Category Archives: Featured

PSA: The Consequences of Anemia (Camilla Lemons)

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My breath left me every time I walked up the stairs. Lugging around my backpack was a greater pain than usual. I got plenty of sleep each night but remained exhausted during the day. I dreaded cross country practice. My primary means of relieving stress had become a stress in and of itself. Even though I had been running consistently for several months, my legs still felt like bricks every time I tried to move them. It was not until my first race that I finally admitted something was definitely wrong. My time was over four minutes slower than my previous races, and I had felt miserable every step of the way.

I went to the doctor soon after, hoping and praying that this problem had a simple solution. I discovered that I was low on iron, or in medical terms, anemic. I began taking iron supplements twice a day as prescribed by my doctor to combat this deficiency. After a few short weeks, I felt a tremendous increase in energy with an added bonus of faster times in races.

Anemia often goes undetected even though one in four teenage girls have an iron deficiency. Shortly after I learned of this deficiency, two more girls on the cross country team discovered that they were anemic as well. If I, along with the other two girls, had known earlier about our iron deficiencies, then we could have avoided a painful and discouraging season. Awareness about anemia can help other teenage girls become and feel much healthier. If you have any of the above mentioned symptoms, consider consulting your family physician about possible anemia.

A Poem by Katie Krulak

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Night.

A time for dark, dastardly deeds.

Light and warmth fades to cold shadows

While the wind picks up,

Running its icy fingers along your windows,

Setting them to rattling, clattering,

Before tearing the leaves from the trees

And driving them into the sky.

In this world human sound is forbidden,

A violation of the solemn peace.

The moon’s light washes everything

Silver and blue,

Struck by a deathly pallor.

Night.

When the mundane becomes extraordinary.

The mind distorts the world,

Projecting illusions onto the backdrop of darkness.

Dogs become wolves; each breath of air a ghost.

Shadows creep like living entities

Shrouding phantoms and ghouls from view.

Floorboards squeak and creak as whispered

Voices, half imagined, beckon you to wakefulness

Calling you to share in the mystery,

To lurk in the darkness, and howl at the moon;

To revel in the song that a church bell tolls,

To fade into oblivion.

Night.

 

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!

Westminster Homecoming 2014

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By Olivia Godfrey, Class of 2016

The Westminster School at Oak Mountain celebrated another exciting Homecoming the week of January 21-25. It started off with Hippie/70s dress up day. During lunch there was a crazy human tricks competition between all students. The next day students dressed up as their favorite literary or movie character. Examples of just a few costumes were Pippi Longstocking, characters from Winnie the Pooh, and characters from Monsters, Inc. The following day was Twin Day. Everyone paired up with someone else and became twins for the day by wearing matching clothes. Throughout the whole week, teachers picked the winners of the day’s costume, and the winners were announced the following day. Each person who won earned points for his or her house.

The final dress up day on Friday was Westminster Spirit Day. The whole school was encouraged to wear Westminster wear and show their support for the school. At the end of the day on Friday, the varsity boys and girls basketball teams helped lead a pep rally for all of the Lower School students, encouraging them to come to the Homecoming basketball games the next day. Wild cheering and loud, romping music provided the perfect recipe to get students very excited about the upcoming games.

Saturday finally arrived, and it was Homecoming game day at last. Both teams would be playing Whitesburg Christian Academy at Samford University. The girls played first, coming up just short with a disappointing four point loss. The boys were next, ending with a substantial victory over Whitesburg.

The crowds at these games were impressive. Students from all grades were there cheering on the Knights. During halftime of the girls’ game, the seniors of the varsity boys team were recognized, then during the boys halftime all Lower School athletes and coaches were recognized. Also, a few teachers and those chosen from the crowd participated in the annual half court shot competition.

After the games ended, students in ninth through twelfth grades all headed back to the school for chili and a bonfire. Each house brought chili that was judged, and a winner of the chili competition was announced later that night. It was a great ending to another amazing homecoming week.

