Normally, I would not write a blog post giving parenting advice to the parents at The King's Academy. Parents who send their students to Christian schools tend to be the type that keep current on trends, movies, and other media. However, this particular television series, and its potential impact on teens, has prompted me to write this piece. (Note: Reading reviews is an important step any time you question a book, a movie, an app, a video game - not just for this particular film.)
13 Reasons Why is a television series about a teenage girl who is bullied at school, is raped, and eventually commits suicide. (Currently, it is being shown on Netflix.) All of the topics that are raised by the protagonist in this series are worthy of discussion. However, that does not mean that I would endorse the show for my own daughter to watch; in fact, I do not endorse it for any TKA students. The following is a list of reasons why I would encourage every parent to think twice before letting their student watch this series:
1. The rating on this series is TV Mature. It involves some very disturbing events including rape and suicide. The rating by IMDb calls several episodes, "TRIGGERING," INCREDIBLY TRIGGERING," and "EXTREMELY UNCOMFORTABLE: BE PREPARED."
2. The themes in this series are very adult in nature. It is the parent's job to have these discussions with their teens, not a movie.
3. The series can give the wrong impression on suicide. Suicide is rarely related to one incident in a person's life but rather a culmination of many events. This film could unintentionally glorify the act of suicide and encourage others to do the same.
4. Students do not need to see a rape in action to know it is wrong, just as they do not need to see a murder to know it is wrong. This series is graphic and shows a prolonged rape scene.
Parenting is never easy, and saying "no" to certain videos, video games, movies, and other things your children will ask to do is difficult. But many times, it is the right thing to do. I believe this is one of those cases.
I would encourage any parent to read the reviews (linked here is one for this movie from a good resource, commonsensemedia.org) and preview it first before allowing their teenager to watch. The topics in this film are worthy of discussion. In my opinion, parents can have these discussions with their children without having to watch this film. As the parent, it's your decision. The school cannot dictate morality, but we can inform parents so they are better prepared to have these types of conversations with their students.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:8
This past year, we embarked upon The King’s Academy’s first-ever strategic plan. As a part of this process, we commissioned a committee to rewrite the mission statement for the school. The original mission statement was an entire paragraph that was not easily recited or remembered. The team was instructed to come up with a shorter version that embodied all of the values of the original statement. It was critical that the school kept its identity during the whole process, and therefore, the team members selected were very important. The committee was made up of several long-term employees as well as founding members of the school. The resulting statement, The King's Academy is a Christ-centered school that inspires academic excellence, servant leadership, and enduring relationships, is the new mission statement of The King’s Academy.
In the past two years, we have seen the school increase our Advanced Placement (AP) offerings from 12 to 16 courses. We also began our one-to-one technology initiative this year, with full implementation expected in 2019-20. Lastly, we have placed an emphasis on adding more STEM classes. However, academics are just one important part of the mission. The last two parts of the mission statement, dealing with servant leadership and enduring relationships, are just as integral to the school, and those components are what I want to focus on in this post.
In the beginning, The King’s Academy was founded by a group of individuals from Young Life Ministries, and at their core, they believed that building relationships and spiritual development were central to the mission of the school. Over the past year, the administration has taken several steps to ensure that we never stray from the founders’ original vision for The King’s Academy. This past year, we hired a campus pastor, Rob Starke, to replace the position of Spiritual Life Director. This new position has the responsibility for overseeing the spiritual climate of the entire campus. Rob has renewed our focus on God’s word, making it central to all we do, including our chapel services.
The King’s Academy continues to emphasize our retreats and service trips. During our recent service week, our high school students were sharing the gospel on mission trips, locally and abroad. Students on our signature trip to Tecate, Mexico, built 16 homes, and other students served on the new overseas trips to Belize and Japan. These service trips and the retreats in the fall are so important to both the spiritual development and the relationship-building that the TKA founders believed necessary.
Our commitment to keep our students focused on Christ is just as strong today as it was in the beginning of The King’s Academy. We believe that you can have both strong academics and spiritual development. They are not mutually exclusive, nor should they be. As The King's Academy moves forward, we ask that you continue to pray for our faculty and staff as we seek to follow the mission statement’s three prongs of academic excellence, servant leadership, and enduring relationships.
