Monthly Archives: May 2014

Thesis: Worth the Journey

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By Daniel Richardson, Class of 2015

One of the crowning achievements for both juniors and seniors at Westminster is the completion of the thesis assignment. Students take the entire year to pick a topic that interests them and research it for the purpose of writing a comprehensive paper. But things don’t stop there. Once students have completed their paper, the class moves on to presentations. Seniors in particular are asked to give a speech on their topic to the entire Upper School. A daunting task, put to it

The thesis class provides students with an opportunity to be able to dive into a interesting topic and then present those findings to the Upper School. It is rare to find such an endeavor in a high-school curriculum these days, and most students do not get the chance to write or present a thesis until well into college. Although the process can be difficult, overcoming the stress of thesis truly does benefit our students in the long run. They are taught how to think critically, devise an argument, and finally present and defend that argument in front of a large crowd.

These skills are bound to serve them well later in life, and while some will tell you they might not enjoy thesis now, they will appreciate it farther down the road.

Two Years Running

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By Carter Lemons, Class of 2015

On May 2, 2014, the Westminster track team along with hundreds of other runners made the annual journey to Memorial Stadium in Selma, Alabama to compete in the AHSAA Outdoor Track and Field State Championships. For the girls team in particular, the pressure was on. The Lady Knights were the defending champions from the 2013 season and were expected to perform well again. Under the leadership of seniors Katie Brooks Boone and Morgan Reynolds, the team delivered. On May 3, they took their second state championship trophy in two years. For Katie and Morgan, it was a bittersweet moment. Tears mixed with smiles and hugs. It was their last high school meet, but the impact they had on the lives of their teammates will be seen for years to come. They have embodied self discipline, work ethic, and sportsmanship. At practice they supported younger runners. Before races they prayed with and for their competition. They brought something special to the team that cannot be put into words. Katie and Morgan set a standard that improved the entire team athletically, mentally, and spiritually. On behalf of the team and the school, we love you both and we will miss you!

Snowmaggedon: A Retrospective

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By Heath Padgett, Class of 2016

Tuesday, January 18, 2014 started as a regular day at school. At first the only real difference from most school days was that it was cold. Just before first period began, several rumors started going around that it might snow. Living in Birmingham, AL, I thought to myself that everyone else was crazy and ignorant—Birmingham, AL, does not get real snow. By the end of first period, the snowflakes began falling. Still, as I strolled outside toward my second period class, I doubted that the cool, crisp snow would even stick. Laughing with my friends, I joked that we should be let out of school. Soon afterwards the announcement came: school was dismissed. With newly gained excitement, I rushed to my older brother’s vehicle. Phone lines jammed; chaos ran the campus. We were unable to get my younger brother without explicit parent consent. As a result, my older brother quickly found me and said that we needed to leave immediately. Rushing home, we honestly had no problems. We climbed and descended large hills with ease (later to find out that a car had flipped on the same road nearly five minutes later). It only took about fifteen minutes to get home. Some of my older brother’s friends, who left soon after us, headed towards our house too. However, it took them several hours to get there.

Coming inside after playing in the snow and trying to sled down the steep hill by my house, I saw the evening news on the TV and quickly realized that the day had not been smooth sailing for everyone else. ABC 33/40 showed coverage from 280 where hundreds of people had simply abandoned their cars in the middle of the higheway. Shocked, my dad and I walked down to 280 (as it is only about half a mile from my house). Seeing the enormity of the issue at hand, we decided that we must do something to help.

Soon after, we noticed a lady stumbling on the snow and ice. With a parched face and no decent winter gear, we asked the poor lady if she needed a place to stay the night. She readily agreed to our offer. Trying to keep her calm and out of shock, I asked her questions and talked with her. My dad went to look for some more people who needed help, while I took the cold lady to our house.

On the way home, I noticed that some Alabama boys’ dreams had come true. Not only was it snowing, but also these Alabama boys finally had a chance to show off and use their huge trucks. One of them gave us a ride to my house. At home I prepared a pot of soup, made some hot chocolate, and got the fire roaring.

Soon after, the front door opened. My dad walked inside shaking off his boots as another family came in. Wondering who it was, I peered around the corner to see that a Westminster family had arrived—our good friends the Edmonds. As their looks of distress soon faded, we all gathered together in warmth and hospitality. Eventually, we played games, laughed, and had fun with each other. These fun activities helped ease the stress of the day’s events and brought much-need warmth and peace to a frozen and chaotic day.

