Today was Health & Fitness Day at Westlake. Each class came up with a different presentation to show their schoolmates. The creativity and excitement that occurred throughout our halls were incredible.
A blog about high school student life at Westlake Christian Academy
Tomorrow, Wednesday, March 14th, many students around the country will be participating in a #Walkout in memory of the 17 students who lost their lives at the recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida and in civil protest demanding stricter gun laws.
At Westlake, we want to give our secondary students the opportunity to reflect on the tragedy at Parkland, discuss what possible changes we can make in the greater community, and ultimately take time in prayer to call on God, the One who can actually affect change.
While many surrounding schools will be participating in a #walkout, we are choosing to reflect with #17minutesofprayer. We will direct our students through a time of prayer with three different focuses: Repentance – for our sins as a nation and as individuals, Dependence on God – remembering who He is and what He has done, and Petition – asking God to move in us and in our country to affect change. Then, while we are still in the waiting for this change to come, like the people of Judah in 2 Chronicles 20, we will go out praising the Lord, “Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever.”
Would you join us tomorrow in prayer tomorrow morning from 8:15 – 9:00? We know that it’s only by God’s power that things begin to change. We don’t want to just meet and pray and remain unchanged. Would you pray that this time is not only impactful on our students for that day, but they would walk away changed and carry this dependence on God into every aspect of their lives.
And would you pray for the faculty, staff, and leadership team of our school? We want to model the appropriate response to tragedy and trial. As Christians, we recognize that we are first citizens of heaven, yet we are called to honor the leaders of our country. Pray that we help shape the students’ mindset to one of respect and honor while giving them a voice to affect change at the government level. We are called to be image bearers and bring the light of Christ to a broken world. Pray that we would help the students to see the power they have as children of God to make a difference in their community.
Westlake’s first color yearbook was launched! And guess who it was dedicated to? Both Mr. Naegele and Ms. Snow (now Mrs. Van Ryn), two very beloved and definitely missed teachers at Westlake.
Our yearbook, Color Our World (pictured below), is dedicated to Mr. Michael Naegele for not only how beloved he was, but also because he devoted 30 years of his life to teaching at Westlake Christian Academy. Students at Westlake looked to Mr. Naegele for many things: a tutor, a guidance counselor, a reference, and even a friend. He was a teacher, a friend, a parent and even a grandparent to students at Westlake and he will be greatly missed. However, we are grateful for him serving outside of Westlake in the Christian community and how he can now focus on his life, his time with his family and his ongoing walk with God.
The yearbook is also dedicated to our dear Ms. Snow. Ms. Snow, now Mrs. Van Ryn, got married this summer. She planned to not come back to Westlake to teach, which saddened everyone who knew her or had her as a teacher. Ms. Snow is an amazing person and so fun to have as a teacher and as a friend. She was patient with us and loved all of us in every way she could, but now it is time for her to direct that love towards her husband. No, she won’t stop caring and missing us, but she is on to a new chapter in her life.
Mr. Naegele, Ms. Snow, you both will be missed and we love and adore you both dearly.
By Nikita Pratt, Communications TA
We are back from high school retreat and all I can wonder is, did what happened there shape us for the rest of the school year?
This year’s high school retreat was rainy and sunny, both in the weather and with the people. As teenagers, we’re still in the process of metamorphosis; we’re still trying to figure out who we are and where we are at in our walk with Jesus. So, at the retreat, both conflict and love were apparent. Through competition, many of us struggled with love for each other. However, as the days progressed and with the wisdom of our speaker, Aaron Cramer, love and friendship began to triumph over bitterness and conflict. From my eyes, I noticed God beginning to shine through more and more of our words, our laughter, and our smiles. So, though it was evident on the retreat that we’re all still in metamorphosis, God is guiding us through. He is helping to block the rain so that we have some time to let the light shine through.
To see more pictures from our high school retreat, visit our Westlake Facebook page.
Hey, all! It’s that time of year again. School is back in session. Now, I’m sure some students would much rather be on summer break still, while parents are likely saying, “Finally!” But, now that school’s back in session, it’s time to get back into the learning mindset.
