Category Archives: Knightly Herald

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!

Building Westminster: Sports and Community

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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.

Lincoln and the Strategy of Emancipation

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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.

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

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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

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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. 

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.

 

Sympathy with the Devil: Andrew Jackson and the Indian Removal Act of 1831

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By Maddie Hoaglund, Class of 2017

Andrew Jackson stated, “The lower country is of too great importance to the Union for its safety to be jeopardized.”Andrew Jackson stated this in relation to the Indian Removal Act. He thought America desperately needed peace with the Native Americans or the Union would not be able to function. Solving the conflict proved to be incredibly difficult for the growing country. With no clear option in sight, the country desperately needed a leader in the conflict. Therefore, Andrew Jackson became the forerunner in the various conflicts with the Native Americans. Although Jackson’s Indian Removal Acts were not justified, he perceived that they would benefit the country by allowing the country to expand, protecting both the Native Americans and settlers from further bloodshed, and preventing disagreements between both governments. In summary, Andrew Jackson firmly believed that his policies helped the country progress.

Andrew Jackson lived from 1767 to 1845. He was born in the South and served in the Revolutionary War as a young boy. Later he became a lawyer, politician, and general. Jackson fought in many wars and through his many successes became a war hero. Eventually, Jackson was elected president and during his presidency he signed the Indian Removal bill in 1831. This bill forced the Native Americans to migrate from their homeland to the less fertile lands in the west. Many Native Americans refer to the journey as the Trail of Tears because of the hundreds of people who died.  Andrew Jackson’s Indian Removal bill forced the Native Americans to move westward.

Andrew Jackson perceived the benefits to America with the Indian Removal Act because America needed room to expand. He stated in a letter to Congress, “It will relieve the whole state of Mississippi and the western part of Alabama of Indian occupancy and enable those states to advance rapidly in population, wealth, and power.” Jackson saw the Native American removal as beneficial to the southern states. The property owned by various Native American tribes contained incredibly fertile farm lands: “The region was accessible because of its rivers and dark, clayey soils that were well suited to the plantation style cotton production.” The pre-Civil War southern states had a mostly agricultural economy and relied on cotton as their main crop. The states were always in need of more farm land to support their rich economy. Although the lands were near other southern states, they belonged to the Native Americans. With Jackson’s policy in place, the southern states were given more land to farm which strengthened their economy. Finally, the Native American territory included a vast expanse of land. Alabama alone spanned over 52,000 square miles. The Native American territory was a wild country in which people were unable to settle. The Americans could not live anywhere near the Native American lands for fear of being attacked which pushed them farther west. This was a hindrance to expansion because it interrupted the natural flow of settlers. The settlers were forced into the dangerous and less accessible western lands. Andrew Jackson believed all these advantages to the people of America and desired to make the best decision for the country.

Next, there was much wealth in the Native American territory: “They (the Cherokee) could not stop the settlers’ push for possession of the Cherokee territory, especially when gold was discovered on their lands in Georgia.” The United States government was almost always in debt and therefore, in need of any gold. When gold was found, the government turned a blind eye to the Cherokees. For the sake of the U. S. economy, the Cherokees were forced out of their homes. Although this is immoral, it was necessary to benefit America.

Furthermore, Andrew Jackson passed the Indian Removal Act to prevent future conflict between the Americans and Native Americans. Jackson stated, “It (The Indian Removal Bill) puts an end to all possible danger of collision.” Andrew Jackson was referring to the many wars and skirmishes between the settlers and the Native Americans. As the settlers moved farther and farther into Native American territory, these skirmishes became increasingly violent. For example, in 1813 part of the Creek tribe attacked Fort Mims: “Almost 250 whites were butchered in the quickest manner.”This instance was especially gory and showed that the conflict between the Native Americans and the settlers could no longer be ignored. The brutal event discouraged many American from settling in hostile territory. In retaliation, Andrew Jackson led his men to the warring village of Tallushatchee. Davy Crocket who was present at the battle reported, “We shot them like dogs.” Jackson massacred the Native American village with the same brutality as the Battle at Fort Mims. This demonstrates the desire for both people groups to destroy each other. Moreover, in 1817 Jackson forcibly took the Seminoles’ land and moved them westward. The Seminoles, refusing to obey the Indian Removal Acts, were attacked and conquered by Jackson. Eventually, Jackson had a decision to make. He believed that the only way to protect the Native Americans and settlers from conflict was to forcibly remove the Native Americans west. Therefore, they would come into less contact with one another. Jackson believed that moving the Native Americans west was the only way to avoid any more conflict.