 

The Faith to Move Away

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By Sarah McDaniel, Class of 2017

When my family moved to Alabama in 2009, my sister and I thought the south was all hillbillies, football, and endless pine forests. On our way to our new home, we passed a Hardee’s restaurant. I asked my dad why that place called Hardee’s had the Carl’s Jr. logo on it. He told me that Hardee’s is the southern version of Carl’s Jr. My first thought was these southerners were going to be weirder than I thought. But things kept changing as I lived here longer. Nobody had really ever heard of Red Robin, a popular restaurant in Colorado; there were no stucco homes, only brick; it was even rare to find sidewalks; and it was always really hot. Whenever I met someone new at my first school in Alabama, they always asked me “are you an Auburn or Alabama fan?” and based their opinions of me solely on the answer I gave. However, I quickly learned the city was not filled with rednecks or trucks. And not everyone listened to country music. I’m still learning things about Alabama. As I meet more and more people, I realize that some of them were born in Alabama, live in Alabama, and plan on dying in Alabama. Most of the time it’s because people are afraid of change. I know I was. Change is difficult and extremely scary, but if you put your faith in God, he can take you places you never thought you would end up.

Busch Gardens: Good Friends, Good Physics

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by Patrick McGucken, Class of 2015

Next to the Grand Tour, the junior’s field trip to Busch Gardens is the most anticipate event of the Westminster experience. The trip allows students to ride some world class roller coasters in Florida, bond together as a class, and see some of our physics lesson put to use in real world applications.

The trip began on Thursday, December, 5, 2013 when our class began the ten hour drive down to Tampa, Florida. By the time we arrived, most of us were ready to ride. After spending a night learning about the physics behind some of these coasters, we woke up the next morning to go into the park. The class spent the entire next day riding roller coasters in the park and making some great memories.

One of my favorite roller coasters was named Kumba, a fourteen story tall steel coaster known for its ferocious roar as the cart speeds through the track. Located in the back of the park, Kumba can be heard and seen from most anywhere in the park. Kumba provides the riders with seven inversions and a max g-force of 3.8. To put this in perspective, the G’s felt on this ride are roughly double that felt by the crew during the space shuttle’s launch.

Busch-Gardens-Tampa-Cheetah-Hunt

Another great coaster that all of us enjoyed was Cheetah Hunt. Cheetah Hunt is the newest of the coasters and is known for its 60mph launch and its zero G’s barrel roll. The purpose of Cheetah Hunt is to resemble what it feels like to be a cheetah hunting its prey. The coaster is fast and smooth with banked curves resembling the tail of the cheetah. The coaster is a great ride for both thrill seekers, and not so enthusiastic coaster riders. Cheetah Hunt provides a fun, high paced ride that gives the riders a feel for being a cheetah.

I personally, have both a love and fear of roller coasters. I like to ride coasters, but I still get nervous before I ride any one, and have even talked myself out on some of them. Without the encouragement of my classmates I probably would have not ridden any of the coasters at Busch Gardens.

The bonding during the trip is what made it so memorable to me, going alone just would not have been the same. I thoroughly enjoyed riding the coasters along side my friends, and having the opportunity to make some great memories along the way. The trip to Busch Gardens provided the class with an opportunity not just to learn, but to get closer as a class and have a good time. I would recommend to any upcoming Junior to strongly consider going on this trip, even if you do not like roller coasters. There is a lot more to get out of it than you might realize. Overall, this trip to Busch Gardens was a wonderful opportunity, and the memories that my friends and I made will last for the rest of our lives.

Lewis and the Proof of Prayer

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by Ethan Shaw, Class of 2015

cslewisPrayer has been on the minds of Christians since the inception of the church. The ultimate question one asks regarding prayer is whether man plays any role in ordering the affairs of God (that is, the fate of the universe). Although certainly a baffling question on the surface, this is one that naturally arises in the conversation between philosophy and theology. Boethius, a sixth century Neoplatonist Christian philosopher, notes the following: “The hopes which we rest in God, and the prayers addressed to him, are not in vain; when they are righteous, they cannot be ineffectual.” Following a lengthy attempt at reconciling divine foreknowledge with human free will, Boethius supposes that man possesses certain free will which enables him to produce righteous and effective prayer. Even so, he rigorously maintains an understanding of complete divine foreknowledge. Boethius’s central assertion to this end is that a partnership exists between the divine and human wills because God exists in an eternal present moment while man does not, allowing the two conflicting realities to exist simultaneously. To a less philosophical end, C.S. Lewis also examines the divine-human relationship by way of prayer in his essay “The Efficacy of Prayer.”At the start Lewis takes up the question of whether the efficacy of prayer can be empirically proven at all. For our purposes, prayer can broadly be defined as the means of communication in which man comes into agreement with God’s will. Lewis is centrally concerned with whether this communication, then, actually produces the desired effects. Following several anecdotes regarding miraculous occurrences, he notes, “Even if the thing were indisputably miraculous it would not follow that the miracle had occurred because of your prayers.” Lewis thus stresses it is impossible to prove a causal link between prayer and subsequent events, miraculous or otherwise. Furthermore, he notes that prayer is by nature request and therefore will not always necessarily be granted. After demonstrating that any attempt to truly test the efficacy of prayer is doomed to fail, he concludes that “empirical proof and disproof are…unobtainable” (380). Effective prayer, Lewis argues, must be sincere. Therefore, true prayer must be grounded in personal relationship and conversation with God.

