A Vision for HCA’s International Program

by Valorie Towne, Director of International Students

Because I have so thoroughly enjoyed teaching English at HCA, I am excited to take on the responsibility of working with international students, host families and teaching staff. One of the dearest interactions I’ve had with an international student occurred in early May three years ago.  She quietly approached my desk and simply said, “Mrs. Towne, what is Easter?”  What a privilege to get to share the answer with her and to hear her thoughts as well.  On the day that I verbally accepted this new position, a dear, young, mission-minded friend of mine who was teaching English in an Asian country was put on house arrest and had her passport confiscated.  A week later, she was placed in a van, driven to the airport and sent back to the United States.  While she saw the sovereignty of God in the situation, she was also scared and heartbroken for the students she left behind in Asia, who were hungry to know more about Jesus and English.  The staff and I understand the part we are being allowed to play in not only the academic lives, but also the spiritual lives of our international students.  And just as the Lord deeply loves and provides for our native students, He is doing the same for these students who come many miles, spending months away from families to learn about Jesus, the Christian faith, English and much more.

I am excitedly preparing orientation, lesson supports, assessments, directories, and learning materials: the list goes on. Research has proven that what is best for ESL (English as a second language) students is also best for native students, and so I am eager to use what I have learned with all students. But I am most excited to prayerfully complete my Capstone Action Research Project, which will help build on the positive relationships and friendships between our native students and international students.  In academics, spiritual scenarios and fun activities, the staff and I plan to see our school culture strengthened and empowered.  My husband has traveled to Asia nearly 30 times for business.  We are a part of a global, growing economy that involves business, churches, academia, humanitarian efforts, families and friendships.  However, we see in our nation, a deep divide between races.  I believe that God’s love is best sown in the hearts of all individuals in our homes and at our school.  Heritage has the most amazing chance to show the Lord’s great love by loving every student the Lord brings us.  What a gift!

I would like to invite every family, every student, every volunteer that would like to see all students at HCA draw closer to one another, including our international students, to contact me to see how you can be a part of our mission.  A prayer warrior, a conversationalist, a tutor, a coach, a driver, a ____________, you fill in the blank with your talent or interest; these are the people that will bring about the kingdom of God for our students.  I would love to talk with your or your child if you have questions or are ready to help.  Lastly, many thanks to Mr. Cuckler and Dr. Loyd who have supported me in this journey, and who have served HCA so faithfully.

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Summer Reading: Where to Find Wholesome Literature

by Rachael Auch, Kindergarten Teacher

As an avid reader, I have devoured books since I was a child. Almost anything I could get my hands on would be read within a couple of days. The classics, mysteries, historical fiction, almost any genre- you would find me lost to the world, my nose in a book. As much as I hate to admit it, I am old enough to have teenagers and as they have grown up and discovered a love of books much like my own, we have uncovered a serious problem with “teen fiction.” Many of these books, labeled as “teen”, are filled with adult themes, bad language, sexual content and violence.   We have checked out book after book from libraries, only to have to close them after a few pages, fed up with themes and suggestive content that does not honor our Lord or encourage our hearts to integrity, honor and purity.

In our experience there seems to be a huge gap between children’s literature and teen literature. Up through sixth grade there was an abundance of books to choose from that were engaging. As soon as one was finished there would be another in line, just begging to be picked up and get lost in, and rarely (if ever!) did we stumble across inappropriate content. However, as soon you cross into the “teen” world of books, suddenly you are bombarded with so much filth that is very vividly described, and a very real discouragement because of the seemingly impossible task of finding an engaging, wholesome book that you don’t want to put down because it’s just that good.

As I began to research this issue, I discovered that there are several helpful sites online that can be a guide to help you and your child find good, wholesome, current fiction. Of course, these sites are not necessarily done by Christian reviewers and I have not read every book that is recommended- so use discernment. The ones we have tried, however, have been fantastic. This list is simply meant to be a tool for those that have encountered this problem and would like a resource to help navigate the world of teen fiction.

  1. homespunlight.blogspot.com ( this site lists “deliciously clean reads”)
  2. thriftyandthriving.com/clean-books-for-teens-girls (a list that is updated monthly and will soon have a list for boys as well)
  3. http://www.deliciousreads.com/2015/09/40-clean-reads-for-teens.html (The author describes this list as,”fun, riveting, adventurous novels that teenagers will love (and parents will approve of).
  4. http://www.deliciousreads.com/2014/09/top-24-books-for-teen-boys.html (top 24 books for teen boys)
  5. popsugar.com/moms/clean-books-Teenage-Girls-34835365#photo-34835365 (clean summer reads for teen girls)
  6. christianbook.com (select the fiction tab, then the teen tab and several genres to choose from will be available)
  7. goodreads.com/shelf/show/teen-Christian-fiction

There are also some helpful sites that will give a detailed review of a specific book and a rating of the violence, profanity, sexual content and a plot summary:

  1. pluggedin.com (Focus on the Family movie and book reviews)
  2. theliteratemother.org
  3. compassbookratings.com

As Jane Austin said, “I declare there is no enjoyment like reading.”  So encourage your teen to check out the reviews, grab a good book, and re-discover the joy of disappearing into the wonderful world of fiction!

