Snapshot: A Day in the Life of Arborbrook High School

Page_1Assembly

At 8:30 a.m., the students are all seated in chairs expectantly as Jonathan and Olivia lead Assembly for their peers.  Jonathan asks Mrs. Emrich if she has any announcements, and she reminds students about the upcoming ski trip.  We discuss some changes to the dress code and Jonathan Z receives a Falcon award (given for showing school spirit, going above and beyond, and exemplifying the values of Arborbrook).

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First Period

Biology students are in small groups, preparing to teach their class about arthropods.  Students in one group are discussing different varieties of arachnids and one is squeamishly announcing she does not like spiders, as she adds text to a slide in Keynote.

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History students are in the Assembly room sharing their Art presentations with the class on the screen, analyzing a famous work of art they have chosen and sharing it with the class.

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The math students are working away, while in SAT Prep, the juniors have just finished watching a video tutorial and are now working in their test prep. booklets.

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Second Period

In between classes, students make brief trips to their lockers, laughing with friends and talking.  There are multiple classes going on right now- math, environmental science, U.S. History II, and Finance for the seniors.  I meet with our guidance counselor Mrs. Emrich and our assistant principal Mrs. Medlin as we discuss ideas and solve problems together.

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 Third Period

I stay for Senior English class and get to see a complete class from beginning to end.  In Mrs. Emrich’s class, the students go over their vocabulary homework, and then proceed to complete a KWRL activity (Know, Want to know, Researched, Learned)- writing down what they already know about the Holocaust and questions they have in preparation for a unit on Elie Wiesel’s book Night and on the new book The Book Thief.  Students complete the activity alone and then share with the class.  Some of their questions are great- one student wants to know how Hitler was able to be so persuasive and convince people to do such terrible things, and Mrs. Emrich assures him that is one of the things they will be discussing through this literature/history unit.  She then passes out a timeline of major events during the Holocaust, asking students to work in pairs to highlight verbs and using a different color to highlight any event they didn’t know about.  Class ends before students have time to discuss their upcoming essay or watch a short interview clip with Elie Wiesel- that will have to wait for tomorrow.

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 Lunch

During lunch, the teachers meet for their weekly faculty meeting, while the students and a staff member eat lunch together, most of them choosing tables in the Assembly room, but a few going to eat on the outside picnic tables or on the sidewalks near the grass.  This is a favorite time of day for students to unwind and enjoy one another.  As a rule students are not allowed to use their computers at lunch, but with permission, Courtney, on yearbook staff, shows me the senior pages in process.  We have such a great group of seniors this year.  I am filled with that now familiar mixed emotion of being so proud of them and also sad to see them go in just a few short months.

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Fourth Period

The juniors in math class are having entirely too much fun, while students in Apologetics seem to be having a very deep discussion.

Page_1Mrs. Allen has taken her 9th grade English class outside and they are sitting in the sunshine on the curb discussing a Tolstoy short story, “How Much Land Does a Man Need?”  A few students take notes, a few just listen, while others contribute to the discussion.  I don’t remember getting to go outside to discuss literature when I was in high school, but I am quite certain I would have enjoyed doing this.

Page_2 Just down the hall in chemistry class, students are doing a lab- they are heating up beakers filled with water and a smaller test tube filled with cola and then cooling the test tube in a cup of ice, looking for how the liquid in the tube changes.  Ms. Palmer tells me they are studying soluble and insoluble liquids.

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Fifth Period

The junior English class is also enjoying working in pairs, some inside and some outside, answering questions related to their study of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain.  Sophomore English is right next door, hard at work on an essay test.  The freshmen are engaged in conversation with Mr. Long in Worldview class about the difference between empowerment and enablement, and Ms. Kimball’s Civics/Econ. students are doing research on arguments for and against gun control among other issues, typing up notes on their MacBooks.

Page_5 After School

After school, students head out to various activities.  Many of them are going to the basketball game tonight, and Allie has gotten together with many of the high school girls to make individualized signs to cheer on each member of the varsity boys team.  The game is at Carolina Christian against Central Academy.  It is a tight game and our boys win it 58 to 48, advancing in the tournament, now scheduled to play on Thursday at 4:30 against Charlotte United.

The “abundant feast” was visible everywhere on campus this day.  I am so thankful for our high school students, for our remarkable faculty, and for what the Lord is doing here in hearts and minds.  Thanks be to God!

Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers.

Psalm 1:1-3

*All pictures taken from Tuesday, February 25th.  Thanks to Grace Noble for the basketball game pictures.

