Real Safety in an Unsafe World

This week, many of St. John’s Lutheran School classrooms are introducing the Safe Kids “H.E.R.O.” initiative, a five-part training program designed to help students (and their teachers) survive an armed intruder attack.  It’s sobering stuff to be teaching children – but, sadly, a necessary one to teach, given the constant danger under which schools around the globe find themselves.

The good news?  In my Homeroom, my Seventh Graders identified that, on the “Feel Safe” continuum, they feel safer at St. John’s than they feel in the greater Orange community.  Clearly, our administrators have been doing their job of lessening the stress and anxiety that students feel while on our historic campus.  The surprising impression (for me, at least) is how much tactical understanding the students already have regarding active shooter psychology, intent, and method.  Everyone, it seems, has a story to tell about something they have heard about the subject.

In such anxious times, it is good to reflect upon Someone outside ourselves Who has our back – the Lord Jesus Himself.  I find the words of Psalm 34: 7 particularly helpful when I consider the potential for danger that faces our children (and us!) every time we step out of our doors:

“The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, and he delivers them.”

In this incredible passage of assurance, King David offers the two promises we need to rely upon the most –  security (“The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him”) and physical protection (“. . .and He delivers them.”)  King David’s words are exactly the sort of reminder we all need during these times of anxiety and fear.

St. Jhn’s Lutheran School needs the H.E.R.O. infinitive right now.  Our students need to know how to protect themselves in the event that. . .well, you know.  Even more so, though, St. John’s Lutheran School needs the confidence in Our Lord’s Hand of protection that King David declares in Psalm 34.  I rely upon it daily.  So should you.

May God continue to bless our school and all who call it home!

Together, with you, in Christ’s service,

Kevin G. Smith, Seventh Grade Language Arts

 

Giving Thanks!

I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers, because I hear of your love and of the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus.  Philemon 1:4

It’s a great week at St. John’s to give thanks!  We started the week with excitement and thankfulness for the successful Gala and Auction on Saturday.  So many dedicated people worked tirelessly to plan this annual event that has brought many blessings to our school over the years.  The outpouring of love and support through the generous donations is overwhelming and it’s exciting to look forward to our new STEM lab and other ways our school will benefit in the next year.

Our Track & Field Days are another reason to give thanks this week.  St. John’s students ran, jumped, kicked, threw, and cheered each other on as they demonstrated power, strength, and an abundance of energy in their bodies.  What a celebration of the strong healthy bodies with which they are blessed!

Teacher Appreciation Week brought fun surprises each day.  It’s a blessing to be a teacher at St. John’s!  So many parents and students to thank for their treats, gifts, cards and loving notes!  It’s also a good time, as one of these blessed teachers, to thank God for the support and friendship of a faculty and staff that is so committed to serving the Lord and His people each day and building one another up.

What a week!

But what about the weeks that aren’t so exciting and fun-filled?  Can we still give thanks then too?  Aren’t there days and weeks when the funds are tight and budgets are a concern?  What about the people we know who don’t have strong healthy bodies to celebrate?  Or the races lost and getting the 8th place ribbon instead of 1st place? The school project hours were spent on, only to earn a mediocre grade?  The pain of fractured relationships and discord?  Can we still give thanks then too?  Yes!  God promises to supply every need of ours according to His riches in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).  He uses adversity to exhibit just how wonderfully perfect His love is for us through our Savior.  If we leave ourselves open to seeing God’s blessings through the difficult times, we will see His love manifested in our lives and know the true peace and joy that are His gift to us.  That’s a reason to give thanks!

By: Mrs. Cathy Meier, 2nd grade!

National Junior Honor Society

This year the St. John’s chapter of the National Junior Honor Society (NJHS) was busy.  For those who are not familiar with the National Junior Honor Society, it is a prestigious organization created to recognize and encourage academic achievement, as well as cultivate the characteristics of character, service, leadership and citizenship, among middle level students.  Membership in the National Junior Honor Society is a privilege.

At St John’s Lutheran School (SJLS), the National Junior Honor Society is established for grades 6 (after first semester), 7 and 8 to recognize outstanding Christian role models in five areas: Scholarship, Leadership, Citizenship, Character and Service.

Our members are active throughout the school and community.  Aside from maintaining good grades, high standards for behavior and personal commitments outside of school, our members also participated in three service projects this year and numerous meetings.  Two of the service projects were done as a group, and the third is an independent community project of their own design.

For the first project students collected money for victims of hurricane Maria and was very successful.  For several weeks they visited classrooms they were assigned to and spoke in front of the entire school at chapel services to encourage students to bring donations.  The school was divided into three sections, two in lower grades and one group in middle school.  Within the group they competed to see which grade level would bring in the most money.  In return, the grade level which brought in the most money received a free-dress day.  In the end, the chapter raised over $1500.00.

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The second project took place in February and March and consisted in members volunteering a Saturday afternoon to the 4th Saturday Food project.  Members participated on their chosen day and reported enjoying this afternoon of service very much.

The third project had members using their creativity and contacts to create, propose and serve in the community at large.  They did such varied things as helping blind children, distributing clothing to unemployed people, serving food at Little League events, helping children at Caterinas Club, cleaning up at the beach, helping the preschoolers in Peru, and many more.

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In April we had our yearly induction ceremony in which 21 new members were inducted.  It is a great turnout and we are looking forward to working with these new members over the next years.  Each Friday all our members can be recognized around the campus as they wear their NJHS t-shirts.  If you happen to run into one, congratulate them on achieving and maintaining such high standards!