From this point, Lewis puts forth a number of key arguments that can largely be divided into two categories: the nature of prayer and its general purpose. Regarding the nature of prayer, Lewis observes, “Prayer is either a sheer illusion or a personal contact between embryonic, incomplete persons (ourselves) and the utterly concrete Person” (381). Put simply, if prayer has any real effects at all, then these must exist in a very personal and relational sense. Lewis further states that the idea of prayer is much more of an all-encompassing category than is typically assumed. Next he thus defines prayer’s central purpose as a cooperative effort: “‘God,’ said Pascal, ‘instituted prayer to lend to His creatures the dignity of causality.’ But not only prayer; whenever we act at all He lends us that dignity.” Lewis maintains that prayer is merely one facet in which God cooperates with man toward the execution of His will. This comprises the “dignity of causality” described by Pascal. In closing, Lewis draws out the implications of prayer on the divine-human relationship as a whole. He specifically illustrates the inherent paradox visible while Christ prays during his final hours at Gethsemane. God, he argues, clearly has no so-called court favorites when it comes to answering prayer. Altogether, considering Lewis’s statements on both the nature and inherent purpose of prayer are valuable in ascertaining his position.
man-in-prayer

A discussion of the nature of prayer provides the foundational basis for reaching a verdict on its efficacy. Lewis rightly places this first in the structure of his essay; and, as aforementioned, he focuses on the relational component of prayer. He then notes the diverse aspects which prayer entails: “Prayer in the sense of petition…is a small part of it; confession and penitence are its threshold, adoration its sanctuary, the presence and enjoyment of God its bread and wine. In it God shows Himself to us” (381). Here Lewis marks prayer as a revelatory act on God’s behalf and an act of communion on behalf of man. He rightly identifies prayer as a multi-faceted reality that defines all aspects of communication with God. Thus it cannot be seen as a mere robotic function but rather as a living and active discourse in which God brings man into agreement with His purposes. The idea that God answers prayer still remains as a corollary; however, this relational understanding replaces it as the central criterion for determining effective prayer. Lewis persuasively and logically articulates this theologically sound recasting of the age-old query “Does prayer work?” by shifting the focus from perceived temporal results of prayer to divine encounter.perates with man toward the execution of His will. This comprises the “dignity of causality” described by Pascal. In closing, Lewis draws out the implications of prayer on the divine-human relationship as a whole. He specifically illustrates the inherent paradox visible while Christ prays during his final hours at Gethsemane. God, he argues, clearly has no so-called court favorites when it comes to answering prayer.

The second critical step remaining is a proper consideration of the cooperative purpose of prayer. In quoting Pascal, Lewis depicts prayer as God’s way of granting His creatures active participation in determining outcomes. Like Boethius he seems to accept free human will to a certain extent; thus Lewis claims that this view of prayer should come as no surprise when it is seen in the same light as other human actions. Lewis further remarks that such prayers “have not advised or changed God’s mind—that is, His over-all purpose. But that purpose will be realized in different ways according to the actions, including the prayers, of his creatures” (381). Much like Boethius, Lewis seeks to reconcile the coexistence of God’s sovereignty with human action logically. He does so by contrasting what he calls “a sort of divine abdication” with our human propensity “to wield our little tridents.” However, the language of this latter comment has an uncanny resemblance to that of Boethius; this is later found when Lewis describes how “God makes something—indeed, makes gods—out of nothing.” Although prayer certainly involves a substantial measure of divine power granted to man, Lewis seems to go too far in borrowing the Neoplatonist language of Boethius to describe this. God seeks to cooperatively partner with mankind through prayer, not simply to pass all divine power into the hands of mortal men.