I love Christmas time. It is quite possibly my favorite holiday of the year, as it is for many around the world. Each year, our family watches a variety of Christmas movies, and last night, we watched one of my favorites, A Christmas Story. A Christmas Story recounts the ordeals of Ralphie Parker during a typical Indiana Christmas in the early 1940’s. Ralphie desperately wants a Red Ryder B.B. Gun for Christmas. He uses every opportunity to surreptitiously plant the seeds for this gift in his parents’ minds. And while the movie has many hilarious moments, my favorite part in the movie is when, after all the gifts are opened, Darren McGavin, or “The Old Man,” surprises Ralphie with one last gift, the Red Ryder Carbine Action 200 shot B.B. gun. The look on Raphie’s face is priceless, but of even more significance is the look on the face of “the Old Man.” You see, every parent truly enjoys the feeling that we get when we are able to give our children something that makes them happy, even if only momentarily. The old saying, “it is more blessed to give than receive,” is absolutely true for parents. We love our children, and we want to make them happy. If at all possible, parents try to give their children what they want, provided it is good for them. Our Heavenly Father is no different.
The Bible gives us many earthly symbols so that we can understand the mind of God. He is called our father, we are called his sons, and our entire relationship with God is symbolic of a family. Through the blood of Jesus Christ, we are adopted and become joint heirs to His kingdom. As sons and daughters of the King of Kings, how much more does our heavenly Father want to bless us with good gifts from above. “Every good and perfect gift is from above.” James 1:17.
And while God gives us many good gifts each day, over 2000 years ago, He gave us the best gift of all in Jesus Christ. Galatians 4:4 says, “But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth His son, made of woman, under the law, To redeem them that are under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.”
This is what Christmas is all about. God sent His son to earth, born of a virgin, to one day take on the sins of the world. And when we accept the gift of Jesus and ask Him to come and live inside our hearts, the Bible says there is rejoicing in heaven. I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. Luke 15:7
God, like “the old man” in A Christmas Story, breaks into a smile when we unwrap the gift of Jesus. Our Father in heaven loves us, and He wants what is best for us. Best of all, he has given us the most wonderful gift ever, His son, Jesus Christ.
Thanksgiving is almost here, and for many of us, we are so thankful the election is over. Our choices were not that good, and over half of the country is upset with the President-elect, but thank God, we don’t have to hear anymore debates or see anymore election commercials. There is a sense of relief that it is finally over. However, this does not mean we are finished. Now comes the part that is probably the most important of all, “prayer”.
You see, many of us want to pray before the election for a specific result. The truth is we have a greater responsibility to pray for the leaders who are elected after the election is over. Romans 13:1 specifically states, “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.” This is a tough statement to swallow, but there it is in the Scriptures for everyone to see.
After each election, some group sends a picture of the president to principals of schools all across the country. It is one of those pictures you see hanging up in government buildings. Many people throw them away, especially if the person elected is not their choice. When the picture of Barack Obama arrived back in 2009, I hung his picture up in my office. Whenever conservative parents would step into my office, they would remark upon his picture, usually negatively. They would ask me if I supported him during the election, or ask me how in the world could I hang his picture upon my office wall. I would quickly remind them that, like it or not, he was the President of the United States. He was owed my respect as a citizen of this country, and he needed my prayers. Our responsibility as citizens is to vote, and afterward, it is to support our elected officials. It does not mean that we cannot disagree with them, but it does mean we should pray for them to have wisdom to make good decisions.
Let me put it another way. I know some people who want President-elect Trump to fail miserably. They despise the man so much that they would rather see him make mistakes and put this country into greater debt or, even worse, possibly put the U.S. into a wartime situation. Their rationale is that they would prefer four years of a bad Trump presidency because they fear, if he succeeds, he will be re-elected in four more years. Is that really the best thing for the United States? Rather, let us pray that our new president has wisdom from on high, that he follows Godly principles, and that he appoints good cabinet members. If he is successful, do we not all succeed? So when our new president’s picture arrives, it will be posted on my wall. Not because I agree with his attitudes towards minorities, women, or economic policies, but because now, more than ever, he needs my prayers.
This Thanksgiving, let us be reminded of the good things God has given us in California. Besides living in the state with the best weather, receiving much needed rainfall this year, and having a good school like The King’s Academy, God has redeemed us through the blood of his only begotten son, Jesus Christ.
