“It’s all about workflow,” is a phrase all the students in my class will recognize. Whether 3D printing a phone case, casting parts for a power wheels upgrade, or laser cutting an ornament, the trick is to combine the right software with the right equipment in the right order to take a project from start to finish. The challenge is to learn those new computer skills and get familiar with that specialized equipment, all while keeping in mind the all-important workflow--doing those tasks in the right order.
The high school students have been busy on projects designed by the MIT Fab Academy to promote a working understanding of how to make use of all the awesome equipment we have in the SCS Maker Space. In addition to 3D printing, scanning 3D objects, CNC milling, and laser cutting, students can now cold cast metal objects from molds they make themselves using their own or pre-made designs they download. It’s been a lot of fun, with as much learning happening from botched projects as from picture-perfect end results. This next semester we’re looking forward to PCB milling, putting together an arduino controlled ME arm, and setting up a Raspberry Pi security cam.
The middle school has also jumped into “making.” They started the year by learning how to quickly take a logo off Google Images and convert it into a 3D mesh. There’s something so satisfying about taking an idea from image to real object, and Christmas laser-cut ornaments were a popular project again this year. In addition to learning basic coding in the computer lab, these go-getters have recently jumped on the fad of fidget spinners. They are designing their own and 3D printing them, to the fidgeting fun of students all over the school.
Take a brief glance into our Maker Space at SCS and you’ll see some new equipment we’ve been grateful to acquire over the last year. A generous gift set our shop up with the basics for an investment casting system. This has enabled us to cast into metal the 3D prototypes we print or mill. XYZ Printing recruited us to beta-test a new 3D printer over the summer, and we were able to keep it. We also have another CNC machine, courtesy of an Inventables contest that we won. Over Christmas break we won another contest put on by Dremel and are now equipped with two Dremel Idea Builders. The students have put these new “toys” to good use, making all sorts of projects. We are so thankful for all the donations.
For the student who loves variety and a hands-on learning experience, this class has been loads of fun. The “workflow” that they develop while “making” can then translate into how they approach other goals they set in their lives.
Stillwater’s sophomore class traveled to Helena on Monday and Tuesday to participate in the annual We the People: The Citizen and Constitution program. For the majority of their rhetoric course this year, students worked to improve their critical thinking and communication skills, while diving into an in-depth study of the Constitution. The class worked in cooperative teams and prepared four-minute statements that addressed specific questions related to the Constitution, which they presented before a panel of community representatives in a simulated Congressional hearing.
Teacher Ryan O’Rourke shared Anna Thompson’s response to the question in bold below.
In Opposition to Writs of Assistance, written in 1761 by James Otis, challenged the English idea of what constituted a constitution. He contended that a constitution could be understood as an instrument for limiting the legislative power of Parliament. What was the English conception of a constitution that Otis challenged? In what ways, if any, were the basic ideas held by Americans contrary to those held by the British? Were the colonists justified in believing that British policies violated basic principles of constitutional government? Why or why not?
What does life, freedom, liberty, and privacy mean to the modern American? It means almost everything to us. These are the things this country was founded upon. They are key principles for a constitutional government. We learned from England’s mistakes so our founding Fathers decided to make a constitutional government to protect the people. A constitution is an instrument for limiting the government’s power over the people.
James Otis Jr. argued in his historic Writs of Assistance Case of 1761 that the Writs were taking away the liberty, freedom, and privacy of the English citizens. The Writs were giving too much power to the English government. The government could give a warrant to anyone, and only on the barest hint of suspicion without any solid evidence. This example from the National Humanities Institute showed how the Writs imposed upon the liberty and privacy of the people. The JRank legal and reference library states that “a Writ of Assistance was a general search warrant that allowed customs officers to get the help of any local public official in making entry and seizure of contraband”. Although England didn’t have a written constitution, it was inferred that every man had a right to his home and privacy. England ended up taking away the freedoms that the people had fought for centuries earlier. Otis was correct in defending the people’s rights and trying to protect their freedom. Since England didn’t have a constitution, the Parliament had no boundaries set for what they could and couldn’t do.
