Monthly Archives: April 2014

Building Westminster: Sports and Community

By | Athletics, Knightly Herald | No Comments

By Jack Stein, Class of 2015

As the new building across the street has risen off the ground and now becomes more complete by the day, the emphasis falls on building Westminster from within. This means attending to our school culture, a big part of which includes school spirit.

In recent years Westminster has proven itself in the athletic arena.  Victory after victory has followed the tireless efforts of each and every team.  But this can only be seen as the fruit of the entire community’s labor.  Directly tied to this success is a sense of pride athletes take in their accomplishments and in the school that supports them.

The spring season is well under way, and the school is fielding excellent track, soccer, and tennis teams.  Attendance at competitions may seem like just another task on the to-do list, but it really does show that the community is involved while also encouraging the athletes. Showing support for Westminster athletics should be important to each and every student, parent, and teacher who cares about Westminster’s growth and reputation among other schools, specifically in the way we represent Christ.

The nature of high school sports demands that schools from a variety of backgrounds must play each other. Most of the schools we play do not share our faith. Our witness on the field, court, or track is an integral part of our school’s mission to transform the world. But the Westminster athletes need your support. So before the season’s over, find a copy of your favorite team’s schedule. Watch a tennis or soccer match, or perhaps stop by a track meet.  Let’s build Westminster together.

All schedules for Westminster sports can be found on the website.

Don’t Believe the Hype: Violence Not Tied to Video Games

By | Hermeneutics, Humanities, Knightly Herald, Logic | One Comment

By Daniel Richardson, Class of 2015

On September 16, 2013 at approximately 8:16 am, Aaron Alexis opened fire with a Remington shot gun in the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. Before the bodies of the victims had even been buried, media outlets had already cast violent video games as the real culprit. The Telegraph, for instance, ran the following headline less than twenty four hours after the shooting: “Aaron Alexis: Washington Navy Yard Gunman ‘Obsessed with violent video games.’” Video games also took a hit after the Aurora Theatre and Newtown shootings of the past year.

Although the media has already chosen its side, not everyone is sold on the evils of violent video games. Christopher J. Ferguson, a professor at Texas A&M University, for one, dissents. In his article “The School Shooting/Violent Video Game Link: Causal Relationship or Moral Panic?” Ferguson argues that there is no definitive relationship between violent video games and mass shootings.

Ferguson begins his argument by providing an overview of the current research done regarding violent video games and then breaking that research down into two separate categories: experimental and correlational.3 Experimental research, the most common, typically amounts to taking subjects and exposing them to violent video games, then having them complete a series of tests to evaluate for aggressive behaviors. It is often unreliable and has only yielded mixed results. Correlational research. on the other hand, is even weaker due to the fact that it often does not take into account third party factors such as the subject’s upbringing. Those correlational studies that have tried to account for third party factors have determined that there is no link between violent video games and mass shootings and in some cases that violent video games actually reduce aggressive behavior.

Ferguson then addresses the data on school shootings over the past several years. He focuses primarily on an FBI report put out in 1999 and a Secret Service report completed in 2002. The FBI report concluded that violent video games can have a negative effect, but only if the participant was mentally unstable. Ferguson states that the results of the Secret Service report were even more striking: “Only 59% of perpetrators demonstrated ‘some interest’ in violent media of any kind, including their own writings. For video games, the figure was even lower—only 12%.” These reports are interesting because they are so contrary to the conventional wisdom conveyed by today’s media.

Lastly, Ferguson tackles the issue of why popular news media has turned video games into a scape goat the last few years. He attributes it to a moral panic that has resurfaced many times throughout history. In his own words, Ferguson defines a moral panic as one that occurs “when a segment of society believes that the behavior or moral choices of others within that society poses a significant risk to the society as a whole.” For example, media cried foul when the popular board game of the 1980s Dungeons & Dragons was released, with some researchers claiming it would lead to violence and Satanism. The same issue occurred in the early 19th century when journalists and misguided researchers claimed women would suffer from reading novels. Ferguson proceeds to reestablish his thesis that no evidence connects violent video games and school shootings, giving another more evidence showing shows that in the recent years while violent video game numbers have skyrocketed, youth violence has declined dramatically. Ferguson suggests that in a few years once it comes out there is no real evidence supporting claims that video games lead to shootings, they will eventually fade away.