Life at Westminster: The Junior College Tour

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By Ethan Shaw, Class of 2015

On a mild Birmingham morning a couple of months ago, the Westminster Class of 2015 stood assembled in the upper parking lot to stuff themselves into two luggage-laden vans, the gateway to their future lying before them. Our four-day trip would include six colleges in three different states, along with quite a number of hours driving across the southeast. As the group embarked, the beacon of academic promise dispelled the shadows surrounding GPAs, ACT scores, financial needs, and the over-arching mystery of the college experience. No one could fear with the intrepid Mr. Herring and three dauntless chaperones as their guides; the exciting journey had officially begun.

At least, that is what an unsuspecting reader may be led to believe. Yet the story did slightly differ from this idealized vision. Campus after campus, questions abounded more and more in everyone’s heads. Ever-smiling admissions counselors, armed with excesses of college information and statistics, left many in a daze. The campuses themselves, on the other hand, sparked unique curiosity: the breathtaking view from Covenant’s Lookout Mountain, the gorgeous Swan Lake overlooked by Furman’s impressive bell tower, and the imposing Gothic facades of Berry’s Ford Complex offer a few examples. Each of these, in its own way, calls out clearly with a sense of home. The student’s difficult task, however, was to begin to discern which of these voices—if any—spoke most clearly to his or her mind. Do UGA’s multi-faceted research opportunities and student body of 26,000 seem most appealing? Or does Covenant’s intimate, isolated Christian learning community immediately strike a chord? Prospective students can find a vastness in the physical campus (take Berry’s fourteen-to-one acre to student ratio) just as easily as a vastness in the array of program opportunities at UGA or Vanderbilt. Slowly the realization arrived that the American college experience comes in just about any package one desires, with a spectrum that encompasses a multiplicity of options.

Some brief general takeaways from the campuses visited are as follows:

UGA (University of Georgia, Athens): a large campus with an urban feel. There is plenty of college tradition to go around between the historic black iron arch and chapel bell-ringing. Well-known programs exist in journalism, business, and agriculture.

FURMAN (Greenville, SC): a smaller yet beautifully manicured campus complete with a lake and lots of greenery. Furman stresses its liberal arts curriculum and close professor-student interaction. The dining hall was, on all counts, voted the best of those visited. The amazing city of Greenville is small yet vibrant, with a spectacular pedestrian river bridge.

BERRY (Rome, GA): 27,000 acres that comprise an outdoorsman’s wonderland. Students can mountain bike, hike, ride horses, and quite literally run with the deer all while on campus. Quaint and isolated “Mountain Campus” houses the WinShape Foundation’s retreat center and scholarship dorms. Berry capitalizes on the work-study experience. The school guarantees students paid jobs related to their major while on campus, while at the same time espousing a solid liberal arts curriculum.

COVENANT (Lookout Mountain, GA): an enclave of Christian scholarship nestled in a stunning mountaintop setting. Covenant offers a clear departure from the bustle of city life. As a PCA affiliated school, Covenant takes its mission of Christian liberal arts education seriously and seeks to infuse academic and gospel truths on a variety of levels.

VANDERBILT (Nashville, TN): considered one of the “Southern Ivies” by many, Vandy appears as an imposing academic institution. Although it houses quite a few large graduate programs, Vandy stresses its balanced commitment between undergraduate education and advanced research. Its student body is both diverse and socially active. Vandy works to balance small class sizes with a large menu of majors and programs offered.

BELMONT (Nashville, TN): a medium-sized university largely known for its fine arts (specifically, music) programs. Like Vandy, it strives for a happy medium between offering varied opportunities while remaining a tight-knit community. The campus could be described as peaceful and pleasantly old-fashioned. The very artsy student body is heavily involved socially and hardly homogeneous. While many students major in music, many others do not (nursing and business are other common choices).

In retrospect, touring a college campus for the first time may seem intimidating; and it certainly is no idealized jaunt through the world of dreams. Even so, practicality can never fully quench the flame of hope. At the same time, experiences like the Westminster college tour add life to the process by fostering corporate interaction. Students make memories eating breakfast together at the hotel and during cramped, four-hour drives just as much as while walking the college campuses. Over the course of four days, college choice transforms from a self-consuming endeavor to a shared quest. Though the paths may lead to vastly different places, each student continues learning to trust in God for whatever the future holds.