Monthly Archives: March 2015

The Legacy of an Ordinary Life

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A legacy is a strange thing. Someone can create a legacy simply by making a mistake, like Spencer Silver, who accidentally created the Post-It note while trying to improve liquid adhesives. Other times it is a purposeful endeavor, like Walt Disney’s dream of redesigning animation and creating America’s most successful theme park.

Or consider the space shuttle Discovery, which flew for the very last time aboard another plane on April 17, 2014. Two days later Discovery’s wheels stopped in the Udvar Hazy Center. With thirty-nine missions, it spent more time in space than any other shuttle. Discovery brought hope to NASA in light of the devastating losses of the Challenger and the Columbia. Discovery’s legacy is one that will not soon be forgotten.

But what does a legacy mean for those of us who have never designed a multimillion dollar sticky note or an animated, talking mouse? What if a man is born, lives a normal life, and then dies without incident? Does he still leave a legacy?

The answer is yes. His legacy may not be known all around the world, but that does not mean that he did not leave one. His legacy is known to his friends, his family, maybe even the neighbor down the street. If someone has a legacy, it means that he changed someone’s life one way or another. This does not mean that he did something heroic to help another person, but in a small ways he brought happiness or hope to those around him.

Humans were made for this. We were made to help each other through big and small things, and by doing so we leave a map showing where we have been and whose lives we have touched. Nobody needs to find a ground breaking idea or star in their own television show in order to be important. Importance is measured by what we do with the time that we are given here on Earth, and by simply being ourselves we can create our own legacy that is greater than any space shuttle.

By Sarah McDaniel, Class of 2017

Pennies for Patients at Westminster

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In a remarkable demonstration of what it means to give to others, the Upper School students at Westminster recently participated in the Pennies for Patients fundraiser to earn money for children with leukemia.  Founded by the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Pennies for Patients is a school-based fundraiser.  The incredible part: all of the money is raised through coins. Schools encourage students from different grades bring in all of their spare change and pool it together to score points in a school-wide competition. The strategy has been very successful, raising over $10,000,000 since its beginning in 1992.

For Westminster students each house was its own team.  Members of each house would walk into the atrium at any point during the school day to donate change and score points for their respective houses.  Each penny counted as one point for that student’s house.  All silver coins counted as their respective values in negative points (-25 for quarters, -10 for dimes, etc.).  Fueled by a competitive spirit, the contest lasted for two weeks.  Both Augustine’s and Tolkien’s boxes had to be emptied due to the overwhelming number of coins that students poured into them.  They were promptly refilled with more coins.

Augustine, who was previously leading the race for the House Cup, saw an incredible number of silver coins fill their box each day, and they ended up raising $244.81, but losing a lot of points in the process.  Tolkien, previously second in the race, faced a similar inconvenience throughout the two week span on their way to raising $191.77.   Dante, previously fourth in the standings, finished the two weeks raising a solid $122.19.  Calvin, previously third, raised $85.11.  Fortunately for Calvin, the lack of coins in their box proved to be a good sign as they ended up with the most points and won the competition.  Dante, Tolkien, and Augustine finished after Calvin respectively.  In a touching memorial, all proceeds raised through the Pennies for Patients fundraiser were donated in memory of former student Rachel Green.