Senior, Hannah Slota, who has attended Westlake for 15 years, seemed to really love her first week. She said, “My first day of school was great! I love all of my classes and I love meeting the new people in the different grades. I hope this year will be one that breaks divisions and brings us all together as a family in Christ.”
While there are students like Hannah who have similar thoughts, some just think of it as any other day. Such as 7th grader, Josh Miller, who said, “My first day was kind of boring and tiring because we didn’t do any work.” While it may not have been the most exciting start to the year, it goes to show, students still want to learn.
Westlake has a lot in store for students, some of which will be hard and others will be fun. Most students seem to look forward to experiencing all that Westlake has to offer. Long-time Westlake students have made it a priority to make sure that our new students feel a part of this family. And it seems we’ve accomplished that as freshman Charles Smith told us, “During my first day of school, I felt very welcomed by my fellow students and teachers.” Hearing this is exciting because it shows that Christ is working through his children and their hearts that they may show his love through themselves.
I hope you enjoyed the glimpse into the hearts and minds of students here at Westlake. Stay tuned for what we have in store at Westlake Christian Academy this year by following this weekly blog, The Eagle.
—Nikita Pratt, Communications TA.
From Mr. Flemming
Discipleship Director & Guidance Counselor
In Romans 12 Paul writes, “…do not be conformed any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed…” He uses the Greek word from which we get the word metamorphosis. God, through Paul, invites us to be metamorphosized. He is not talking about working harder, some self-help, a few minor changes, or a couple improvements around the rough spots. He is talking about transforming a caterpillar into a butterfly or a tadpole into a frog. And this is something only God can do. This year we are looking to God for a Metamorphosis, in us, in our school, and in our world. Again Paul writes, “…and we all…are being transformed (metamorphosized) into [Christ’s] image with ever-increasing glory.” (2 Corinthians3:18)
For our high school and junior high retreats, Aaron Cramer, campus pastor of Christchurch Crossroads, will be focusing on how God metamorphosizes a bunch of individuals (like us) into a community. He will be addressing topics like What are three types of Christians and three types of non-Christians? How do we deal with the battle that is within us? Why are transparency and authenticity vital characteristics of a community? Please pray for Pastor Aaron, our retreats, and that our year would be a year of metamorphosis in each of us.
Every year around this time we hear the same things: “Happy Holidays,” “Seasons Greetings,” and “Merry Xmas.” I’m going to just come out and say that I find so much joy in worshiping Christ, and one of the ways I can do that is by keeping Christ in Christmas. Westlake is so blessed because we, truly, do not have to worry about offending someone by saying, “Merry Christmas” and that is a wonderful thing.
Last week, each student attended the ‘All School Christmas Chapel.’ The students sang traditional Christmas carols that celebrated the birth of our Savior. Mr. Fleming then talked about the reason the song “The 12 days of Christmas” was written. From 1558 until 1829 the Catholic Church was not allowed to openly practice their faith for fear of persecution, so they came up with a song where each phrase correlated to a statement of faith or a Biblical truth for the church to remember and honor. For example, the three french hens stood for faith, hope, and love, and the ten lords a leaping represented the ten commandments. This way they could actually sing about Christ without getting persecuted.
Sometimes we, as Christians, face persecution from other people when we talk about anything that pertains to Christ. I remember living in New Jersey and people would make fun of me for it and I still get those stares even when I go to work. It is very encouraging to be able to walk into an environment where saying “Merry Christmas” is not only accepted, but encouraged. Just another reason to love Westlake!
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” Isaiah 9:6.
At the start of the All School Christmas Chapel the students got a special surprise from our Bible teachers, Mr. Tantillo, Mr. Flemming, and Mr. Lovelace. Enjoy the following video: The Twelve Days of Christmas – Westlake Style
– Shelby Nicholas
Marketing Intern (and older sister of a Westlake student)
“We’re supposed to love our neighbor, if you need them, it helps.” -Wendell Berry
Who even thought of this crazy idea called “school”? It’s an amazing amount of work. Assignments, projects, drama (on stage and off), papers to grade, kids to drive, events to plan and attend. Blood, sweat, and tears are an almost every day occurrence. Ask Mr. T, he’ll tell you about middle school’s desperate need for regular showers and quality deodorant. (Axe doesn’t count). Either we have a good reason for all this or we’re just nuts. So, why school?