When our country was 13 colonies, the colonists wanted to establish a constitution that was not subject to the whims of men. Even though our country has grown and progressed from being 13 colonies, the government and the people, or in the following case the state's government still have disputes. Recently, the Texas government passed a law that required abortion clinics to allow doctors to admit patients to nearby hospitals and the clinics had to meet the standards of a surgical center. This cut the number of abortion clinics in half. The Supreme Court heard of the new law, and tore it down saying that “it placed an undue burden on the clinics and on the women”. They said that it was making more obstacles for abortions. Texas’ government say that their whole goal in the new law was to protect the women they were serving. Texas’ Attorney General, Ken Paxton said, “The court is becoming a default medical board for the nation, with no deference being given to state law.” What Paxton means is that the American government or Judges are ignoring and bypassing the rules set in place by legislature and the majority and making decisions based on their own thoughts and feelings. Disagreements between the people and the Government is still a very relevant issue today.
I believe the colonists were justified in declaring that the British policies violated the principles of constitutional government. They believed that they had a right to privacy, liberty, and representation. When the fathers of this country were making their basic rules, they thought that these things were so important that they had to be in writing. This is why we have the Constitution. England didn’t and still doesn’t have a constitution to set boundaries for their government. One of the main beliefs of the founders was that mankind had God given rights. Benjamin Franklin said that “Freedom is not a gift bestowed upon us by other men, but a right that belongs to us by the laws of God and nature.” They believed that a constitution could help protect those rights. In England, the government was not being restricted so this allowed Parliament to take away what the people considered to be irrevocable God given rights. Today, activist judges are disregarding the state's right to self-rule and self-govern just like the English government was disregarding the colonists’ right to self-rule.
This week is National School Choice Week. The goal of National School Choice Week is to raise public awareness of all types of education options for children. Because of the benefits of school choice efforts like Montana Senate Bill (SB) 410 for Stillwater students and families, our school is joining other schools across the country in recognizing and celebrating school choice this week.
In this blog post, I want to briefly highlight some encouraging things that are happening both at the national and state/community level related to school choice.
Last week, President Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Education, Betsy Devos, began hearings related to her confirmation. A product of Christian schooling and longtime advocate for school choice, Ms. Devos stressed the importance of giving parents choices her opening statement:
Ms. Devos has not yet been confirmed; her likely confirmation is certainly an encouraging development for our nation’s educational landscape.
Here in Montana, the legislature is in session. Early indications are that Montana legislators will introduce a bill improving S.B. 410, which allows organizations like Big Sky Scholarships to accept tax-advantaged donations from Montana taxpayers. In addition, our legislature may again introduce a Special Needs Educational Savings Account (ESA) bill to provide greater choice to parents of students with special needs. Related to those efforts, the Montana School Choice Coalition, of which SCS is a part, is holding a rally at the State Capitol building this Wednesday at noon.
This Wednesday was also to be the day of the next hearing in the case of Espinosa v. Department of Revenue dealing with the constitutionality of SB 410. As we reported last week, however, that hearing has been indefinitely delayed pending the assignment of a new judge to the case. We are hopeful that the eventual outcome of this case will be a permanent injunction against the DOR’s attempt to block use of SB 410 funds by Christian and other religious schools.
One thing is clear: there is great demand for more school choice not only in our country but also here in Montana. Let us, this week especially, celebrate the progress that’s been made and resolve to continue to support efforts that will enable more parents to choose to attend Stillwater Christian School and others like it.
Today members of our senior class are scattered throughout the community, observing professionals as they work in their daily careers. Both today and one day last week, senior students were given the opportunity to learn first-hand about a field of interest, be it architecture, engineering, health science, forestry, or cosmetology, to name a few. This job shadow experience is just one piece of the winter seminar program that has long been a tradition for Stillwater Christian’s high school students.
For many years, ninth through twelfth grade students have looked forward to this special time following the Christmas break and have welcomed the variation to their regular school routines. The two-week seminar program offers an opportunity for each class to delve into an in-depth examination of an area of study. Freshmen are currently researching and learning about life during the Middle Ages, sophomores are scrutinizing and discussing the creation versus evolution debate, and juniors are preparing and delivering a mock trial. Meanwhile seniors, in their final winter seminar of their SCS tenure, are exploring the challenges and rewards of being a Christian in the workplace today.