By Jack Stein, Class of 2015

A Conversation with Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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I was recently asked on a college essay to identify a person from history with whom I would choose to have dinner. History is replete with hundreds of individuals that would make excellent choices. From Aristotle to Napoleon, there are many exciting potential conversations to be had. But if it came down to choosing I would end up inviting a man who lived an extraordinary life and ended up dying bravely for his faith–that man is Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Bonhoeffer was a German pastor, author and theologian who lived from 1906-1945. He possessed great intellect, earning the equivalent of a bachelors and masters degree in addition to two doctorates; all before the age of twenty five. He is renowned for his writings and his opposition to Hitler’s Nazi regime; most notably the genocidal persecution of Jews. In 1933 Hitler unconstitutionally staged new church elections in Germany, effectively placing pro-Nazi supporters in key clerical positions within the German church. Bonhoeffer resisted this takeover and played an important role in founding the Confessing Church, which acted as a beacon of Christian resistance to the Nazi agenda throughout the war. Due to his vocalized opposition he was stripped of his teaching position at the University of Berlin and later banned entirely from the city itself. In 1939, just before the outbreak of war, he managed to escape Germany and find asylum in the United States. This is where Bonhoeffer’s extraordinary courage stands out. In his acclaimed book The Cost of Discipleship he wrote: “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” He practiced what he taught and returned to Germany in 1940, willingly putting himself into danger in order that he might help undermine the evil that existed there. Here Bonhoeffer joined the German resistance within the Abwher, a secret Nazi intelligence agency. He used this position to smuggle Jews into the safety of Switzerland before he was finally caught and imprisoned in 1943. After spending over a year in prison Bonhoeffer was implicated in the July 20th attempt on Hitler’s life. He was hung in 1945 at the German concentration camp of Flossenburg, two weeks before allied troops liberated the area.

Table conversation with Bonhoeffer would be wide ranging. However, I would be particularly interested in his reasoning for leaving the United States and returning to Germany, given the knowledge he would be entering a lions den. It was alleged that Bonhoeffer was part of an assassination attempt on Hitler. Throughout his life Bonhoeffer was a pacifist, but toward the end of the war he began to question this ideal as he saw all the atrocities Hitler had committed. I would ask him if he really was a conspirator, and if so whether or not it would be morally justifiable to murder an evil man for the greater good. I would discuss WWII and the causes that led to Hitler’s ascension, garnering the opinion of one who lived in the heart of the events. Why were the German people so accepting of a madman? How can we prevent such things from happening in the future? I would inquire of his ideas on the topic of theology, and investigate his passion for ecumenism. At the end of the night, if all had gone well I would hope to have gained knowledge better than ten years worth of studying textbooks.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a scholar and a pastor, not a soldier. Yet in a time of desperation he acted with tremendous courage. Bonhoeffer was a hero and one of history’s most remarkable individuals.

By Daniel Richardson, Class of 2015

Time Will Tell: Judge Roy Moore vs. the Eleventh Circuit Court

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When Alabama’s gay marriage ban was declared unconstitutional by the Eleventh Circuit Court judge Callie Granade, Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore reacted by declaring that his state would ignore this ruling and continue to enforce the Alabama constitution’s ban on same sex marriage. Many counties in Alabama obeyed Roy Moore and continued to refrain from giving out marriage licenses to same sex couples, while some went on strike and refused to give marriage licenses at all.

Many are comparing this to when Alabama refused to desegregate schools despite the federal government’s rulings. In this recent case on gay marriage, there are two problems which are being debated. The first is the morality of same sex marriage. Roy Moore, like most Christians, is firmly against it. The second is over which authority rules on the issue at this point: the federal circuit court judge or Alabama’s constitution.

Moore’s case is that only the U. S. Supreme Court has authority to overturn state laws. When the Eleventh Circuit Court ruled Alabama’s same sex marriage ban unconstitutional, it meant that Alabama’s Attorney General (the man in charge of enforcing laws throughout the state) could no longer enforce the ban. It did not mean, though, that Alabama’s probate judges (the people charged with issuing legal documents) are forced to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples. This is because a circuit court judge can only make rulings about a law, not actually make a law.

This is the key part of the legal argument Moore is making. When the circuit court judge made a decision, it only applied to the people involved in that case, not the entire state and all its probate judges. It is definitely a legal grey area that will need a ruling by the Supreme Court, but for now, Moore is legally justified for his actions.

By John Lusk, Class of 2016

On Track with Grace

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Competing at a track meet with my team while being healthy and prepared is an ideal situation for me. Sitting in the stands unable to run is not. On February 6 and 7, I sat in the bleachers at Crossplex, Alabama’s premiere indoor tack, during the state meet, unable to compete because of a recent surgery on a persistent shoulder injury. Being unable to join my team on the track was extremely disappointing for me. Countless hours have been spent on the track building speed and perfecting my hurdle technique. Unfortunately, two surgeries have hindered my training and competitive performance for the past four years.