Speaking of good things, I also wanted to share the latest report card for The King's Academy from a national ranking system called Niche. The King’s Academy is ranked as the 8th best Christian school in the state, ranking several spots higher than Valley Christian. The rankings are based upon our average SAT/ACT test score, college placements, and parent satisfaction.
Thank you for partnering with us in the education of your children.
1. God is in control. He will not be surprised by the outcome of the election. For those who believe in the sovereignty of God, do you not believe that our steps are still ordered by the Lord? Our reaction should reflect this belief.
2. God can use a wicked king. He used many wicked kings in Biblical times to bring about His bidding. Nehemiah was helped in the rebuilding of the wall by the wicked king Artaxerxes. Esther was helped by an ungodly king, Ahasuerus, when a plot was hatched to kill the children of Israel. If God is in control, whichever candidate is elected, and both choices are bad, God can use them for His purposes.
3. Don’t define people around you by whom they vote for. This election has been/is divisive. We need to fight the “us vs. them” mentality. We all want a great America, but some of us differ on what that looks like.
4. Things are not always what they seem. I remember vividly when Sandra Day O’Connor was nominated for the Supreme Court. She was Ronald Reagan’s pick, and therefore, she must be conservative. In the end, she voted with the liberal wing far more often than the conservative wing of SCOTUS. George H.W. Bush appointed David Souter, another supposed conservative, who ended up joining forces with the liberal justices more often than naught. And lastly, George Bush picked John Roberts to be our Chief Justice, and he did not vote to overturn Obamacare. Conservative presidents do not always pick conservative justices, and conservative justices do not always vote conservatively.
This election will test our Christianity. Will we spew hate towards those who vote opposite our opinion? Will we refuse to acknowledge the winner? Will we set an example to our children that we will regret? We are being watched. Let’s all show the world that we have faith in our God, that He can use whomever is elected for His purposes, and that He is in control.
What started as a single protest by Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers has moved from the NFL to college football, and now into the high school arena. On Friday night, our students and fans got to see first-hand some of the protests that are popping up all over the country. In fact, Colin made his way to the sidelines of Kellogg Field at The King’s Academy and participated with the Castlemont team protest during the playing of the national anthem. Team members from the Knights of Castlemont High School in Oakland, CA, decided to lay down on the sidelines of the field with their arms raised, simulating being shot while surrendering to police. Prior to the game, I had sent an email to our staff giving them a “heads up” that something might happen at the game. This was not the first protest by Castlemont High. I was very proud of the way our fans and team responded to the protest, so I have decided that I would share some of my thoughts on how Christians should be acting during these strangest of times.
My first reaction to these protests has been, and always will be, that all Americans have a right to peacefully protest. It is one of the fundamental rights we have as citizens in this great country. Voicing one’s opinion, no matter how misguided, is protected by the first amendment to the constitution. However, actions have consequences and every athlete who makes a decision to protest will have to face the potential backlash from sponsors, fans, and first responders. With that said, I personally believe these protests that are staged at athletic competitions to be offensive to many, inappropriate for the situation, and lastly, very ineffective.
The protest of not standing at attention to the flag while the Star-Spangled Banner is being played at any competition seems out of place for the purpose of protesting officer misconduct. Don’t get me wrong; we do have injustices in our legal system. There have been some disturbing situations that raise legitimate concerns for minorities, including questionable shootings by police officers. However, the vast majority of officers are wonderful people who put themselves in harm’s way daily to protect and serve everyone. However, not honoring the United States flag sends the wrong message. Our flag represents all that is good in our country. It represents the many lives of our military personnel, including African Americans, who have sacrificed to give us the very freedom to protest.
In the Civil War of the United States, the flag was carried into every battle and became the symbol of liberty for people of all races. It stood for ending slavery. The slaves in the Union armies were given their freedom, and they joined the conflict. Over 179,000 black troops served in the Union armies, and another 40,000 in the navy. Many of these soldiers are buried in sections 27 and 23 at Arlington National Cemetery.
