Archive for April, 2015

A Class or a Chance?

by Brelynn Smith, HCA Senior

Many students would say Student Council is just another class in which they receive credit in hopes of graduating high school. If you had asked me why I was on student council at the beginning of the year, my response would’ve included easy credits for high school and to look good on college transcripts. However, when I look back at this year it became clear that student council was way more than just a class. It was a chance; a chance to lead our school and serve the community. Whether that was planning school events, doing service projects, helping at Hot Spot, or just simply praying over our school and the students.

Student council is responsible for planning chapel speakers; planning and participating in service projects like Slammin’ Famine, where we packed meals for kids in different countries; participating in Hot Spot, which is a great way to connect with other high school students through sharing the gospel and making them lunch. But whether it’s doing things for the community or our own school, Student Council is such an amazing opportunity to reach others.

Walking through the halls at Heritage, I’m amazed at what God is doing in the hearts of the students. We are so blessed to be part of such an amazing school and I know it wouldn’t be that way without many years of great leaders. My heart for Student Council is that students will continue to serve and lead the school, as it is such an amazing opportunity we shouldn’t take for granted.



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Wisdom From the Children

by Lori Merkley, 3rd Grade Teacher

Have you ever wondered what Jesus meant in Matthew 18:3 when he said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”? I have. In fact I have been ruminating over this statement a great deal lately. It seems the ‘older’ and ‘wiser’ I get, the less child-like I become. Which disturbs me, because many of the ‘saints’ found in the Bible committed their greatest sins later in their life, when they should have known better. So recently I have been watching my third graders even more closely in the hope that I might learn what it means to be a little child again. And true to Jesus’ words my watching, acting, and thinking more like them has helped me to enter the kingdom a little deeper each day.

For my students every day is new, as if the previous one never even existed; with all the painful words or memories it had. They come with a smile each morning, expecting something great and new to happen. How many time have I dragged myself out of bed upset about what happened the day before or worried about what might happen today. If my students think about those things, they certainly don’t act as if they do. They bound into the classroom with great expectations and joy, eager to see what I might have for them today. I wish I could say they do this because they know my character enough to know that I love them and long to lavish good things on them. But I’m humble enough to know my character isn’t that honorable and gracious. God’s is though, and yet I act as if he is ready to pounce and catch me in all my sins instead of forgiving and forgetting them.

Then there is the trust my students give me. When I ask my students to do something, they don’t even hesitate to do it. They don’t seem to second guess my motives or my intentions, they just do what I tell them to do. It is as if they live in the idea that I’m actually here only for them, and that all I do is in their best interest. When was the last time I truly believe that of God in my own life? And let’s not forget the unconditional love my students show me when I do fail them or treat them poorly. Where I remember, hold on to, or even let fester the hurt someone causes me, they quickly let my offense go and love me anew without conditions. These are just a few of the amazing lessons the third grade class has taught me. You know, I used to think I teach at HCA so that I can help my students learn more about God. But now I realize the reality is that God has me teaching at HCA so that I can learn more about Him through my students.

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Choosing New Books Wisely: The Learning Habit

by Dr. Stacy Loyd

Recently, mother of three Heritage students, Rachel Lee, casually stopped by my office to share her latest “good book” find. Knowing Rachel and I share similar reading tastes—Anne of Green Gables (Montgomery), The Secret Garden (Burnett), and Jam & Jelly by Holly & Nelly (Whelan)—I was excited to experience her latest find.

Rachel shared that she was enjoying the new research-based parenting guide The Learning Habit (2014). Three authors—a psychotherapist, a pediatric psychologist, and neuropsychological educators who are all parents—compiled their findings from a three-year study—the largest survey of family routines every conducted. This guide provides parents with helpful tips for supporting students’ school success. The book lists eight essential skill sets that parents can help children cultivate, from time management to fostering self-reliance. The authors remind parents of the power of teaching children to make responsible decisions. The descriptive examples from real families sorting through tough parenting decisions add to the readability of the book.

Rachel said that they have already implemented several of The Learning Habit tips into their family routines and are enjoying the new rhythms.

This new title has joined the growing collection of parent resources available for check out from our school library. Happy Reading.

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An HCA Tradition: The Literary Tea

by Nancy Chambers, 5th Grade Teacher

Jude 25 “To the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority through Jesus Christ our Lord before all ages, now and forevermore.”

