Category Archives: Uncategorized

Wisdom and Eloquence (Maddie Hoaglund)

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Aristotle once reasoned, “It is absurd to hold that any man should be ashamed of an inability to defend himself with his limbs, but not ashamed of an inability to defend himself with speech and reason; the use of rational speech is more distinctive of a human being than the use of his limbs.” Rational thought and speech is a defining characteristic of mankind. All creatures possess the basic instincts necessary for survival, but mankind possesses far more than instinct. They are able to think rationally, which in turn produces the beauty and complexity present in every human life. To retain this quality, we should be mindful of cultivating rational thought and its applications for our posterity. The education of our children should thus be primarily focused the mastery of the techniques and processes of learning.

Currently society has demonstrated a lack of desire and ability to teach in this manner. Instead of teaching students the methods of learning, many schools simply focus on rote memorization and surface level comprehension of material. Westminster must stand against this trend.

 

Westminster should be mindful of endowing its students through education with the ability to reason with eloquence and to encourage virtue and honor among them. Westminster should seek to cultivate students who have an understanding of the learning process. This skill creates a coveted perception of the world and cultivates the ability to reason rationally and independently.

In her essay “The Lost Tools of Learning,” Dorothy Sayers comments about the danger of lack of original thought: “They (students) do not know what the word mean…they are prey to the words and their emotions instead of being masters of them in their intellects. We have lost the tools of learning, and in their absence can only make a botched and piecemeal job of it.” When teachers or professors concentrate on the absorption of material, the student gleans no benefit. Instead, this practice subjects the student to the manipulation of the world around them. If a student is instructed only in the required content and discouraged to question the process, then most students will never ask the crucial question: Why?

The modern world was formed because many brilliant men and women defied convention. However, the world remains corrupt and hurling students into the world with no aptitude for original thought is irresponsible. They fall prey to those who seek to constrain those who pursue change. Therefore, it is imperative that Westminster be mindful of encouraging original thought and equipping students with the eloquence to convey these thoughts. Students, upon being released into the world, must be motivated by original thought and armed with eloquence to create lasting change.
Although Westminster must be ever vigilant that their students receive the gift of thought, they must also be conscious of the caliber of people that the university creates. The students must be able to think independently, but also should demonstrate virtue. Once again, Aristotle reasons, “Talent is given. Potential is realized. You are what you repeatedly do. Excellence is, therefore, not an act but a habit.” The rigor of the classroom favors those who strive for excellence. It is not accidental and is always well deserved. Therefore, those who pursue and achieve this quality of excellence are benefitted in more ways than one. Of course, there is the reward of the achievement, but there is also an unintended consequence. Perseverance and determination are produced. These will in turn produce men and women with the capability and desire to attain integrity. They will enter the world with the ability to substantially impact those around them through their virtue. The rigor of the study will create those who will impact society through actions of virtue and character.
Westminster must be mindful of the students they are producing. They must be equipped with the ability to think with originality and to effectively convey their thoughts to the rest of humanity. Although this is essential, the university must not neglect creating through a rigorous education the standard of character and honor for their students to uphold. These two ambitions will generate students who will be able to permanently impact society. They will be able to reason with eloquence and communicate with virtue. Endowed with reason and eloquence, the students of Westminster will be able to defend their ideas, beliefs, and higher quality of society and community.

The Gatsby Fix (Mackie Benson)

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I was mindlessly doodling in my freshman American Literature class when our teacher threw a little book at me. It was the first book we were going to be reading in that beloved class. I half-mindedly took the notes he was giving us: the background of the author, repetitive themes, everything we needed to know about the story. Though I tried to focus on the lesson, my thoughts were drawn to the colorful book that was looking back at me. I opened its pages and read, “In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since.”
Immediately, I was engrossed by Nick Carraway’s words. With every sentence, I fell even deeper in love with F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. I became very emotionally involved with every movement in the plot. To say the least, it was difficult not to read ahead. All that I wanted was to curl up in isolation and read all one hundred eighty pages in one sitting. I willingly and enthusiastically followed the famous the characters through the adventurous summer of 1922. I was intrigued by Daisy’s charming behavior and why she would have married a man such as Tom Buchanan. Jay Gatsby completely overwhelmed me. Each plot point seemed to paint a different picture of the characters than the one I thought I knew. I understood Nick’s curiosity because Fitzgerald created a story that fully captured my attention.
To this day, four year laters, that little blue book is one of my most prized possessions. It sits always within arm’s reach in case I need my Gatsby fix.

The Heavens (A poem by Katie Krulak)

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I turn my eyes up to the sky,
Painted grey and dusky rose,
And in my soul I heave a sigh,
As the golden daylight grows.

The misty blanket melts away,
As dawn lifts its flowing veil,
While birds take flight to sing and play,
Tumbling head over tail.

Journey forward, come and see,
The canopy’s cerulean hue.
Cotton clouds, like lambs run free,
As the sun shines warm and true.