In conclusion, according to the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) 68% of American households own a gaming console, and millions play violent video games every day. Aaron Alexis was one of those millions, but his gaming habits did not cause him to shoot up a government complex any more than playing the Legend of Zelda makes me want to start mixing potions.

The Value of the Upper School

By | Uncategorized | No Comments

Joshua Moore is a member of the class of 2014. He plans to attend UAB where he will study biomedical engineering. The following excerpt is taken from his open house speech earlier this year.

​One of the greatest strengths of the Upper School is its devoted teachers. Throughout my five years here, the faculty has shown an interest not only in my education, but also my personal well being and the development of my character. The relationship between teachers and students in the Upper School is not only instructor to pupil, but mentor to mentee. In every class teachers are ready to lay aside their lesson plans if they see an opportunity to teach their students a valuable life lesson. Mr. Thompson and Mr. Carrell continually show us how science points us to the Gospel. Bible Classes are centered on answering difficult spiritual questions. In math, we are shown the complexities and brilliance of God. Humanities classes focus on the mighty hand of God at work throughout history. This integration of faith and education is a unique and wonderful facet of the Upper School.

But the vision of these amazing teachers goes far beyond personal relationships with their students. It is evident that the heart of these teachers is to develop a high school that is unified like a family. From house competitions under Mr. Burgess to dissections with Mr. Thompson, the faculty is working to train students to work together, to bond with each other, and to view each other as brothers and sisters in Christ.

The senior class is a clear example of the familial relationships within the upper school. I don’t know how many of you know some of my classmates, but the majority of the senior class has gone to Westminster since second grade. Over the ten years we have learned together, we have developed a special bond, an almost familial connection. I view my classmates more as brothers or sisters than simply fellow pupils. Each person brings unique and valuable gifts to the “Senior Family.” At times we are dysfunctional and hardly ever agree unanimously, but we are a family none the less and are all stronger because of each other.

​Lastly, the Upper School provides outstanding educational opportunities. As a senior, college is approaching on the horizon of my life. I look forward to this next step with confidence and feel well prepared for the challenges I know I will face. I have heard repeatedly from alumni how the education they received from Westminster was an excellent foundation which enabled them to succeed in college. It is clear that the teachers have designed their classes to prepare their students not only for college, but also for life. In the Upper School we are taught not only to know, but to understand. We learn not only to memorize facts, but to reason, to think critically, and to apply what we know in practical ways. Through rhetoric, students are trained to clearly and eloquently articulate the opinions they have developed from their understanding. Most importantly we learn to look at life through the lens of Scripture and seek God’s truth, beauty, and goodness. These skills have greatly benefited me, and I know they will prove invaluable later in life.

​Overall, my education from Westminster’s Upper School has been a tremendous blessing from God. I know it has impacted me in ways I have yet to discover, and look forward to seeing how it has prepared me to fulfill the destiny God has for me.

Lincoln and the Strategy of Emancipation

By | Humanities, Knightly Herald | No Comments

By DeAnna Lockett, Class of 2017

For Abraham Lincoln the Emancipation Proclamation was primarily useful in providing a political and military advantage in the Civil War. But it was slavery, Lincoln believed, that had divided the country: “I believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free. Either the opponents of slavery will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction or its advocates will push it forward till it shall become lawful in all the states, old as well as new, North and South.” For Lincoln there was no middle ground. Either the North would prevent the practice of slavery from spreading any further into the West and eventually eliminate it in the entire country, or the South would fight until the practice of slavery was acceptable everywhere in the country including the North. The conflict was inevitable. There was no way to win the war without eliminating slavery.