It is important to do that which God calls us to do, bringing Him glory! Twenty-one years ago, a former HCA teacher, Mrs. Cheryl Dillon was guided by the Lord to have the first fifth grade Literary Tea. This was the beginning of a tradition that has continued to bless many students, and proved to be a valuable life experience. A five course meal, china, crystal, fresh flowers, a harpist, and a candle lit decorum certainly make it memorable, but hopefully the Christian life reports given by each student, is the lasting impact.tea and Aidan 018

Each student prayerfully chooses a Christian hero’s biography six weeks prior to the tea. For stage one the student is given a list of specific questions to answer through note taking. This teaches the child how to read specifically, searching for what are the important facts. There is much to be learned through reading a Christian biography, especially to ponder what was the Lord’s purpose for creating this person.

The second stage is for the child to learn how to do a formal sentence outline. Most fifth grade students do not have the skill in knowing how to organize information. At best they might understand how to do it chronologically, but through a suggested guideline, the student will know how to summarize, and better focus on the purpose of the assignment. This is to bring honor the Lord, through the hero’s specific accomplishments.

The third stage is to write a rough draft, and at this stage the student is taught how to improve word choice, transitions, and content.
Though the student needed to use other resources, including the internet, he has hopefully answered the key questions given at stage one. This stage would include more than just proofreading, which is challenging in itself at this age, but also include refinement. Earlier in the year, the students learned that word choice and interesting content are important to include in planning and revising a written piece.

After the student has refined the rough draft, the teacher gives input, and for the fourth stage, undertakes a final draft. He understands that this is to be his very best for his presentation at the actual tea. By now, he should have learned many things from his Christian hero, and is anxious to share with an audience.

Each child truly enjoys the Literary Tea! There are many biblical values to be learned through the experience! Below are some of the benefits I would like to note:
It is an occasion that brings recognition of spiritual giants who have gone before us. They are people of great faith, from whom we can learn through their example. Many have undergone great suffering, through which God refined them, used them, and spread the Gospel.
Some of the Christian heroes received earthly honor, but through the Literary Tea, we are bringing them all honor, which points to Christ. They gave their lives to fulfill His purpose for them on this earth. Many were missionaries, pastors, authors, scientists, presidents, or in the medical field.
Considering God’s principle of individuality, the student more fully ponders through this experience why the Lord created him. I will discuss this in the following discourse.
The student more fully understands how the Lord provides for all of his needs, just as He did for his Christian hero.
Through the example of the hero, the student will understand how we are all called to witness for Christ, throughout our lives.
This project helps the student to examine each stage of the hero’s faith, and how the Lord guided the hero’s faith to grow through the Bible, others and life experiences.
The Lord is glorified as the student includes a Bible verse and quote from the hero, which clarifies the Lord’s purpose for him on this earth.
Hopefully as the students listen to each report given at the tea, they will also learn from one another.

There are other benefits to be learned as well. Mrs. Dillon returns to HCA each year, to teach the students a manners class, giving the child proper etiquette to be used at the tea. Many students have recalled the rules of etiquette for future events! Mrs. Dillon also builds the excitement for the students so that they more fully anticipate the event. At the actual tea, it is quite impressive to see the students practicing all that Mrs. Dillon taught them.

Being a formal affair, the event for many ushers in a new transitional stage of life! Each child enjoys wearing special clothing as they dine on the five course meal. I overheard one boy say at a tea, when he first sat down at his elegant table, “Wow, I feel like an adult!” With guided questions that the students voted on prior the event, each child takes turns sharing at the table, during each course.

literary tea 016 Each year I hire a harpist, which also enhances the formal affair, and brings glory to the Lord! As the heavenly music floats through the air, the students appreciate the beauty that the music adds. I ask the harpist to take time to share how the Lord led her to play the harp, and the students also have an opportunity to ask her about the instrument.

The audience is composed of the students’ families and friends, including some of our “Grandbuddies” from a local assisted living facility to which we do a bimonthly outreach. It is a moment that each parent cherishes for their child, as he or she sits in the author’s chair on a small stage to read the report. The day’s schedule includes a sharing of three reports in between the five courses.

I contacted a few of the parents from previous classes to comment about the tea. Following are their responses:

First of all, the “heroes” the kids read about were fabulous. These are truly Christian Heroes. What parent doesn’t want their kids to be exposed to the lives of Christian men and women who have done wonderful things for God’s Kingdom? Nicole’s Christian hero was Corrie ten Boom, one of my personal heroes who has impacted my life greatly. I was so grateful that she was able to read about Corrie.
Secondly, throughout the fifth grade year, the children did many book reports as you taught them how to write. The literary tea was a culmination of all the learning they did that year. By the time they wrote their literary tea report, they really had a lot of knowledge on how to write well. I loved the way you led them through the process that ended with their final draft. Nicole learned a lot about writing in fifth grade, which has helped her since.literary tea 065

The Literary Tea itself is just a wonderful day. It really is the highlight of fifth grade. Getting to dress up and sit at such an elegant table. Using their best manners and feeling so special. I personally enjoyed hearing about each hero. I remember that Landon Cuckler was speaking about Hudson Taylor who started Christian Inland Mission in China. I knew that Miss Johnson of BSF was in that organization and it peaked my interest, so I read his biography last summer and was extremely blessed by it. Christian biographies are my absolute favorite books to read, and the fact that my children have been exposed to them just thrills me to no end. Seeing Nicole all dressed up and sitting in that beautiful chair speaking about Corrie ten Boom was the highlight of her education so far for me.