Stillwater’s board chair, Mike Thompson, is giving his time to lead this seminar, and he's chosen Timothy Keller’s celebrated book, Every Good Endeavor, as the focus of the two-week program. It's a book rich with insight about the topic of work and how we perceive it as Christians and how, in our adult lives, it is possible to find a work-life balance that will allow us to thrive in both our personal and professional lives. Students have been reading and discussing elements of Keller’s work as they prepare to leave SCS in just a few months, growing closer to the time when they, too, will lead and serve in their communities.
The job shadowing experience is a new seminar component this year. Thompson visited students in the senior class and met with them briefly before the Christmas holiday, seeking to learn of their interests. He hoped to place students, for two days during the seminar, in corresponding settings to observe, and thankfully, for the most part, he was able to do this. In addition to students’ areas of interest, Thompson also asked select students to observe the daily routines of other roles he thought they should experience. One student, for example, spent the morning with a stay-at-home mom who is patiently parenting four young children. Asking students to go beyond simple observation and actually ask questions of the individuals during their shadow time, Thompson hoped the students would gain valuable insight into adult life and responsibility.
Several guest speakers have also taken time to share with students throughout the seminar. Dr. Jonathan Anderson, with Big Sky Family Medicine, spoke to the group on Friday last week, and both John Hudson, founder and architect of 100 Fold Studio, and Dr. David Bochman, Organization Development specialist with over 27 years of international mission work, will share about their career paths and how their faith has shaped the choices they've made.
Thompson has greatly enjoyed getting to know the members of SCS’s Class of 2017, and he hopes this two-week experience will be formative in how these young men and women view and relate to the concept of work for the rest of their lives.
Many of us know the story: A journey to Bethlehem, a family without a place to stay, a baby born in a barn and lying in a manger, soon to be visited by shepherds and wise men. While the nativity story and birth of that baby boy is sweet, adorable, and full of love, it is also nothing short of miraculous. We must be careful never to lose sight of this. Not only was the boy born of a virgin, but he also was to become the King of all the earth, the Ruler of the heavens, and the sacrifice of atonement for our sins. Isaiah 9:6-7 says, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.” This passage is rich with both wisdom and comfort. “For to us a child is born.” This child was not only for Mary, not only for the Jews, nor only for God; this child was for all of us—all of his chosen people.
For those who have chosen to follow him, He is our King, and our Lord. His Kingdom will endure, thrive, and conquer all others. Jesus was the fulfillment of God’s promises to David, the King of Israel. God promised David an eternal kingdom, one whose vastness would be without bounds, one that would be free from suffering, and an heir that would rule that kingdom forever. Not only has God fulfilled his promises to David, but He also will fulfill His promises to us. We are a wicked people, a sinful people, an undeserving people; a people who constantly and without fail turn towards earthly things. We are separated from God at conception, but this sweet baby boy, this Prince of Peace, has paid the price for our downfalls, our failures, our sin. His sacrifice has brought us back into the arms of The Father. We must not look at the birth of Jesus without keeping in perspective His death and resurrection. Christmas is not only a time to honor and give thanks to God for the arrival of this wonderful Savior, but also to remember what He has accomplished—our salvation. His sacrifice has not only brought us back to our Father, but it has also given us hope—hope in a life with God.
This hope should spur us forward. Our time on earth is temporary, and unfortunately, this earthly life is not always as peachy and perfect as we might want it to be. But that is the beauty of our hope in Christ. Life is full of trials; they test our faith, our endurance, and our devotion. Roman’s 5:3-4 says, “We also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” James says something of the same sort; we are to consider it pure joy whenever we face trials of many kinds because suffering matures us and ultimately brings us closer to God. This world is one of turmoil and war; terror reigns, discord festers, opposition seems to be around every corner. We are at war with sin, war with each other, war with ourselves, and at war with Satan, but our God is our rock. This baby boy, this miracle, who lay in a manger all those years ago, brings us hope.