While I firmly believe these protests at football games are inappropriate and ineffective, how should we as Christians respond? Should we yell hateful words towards our neighbors? Should we join in the protests to show solidarity? Our young people are watching how the adults respond. If we follow the Biblical model, and we should, then we would do as Jesus commands and love our neighbor as ourselves. We would not shout unseemly things toward those who do not see things the same way. Our goal should be to model Christ to the lost world. We should stand proudly during our national anthem in respect to our flag, understanding it is also the flag of those protesting. Although their protest is disgraceful to those of us who have lost loved ones during a military conflict, will our actions be a reproach to the name of Christ? If we honor the flag, isn’t that all that Christ commands? Does the Bible not say, “so then everyone of us will give an account of himself before God”? Nothing else matters except that we must act right before Him.
This weekend, my wife and I went to watch the movie Sully. The movie was based upon the real life story of Captain Chesley Sullenberger III who successfully landed his Airbus A320 on the Hudson River saving the lives of all 155 on board. When Sully was praised for his daring landing, he was quick to point to the work of the emergency responders, his crew, and the police officers who jumped into the river, risking their own lives to save the lives of others. As I watched these brave men and women jump into the freezing waters of the Hudson to help strangers, people they didn’t know, I was reminded of the first responders who went into the twin towers during 9-11. It makes me very proud of our policemen, firefighters, and emergency medical personnel who every day go out and serves the people of this great country. Our nation is not perfect. There are injustices. Discrimination against certain races has and does exist. We need to fight to end racial inequality, but do it in a way that reflects Christ’s love.
At the game this past weekend, one lone player from Castlemont walked away from his team towards the flag. He stood at attention and saluted the flag. That took real courage. May we all have the courage of this young man as we stand for Christ.
Dear TKA Community,
Another summer has come and gone. It is so hard to believe that, in just a little more than one week, school will resume, but it will; and when it does, we will be ready. One thing I love about a new school year is that we get to start all over again. Forgetting the past, we can begin anew. The summer gave us the gift of time to give our campus a much-needed facelift, finish building projects, and provide our staff time to recharge their batteries. This week, we are excited to welcome 19 new staff members to campus. God has been faithful in providing TKA with well-qualified educators who love Jesus and love teaching junior high and high school students. Read their biographies here. Let’s all dedicate ourselves to making the new school year the best ever!
One of the unique qualities of The King’s Academy is the focus that we place on spiritual development. From setting apart time for retreats to the spring service trips, TKA has a wonderful reputation of developing enduring relationships with our students. As an administration, we will continue to stress the importance of building proper relationships between the staff and students. Staff members are still encouraged to take students to lunch or, with the late start on Wednesday, even breakfast. We will continue to have counselors on campus from The Wisdom Training Institute, and our new Campus Pastor, Rob Starke, will carry on the legacy of leading a strong spiritual life team. We are committed to keeping the focus on that which matters most, the development of each student's walk with Christ.
This year, our spiritual life theme is “Can You Hear Me Now?" Our students will be learning about the story of Redemption and how it is found in every book of the Bible. Join me in praying for a great year, and one in which our staff, students, and families discover more about who God is and how He is found throughout Scripture.
Lastly, we did a full upgrade on our campus wireless infrastructure this summer in preparation for the rollout of our one-to-one pilot program. We have hired a technology coordinator to come in and work with our teachers and have planned several parent nights during the year to focus on the need for good digital citizenship. We are excited about the ability this new program will give our students to be better prepared for the 21st Century. TKA will continue to teach the academic subjects and hold students to high standards while now allowing them to be more creative in their approach to demonstrate mastery of content.
I can’t wait to meet all of you in the next few weeks when you come to campus. Remember that I always welcome meeting new parents and spending time talking about our programs. Feel free to drop by my office, which is located behind the Main Office.
The weather has taken a beautiful turn for the better. It is warming up, flowers are blooming, and it appears the rain has stopped. Although with an El Nino year, it is quite possible we will see more rain.
Around TKA, this is the time of year when our families are re-enrolling. Currently, we are at 94% re-enrollment. That leaves very little room for new students, and all the more reason to complete the re-enrollment process in the Parent Portal or contact the Business Office ASAP.
So why exactly is our percentage of re-enrollment so high this year? Here are a few reasons why I think our parents are continuing to partner with us at The King’s Academy:
Commitment to academic principles (adding 3 new AP courses, adding Mandarin as a new foreign language, and an increased focus on elective offerings)
Commitment to technology (adding the Apple pilot program and Google Chromebooks)
CCS dominance this year in sports. Our teams have been phenomenal this year and are getting better.
Commitment to VPA excellence. The King’s Strings, Knightshine, Winter Guard, and Winter Percussion have all achieved top placement in recent competitions.