I’m looking forward to having Benjamin in your class and all that he will learn about writing and learning about a wonderful Christian hero. Thank you for asking me to write this. It’s a great reminder of why we have our kids at Heritage and how grateful I am that we do. HCA is an amazing school and you are a huge part of what makes it so special!
In Him, Jennifer Damir

Another parent:
Haley was so excited to participate in the literary tea. She really enjoyed learning about all the different missionaries that the children reported on and how each of them had hearts for The Lord. Like Mary Slessor, whom she thought had remarkable courage in the face of danger. She also very much enjoyed dressing in fancy clothes and drinking tea and eating on the fancy china with all her classmates. It was a very enjoyable experience!
Terri Farrow

While chatting with another parent, Sara Albertson, she shared with me what a huge impact this learning experience had on her daughter Morgan. She researched and presented the missionary pilot, Betty Greene. When Morgan was in third grade, her teacher Lori Merkley had planted a seed in Morgan to possibly consider becoming a missionary. While reading Miss Greene’s biography for the Literary Tea, Morgan felt the Lord truly calling her to become a missionary. She was so excited that she also read the biography of Amy Carmichael over the summer. Today Morgan assists teaching Sunday School at the church plant, the Genesis Project, and witnesses to other children in a nearby park! This girl is quite passionate about sharing Christ!

There are many lasting effects. Hopefully many seeds are planted as the Lord continues to refine each student. One year a student, Andy Stewart, was researching and reporting on the Christian martyr, Jim Elliot. Andy actually prayed that the Lord would never call him to the mission field! Little did Andy know that this was just part of the beginning. He has gone on different mission trips, and is currently attending seminary, with the Lord calling him to be a pastor in India!tea and Aidan 009

Each child has been created by the Lord to fulfill a life purpose. This experience taught the student how to more fully examine a Christian hero who has gone before him. Perhaps the student will have a similar calling as the person upon whom he has reported. It is an avenue through which the child can study that as a member of the body of Christ, we all are called to serve Him and be His witness. The Lord uses the experience to help the child’s faith to grow in some measure. We can all learn through example!

Hopefully the Lord is using this project to help the child to continue to grow in knowledge, wisdom and Christ! (Romans 15:6) It is a special day for each, which the Lord uses in many ways, but hopefully and most importantly, to bring glory to Him!

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The Resurrection and You

by Kevin McGinley, HCA Athletic Director & Pastor of SouthGate Church

There are two words in the Easter story that are often missed or overlooked. Two words that were life-changing for the person they were meant for on that first Resurrection Day. Two words that can also give each one of us tremendous hope, courage, and faith. Ready? Here they are: “and Peter.”

Doesn’t sound like much, but oh so significant! Those two little words personalized the power of the resurrection for the Apostle Peter, and for us. They are found only in the Gospel of Mark, as the angel of the Lord tells the women at the empty tomb that Jesus is risen from the dead:

“Go, tell His disciples and Peter, He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see Him, just as He told you.”
Mark 16:7

What hope must have dawned in Peter’s heart when he was told of those words: “tell His disciples and Peter.” Think of it! Peter was completely distraught, in the depth of despair because he had denied he even knew Jesus. Then he witnessed Jesus brutally crucified and buried in the garden tomb. He had failed the Messiah when it mattered most, and all hope seemed lost.

But then the words, “and Peter.” Jesus was alive and wanted to fully redeem one of His closest followers who had abandoned Him at the time of His greatest need. It lets us know that Christ’s resurrection is for everyone – and for the one! Peter ran to the tomb that first Easter morning and saw the strips of linen that once were wrapped around Jesus’ crucified body and hope flowed back into his heart. Jesus later sought Peter out on the lake shore and, without any condemnation, restored Peter, asking him three times, “Peter, do you love Me?”

Full of the Holy Spirit, Peter was able to boldly proclaim the resurrection on the day of Pentecost: “God raised Jesus from the dead, because it is impossible for death to keep its hold on Him.” (Acts 2:24)

Now, put your name in the blank: “Go, tell His disciples and ______________.”
Allow the hope of the resurrection to flow into your heart. Know that Jesus can redeem your biggest mistakes and forgive your greatest sins. He’s alive! He’s alive in you!

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