C.S. Lewis’s exploration on the effectiveness of prayer provides a much-needed emphasis shift. In truth, understanding the effectiveness of righteous prayer (as detailed by Boethius) does more to illustrate God’s relationship with man than the way in which the world works. Prayer cannot simply be understood through the lens of a cosmic machine, simply because God is fundamentally relational. Therefore prayer, as His means of communication, must be a fundamentally relational activity. By keeping the relational God as our focal point, it becomes much harder to get lost in the vain quest for universally answered prayer. Despite this deeply personal aspect of prayer, it can still fairly be said that prayer does not depend on the person praying. Ultimately God has no “court favorites” because prayer is ultimately about aligning oneself with the will of God. Lewis clearly demonstrates this paradox through the example of Jesus’ prayer at Gethsemane. He remarks, “When God becomes man, that Man, of all others, is least comforted by God, at His greatest need” (382). Ironically, greater spiritual strength thus seems to lend itself to being further forsaken by God, at least on the surface.

Reference List

C.S. Lewis. “The Efficacy of Prayer.” The Essential C.S. Lewis. Ed. Lyle W. Dorsett. (New York: Touchstone Books, 1988).

Boethius. The Consolation of Philosophy. Trans. P.G. Walsh. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999).

Lower School Spotlight: A Field Trip to Remember

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By Evelyn Godfrey, Fifth Grade

In October of this year I had the opportunity to visit the Veterans Affairs hospital. It is a medical center for veterans who have served or are serving in a branch of the United States military. It was a wonderful experience for me as a student at Westminster. It was an opportunity to engage with the veterans and talk to them about what they have been through. It was surprising to see how much it meant tothem for a group of kids to visit. I think it is important for students to recognize people who have served our country.

At the hospital, we got to show our thanks and love to the veterans who have sacrificed so much for us. While we were there, we sang the “Armed Forces Medley” that we sing every year at the Grandparents Day/Veterans Day assembly. During the song, many veterans sang along or clapped. Afterward, we were able to pair up and ask the veterans questions about their rank, how they served in the war, and what the experience was like for them. I loved hearing about their stories. For example, one man was a tank operator and got injured three times in World War II!

The visit to the Veterans Affairs hospital will be with me for years to come. It taught me about honoring others. To honor someone means to have high respect for them. My respect for these veterans grew because I got to know them personally and understood how much they gave up for me. The experience showed me that veterans love for children to come, talk to them, and honor them for their service to our country.

 

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Archbishop Turpin: How Not to Model the Christian Faith (A Critical Essay on the Song of Roland)

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By Camilla Lemons, Class of 2018

A question was asked on a blog whether churches judge more than they love, and ninety percent of the readers agreed. If Christians feel judged at the one place they should feel most secure, they will not want to come back. The actions of Christians to one another should be kind. If a community cannot treat those in it with kindness, how can they treat those who are not a part of this group in a way that shows their faith well? It is the duty of a Christian to model his faith well and lead others to Christ. However, in The Song of Roland translated by W.S. Merwin, Archbishop Turpin does not portray this attribute. This religious leader fails to act in a way that would point others to Christ and does not model his faith well. To begin, during the battle against the pagans, the motives for his violence were corrupt. Additionally, he did not abide by the Scriptures in the way he lead his country’s religion or treated the pagans. Finally, Turpin put the love of his country France over his love for God. Archbishop Turpin failed to model his faith in a way that was glorifying to God.

Initially, Turpin did not model his faith well because the motives behind his violence were corrupt. After killing a man in the battle at Roncesvalles, this was stated about the Archbishop: “He will not leave him without addressing him, and he says: ‘Pagan wretch, you lied!'” (XCV). Turpin was killing out of wickedness in his heart. He could not refrain from turning back to address the corpse. Matthew 12:37 states, “[F]or by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” By returning to the body to speak malicious words, Turpin was not representing Christ well. Furthermore, after Turpin slaughtered a pagan magician, he declared, “He was marked out to be our victim” (CVIII). Turpin, as the Archbishop, took it on himself to avenge his countrymen. In Hebrews 10:30 this is exclaimed, “For we know him who said, ‘Vengeance is mine; I will repay.’ And again, ‘The Lord will judge his people.'” It is clearly stated in the Scriptures that God is the ultimate judge and vengeance is His. Turpin did not model Christianity well for his men by acting in this way. One might argue that during the battle at Roncesvalles Turpin’s violence was justified. “The Archbishop says: ‘Our men are brave; there are no better under heaven” (CXI). Some may say that Turpin and the other knights were using their God-given gifts of strength and bravery to uphold their faith. Nevertheless, Turpin relied on his own strength and the strength of his fellow knights to win the battle. I Samuel 17:47 states, “[A]nd that all the assembly may know that the Lord saves not with swords and spear. For the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hands.” Turpin failed to rely on God to give the French victory. His words did not reflect the example given to him by Christ. As seen in Turpin’s words, the motives behind his violence are corrupt; thus, he does not represent the Christian faith well.

