goal of raising a child is to produce an independent adult who can A) think for him/herself, B) make decisions for him/herself, C) function in a democracy, D) contribute to the economy, and E) experience satisfaction and happiness.
She also listed 12 practical things parents can do to help make the above goal a reality:
1. Provide unstructured, unmonitored play.
2. Eat dinner together.
3. Learn how to criticize your child appropriately.
4. Keep professional values at the office.
5. Quit hovering over your kids.
6. Teach your kids how to tolerate discomfort and uncertainty.
7. Learn how to praise your kids appropriately.
8. Encourage risk taking and problem solving in your kids.
9. Allow your kids to fail.
10. Give your children increasing responsibility for their own lives.
11. Take achievement pressure off your kids.
12. Act rationally and not out of panic mode.
All of this is solid, practical advice to raising children for independent living.
Of course, more important than the advice above is sharing and modeling Christ’s love to your children, bringing them to the waters of baptism, educating them in a Christian school, praying with them and for them, and worshipping regularly with them. The goal, ultimately in child rearing, is the soul.
Wow…it’s difficult to believe that the first semester is over. I guess time does fly when you’re having fun. It’s also hard to believe that more than 6 months have gone by since my family left our home in Michigan and drove the 2100 mile stretch down I-94, I-80, I-76, I-70, and I-15 to get here. Yet the six months have provided some quality time for adjustment while getting to know and appreciate the Faith Lutheran faculty and staff, meet the students, understand and respect Faith’s history, assess the current state of affairs, consider necessary change, and look to the future. God has uniquely blessed Faith Lutheran, and I believe Faith Lutheran can be one of the world’s premiere Christian schools with His continued help.
I suppose the older I get, the more quickly time seems to pass. My wife and I find it hard to imagine that two of our children are in college, and our youngest is a junior in high school. With the help of Google and Facebook, former students and players of mine in Texas and Michigan are connecting with me after many years, and it amazes me to hear about their careers and children, some of whom are also in high school already.
The quick passage of time causes me to pause occasionally and appreciate the blessings that God provides on a daily basis, and though there are times I wish I could make the world slow down, I also realize that each day that passes gets me one day closer to heaven. And, ultimately, I can’t wait to get there in whatever time God deems right.