Isaiah gives this boy four names, the first being Wonderful Counselor. Jesus is someone we can come to with our problems. He is a counselor, someone who is approachable, understanding, discerning, and someone who is always there for us. We do not have to face our struggles alone! Not only are we surrounded by brothers and sisters in Christ, but Jesus Christ, Lord of all, is with us all the time with open ears, ready to listen, and a loving heart, ready to comfort. The second name given by Isaiah is Mighty God. Christ is mighty, powerful and in control—even in a manger. At times in our lives everything may seem at a loss, but Jesus is in control. Christ can take away all our worries, and although it is in His power to do so, we must respect His answer whether it be yes or no. Everything happens according to His perfect will and we have hope in His kingdom that is free from all suffering. Christ is also called the Eternal Father. He is with us forever; He never fails; He never gives up; His love never ends. He is the father to the fatherless, the shepherd to the lambs, the friend to the friendless, the savior to the sinner. Finally, Christ is the Prince of Peace; this war that is waged on earth—between ourselves, others, sin, and Satan—is only temporary. Christ brings peace to all. All our suffering, all our pain, all our hurt is only temporary. As the Christmas Hymn goes, “Peace on earth and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled.” This peace is only brought about by that baby boy, wrapped in cloth and laid in a manager.
A poor couple with child was without a room to stay except for a small barn filled with animals. Imagine the smell, the dirt, and the aura of the barn. Most princes are born in a palace, but Christ came in some of the poorest conditions imaginable. Christ endured suffering. Fast-forward from His birth to His death and we can see that He experienced unimaginable suffering. The sins of the world pressed their weight on His shoulders. Each lash of the whip, every step with the cross on His back, each nail hammered into his hands and feet—that is true suffering. But Christ overcame this suffering; three days later Christ rose, having paid for our sin. He knows what each of us goes through, and He is with us in our sufferings. Just as Romans 8 tells us, we suffer with Christ in order to be glorified with Him. This Christmas Story is of the beginning, but we must keep in mind the whole story of the life of Christ. That baby became a man, a perfect man. That baby suffered. That baby took on the sins of the world, and conquered death. That baby championed the grave. That baby is our Savior. Always give praise and honor to Him, through which all true joy, true happiness, and true love are made possible. As I said, the Christmas story is a story of a beginning, and the end has been written, but we must take our part in it. Remember that baby boy is the Counselor, the Father, the Mighty God, and the Prince of Peace; He came for you. He is, and always will be, here through thick and thin—for you, with you, and beside you.
Over the past four weeks, SCS high school art students have been working on pieces to enter in a nation-wide visual arts competition sponsored by the Oakton Foundation. The competition seeks to identify young artists who share in the foundation’s vision that art is worship, and artists are called to co-create with God. Students may work in a wide variety of mediums including oils, acrylics, water color, charcoal, or pencils. They have been asked to also submit a brief writing piece, both biographical and explaining what they are hoping to communicate through their artwork.
Barbara Beckwith, director of Stillwater Christian’s art program, is enthusiastic about the competition and has encouraged all high school art students to take part. She learned about the Oakton Foundation competition this summer and thought the process would be rewarding for students, as it strives to have them produce works with meaning. All students who elect to study art with Mz. B understand that her courses focus on the technical components of art and help them improve their skills, but they know that the question they’ll be asked most in class is why. Why that choice in subject matter? Why that color? Why that perspective? Beckwith strives to make students think: to really contemplate and understand the choices they make, both in class and in life.
Students gave great thought to their pieces before creating and sharing them, and many are now on display in the elementary building. We encourage you to take a few moments to slow your walk through our hallways to read and view more of the creations of our thoughtful and talented students.
In that day the wolf and the lamb will live together; the leopard will lie down with the baby goat. The calf and the yearling will be safe with the lion, and a little child will lead them all. – Isaiah 11:6
This verse in Isaiah has always held a special place in my heart; it is a verse that holds new wonder for me every time I read it. I decided to let it be my inspiration for this painting. On one glorious day, predator and prey will become friends, and there will be enemies no more. This painting reminded me of God’s power, creativity, and majesty whenever I sat down to work on it. It reminds me that one day there will be peace in this world.