By: Sr. Stone, Spanish Teacher, NJHS Coordinator

Electives can plan plant seeds for future careers!

St. John’s serves kindergarten through eighth grade students. Once students leave their fifth grade year they enter middle school and are asked to make choices in the types of electives they would like to explore. Most electives are one semester. The array of choices gives students exposure to what they are able to take in high school.

The elective choices at St. John’s range from different strands of art, technology and exploration of robotic classes. Currently, St. John’s is exploring online electives in partnership with Orange Lutheran and Crean High schools. This semester we have an online YouTube 101 course. Some of the other elective choices include band, digital citizenship, choir, video yearbook, computer science, VEX robotics, journalism, photography, public speaking student leadership, health and safety science Olympics, art and there is a teacher aide elective.

For students to be chosen to be a teacher aide they must get two recommendations from teachers. Once chosen the student can decide if they would like to be an aide for one of the three classes in the first through fifth grades, a library aide, athletic aide or an aide in the technology lab.

As a middle school teacher of ten years it was my desire to offer a teacher aide elective to our students. When I was in middle school I had the opportunity to be a teacher aide for the physical education teacher and this is what planted the idea that being a teacher is a career I would like to pursue. Student Sarah Hertfelder stated that “being a teacher aide in the first grade was really fun because I can  help individual students.” This semester Sarah is aiding for a fourth grade teacher and is now considering a teaching career. Student Andrea Basadre asserted that being a teacher aide allowed her to understand the “behind the scenes of teaching.” Eighth grade student Embry Fleischman was already considering a teacher career but wanted to experience first hand what it would be like.

By Mrs. Bender, Middle School Teacher

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Lutheran Schools Unite for Professional Soccer in Orange County

Did you know that South Orange County is home to Championship Stadium? Champion Stadium is a beautiful soccer arena and is set in in the heart of Irvine Great Park.  Home to Orange County Soccer Club, the team competes in the Professional Development League for the MLS, a feeder team for the new MLS expansion team “Los Angeles Football Club.”  It is a tier 2 professional level and is a great way to experience the sport of soccer.

St. John’s, Salem, and St. Paul’s Lutheran Schools teamed up to participate in the first ever Lutheran schools night hosted by the Orange County Soccer Club, on Saturday 3/24.  With just over 100 families participating, kids were able to participate in player introductions, dream team activities, and some were even chosen to go out on the field for the National Anthem or be a sideline ball retriever.  St. John’s own Kelly Early was asked to sing the National Anthem,if you have heard her sing in our praise band, you can only imagine how amazing she sounded. It was a great night for all those involved.

This night was meant to be a new stepping stone in developing a new era of camaraderie and fellowship among our Lutheran School system.  The kids enjoyed fellowship without the label of this school or that school. Families joined in fellowship while eating from the food truck vendors which are a part of the “IN-STADIUM” environment.  The facility is incredible, the environment promotes positive experiences for the game of soccer, and the up close field experience was exciting. Looking forward to more nights of fun and fellowship with other Lutheran Schools united in ministry.  Did I mention, the kids had a blast… just look at the pictures below.

By: Mr. Kenny Harrison, 8th grade

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God’s Creation and Writing!

One of the joys of teaching and learning at St. John’s is our opportunity to connect our faith with academic knowledge. This past week our language arts curriculum focused on ways animals survive in nature. This theme provided many opportunities to highlight God’s creative and magnificent design in the ways He has given animals to adapt to changes in weather, food supplies and habitats. We loved reading and talking about the ways animals use the instincts God gave them.

At our writing center the children were asked to use two books of expository fiction designed to entertain and inform, in order to find out about ways that animals cope with the drastic changes that accompany winter in many places. They wrote a sentence for two animals they read about. In order to practice a grammatical writing skill, they included a different “not contraction” word in each sentence. They finished by illustrating one of their sentences. Their work will be displayed on our First Grade Writers’ Workshop bulletin board.

By: Mrs. Cook, 1st grade

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Attitude of Gratitude: Stop-Motion, Time lapse videos – 8th Grade Christian Faith and Life

Earlier this year, 8th grade students took the opportunity to learn about what it means to live a life of gratitude.  The students had to step back and learn to recognize the blessings they have in their individual lives.  Of course, it is easy for them to see the fancy things in life, maybe they recognized a recent gift, like an iphone or the next best gaming system.  Some of them even saw the big picture of attending a caring school environment, or having a solid structure they could call home.  But what about the things they take for granted like… a bed, running water, siblings, parents who are involved, teachers who care, and the SAVING GRACE of Jesus Christ.  So the journey had to dig deeper.

We spent a full week working on projects, reading scripture, and gathering all of the knowledge about the blessings we are surrounded with each day.  Our projects culminated with a timelapse, stop motion, or paper slide story expressing what it is the kids are so grateful for in their lives.  The projects were impressive, but the lessons of gratitude prevailed.  Students expressed gratitude for those things they did not actually recognize before.  Like a parent who takes them to and from practices for their favorite extracurricular activity, their siblings that have helped to mold them to be the person they are today, their amazing God who loved them so much that he sent his only Son to die in their place for their salvation.  Capping all of this off with two days of project share was tremendous.

In the near future we revisit this attitude of gratitude, and incorporate God’s Call in their lives.  We assess spiritual gifts, and the students will learn the next step of how to live a gracious life with purpose.  The purpose which God designed them to fulfill.

Mr. Harrison, Middle School Teacher