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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.
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