Additionally, the Archbishop did not manifest Christ well because he did not abide by the Scriptures. During the battle of Roncesvalles, Turpin killed a wicked man; and the French warriors declared, “The cross will not suffer while the Archbishop is there to protect it” (CXIV). In this quote, men who listened to the Archbishop’s teachings admitted that the cross would not suffer. This showed the warped view of the Scriptures administered to them by Turpin. His poor teaching caused his followers to not understand the whole purpose of Jesus’ life on earth. I Peter 3:18 states, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit. . .” The purpose of Jesus coming to the earth was to suffer. Since Turpin was a leader in the church, people heeded his advice. When his followers were mistaken about the Scriptures, this showed his poor teaching and leadership. Moreover, before he killed the wicked man, he exclaimed, “That Saracen looks a heretic from head to foot” (CXIII). Turpin judged this man on sight. I Samuel 16:7 states, “But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look at his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” Turpin failed to even attempt to follow God’s word. He showed poor leadership through his actions. Being a major leader in the church caused people to look to him to model the faith they followed. By not abiding by the Scriptures, Turpin was not modeling his faith well.

Finally, the actions of Turpin of Reims showed that his love for his country and king was greater than his love for God. After a king named Corsablis insulted the French, Turpin exclaims, “Charles, my lord, is our protector still, and our French have no wish to flee” (XCV). The Archbishop stated that Charles was his true protector. Psalm 46:1 states, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” The Scriptures clearly identify God as a refuge, but Turpin’s trust was in his king, who was sure to fail him. Next, Turpin saw Roland fighting in the battle at Roncesvalles. He exclaimed to Roland the characteristics of a noble knight. “He must be strong and overbearing in battle or he is not worth a farthing…” (CXLI). In contrast to this statement, II Samuel 17:45 states, “Then David said to the Philistine, ‘You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel…'” In order for a warrior to be successful in battle, he does not necessarily have to be strong. A characteristic that he must have is faith. Turpin lacked faith because he was not fighting for his religion, but his king. This proves that the love of Turpin’s country exceeded his love for God. One might argue that during the battle at Roncesvalles, Turpin modeled his faith soundly by exclaiming, “Barons, my lords, Charles has left us here and if need be we must die for our king and uphold Christendom!” (LXXXIX). Some might say that Turpin was fighting to uphold his religion. However, Turpin put the love of his country over his love for God here because he stated that he was willing to die for his king as well as support Christianity. Jesus says in Matthew 6:24, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other.” The Archbishop could not fully support two causes, and the one he chose to die for was his country. The Archbishop put the love of his country over his love for God; therefore, he did not model his faith well.

How can a community love people who are not a part of it if they cannot love each other? Many feel judged at church. This pushes too many people away from their faith or causes them never to find it. Likewise, in The Song of Roland, the Archbishop did not model his faith well. Turpin’s words revealed his true motive behind slaying the pagans. He spoke cruel words to them and in that, did not represent Christ well. Because of Turpin’s status of leadership in the church, it was especially essential that he model Christianity well. Turpin failed to act in a way that led others to Christ.

Don’t Look Ahead. . . Without Looking Back

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By DeAnna Lockett, Class of 2017

“I know of no way of judging of the future but by the past,” states John F. Kennedy, expressing the age-old truth that history repeats itself. In order to determine what is to come, one must examine what has already occurred. When you hear the word “history,” what is the first thing that comes to mind? Some people consider history to be one of the most boring subjects to study because it is often only associated with names, dates, and events. History does not interest many people because they dislike the details. They also fail to discover how all of the puzzle pieces come together to create the bigger picture. According to John F. Kennedy, studying the elements of history and how they unfold in the future is essential to understanding the world one lives in.

The importance of studying history is so that people can learn from the mistakes people made before their time. Also, by studying history people can follow the example of those who have gone before. For example, at the founding of America, the framers of the Constitution struggled with creating a central government that was strong while still preserving individual rights. The early Americans had to reflect back on the Pilgrims’ efforts of gaining political and religious freedom. They realized that just as the Pilgrims had agreed to work together in being independent from Britain and forming their own laws, the Americans must also unite their freedoms together to protect each other’s liberty and form a successful government. Clearly, history is full of reoccurring themes. In other words, examining the past allows one to understand the world he lives in at the present time, and then he will know what his contribution to the world should be. Then, the individual will realize that when he makes a difference in the world, no matter how small, it will all work together for his good to complete the puzzle of life.