Throughout many painful practices and disappointing meets, I have received endless encouragement from my team. They have prayed for my healing constantly and have lifted my spirits when I felt discouraged. My coaches have always been completely understanding, allowing me to modify workouts to better suit the stress my shoulder can handle. I am incredibly thankful to be surrounded by a loving, Christ-centered team.

In spite of the fact that I couldn’t compete, it was a no-brainer to miss school on that Friday to head to Crossplex and watch my amazing team compete for a state title. I arrived to smiles and hugs from my friends. With the start of the 1600 meter race, the meet was underway. The thundering sound of feet pounding the track held a comforting familiarity. Cheers erupted every time a Westminster athlete passed the stands. Sitting all day in bleachers a few weeks after major surgery was not comfortable, but sitting in the stands, laughing with my friends, and yelling for our teammates definitely made the trip worthwhile. I will cherish these memories I have made with my Westminster family forever. I will never forget the grace and love they have shown me during this difficult season in my life; they have taught me to give God the glory in victories and in trials.

By Alice Boone, Class of 2016

Reel Fun: The Westminster Fishing Team

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It all started on a cold, Saturday morning at Lake Wheeler. The launch was annoying because the man running it was always yelling, “Speed up. Let’s go, go, go!” but the boat ramp was frozen, and the contestants’ trucks kept sliding into the water. Eventually, we were ready to get started. The ride was rough and frigid. Before long, it felt like we had icicles hanging from our noses.

We started casting at the point of a cliff. It was a cloudy, gray day—so cold we couldn’t feel our fingers. For over an hour we caught nothing, but it was still a little early to expect much. Then all of the sudden, John Dunkerley felt a hit. Unfortunately, he quickly realized he was hung on something. He reeled it in very slowly, trying not to snap the line. Whatever it was would not move. We had to use the trolling motor to get to the area where the bait was hung.  It turned out that the line had been spun around a branch by a four-pound spotted bass. Mr. Hank Winks used the net to get the fish out of the water.  By the time we got John’s line untangled, we had to leave for the weigh in. As we tried to leave, the rope we used to raise the trolling motor broke.  After some time, we finally got the trolling motor back on the boat. We had another long boat ride back to the launch.

Usually a weigh in takes place near the boat launch. But when we arrived, the people running the tournament told us we needed to go to Academy Sports and Outdoors for the weigh in. When we got to the end of the line, they weighed our fish. It was nearly four pounds, which landed our team in nineteenth place out of thirty two schools. Not bad for the Westminster Fishing Team’s first school tournament!

By Brodie Winks, Class of 2019

Women’s Soccer: Play at Your Own Risk

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Soccer is currently the most popular contact sport among women athletes. Unfortunately, it can be a perilous endeavor. Some of the most common injuries from women’s soccer include sprains, strains, contusions, anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries, and fractures in the lower extremities. Women’s soccer actually involves more physical contact than men’s soccer and is therefore more likely to cause these injuries. Reasons for this difference are found in the speed of players and in the overall skill of the players. Anyone who has witnessed a women’s soccer game can tell you that the game has a much slower pace than men’s soccer. The women themselves do not run as fast, and this in turn results in more contact with the players around them to acquire the ball.

Tearing the ACL is one of the most frustrating injuries to undergo. It is also unfortunately a very common one in women’s soccer. Tearing or straining the ACL in the knee can result in a lengthy and painful recovery, and in some cases surgery is needed to repair the ligament. The ACL is a ligament deep within the knee which connects the femur to the tibia. Tearing of the ACL is caused by jumping, cutting, and contact with other players. According to U.S Youth Soccer Association website women are 4-8 times more likely to tear their ACL than men. The first two causes for ACL tearing is just a natural part in any men or women’s soccer game, but it is the contact in women’s soccer which puts them at a higher risk than men while playing soccer.

Many soccer programs are implementing sessions to prevent ACL tearing by strengthening the ligament itself into their weekly practices. Practicing a few jumps and lunges every week can help to prevent serious injury to the ACL or any other ligament in the knees and ankles.

Lauren Hoaglund, Class of 2017

Thanksgiving or ThanksGETTING?