Soft shadows reach and lengthen,
And the light turns orange and gold.
The cool breeze starts to strengthen,
For the day is growing old.

The moon’s rising brings its glow,
Shining ivory in the skies,
Silver starts whirl in the Milky Way’s flow
Reflected in my upturned eyes.

Real People, Real Government (Lauren Hoaglund)

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Over the past few months, I have been overwhelmed and a little annoyed by the amount of political opinions surrounding the new administration. Almost everyone has a complaint about the government and the way it is run. So this semester I decided that it was probably time to get some perspective. I spent three days paging for the Alabama Senate in Montgomery. I was able to see the way our state government runs and the people at the heart of it. I really enjoyed the opportunity to see and listen instead of making blind assumptions with no backing whatsoever. I learned that maybe some of our criticisms of state government are a little too harsh.

I would strongly suggest paging, going to observe some senate sessions, or even just visiting the state house. The few days I spent there opened my eyes to the real issues in our government and the real people trying to address those issues. Now I feel as if I can have an informed and educated conversation with people about the problems in our state government system without just complaining about it.

Disney World: Behind the Scenes (Lauren Brannan)

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When most people hear “Disney World,” the first things that come to their minds are Mickey Mouse, a crowded park, and lots and lots of waiting in lines. While this is all accurate, I (being a Disney fanatic) have discovered that there is a lot more happening in the actual parks and behind the scenes than I ever could have imagined. So I have come up with a list of lesser known Disney facts; and even if it doesn’t make you love the parks like me, it will hopefully at least give you a greater appreciation for all the work that gets put into them.

  • First off, every character you see has been hand-picked and trained for weeks to become the perfect character. The process to be chosen for a character takes even longer, and the actors must pass several tests; including specific height requirements, facial similarities, and even acting and singing competitions. Even after the characters have been chosen, they have to follow a strict set of rules, to “keep the magic alive.” No actor is allowed to break character or reference anything outside of Disney. And even after they are done for the day, no one is allowed to talk about what character they are in public; if they do, they risk being fired.
  • Another amazing aspect of Disney: the Utilidor. This is a huge set of labyrinth-like tunnels running underneath all of Disneyworld, stretching over miles and miles of land. This was created by Walt Disney before the parks were even built, and the parks were built on top. This is where all the behind the scenes magic takes place; this is where characters get dressed; and even where all of the trash is dropped directly from the trash cans in the park to Disney’s garbage disposal so no guests have to see trash being carried in and out of the parks.

Disney truly thought of everything, and although the lines may sometimes be long and the parks crowded, you end up getting more than you could ever dream; truly earning Disney the name, “the most magical place on earth.”

Short-term Mission Trips: Why They’re Worth It (Will Green)

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When I was in the third grade, my family decided we would take our first mission trip together to the South American country of Peru. This was a very exciting time for my family and me. My dad encouraged us all to keep a journal while we were overseas, and years later I still have that journal documenting my first mission experience. This is a verbatim quote (misspellings and all) of what I wrote on December 27, 2008:

“When we get their I will be so tired that I will fall in the bed and not even change.”

My little eight-year-old brain thought that not changing out of day clothes to pajamas was living life on the edge. After a week in Peru, we returned and two years later found ourselves on an airplane headed to Honduras. This was a very similar trip with regards to culture, yet my own personal growth with Christ had changed, and I found myself sharing the gospel with others for the very first time. I remember being so excited to finally commit and do what Jesus calls us to do. Once again, three years later I found myself on another plane. Yet, this time it was a much bigger plane as my family and I were traveling to the Middle East. Being such a hostile environment to the gospel, this was a very different and eye opening mission trip. Though we were not able to simply share the gospel, strong relationships were made with people whom we could connect to the long-term missionaries. Finally, I have been able to travel with my church to Nicaragua the past two spring breaks. Those two trips have been the most in depth and challenging trips. Our leaders really pushed the students to take charge sharing the gospel, which dramatically changed the way I live here in Birmingham. My point in writing this is to emphasize and challenge families of all ages to take a mission trip together and see what our God will do. I promise it will be amazing and worth the time and resources.

Retrospective: The Lady Knights v. Loachapoka (Camilla Lemons)

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They had already made school history, but they did not settle. They had spent countless
hours practicing to reach the level they had achieved. The Lady Knights were the first Westminster basketball team to reach the Sweet Sixteen, but they did not stop there. They defied all odds by their performance in the Elite Eight, and all their hard work led up to the final game against Loachapoka. Going into the game, the Lady Knights were definitely the underdogs. They had been beaten by Loachapoka earlier in the season but remained confident in their training. Nerves were high on game day, and energy from the crowd added to the players’ adrenaline. Nonetheless, their minds were set. They would win. They would make it to the Final Four. They were hungry.
The game was off to a strong start. Both teams played with fierce intensity, but Loachapoka remained two steps ahead. The Lady Knights were down by six points at halftime, and the energy had died down during the second quarter. Not once did they give up or call it quits became they were behind. They remained determined and returned strong after halftime using their momentum to overtake Loachapoka in the fourth quarter. After draining three three-pointers back-to-back, the Lady Knights gained even more momentum when a technical foul was called on Loachapoka due to an extra player on the court. Westminster’s victory was sealed.

