The Right People. The Right Place. The Right Time.

I have a small card under the glass on my desk at school that bears a simple, yet profound, message:  “Everything seems impossible until it is done.”  I’ve spent a great deal of time thinking about that card lately.

It wasn’t too many days ago that none of us were too sure how the school year would begin.  New (and often contradictory) regulations and guidelines were hemorrhaging out of Sacramento, seemingly hourly. Newscasters made the most of the confusion, predicting a crisis in classrooms through California and the nation, as a whole.   Meanwhile, here in Orange,  St. John’s Lutheran church and school leadership quietly spent the last seven months intensely studying the guidelines, creating policy, and then deftly shifting it to follow the new guidelines that would ultimately determine how St. John’s Lutheran School would face a challenging (and, at times, a daunting) future.

Yet, here we are.

It’s the second week of school for all of us.  Preschool through the Sixth Grades are in their proper classrooms, being taught by hardworking, caring, and somewhat exhausted Christian teachers.  While the Seventh and Eighth Grade students are still learning online, the word going around is that, given the current trends, Seventh and Eighth Graders could be back in the Chapman Building in a couple of weeks.

Far from the potential train wreck predicted by some, the opening of St. John’s Lutheran School  has been, calm and orderly and, in a sense, predictable.  We’ve met the challenges and pressed forward.  Given the predictions of disaster, how has St. John’s Lutheran School  achieved such a feat?

It wasn’t us.

God’s Hand has clearly been at work.  In His eternal foresight, Our Lord has placed the right leaders in positions where their skills are in direct alignment with what needed to be done – and when.  The right people became “Covid-19” experts.  The right campus management team envisioned the right policies that allowed the right administrators to compose the right words for the waiver, which was submitted to the right people, at the right time, to effect the right outcome.  The right teachers prepared for both styles of learning – online and face-to-face – so that, whichever mode was needed could be implemented immediately.  Parents stood in solidarity with St. John’s Lutheran School, praying, petitioning, and holding their ground as SJLS supporters even when things looked a bit dicey.

Because of the power of the Almighty, working with and through the people mentioned in the paragraph above,  St. John’s Lutheran School opened, as it should have, on the date that was determined last January, before most Americans had ever heard of plague known as “Covid-19.”  While not, perhaps, in the same league as changing water into wine, I consider what happened here miraculous, given the challenges the church and school faced – and is facing today. 

God is good.  God is powerful.  God engages with His people.  We’ve just seen that here at St. John’s.

Like you, I’m awed.  And, of course, highly thankful.

Kevin G. Smith

Seventh Grade Language Arts & Christian Faith and Life

Middle School Drama Club Elective

For the 2018-2019 school year, a brand new middle school elective was introduced, “Drama Club“. Drama Club students have the opportunity to practice acting and improv skills, work with partners and in teams, and learn the craft of stage acting. Students also have the opportunity to write and perform original scripts!

During elective class, we have an amazing time together laughing, rehearsing, and coming up with unique ways to tell stories.

All of this practice helps the Drama Club students with their most important work: sharing God’s word. The Drama Club has performed throughout the school year in chapel and at the fall pep rally. Their skits emphasize the truth of God’s love and His calling in our lives through humor and drama.

As their teacher, I am thankful for all the Drama Club students’ hard work and their willingness to get up in front of the school to share the Good News!

We are looking forward to a great spring semester-the Drama Club will be performing in chapel throughout it, and lead the school through our Holy Week chapel series before Easter.

Stephanie Ann Van Blarcom

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The Story of Christmas – Presented by K & 1st Grades

One of the most precious traditions here at St. John’s is our annual Kindergarten and First Grade Advent program. Over the years, thousands of people have had to pleasure of witnessing the story of Christmas as told by our wonderful students.

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The angels, Mary and Joseph, and the Star of Bethlehem are played by our kindergartners. The first graders play the part of the shepherds, the wise men, and Herod. Each class recites pieces of the story of Christmas and sings traditional hymns in their sweet voices. Every child is costumed and enthusiastically plays his or her part.

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The children begin practicing well before Thanksgiving. Mrs. Audrey Mink, our chorale director, teaches and guides the children in how to use their musical gifts to share the story of God’s great gift, Jesus.

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The students present the story of Christmas twice, once for our school and again in the evening for the congregation. The event is always well attended and is truly one of the most heart-warming Advent treasures to experience here at St. John’s.

By: Mrs. Demarest, 1st grade

Celebrating Jesus with Word, Song, and Psalter

Members of the St. John’s Lutheran Middle School community – students, parents, and teachers – gathered in the Sanctuary on Saturday, 7 December 2019.  Their purpose: coming together to praise Jesus by participating in the annual student-led Advent worship service.  Under the direction of Mrs. V.B. and Mr. Mejia, students celebrated the birth of Jesus through the words, songs, and musical  instruments.

As you can imagine, the logistics of putting together, rehearsing, and performing a worship service with almost 300 students do not come together quickly.  As is always the case, St. John’s Lutheran Middle School students have been working toward creating this annual tradition since before the Thanksgiving holiday, utilizing their elective course and daily advisory periods in rehearsals. The results of the students’ work have been spectacular, as St. John’s Lutheran Middle School students took the reins of the worship experience and the Middle School mass choir filled the Sanctuary with songs of praise in honor of the Christ Child.

Why do we invest so much time and effort in this endeavor?  Following the injunction of Jesus Christ Himself, our mission as Christians is to “go and tell” of our life-changing, soul-saving faith in Our Lord (Matthew 27).  Can you imagine a better way to undertake such a mission than through St. John’s Lutheran Middle School students sharing the uplifting message of Christ’s birth, as delivered through inspiring words and music?

We praise our Triune God for the birth of Our Savior, Jesus Christ – who came to Earth in physical form to live among us, to teach us God’s Word, and to suffer and die in our place, for our sins.  His resurrection confirms that we, too, will rise from death and join Him in Heaven.

Kevin G. Smith, 7th grade

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O give thanks to the Lord!

In kindergarten, we had the opportunity to learn about and act out some of the events that took place on the First Thanksgiving.

We had a lot of fun on our Mayflower voyage across the Atlantic.  When we reached the new land, the students were given jobs to help prepare for the upcoming winter.  The boys did a great job of collaborating to make a common house out of Lincoln Logs, while the girls took care of the children in the forest.

When it came time to celebrate all the blessings between the Pilgrims and Native Americans, everyone pitched in to help.  The hunters had the job of preparing the turkey, the gatherers needed to harvest the corn, and the girls helped prepare the table for the upcoming feast.

When the feast was over, we continued the celebration with play time and game time. We of course saved the best for last, the pumpkin pie!

We truly have a lot to be thankful for.

Mrs. Harrison, Kindergarten