7th Grade Sowers

Inspired by an article in the Seventh Grade literature anthology, students enrolled in Mr. Smith’s LA: 7 course got positively agricultural on Tuesday, January 29, 2019.

The article, Hillary Schwei’s “Urban Farming is Growing a Greener Future,” depicts in words and photographs how today’s farmers are often city-based, using any available free space to raise fruits and vegetables.  Students in the class were offered an opportunity to embrace their inner farmer while competing to raise a plant on Mr. Smith’s classroom balcony.  The “Best of Show” winner would receive a $25.00 gift card of their choice.

Suddenly, after a lackluster initial reaction, the students were excited about urban farming.

To compete, students first had to participate in a “Research Race,” using their laptops to scour the internet for articles and pictures that fit several agriculture-specific topics and criteria.  This activity alone took up twenty minutes of class time and was quite competitive, as the pictures show.

The top two finishers in each class received a clay pot, planting soil, and their choice of seeds – both vegetable and floral.  (The students could provide their own pot, if desired.). Once planted, students watered their seeds and hoped – as all farmers do – for a successful growing season.  In a few days’ time, God provided some rain.  And more rain.  And even more rain.

Students who did not “win” were also encouraged to bring a gardening pot and a desire to grow.  While not in the running for the gift certificate, they could (and did!) share in the experience of urban agriculture.  Several students undertook the challenge and their plants (when they break through the soil) will stand proudly alongside the “winner.”

In a few weeks, Middle School teachers as yet unnamed will evaluate the plants students are currently raising.  These unnamed educators – not Mr. Smith! – will make the final decision as to which Seventh Grader has the greenest thumb.

This activity was designed to encourage Seventh Grade students to actively embrace gardening, witnessing for themselves the miracle that occurs each time a seed is planted.  It is hoped that seeing the plants grow, and tenderly caring for them, will serve as a reminder of the manner in which Our Lord plants each of us and tends us every day of our lives.  God is present even in the smallest of miracles! 

Spring helps us all to remember that simple truth.

By: Kevin Smith, 7th grade, ELA

Valentine’s Grace!

The 4th graders showed their love on Valentine’s Day by leaving nice comments for their classmates.  We ASPIRE to be accountable, safe, patient, and respectful students who show integrity and empathy in all that we do.  In this exercise the students spent time and thought on making others feel good about themselves.  After they were done writing, they got to go back and read all the amazing things their classmates wrote about them.  It is great being a part of a community of Christ centered believers who can build each other up in a world that can often tear us down.  We hope you enjoyed a Valentine’s Day filled with love and encouragement.

By: Beth Clark, 4th grade

Happy National School Counseling Week!

I want to take a moment and say a big THANK YOU to each of you! Thank you to the parents, teachers, administrators, pastoral staff and the rest of the St. John’s family for being extremely supportive of our new school counseling program. “It takes a village to raise a child,” and each of you plays a vital role in that journey for our students.

50 Ways to Rest and Unwind

As we continue through the school year, it’s important to remind ourselves to take time to rest and unwind. We live in a fast-paced world that can make us feel run-down and even become sick.  It’s in those times we look to our greatest role model, Christ. Even God took time to rest and unwind; He took time to appreciate the little things.

St. John’s families, I challenge you to find time to rest. And I challenge you to teach your students how to rest as well. Turn your brains off, even if it’s for five minutes, and find that moment of solitude. The link below is a great resource!  Take a peek at the 50 different ways you can find rest, and maybe even print out your own copy for home.


Where Do I Come From?

About a month ago, we asked our second graders to interview a family member and find out some deep history about their ancestry and heritage. The day these answers were due, they came bounding in with information that many of them found to be nothing short of exciting.  Some discovered they were descended from farmers, others from kings.  Some had relatives that fought alongside George Washington, others fought for their lives against the Nazis.  Collectively, the class found they came from England, France, Croatia, Afghanistan, Mexico, Ireland, Iran, Germany, Greece, Norway, Israel, Japan, and more!  In other words, the students were able to put their lives into a little bit of perspective and see a glimpse of where they fit into a big world of history, people, and events.  It was a getting-to-know-you activity like no other as they spent most of today sharing their finished “quilt squares,” and more importantly, their family’s history.  It was amazing to see how excited and proud many of them looked as they stood before the class and talked about where they had come from. 