–Tayler Evenson, grade 11
This picture is showing how you should always keep your eyes set on the Lord. My inspiration has come through the many hard times that I’ve been through, especially the process of moving. It was difficult moving from two different states in just two years, and I had to rely on God for a lot of things. This picture reminds me that the Lord has your life under control, and He knows what is best for you, so this is just a reminder to keep your eyes set on God, especially through the tough times in your life.
– Madison Schwartz, 9th grade
John 8:12 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."
This verse was the most influential thing for me in the creation of this painting. In a world filled with darkness, Jesus is our only hope. We should look to him always, whether in times of prosperity or in times of pain. His divine light shall guide us through the evil that is our everyday trial. He is our lighthouse in a sea of sin. - Vincent Friel, 10th grade
Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.
- Psalm 100
I love the verbs in Psalm 100: shout, worship, come, know, enter, give, praise. This Psalm of David commands us through all these wonderful imperative verbs to honor our Lord who made us and sustains us as our good and faithful shepherd. As we get ready to celebrate Thanksgiving this week, this is a great set of verbs to have in our minds. It is also a great set of verbs for thinking about God’s generational faithfulness to Stillwater Christian School.
Shout. David calls us to shout for joy or make a joyful noise. Think of all the sounds we make and hear throughout the day, all of the noise that attends our existence as 21st Century Americans. What a cacophony of sounds it is! Perhaps we should ask whether the noises we add to that mix are joyful ones or not? I’m thankful that Stillwater is a place so full of joyful, good noises: prayer, singing, greeting, teaching, encouraging, asking, explaining, playing, laughing.
Worship. This Psalm reminds us that we are creatures and God is our creator. Why did he make us? For worship. Our chief end is to glorify him and enjoy him forever. We do this with gladness because, no matter what is going on in our circumstances or society, we can be confident that we worship the Lord God. He is on his throne. I’m thankful for the worship that occurs every day at Stillwater Christian School: not only for our regular practice of worship in chapel, fellowship groups, and daily devotions but also for the many ways our faculty, staff, and students worship their Lord through their efforts as teachers, coaches, students, musicians, and athletes.
Come. Some of us are bearing heavy loads. It’s hard; it’s wearying. But Jesus tells us in Matthew 11 to come to him, all who are weary, for his yoke is easy and burden is light. As we approach the end of 2016, let’s resolve to simply come. And let us do so with joyful songs on our lips. One of the great joys of working at Stillwater is getting to hear the joyful singing of our wonderful choirs and the joyful playing of our great bands.
Know. Our knowledge is rooted in revelation: the general revelation of God’s creation—he made us and we are his—and the special revelation of his word. How thankful I am that the three children I have here at Stillwater are receiving an education rooted in the knowledge of God’s revelation; that all of their learning acknowledges that the Lord is God and we are his people, his sheep.
Enter. Give. Praise. Tomorrow you will likely enter into a home or invite into your own home friends and family to celebrate a unique day on our calendar: Thanksgiving. As you do so, I encourage you to think of entering into the courts of our heavenly Father’s house where he invites us to abide with him. If we are indeed his, then our home is not on this earth but with him in heaven. What a wonderful truth that is. As you consider God’s goodness and steadfast love to our families, children, grandchildren, school, community, and land, may you overflow with thanksgiving and praise this week and always.
SCS third grade teacher, Andy Harrel, comes to the end of his first quarter as a full-time faculty member at the school, and it's certainly been a busy few months. "It's a wonderful class," he shared about his students. "They are a competitive bunch, though, and definitely keep me on my toes!"
Getting to know the kids in his class, not just as a group but individually as well, has been the most rewarding aspect of his new school role. Each child has his own story to share, and working with kids at this age, Harrel appreciates how honest they are about their excitement. "It's very easy to tell if they're engaged in learning. There's no faking it at this age!"