Lastly, the Indian Removal Acts, in Jackson’s opinion, were for the good of the country to prevent government disputes. Since the Native Americans were not American citizens, they had their own government which led to confusion. In his message to congress, Jackson stated, “It (The Indian Removal Bill) will free them from the power of the states; enable them to pursue happiness in their own way.” Jackson believed that the state government was a hindrance to the Native American government because of the amount the states interfered with the Native Americans. Also, there were many instances when the governments clashed. For example, the Cherokee tribe appealed to the Supreme Court. The Cherokee appealed because they passed a law in their territory which forbids the selling of any Cherokee land. However, Georgia declared their law null and void in 1828. “John Marshall decided in Cherokee Nation v. Georgia that the Cherokee were not citizens of the United States and therefore had no right to appeal to the Supreme Court.” The Cherokee went to John Marshall who declared in 1832 that Georgia had no power in Cherokee lands. This is a prime example of the two governments disagreeing. No one knew how to handle the two governments in the same land. Neither government could properly function with the other in such close proximity. Therefore, Jackson thought was best to relocate the Native Americans. In short, Jackson believed that the Indian Removal Acts prevented further government disputes.

Even though Andrew Jackson claimed the Indian Removal Act was for the benefit of America, one might say he was acting out of his own prejudice. Prejudice is undermining or degrading another human being. For example, Jackson ordered his men to destroy an entire village in the Creek War; “He slew 186 braves and brought back to Jackson’s camp 84 women and children.” Savagely, Jackson ordered his men to annihilate the village and tear apart many families. Killing over 100 men without a thought, demonstrates how he had no regard for their lives. Clearly, Jackson demonstrated prejudice in destroying an entire generation of men. However, Jackson did not act of his prejudice because he truly believed strong retaliation was necessary to protect future American settlers. A few months before the battle, the Creeks had massacred Americans in the Battle of Fort Mims. The fighting became so gruesome that the Creek leader even attempted to stop it.The Native Americans fought just as brutally as Jackson. Therefore, Jackson did not purposefully destroy the village because of his prejudice, but because the country needed forceful retaliation to feel safe. The Battle of Fort Mims was terrifying to settlers, but Jackson retaliated harshly enough to protect future settlers. Both people groups should not have thrown life away. Although Jackson was not justified, he did not act out of prejudice.

Andrew Jackson stated, “The lower country is of too great importance to the Union for its safety to be jeopardized.” Jackson’s Indian Removal Act left an incredible impact on the country. Although the act was unimaginably difficult on the Native American, Jackson believed it was the only option. The settlers and Native Americans grew increasingly violent as the Americans pushed the boundaries of their territory. To save the lives of countless people, Jackson decided to pass the Indian Removal Act. Andrew Jackson was a firm leader who took action against for the benefit of America. In conclusion, Andrew Jackson passed the Indian Removal Bill to benefit the United States of America.

Bibliography

Flynt, Wayne. “Alabama” (July 9, 2008) Encyclopedia of Alabama. www.encyclopediaofalabama.org. (accessed November 17, 2013).

Jackson’s Message to Congress on Indian Removal. Andrew Jackson. PBS. http:pbs.org/kcet/ andrewjackson/edu/primaryresources.html. Accessed November 12, 2013.

Mitchell, Charles. “Agricultural in Alabama.” Encyclopedia of Alabama. Accessed November 17, 2013. www.encyclopediaofalabama.org.

McGill, Sara Ann. “Indian Removal and the Trail of Tears.” Indian Removal and the Trail of Tears.(September, 2009):1-2. History Reference Center, EBSCOHost  (accessed November 13, 2013).

Remini, Robert Vincent. The Life of Andrew Jackson. New York: Perennial, 2001.