Knowing where we come from and how we got to be where we are is something that everyone longs to know and can’t help but be fascinated by.  But as different as all of these students are from each other, as many places as they have come from, they are all the same in one way.  They are each a uniquely created child of God, adopted into one family through the waters of baptism and the grace of Christ.  Many of the students mentioned in their presentations that certain family members had been missionaries, founded a church, or have simply passed the good news of Jesus Christ down from generation to generation.  As different as each student and family was, it was remarkable to see how many families knew where they ultimately came from and who they ultimately belonged to.  Our God transcends time, history, and borders, and at such a young age, it is inspiring to see these students be able to understand a little bit of that together. 

By: Mrs. Lauren Morner, 2nd grade

2nd Grade Post Office… You’ve Got Mail

In addition to the special school-wide events of National Lutheran Schools Week, 2nd graders enjoyed an extra activity:  running their own post office.  Throughout the week, 2nd graders and their 6th grade chapel buddies wrote friendly letters and notes to each other.   The 2nd graders could also write and send letters to any of their fellow 2nd graders, while parents, siblings and family members contributed more mail, as well.    

So, how do you run a post office?  2nd graders can now tell you that it’s a lot of fun, but it’s also a bigger job than they ever expected!!    Each 2nd grader had a specific job of sorting, delivering, organizing, or maybe even filling in missing information while working in the “dead letter” office.  Every job was important, and they found out that they really head to pay attention to details if the mail was going to be delivered to the right person.   The classroom post office was run on both Tuesday and Friday, giving the kids a chance to respond back to each other’s original mail and also to try out different jobs. 

By the end of the week, each of our 2nd graders truly understood and appreciated the excitement of hearing those famous words:  You’ve got mail!!!

Exploring Winter Through Science

Why do animals hibernate? What does snow feel like?  Are all snowflakes really different?  How come baby penguins can’t swim? Over the past few weeks, my kindergarten class had fun predicting, exploring and experimenting with some of these topics.  

We were able to see why animals need to hibernate by touching and feeling different types of berries that were frozen in ice.  We also had fun exploring with Orange County style snow (fake).  The students were able to touch and feel the texture of snow.  They really loved how soft and fluffy it was. It was fun imagining how real snow might feel.

Learning about how snowflakes form was also a highlight.  We don’t get to experience real snowflakes so, we had to create some of our own.  We used pipe cleaners, Borax, and hot water to experiment with creating snowflakes. Predicting what would happen was so much fun.  We did find out that even our manmade snowflakes were all different. 

Lastly, we spent some time learning about penguins.  The students had some question about why the baby penguins’ feathers looked different.  They also wanted to know why baby penguins can’t swim until they are adults and how do they get food.  It was a lot of fun experimenting and finding some of these answers.  Winter truly is a wonderful time of year, even if you live in California.

National Lutheran School Week – Generations!

St. John’s is celebrating National Lutheran Schools Week.  As we celebrate the overall theme, REAL. PRESENT. GOD., we also focus on five emphases: Real Grace, Real Places, Real People, Real Time, and Real Praise. The Neben and Van Blarcom families have experienced every aspect of a REAL. PRESENT. GOD. at St. John’s, as students and teachers in the classroom.

Real Grace – God’s word and His grace has been taught for many generations at St. John’s Lutheran School through the Neben and Van Blarcom families.

Real Places – The classrooms at St. John’s Lutheran School.

Real People – Mr. Eldon “Nobby” Neben, Mrs. Rose Neben, Mrs. Stephanie  “VB” Van Blarcom, Mr. Jason Neben (Mr. & Mrs. Neben’s son), Miss Amy Neben (Mr. and Mrs. Neben’s daughter), Pastor Trevor Van Blarcom (Mrs. VB’s son), B. Van Blarcom (Pastor Trevor’s daughter)

Mr. E. Neben was principal while Mrs. VB and Mr. J. Neben were students.

Mrs. Neben was the school nurse while Mrs. VB, Mr. J. Neben, Miss Neben, and Pastor Trevor were students.

Mrs. VB taught Miss Neben in middle school.

Mr. J. Neben taught Pastor Trevor in middle school.

Miss Neben currently teaches B.

Real Time – Since 1960, a Neben and/or a Van Blarcom has been on staff at St. John’s in one or more of the following positions: principal, assistant principal, teacher, nurse, coach, and pastor.

Real Praise – Praise the Lord for teachers and administrators that work at St. John’s Lutheran School!  May God continue to receive our praise as we, the Neben’s and Van Blarcom’s, serve Him as partners in Lutheran school ministry.

St. John’s Lutheran School has a REAL. PRESENT. GOD. that has blessed generations in the past and is blessing generations to come!