Continued daily focus on the spiritual development of our students.
And while these factors are some of the main reasons parents choose The King’s Academy, I know there are other issues that shape parents’ perspectives when choosing a school. Take the recent position of the San Francisco School Board, and it is easy to see why many parents are opting out of the public schools and seeking alternatives. At The King's Academy, we are partnering with our parents, and I believe the historical enrollment shows a high satisfaction with our school. Even external reviewers are recognizing The King's Academy as seen in this recent Niche ranking of the "2016 Best Christian High Schools in California" where TKA is ranked 7th.
In the coming months, we will be verifying what is important to our parents. TKA will be working on its Strategic Plan, and focus groups will be meeting on campus to speak with our consultant. He will be asking about the things that matter most to our parents.
The future is bright at The King's Academy, and I am personally excited about the direction in which we are headed.
When I taught Anatomy, often I would run into some beliefs students had that were just incorrect. Trying to convince them that they were misinformed was difficult because many of them had heard these untruths from youth pastors, parents, and sometimes even from other teachers. Ideas such as men have more ribs than women and blood in veins is blue are just a few of them.
Just yesterday, we had this discussion in our home about another misconception students have, albeit not directly from a scientific field of study. My wife was teaching some students in a classroom in which she was the substitute teacher, and one of the students said that AD meant “after death.” She quickly pointed out that this was incorrect, and that AD meant anno Domini which in Latin means “in the year of our Lord.” After all, if BC means before Christ and AD meant after death, we have about 30 years with no calendar date. Rather Christ’s birth, and not His death, is the dividing point for all of history.
So how does all this relate to the year 2016 A.D. and, more importantly, to this blog post? Well, as with every new year, many of us begin by setting what we call New Year’s resolutions. Setting goals at the beginning of the new year is not new. The ancient Babylonians made promises to their gods to pay off debts and to return items. The Romans began each year making promises to Janus, the Roman god of January, and knights during the medieval period made vows at the end of Christmas to remain committed to chivalry. (Wikipedia)
Setting New Year’s resolutions can be frustrating because over half of the people who set personal goals soon fall short. However, statistics show that individuals who do set goals at the beginning of the year are more likely to make individual improvements to their lives. It’s common sense; if you don’t set goals you are guaranteed to reach nothing. However, if you do set goals, while you may not attain all of them, you are much more likely to reach some of them, if not all.
I Thessalonians 5 is one of my favorite chapters in all of the Bible. Two of the shortest but most powerful verses in the Bible are verses 17 and 25.
17. Pray without ceasing…..25. Brethren, pray for us…
These two verses are the basis for our TKA New Year’s resolution. I want all of us to commit to praying for one another. I want TKA to be known as a school where the parents, faculty, and students pray for each other. For if we lift one another up in prayer daily, it will also unite us in our common goal of having a truly Christ-centered education.
Please join me in praying daily for each other.
This is quite possibly my favorite time of year, but I suspect it is for most educators. The first semester of the year is drawing to a close, and we look forward to our first prolonged vacation since the summer. In many schools around our country, Christmas vacation has been replaced with “winter break” or “holiday break” (Fremont High School has it listed as mid-year break.) Yes, I know there are several holidays in December that people are celebrating, including Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, but as a Christian school, we get to unabashedly celebrate Christmas. We give out Christmas cards, we put up a Christmas tree in the quad, and we give our teachers Christmas bonuses.
Happy students on school campuses all over San Jose are celebrating as they inch closer to their winter break. On our campus, however, the students are not only celebrating an impending holiday but also the birth of our Savior, and it shows in their joyful attitudes. Isaiah 26:3 says, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee:..” I think being able to freely celebrate the first Christmas present, God sending his own son to us, is one reason why on our campus there is more than just an atmosphere of happiness; our students and staff exude true joy.
Matthew 1:21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.
What a great reminder that Jesus was sent to save us from our sins! Many don’t want to celebrate Christmas because doing so would acknowledge that they need salvation—something they would rather ignore. The world would prefer to not be reminded of its corruption. It would rather sing merry songs, decorate holiday trees, buy meaningless presents, and try to ignore the fact that without Christ, life is bleak and empty. At TKA, we know the truth about Christmas and that gives us real and great joy.
Principal, The King’s Academy
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