Thankfully, there are good reasons. One very good reason is that God made all of us to be kings and queens. In the very beginning when God spoke and the world burst into existence, God also formed humanity and commanded them, “rule!”, “reign!”, and “Have dominion over the birds, and the sea, and the land.” School is like a kingdom training ground where we work the muscles of our minds, bodies and hearts. Our Creator calls us as his little governors to say along with him, let there be light, beauty, and order. We are called to give shape to the chaos of numbers and letters; to form paint into portraits; to turn brass, wire, wood, diaphragms, and air into the Hallelujah Chorus. We are the keepers of the earth and of one another. The little kings under the King of Kings.
Still, some of us might feel like our work doesn’t accomplish very much. It’s not hard to know that our world is broken. That we ourselves are bent. That the flood of sin and chaos constantly threatens to undo even our best efforts. Why school then? Is it really worth the struggle? Education might be worthless except that God himself says, “I will complete the work I began in you.” (Phil 1:6) Over and over again God reassures us that our labor in him is not in vain because as we are working, living, and striving he works behind all of it. What Christ accomplished on the cross was more than just forgiveness of sins. He made a promise that one day everything will be right. Why school? We work, and study and strive because Jesus “is making all things new!” (Rev 21:5)
– Andrew Metzger
Junior High Social Studies
Quickly and stealthily and dressed in black, they walk carefully across the stage, avoiding any obstacles in their way. One grabs a bench and silently maneuvers it off the stage. Others wait backstage, ready to position new props into place. This is all done in a matter of minutes, the audience never knowing the identity of the diligent workers. The lights on stage come back up, the stage has been transformed, and the show continues.
Just last weekend, Westlake Christian Academy presented The Pirates of Penzance. If you attended one of the three performances, I know you would agree that our student body possesses incredible talent. The directors Paula Coombe and Jeannie Ptasienski, along with the student actors, worked hard to create an outstanding production. What many people do not know, however, is that the play also gives other students opportunities to use their God-given gifts, just not in ways that are seen by everyone.
To put on play like The Pirates of Penzance requires a myriad of volunteers to use their abilities behind the scenes. Many students were here a couple of hours before the performance to help with hair and make-up. Student volunteers were on hand to run the sounds and lights. Others worked to assemble the stage and to paint the backdrops. Parents coordinated meals for the cast and crew and helped with costumes and props.
One student in particular I’d like to highlight is senior Carlos Gil. Carlos has been dedicated to the drama department for four years now. Most people, however, would never know how involved this young man is. For his four years of high school, Carlos has worked behind the scenes, moving props, getting the stage ready for each performance, fixing things last minute, covering windows, and being on hand for anything that needed to be done. In working backstage with Carlos over the years, it has been obvious to me that he has the spiritual gift of helping and service. Carlos exemplifies what Paul wrote to the church of Corinth when he said “God has placed in the church… gifts of… helping…”. (1 Corinthians 12:28) It is such an encouragement to see Carlos using his God-given gift to help other Christians. When asked why he enjoys working backstage, Carlos replied “Because it is important work that we do and it is a lot of fun.” He doesn’t mind that most people will never know all the hours that he has put into the production, he just enjoys using his gift.
Another student who worked diligently during the play was junior Angela Wintering. Angela worked closely with Mrs. Sandy Slota to get the costumes in order and then check them back in at the end of each night. Again, this was work that nobody would notice. When asked about her role in the production, Angela said “I liked being involved in the play even if I wasn’t on stage. I had to be organized, but I enjoyed it.” During the week of the play, Angela came early and stayed until the end of each night. Angela’s gifts of order and detail were well utilized during the play.
One of the many reasons I love Westlake Christian Academy is because students have numerous opportunities to use their gifts for the Lord. Even students with less obvious gifts can use their talents to serve. We are training our students to help in different ways so they can serve the Lord later in life and even now. Each of our students is unique and it is an incredible thing to see each student using his or her abilities to contribute to all areas of the school.
– Andrea Snow
Senior High English Teacher