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4th Grade Reflection: History Colorado Museum

by Denise Pogue & the 4th Grade Students

At the History Colorado Museum in Denver, fourth grade students were led by a knowledgeable guide back into Colorado’s past to experience life in the “old days”.  One activity included investigating the scant resources available to the Mesa Verde people.  Students also took a look at how the Plains Indians used every part of the buffalo for survival.  A favorite hands-on experience involved performing the chores of real-life residents from the homestead town of Keota.  The final exhibit was a Silverton mine, where students descended deep into the mine to learn about the hardships faced by both miners and mules.  Fourth grade students came away from this field trip with a deeper understanding and greater appreciation for the challenges faced by earlier inhabitants of Colorado.


Student Reflections:

“My favorite part at the Colorado Museum was at the Keota. People in those times had hard work around the farm. They went to school, milked the cows, bought groceries, and took care of the house.” – Toby

“My favorite part was the mine. I really liked the activities you could do. I liked learning to drill with machinery. I also learned that mules worked in mines.” – Luke

“My favorite activity was Keota. We had to act like a person and we had a to do list that had chores. I had to pump a water pump 20 times and I had to milk a cow. Two more things I did were seeing how many toilets were in the outhouse. And I had to guess what cans had in them. Then I went grocery shopping.” – Harper

“My favorite activity was the mine camp. You got to watch videos and learn to drill. We also we down in an old elevator.” – Jadon


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Developing Future Teachers at HCA

by Emily Weant, HCA Senior

My sophomore year of high school, I began an adventure that would ultimately help me realize what exactly God has created me to do. With the help of Dr. Loyd, I became a Teacher’s Aide in the Heritage Kindergarten classroom.

It started out simply where I was just helping Mrs. Auch by copying papers or helping a kindergartener spell out a word they didn’t know. As time went on, I was given more and more responsibility. Now that I am a senior, when I go to help, Mrs. Auch sends them out into the hallway so we can work one on one.

Last year, the students and I worked together reading through a series of books meant to gradually teach them to read long sentences through blending the words, rather than picking apart each letter, hoping it sounds right.  I am currently working in the classroom a couple days a week. Right now, we are learning other names for first and second vowel sounds, such as long and short.

Both Dr. Loyd and Mrs. Auch have been tremendous gifts in my life. By allowing me to work as an aide in the classroom, they have helped me further develop the teaching abilities that God has blessed me with. Thanks to this wonderful opportunity, when I go off to college in the fall, I am now absolutely positive that teaching is what I want to spend the rest of my life doing.


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A Heart Changed

by Abigail Kress, 1st Grade Teacher

You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. – Colossians 2:13

This year in first grade we’ve learned a lot about what it means for God to spiritually revive us. When it came time for first grade to host chapel, we decided to put on a play and act out the story of Saul on the road to Damascus. We discussed how Saul, and every one of us, is born spiritually dead because of our sinful nature… but because God loves us so much, He sent Jesus, the perfect sacrifice, to the cross as payment for our sins. When we become Christ-followers, we are made alive again with Christ and in Christ.

Throughout the past year, we’ve talked about how when God changes our hearts, we begin to act more and more like Jesus. God can use anyone he revives in incredible ways just like he used Saul (who would eventually become Paul) in many awesome ways. We know that there is no age-requirement to be used by God for His glory and His kingdom here on earth – God can use first graders just as he uses adults!


Here are some things we’ve learned after studying the story of Saul’s spiritual transformation while on the road to Damascus…

  • God can change anyone’s heart. If he can change Saul’s heart, he can change anyone’s heart and revive anyone. –Emmitt
  • Both Saul and the King of Egypt started out the same because they hated God. Saul hated the people who loved Jesus. The King of Egypt hated the people who loved God. But Saul is different than the King of Egypt because God changed Saul’s heart and Saul did lots of wonderful things for Jesus. There’s a big difference between those two now. –Robbie
  • When we see people who are being mean and definitely don’t have Jesus in their hearts, we can tell them about Jesus. Jesus can change their hearts too. – Joey
  • We should pray for people who don’t know Jesus. We can ask God to please change their hearts so they don’t do really bad things anymore. Jesus changed Saul’s heart so he didn’t do really bad things anymore either. –Taylor
  • We can read our Bible to our friends who don’t believe in Jesus because it would tell them how God can change their heart just like He changed mine. We can be missionaries too just like Saul would become a missionary! –Sage
  • If we tell more people about Jesus, they will love Him more and more. –Elly

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Senior Thesis Presentations at HCA

by Patricia Hahn

Well, the moaning and groaning from the Senior class is just about to come to an end.  We are nearing the completion of the Senior Thesis Project.  If you are not familiar with this requirement of the secondary curriculum, grab a senior and they will gladly the share the joys and the sorrows of this challenging assignment.

The first part of the project is a 15 – 20 page paper on a local, national or international issue of a controversial nature.  Students pick their topic in early fall and spend the first semester researching and writing a rough draft.  Along the way there are smaller deadlines to keep them on task and to avoid procrastination.  In Rhetoric class, research, note taking and writing skills are reinforced with their final written copy due at the end of February.