Although Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation mainly as a military tactic, he strongly despised slavery. Lincoln made the claim to Stephen Douglas, that he believed blacks were equally deserving of the “right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, which included the right to the fruits of their labor.” Lincoln also believed blacks were entitled to the right to pursue their interests and indeed strive for the American dream.

Ironically, though he believed in the equality of the races, Lincoln seems not to have been a true abolitionist. In a letter sent to Horace Greeley, the editor of the New York Tribune, Lincoln stated, “My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union.” Abraham Lincoln’s primary goal in fighting the Civil War was to reunite the country. However, slavery was the main cause of the South’s seceding from the Union. Therefore, there was no way to win without abolition.

A Prayer

By | Arts, Humanities, Uncategorized | No Comments

By Katie Brooks Boone, Class of 2014

 

Love is gone and gradually I am drifting.

Into this hole I am slowly slipping.

I am cold and dead inside,

Emptiness in my mind.

What is the hole?

Is it even real?

It is a lie.

I am alone.

But You enter.

You open the door,

Make me whole once more.

Make me alive again. You free me.

I now have peace because of You, my King.

In Defense of Solar Energy

By | Knightly Herald, Sciences, Uncategorized | No Comments

By Patrick McGucken, Class of 2015

President John F. Kennedy once said, “When written in Chinese, the word ‘crisis’ is composed of two characters. One represents danger and the other represents opportunity.” Even in the midst of total chaos, there is an opportunity for people to overcome the crises of life. It gives people the chance to improve the way of doing something while solving a serious problem. One of the major crises that plagues the world today is a worldwide energy shortage. Energy is a major factor of life; it provides electricity, transportation, heat. Unfortunately, it appears as if energy is getting harder to come by. As fossil fuels begin depleting, scientists are left trying to find an alternate source that is both efficient and environmentally friendly. Although there are a lot of good choices out there, solar energy stands out as the most promising

Solar energy is the paramount of success when it comes to energy. Solar energy comes from the sun, which is already a major factor in earth’s survival. This energy is obtained through the use of solar panels. These devices are flat panels that use sand to absorb the light from the sun and convert it into electricity. Many people are skeptical of  solar panels because of the cost, but they are greatly mistaken. Solar panels are capable of solving all of the world’s energy problems in the near future.

Solar panels can do this because they are extremely efficient and environmentally friendly. Unfortunately, because of the delay in support, they are not going to be able to be implemented until the near future. So why should we support the increased use of solar panels?

To begin, solar panels are able to solve most of the world’s energy problems because of their longevity. This is due to the fact that solar panels are given energy from the sun. Jesse Emspak, a columnist for Discovery,  writes, “The sun produces an enormous amount of energy. More than 1,000 watts of per square yard hits Earth’s surface every day. Even a tiny amount of that power could meet the energy needs of the entire planet” (2013, 1). This passage shows that the amounts of solar energy are off the chart. The sun contains a lot of energy, and the beauty of it is that the sun is not going away anytime soon. According to the NASA, the sun is going to survive up to 5 billion more years (Lawrence 2011). This means that the sun is going to last longer than any type of fossil fuel, which makes it the most enduring source. Solar panels will have plenty of time to absorb the sun’s energy long after the fossil fuels have run out.

Another reason to support solar energy is that the efficiency rate of solar panels is constantly increasing. According to an article, “Their new X Series panel currently stands at 21.5%, and it’s projected to increase to 23% by 2015” (Kelly-Detwiler 2013). The X Series is the company Sunpower’s newest model panel. It is capable of converting more energy than any other panel, but the astounding part is that the company is still increasing its efficiency. In the same article, the author writes that it has increased 6% in the last eight years. By 2020 they could be over 50% efficient. This would have an impact on the world so big that they would be vastly superior to the other options.

