Category Archives: Uncategorized

Un été passé en France (Camilla Lemons)

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When people hear that I spent part of my summer in France, their initial reaction is to ask why I went and what I did while I was there. However, I have found this question really difficult to answer due to the one-of-a-kind experience I had. Rather than vacationing in France or going on a mission trip, I attended the Fixed Point Institute for Applied Apologetics, which is a ten day conference for high school seniors and college students. At the Institute, Larry Taunton, acclaimed author and founder of Fixed Point Foundation, equips students to articulate their faith in an increasingly secular culture by teaching them what it means to think like a Christian.

While this is a topic that is often discussed on a theoretical level in Christian communities such as Westminster, the Institute focuses on the practical application of what it means to seek first the kingdom of God in one’s vocation. Students hear from faculty members–which included everything from a professional South African rugby player and an Islamic polemicist–on how they are living out their faith in the lifestyle to which God has called them.

The Institute is located in France for good reason: first, because issues such as the rise of Islam feel much more real there than in the mountains of North Carolina; and second, the goal is for students to enjoy a short retreat from their familiar world in order to engage it more thoughtfully and effectively upon returning. However, this conference is set apart from typical Christian camps by its focus on engaging fundamental Christian truths rather than eliciting an emotional response from its participants. Overall, the Fixed Point Institute is a fruitful experience where students grow personally, academically, and spiritually while on an incredible trip to France.

A Good Start (Rachel Faulk)

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The sun had just edged over the horizon on an early September Saturday when I embarked on the one-and-a-half-hour drive from Birmingham to Moulton. All along I-65 the trees were just starting to turn yellow as fall set in. It was officially cross country season.

Crisp air greeted the team as we arrived at our first cross country meet of the year: Chickasaw Trails. As a senior, I have run the course numerous times, but for many of our younger runners, it would be their first time on the course—for some their first race ever.

It was a beautiful day for a race. Despite the absence of several members of the varsity team who were taking the ACT, everyone ran their best. For some, that meant a first or second place finish (Hallie Porterfield and Hunter Wright); for others, the top 30; still others, simply finishing the race or running the whole way. It was not about getting a certain time or place; there was no pressure for anyone. It was just about having fun and getting to compete. And even if running isn’t everyone’s idea of fun, it’s still great to enjoy the joys of being part of a team and working hard to cross the finish line knowing you did your best.

An unexpected bright spot for the day came when the middle school girls’ team placed third out of twenty-eight teams bringing home their first trophy of the year.

Prospects are bright for this year’s cross country team, which will hopefully foster a love for the sport in younger runners to keep the tradition going for years to come.

Floyd Mayweather: Out of Retirement to the Pinnacle of a Career (John Richardson)

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Floyd “Money” Mayweather, Jr. has enjoyed the most successful boxing career ever. He is the wealthiest boxer ever to have lived, reaching an astounding net worth over one billion dollars. Mayweather had a long and prosperous pro boxing career, achieving a total of fifty wins and zero losses. This was done through five different weight classes against multiple world champions.  Mayweather ultimately finished his career in an unusual fashion. He came out of retirement to fight the former UFC champion Connor McGregor. This final fight went for 10 rounds and ended in the TKO of the young UFC champion. The fight generated hundreds of millions of dollars and sent a boxing legend into a final retirement. Floyd Mayweather, Jr. has raised the bar of what a professional boxer can achieve, and many fighters will look up to him for generations.

Autumn Longing (Harriette Adam)

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She sits outside in the blazing hot sun until a cloud shields her for a moment to let her have shade.  A cold finger touches her spine, a soft cool breeze. The breeze sends a chill through her body. She takes a quick breath in to smell the air. Fall. The summer rain storms roll in, dragging the cool air into the atmosphere. The trees shed their crunchy leaves, which softly dance in the wind, landing on her path of red, orange, yellow, and brown. She brings out her boots, scarves, sweaters, and other fall trends.

She gazes upon the little monsters, mystical creatures, and fictional characters, who race freely around the streets going door-to-door giddily shouting, “Trick-or-treat!” They fill their mouths and plastic pumpkins with the sweet loot they have received and scamper along to the next house.