At the turn in day of their paper, a breakfast is held for both the Seniors and their parents to recognize and celebrate the hard work that has gone in to fulfilling this first portion.  Because of the scope and length of the project, we understand that parents become a vital part in the completion of this assignment.

The final aspect of the project is an oral presentation of their paper given to a panel of four teachers.  Serving on the panel this year are Dr. Loyd, Mrs. Balderson, Mr. Martin and Mrs. Hahn. Students will speak for about 15 – 20 minutes followed by a question and answer session from the panel.  If time permits, questions from the audience are encouraged.

Along with the parents, families from the school are encouraged to attend.  The presentations are held in the lyceum each morning Monday – Thursday the week of April 18th.  You will find the speeches quite interesting and informative on a variety of relevant topics.  Please check out the schedule below to see if any of our topics this year my pique your interest. It is an opportunity to see our graduating Seniors, pull together a variety of academic skills in a formal presentation that will challenge them to reach a standard of excellence.

If you have any questions please contact the school office, and we hope to see you at one of the presentations. And if you happen to run into any of the Seniors in the next week or two, let them know that there is a light at the end of their tunnel!

2016 Senior Thesis Presentation Schedule

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Puppets Bring God’s Word Alive

by Nancy Chambers, 5th Grade Teacher

Puppets are just plain fun!!!  And they can be used to teach both the audience and the puppeteer!  For over 20 years the Heritage Christian 5th grade class has been writing and performing puppet plays.  This valuable learning experience teaches many things, and is an excellent way to present God’s Word to various audiences.  For the past several years they have performed for pre-K through grade 4, for their families, and for Oakridge Assisted Living residents.  I would like to convey the value of this experience for the students with this article.

Mrs. Cheryl Dillon started this unit when she was teaching at Heritage, and I quickly saw how wonderful it would be to continue this tradition after she retired.  It includes these steps:

  • The students read plays, and learn the components of a play.
  • Parent volunteers facilitate the students working in small groups to write the plays.  They are instructed that the play must revolve around a Biblical principle and verse.
  • Parent volunteers assist the students in making elaborate sock puppets.
  • The students practice and refine the plays.
  • They design play programs.
  • They do 4 different performances.
  • Evaluation

Some of the values noted by a parent as well of the students:

One parent, Arlene Samuelson commented, “Being the creative/design type, I’ve always helped with the making of the puppets with my 3 previous children.  In my still developing way of knowing how God works, I was focused on how my talent will bless others.  My schedule this year only allowed me to be available for the volunteer position needed in the writing phase.  So there I was…helping the kids write a play!  And wow was I blessed!  I witnessed The Holy Spirit move in these girls in a mighty way to collaborate on an idea, to focus on the school theme of ‘revive’, and create characters to bring their ideas to life!  I didn’t have to be a ‘writer’ to help!  It was fun to rely on Him in this writing process and then be revived by Him through it.  I love how God uses those who just say ‘Here I am’ however ill equipped we may feel.  I encourage any parent who has opportunity to volunteer in their child’s class, fundraiser, or event, to do so.  You will get more than you came to give.  I was truly revived in this one volunteer interaction with my daughter and her classmates.”

school 213

Some students commented:

On things learned- “You have to work heartily for the Lord, and He will reward you. I learned that revive is to be on fire for Christ.  If I was a missionary, I could REVIVE people to help more people be on fire for Christ.

“One thing that I learned was if you work together, you can do awesome and amazing things. I learned that anyone can be revived, and I wish I could revive more people.”

“I learned that I should pray when I am scared or stressed.”

“We gave a revival in sharing God’s Word about faith.  I want to keep reviving in God.”

“I learned that all people can change and that fear is just a reason to try harder.”

“I learned I need to be bold about my faith, and maybe more.”  In giving out God’s truth, she said, “It showed how and why you do need to really stand up for yourself and God.”

When asked what was the most rewarding thing about the plays, a student commented, “That we glorified God with them and that God was pleased.”

This year’s principles the students chose included:

“People’s hearts can be changed.  God can bring revival to everyone and everything.”

“Prayer brings revival when things look bad.”

“When the Lord is in our hearts, we are free with Him.”

“Faith in God and prayer is all we need to get through this crazy life.”

Some of my objectives were:

  • To convey the theme of revival
  • To learn to turn to God with life’s problems
  • To see the value of prayer and living out one’s faith
  • The importance of witnessing
  • To draw Biblical principles and apply them to life
  • To give students the opportunity to be creative
  • Group cooperation, humility, and encouragement
  • To integrate language, drama, Bible and art
  • To teach Biblical worldview
  • To utilize Scripture and for many years, retell a Bible story

There is no doubt, this unit is one of the highlights of 5th grade.  It is truly a valuable learning experience in writing, acting, and bringing God’s Word alive in a fun way.  Many students will keep their puppets for years, with fond memories, and hopefully see how their play deepened their faith and was opportunity to be a witness for Christ.

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