Last week he took his class to Kalispell's Central School Museum, a field trip opportunity offered to third grade children across the valley. And it was very easy to observe that the students were engaged in the history around them. Definitely a worthwhile trip, children enjoyed learning what it was like to be instructed in a one-room schoolhouse setting - sitting in old-fashioned desks, writing with chalk on slate boards, and playing schoolyard games from long ago. The tour offered plenty of objects to touch and explore, including an interactive display of Flathead Lake. Sharing stories about the first settlers of the Flathead, tour guides told how they were influenced by the geography of the area, and the class left with a better understanding of our valley's early days.
He may be new to the full-time position, but Mr. Harrel really isn't new to the SCS community. An SCS alumnus, he earned his teaching degree from Crown College in Minnesota in 2011, but he's been substituting and coaching at Stillwater intermittently over the past 10 years. As much as he loves teaching at Stillwater, Harrel admits that the decision to join the faculty full-time was not an easy one. Passionate about the game of basketball, he had been playing professional ball overseas prior to this teaching experience. In fact, just one month after accepting his Stillwater position, he was offered a full-time player's contract in China. Yet he chose to stay true to his commitment, and he's grateful for this decision.
This year Mr. Harrel will also fill new shoes at Stillwater as the men's varsity basketball coach. Yes, it will be a busy season for him. But it's all good - he loves his time on the court and in the classroom.
Less than two weeks remain before Stillwater Christian PTO's Swingin' Spectacular! Don't delay in purchasing your tickets to this lively event!
In case you are new to the Stillwater Christian community, PTO is a team of faithful and energetic parents who work tirelessly to make Stillwater the special place it is. Last year they brought this fabulous evening of dancing and dining to our community for their annual fall fundraiser. It was a great success, and thanks to their efforts and the generous outpouring of support, all high school students now have a private locker to store their belongings. Proceeds this year will be used towards the purchase of a new bus which will benefit the entire school community.
We welcome the return of this event, along with all sorts of new and exciting festivities to spice up the evening. In addition to a delicious dinner at the Hilton Garden Inn, guests will be treated to big band tunes of the Swingin’ on High jazz ensemble and the opportunity to head home with many exciting auction items. Flathead Valley friends have been generous; auction items include Coeur d’Alene Resort destination packages, a Proof Research gun barrel plus complimentary shooting range time, gorgeous jewelry from Whitefish’s McGough and Co., and various goodies for golf, cooking, photography and outdoor enthusiasts, just to name a few of the items to be featured. A live auction will not take place this year, but guests will have the opportunity to purchase wingspans of tickets to bid on desired items.
Please consider joining us for this special evening! Don’t let silly excuses keep you away from a night of fellowship and fun with Stillwater friends. Attire is simply dressy; you do not need to purchase a tux or gown to attend this event (although feel free to get fancy if you'd like!), and if you happen to have two left feet, there will be absolutely zero pressure to hit the dance floor! Just come. Support our school. And enjoy a wonderful evening doing something important for our students!
When we opened our doors on September 8th, 94 new smiling faces - accompanied, I'm sure, by some bellies of butterflies - were greeted that morning! How blessed we are to begin the year with such a strong enrollment! Some newcomers join us from established families, but 79 of these children are with new families. Most enrollment growth is seen in elementary and middle school – we now have two kindergarten and first grade classes, yet we also welcome 16 students to our high school and continue to see our international program expand with 8 students from China now studying with us.
As I met with families, especially during the summer months, I saw so many of them in transition. Plenty have recently relocated, both from in and out of state, and many are still going through the bumpy changes. Rental hiccups, temporary housing, belongings stuck in storage - one family even spent the bundle of the summer in a camper, with their children in a nearby tent! Not to mention changes in children’s routines, saying good-bye to loved ones, and the simple unfamiliarity of everything... Transitions don’t always go smoothly, and they’re certainly not easy!
I ask you to join me in praying that these students and parents are met with love and kindness as they make this beautiful valley their new home. I pray for strength, courage, and understanding for these students as they build relationships at Stillwater. I give thanks that they are in a school that is centered in Christ, and I pray that those butterflies in the stomach will soon disappear!
Warm welcome to new SCS families! I’m so glad that you are here!
Enrollment 2016/17: 369 (pk-12)
Enrollment 2015/16: 346 (pK-12)