Furthermore, solar panels are environmentally friendly. During the past decade, more people have started worrying about the environmental costs of energy.  Solar panels are some of the cleanest sources of energy out there. The Union of Concerned Scientists wrote an article describing all the environmental effects of different type of energy sources. They wrote that solar power is a clean source, “The sun provides a tremendous resource for generating clean and sustainable electricity without toxic pollution or global warming emissions” (2013). Solar panels are not degrading to the environment like fossil fuels. Both fossil fuels and nuclear power contribute to global warming, but not solar panels. Nor do solar panels pose a threat to wildlife. Both fossil fuels and nuclear power can cause serious problems if there is a leak. The BP oil spill of 2010 is still causing damage to the aquatic life in the gulf. This simply is not a risk with solar.

In the final analysis, solar panels offer a lot of answers and raise few concerns. They are capable of providing a large amount of energy, which can be used in a number of ways. Even today, researchers are working on houses and cars that run off solar power. However, it must be re-stated that solar panels are not quite ready for usage. They are still somewhat inefficient and very costly. Once they have achieved a high efficiency rate, they will be in high demand. It is probable, if not certain, that in the coming decades solar panels will emerge as the best source of energy.

At Home With the Gospel

By | Knightly Herald | No Comments

By Maddie Hoaglund, Class of 2015

William Cameron Townsend once said, “The greatest missionary is the Bible in the mother tongue. It needs no furlough and is never considered a foreigner.” In his quote, Townsend attempted to convey that sharing the Gospel is most effective in the native tongue and culture. Many people are more likely not only to listen, but also to follow the counsel of a person who shares their culture and influence. Therefore, Christians should share the Gospel most easily in their own neighborhoods and cities.

But sharing the Gospel doesn’t just mean preaching. Christians whom God has not called to travel as missionaries should focus on ways to demonstrate Christ in daily life. 1 John 3:18 states, “Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and truth.” In this verse John wishes for Christians to realize that the world hears many promises, but only notices those who keep them. If Christians let the light of Christ shine through their actions, then people will take notice and ask questions. In this way, simple acts of kindness can be a powerful tool for conversion.

Words without actions are meaningless. No matter the religion, culture, or country–people of all nations recognize selflessness and kindness as worthy qualities. It is a king of universal mother tongue. And with the help of the Holy Spirit, the world will take notice of it.

Running for More

By | Athletics, Knightly Herald | No Comments

By Alice Boone, Class of 2016

Track and field is more than simply running in circles on a rubber surface. It’s more than throwing heavy projectiles as far as possible. It’s more than winning medals, breaking records, and setting personal bests. It’s even more than attaining the coveted state championship trophy. Track and field is fellowship with teammates and demonstrating the love of Christ to other competitors.

I have made many wonderful memories throughout my competitive years, but one stands out from the rest. Last May, I had the opportunity to compete at the state track meet in Selma, Alabama. Before the preliminary round of the one hundred meter hurdles, I asked my teammate Hope if she would like to pray with me before the start of our race. This is something we did together every meet. It encouraged us and kept our focus on the Lord.

Breaking with our normal routine, I decide on the spot to ask the athletes around us if they would like to join in. At first five girls joined in, then it grew to ten, which quickly grew to fifteen. Pretty soon, we had every competitor in our event circled up to pray. But people kept coming. Competitors sprinted across the track and jumped from the stands to join us. The circle grew wider and wider, and so did my smile. I could not believe that my suggestion to pray with my teammate would have resulted in such enthusiasm from so many athletes. So many people joined, in fact, that the meet officials were forced to delay the current events until we were finished.

Finally, the last athlete had clasped hands with the person beside him, and we all bowed our heads. The stadium was quiet as I yelled out a prayer for all of the athletes competing. I prayed for safety during the meet, joy during competition, and the willingness to offer the glory back to God. I then had the pleasure of leading everyone in the Lord’s Prayer. Afterwards, most everyone was smiling and looked refreshed and encouraged. That experience is more memorable and valuable to me than any medal.