It was clear. They had done it. The intense drive of the Lady Knights outweighed that of their competitors, resulting in their first ever shot at the Final Four.

The U. S. S. Arizona (a poem by Katie Krulak)

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This past summer I was blessed with the opportunity to visit Pearl Harbor. I was not prepared for how sobering the experience would be. It is one thing to learn about the attack in history class, but quite another to stand where the event transpired. While standing on the memorial built above the harbor, I was inspired to write this poem detailing the events of the Pearl Harbor attack, centered around the U.S.S. Arizona.

The U.S.S. Arizona
There’s oil on the water;
There’s blood in the waves
“Be quick! Don’t stop! Keep working,
We still have men to save.”
Great fires blaze and roar;
Ignite with a hellish glow.
The great inferno rages
Through the corridors below.
Planes and bullets fill the skies
Shrouded by a smoky veil.
The screams and prayers of men
Drowned in the siren’s wail.
Molten metal bends and breaks
As guns and towers fall,
“So many men are still inside,
How can we save them all?”
“Point your guns up towards the sky,”
Bullets blaze pell mell,
As a peaceful Sunday morning
Became a scene from hell.
There’s still oil on the water,
Washed by the tide’s ebb and flow,
As bright fish dance and dart
Through the corridors below.
A monument of gleaming white
Stands tall above the waves,
A solemn mausoleum
For the men we could not save.

Winning (DeAnna Lockett)

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BANG! All at once, the eight sprinters spring out of the starting blocks into a strong head wind. With their heads low and knees driving forward, they accelerate around the curve. My heart pounds while I stand planted in the exchange zone blocking out the fierce roar of the crowd. I spot Alice nearing the end of her 100 meters ahead of the pack. I shift my weight back and forth on my balls of my feet. My head dips below my shoulder, and my eyes stay fixed on her cycling feet. It’s time. Adrenaline surges through my body driving one knee forward and the other follows. My elbows swing back and forth until Alice calls, “STICK!”

Without delay, I throw my arm back, palm flat. Alice thrusts the baton into my left hand. I tighten my grip around the baton and dig my spikes into the track. The cheers of my parents, teammates, and coaches are all around me. My body shifts gears. All I feel is the wind carrying me, and to my satisfaction I do not feel the presence of my other competitors catching up with me.

Olivia is less then 20 meters before me, so she pushes her body forward into a sprint. All I can think about is how last year she and I were disqualified at the State Championship at this very point in the race for failing to handoff the baton in the allotted exchange zone.

“Trust your training,” I tell myself, “We’ve got this.”

We are arm’s length apart. I yell “STICK!” She swings her arm back, and I plant the baton in the center of her right hand. I open my mouth to shout encouragement, but my wide smile will not allow my voice to carry very far. I run across the field to meet her on the other side of the track, and my eyes witness the gap stretching between her and the other runners. I reach the 300 meter mark just in time to see Olivia and Hannah execute their hand-off perfectly. A competitor is on Hannah’s heels, but Hannah accelerates.

Alice, Olivia, and I meet Hannah as she crosses the finish line inches in front of our most forceful competitor. With arms outstretched, we pull each other closely and celebrate our first place victory.

Don’t Look Behind You (A Short and Scary Tale by Josie Benson)

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In the darkest shadows, a figure is lurking behind you. The figure is abnormally tall, really skinny, and has many arms. He wears a black and white suit, and he has a featureless face. Don’t look at his face or he will grab you.

You might still have a chance. Run as fast as you can. But beware, he is supernatural and can materialize in front of you when you least expect it. His name is Slender Man.

Most everyone has heard the legend of Slender Man, but what most don’t know is that he is anything but a mere legend. No one can escape his supernatural presence. He can absorb, kill, or merely take you away. If you look at his face, there is no turning back. He lurks behind you in the dark shadows, waiting for the perfect moment to attack.

He only hunts his prey after sunset and in the dark of night. You might think if you find a light source or a shelter to hide in you would be safe, but nothing can scare him away from you. Nothing can stop Slender Man. He is always there waiting to get you when you least expect it.

He might not catch you, but just the thought of him can make you go insane with fear. The fear of Slender Man has caused even innocent children to commit heinous crimes. To tell if someone is under his control, there are signs which are amnesia, bouts of coughing, random nosebleeds, delusions, and paranoid behavior.

Do not be afraid of him. He can sense fear. The more fear and paranoia you have, the more likely he will be to come after you. Whatever you do do not be afraid of him.