As time passes and the density of the forest thins, the haunting ghosts, evil decor, and stringy cobwebs are replaced with plump turkeys, rosy-cheeked pilgrims, and Native Americans with crops in hand. She gathers around the table with her large, loud family enjoying the traditional Thanksgiving meal. She laughs and talks for hours of past stories with them.

Yet she is in a daze as her eyes catch a glimpse of the glowing golden leaves falling away from the leafy giant. She knows autumn must come to an end soon. She will have to wait another year.

Dangers of a Second Amendment Culture (Anna Bader)

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The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution reads, “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a Free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” There has been a lot of debate concerning the pros and cons of this particular amendment. Some would argue that the right to carry firearms gives a sense of safety and security and decreases crime and the chance of a criminal attack. Some studies support this theory. One study found that criminals retreat 55% percent of the time when people draw their guns in self-defense (connectusfund.org).

Others argue that the Second Amendment leaves people feeling ill at ease instead of safe. They think it increases crime and the potential for gun-related incidents. The same study mentioned above found that a gun-carrying person is 4.5 times more likely to get shot during a criminal attack (connectusfund.org).

Moreover, the fact that many citizens of the U.S. are likely to carry a firearm has increased fears of a senseless shooting during routine traffic stops. This can be especially dangerous to foreigners unfamiliar with America’s gun culture. For instance, on July 15, 2017, 40-year-old Justine Ruszczyk from Australia was shot by a police officer one month before her wedding. Ruszczyk had called the police because she felt threatened by a stranger and ran towards the sheriff’s vehicle hoping to receive help. The police officer, fearing an attack, shot the young woman in what he believed to be self-defense. Many felt that her death could have been avoided had the Constitution prohibited the private use of firearms and therefore limited the fear of hidden firearms and senseless shootings.

Solar Eclipse (Evelyn Godfrey)

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The car crept quietly along the faded, yellow lines under towering trees. Houses were nestled low in the valleys covered by the shadows of the vast mountains. My sister, my dad, and I searched the road for the wandering eyes looking towards the sky. I lifted my eyes to a bright sky that grew darker by the minute. An hour passed, but the light from the sun was still illuminating the world. Then a shadow started to sweep through the field, covering everything it touched. The sky swirled with ribbons of colors and shimmered with distant worlds. The aroma of musky air settled into my nose. Confused creatures of the night were unexpectedly awakened by the darkness. I stood in awe for the small time I had, intently looking at a once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon that only a few would experience: a midnight moon in the middle of the day. A blinding flash pierced through the sky, and a ray of diamonds broke through the dark. Eventually, the heat of the sun returned in full strength. It was over as quickly as it had begun. We smiled as we walked away from this natural wonder in the sky.

Drama: The Good Kind (Ethan Ellerbusch)

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Have you ever wanted to act on stage? Are you interested in participating in school plays and musicals? If you said yes to any of these questions, then our school’s Drama Club is perfect for you.

Drama Club, a program run by Mrs. Eubanks, is an excellent choice for novices, amateurs, and professionals alike. For novices, Drama Club is a perfect place to learn the ropes of acting, and you will practice several beneficial acting exercises along the way. Amateurs will not only discover new tricks, but will also have the chance to participate in the annual Trumbauer theatre festival. For experts, there are several leadership opportunities available, and it is a great stepping stone for those bound for the arts department in college. There are even opportunities to help out behind the scenes. There are options for literally everyone–regardless of grade, experience, or interest.

As for me, I wasn’t sure if I’d like it at first. My parents had taken me to several Broadway performances, and I enjoyed them. My sister was a member of the Red Mountain Theater Company Conservatory, a well known theatre conservatory in Alabama. When I went to her shows, I saw other guys my age performing on stage. This got me interested. The next spring I tried out for the fall musical Cinderella, and I received a supporting role. I met new friends and had loads of fun. After this I was eager to sign up for Drama Club.

Still on the fence? Come and see our next performance at Student Stages on Wednesday, November 16. I’m sure you will love it, and it may inspire you to join the Westminster Drama Club one day!

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.