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Historically, Thanksgiving was a time to gather together and celebrate the year’s harvest. The celebration evolved from the pilgrims’ feast in 1621 to George Washington’s proclamation of Thanksgiving as a national holiday in 1789. As a national holiday, all businesses were closed, and Americans gathered with their families for a Thanksgiving dinner. The purpose of the holiday was to be with family and to give thanks to God for all his blessings.

Nowadays, Thanksgiving has evolved yet again. This time, however, it has taken a turn for the worse. Thanksgiving has become Thanksgetting. Black Friday used to be the day to receive all the best deals for shopping, but now retailers have decided that greedy Americans can’t wait one extra day to shop. As a result, many stores are now offering their best deals on Thanksgiving Day.

This causes several problems. First, the intense advertising promotes greed and thus undermines the very basis for Thanksgiving as a holiday. Instead of praising God for his blessings, we do the very opposite—fulfill our greed through shopping. Second, shopping on Thanksgiving Day breaks apart families. When most stores were closed on Thanksgiving, their employees had the freedom to gather together. Now, however, such freedom no longer exists. Such employees at many retail stores typically do not make very much money and as a result do not have much leisure time or even the business man’s “weekend.” We wonder why our families are not close anymore, but we are too busy working or shopping to come together.

From now on, maybe we should think twice before shopping on Thanksgiving. Is it really worth tearing apart families just to save a few dollars on things most of us don’t need?

By Heath Padgett, Class of 2016

Crossing the Street, Exploring the World

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Westminster is divided into two schools, Upper and Lower, that are separated by County Road 14. The Lower school is made up of students from kindergarten to sixth grade, while the Upper School encompasses grades seven through twelve.  There is rarely much interaction between the two schools; but occasionally Upper School students have the opportunity to cross the street to help out with Lower School activities. This happened recently when the senior class got to help the fifth graders enjoy “Explorer’s Day.”

I remember being in fifth grade and learning about the Age of Discovery, the interesting voyages of famous explorers, and the places that they found. Naturally, I was excited to encourage the fifth graders in their enthusiasm. The fifth grade was broken up into six groups, each led by a senior and named after a renowned navigator. We had a Columbus, Desoto, Magellan, Cortez, Coronado, and Cabot. I had the honor of being John Cabot for the day and leading a group of excited fifth graders through a series of challenges. The events were diverse and historically themed. There was an art competition, a scavenger hunt, and last of all an exciting “Fish and Furs” relay.

The fifth graders loved it, and at the end of the day I think all the seniors had a good time as well. It was a cool experience to be able to help out students from the Lower School. Not only did we as older students have the opportunity to invest in those younger than us, we got to enjoy it along the way.

 

By Daniel Richardson, Class of 2015

Remembering Selma

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The movie Selma was released in the United States on Christmas Day 2014. For most students at Westminster, including myself, Selma, Alabama has been known only as the location of the last three State Track and Field meets. However, after seeing the movie named after this historic city, m​y eyes are opened to its deeper significance.

The movie begins with a scene about the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church, which I am familiar with since it happened in my home city and I have read books about it before. However, after seeing the rest of this film, I realize how little I actually knew about the Civil Rights Movement, specifically those events which occurred after the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Watching this movie, my initial response was sorrow and shame. For all these years I never really knew what exactly went on just a few decades before I was born. The denial of basic rights to African Americans in the south breaks my heart. I could not bear to watch the beating and disrespect depicted in this film. I feel as though I have been oblivious to what truly was going on during the Civil Rights Movement.

While this movie opened my eyes, and I am grateful for it, I know that many left the theater with either a sense of guilt for what had happened or a sense of anger for what their families went through. The fact that this movie is a true story and occurred so close to home had me even more engaged because of the personal element.

After the movie, I had the chance to listen to a pastor reflect on its significance for Christianity. His response was powerful. He said the best way for someone to show that they care is not to do, but to listen, and to weep with their friend for what has happened. We cannot change what happened in Selma, or what occurred during those many years of discrimination. But we can be a part of the stand against ever again letting that time in history repeat itself.

By Olivia Godfrey, Class of 2016