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Snapshot: A Day in the Life of Arborbrook

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Today was a glorious day.  There are days when I am in my office in meetings or responding to email almost all day long, but then there are those days that I get out of my office and am able to visit classrooms and talk to students and teachers.  Today was one of those days.  The weather was glorious; though I am a winter/fall person and I mostly associate spring with allergies, today was one of those days where the breeze is so pleasant and the sun so welcoming, you just can’t help but want to be outdoors.  I took my camera with me and got some shots of what I saw as I traveled from one end of the campus to the other at several different times today.  I returned a little while later with such a beautiful “snapshot” of one day in the life of Arborbrook, that I’d like to try and share that snapshot with you.

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Alpha

This morning upon entering the cottage, I ran into Mrs. Rosser, her arms full with a large cardboard drawing she had done of the Eiffel Tower for her class studying France this week.  Mr. Durfor led Assembly sharing about the year he and his wife spent overseas teaching and serving, followed by Mrs. Wright and her class of second graders, all dressed up as princesses, being interviewed by the oh-so-polished and effervescent Emilykate.  Mrs. Wright explained after each interview the parallels to us as heirs of the Kingdom as students listened in rapt attention.

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Lunch

The kindergarteners through first graders were thoroughly enjoying being outside on such a day as this- frolicking and playing together, some on the monkey bars or swings, others making up complicated games and stories. There is so much value in free play such as this!

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In Mrs. Durfor’s Intermediate I class, students were enjoying a “Feast of the Nile” complete with olives and grapes, as they concluded their unit on Ancient Egypt.

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Across campus, older students were eating lunch together, some on the lunch porch, other students on the quad deck. The junior high student council was meeting in the JH House with Mrs. McCrorey, planning for an upcoming pajama day.

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Quad

As lunch concluded, I walked over to the quad, where I found Mrs. Isaac painting a huge backdrop for the school musical (it looks amazing already!).

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Mrs. Alexander was in the classroom next door teaching her Inspirational Studies students as they recreated a great work of art using the dry brush technique.

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Mrs. Dockery’s band class sight read two new pieces of music today, and I found it hard to believe these students had not picked up their instruments before this past August!  They were making beautiful music.

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After School

Students were intently focused in their games of chess as the Chess Club tournament was in full swing.  Mrs. MacDonald was carrying two picture-perfect chimney sweep “brooms” that she and her husband created (soaking the broom bristles in order to flatten them out and painting them black).  Drama students practiced their songs with the incredible Mrs. Anthony and their choreography with the equally talented parent Mrs. Andrews.  Mrs. Beekman gathered her art supplies to bring into the building for her art class.  I ran into Mrs. Mowbray who was busy preparing special cards for her first grade students so she can teach them the books of the Bible and who told me about the great practice Spelling Bee her class had done that day, learning not just how to spell but also how to encourage one another even if they didn’t get the word right.  And I got an email from Mrs. Green who is hard at work as chair of the math department working with Mrs. Liddle, Mrs. VanDusen, and Mr. Durfor to come up with a logical, fair, and accurate way of assessing for mastery in math that will be consistent between upper intermediate and junior high grades and will best encourage students to learn.

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I managed to get Nathan to Fletcher school in time for the junior high tournament game, which they lost.  But they played with honor as they did on Tuesday when they beat Fletcher, and it was so good to see them playing so well as a team and to see how far they’ve come this season.  They will be playing again tomorrow at 4:00 for a possible third place in the conference this season.  I didn’t make it to the girls varsity game, but they won in a game against Charlotte United and will be playing in the championship game tomorrow night at 7:30.

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There was much more that happened today that I didn’t get to see.  I saw hands raised and faces engaged as I passed by classrooms.  The light of learning was alive and well in students’ faces as they read books, learned new concepts, narrated, and wrote in their classes.  But they were also immersed in great works of art, music, and nature with time to play and enjoy childhood.  They were learning to forgive others on the playground, to love one another as God loves them, to deal with disappointment, to try their best.  They have been learning Scripture and praying for one another in Bible, taking on one another’s hurts and encouraging one another.  Their teachers are going all out across campus, giving so much time and energy to creative and meaningful lessons, grading papers carefully with comments meant to encourage a students’ best work, having high expectations for student learning, and skillfully helping students meet those expectations.

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I left campus today with a deep sense of contentment and joy in my heart- that my own children get to experience this kind of education and that I have the privilege of working in such a place.  I know it is not a perfect school (no school is), but we are working to shore up weaknesses wherever we find them while not losing sight of who the Lord is calling us to be, and for a school filled with imperfect people (students, staff, teachers, and parents alike), it is an amazingly grace-filled beautiful place.  Today it was clear we are living up to the vision of Arborbrook to nourish a love of learning and to flourish in Christ.

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*All of these pictures were taken from today, Thursday, February 20th.  Stay tuned for a second “Snapshot” of our high school campus sometime next week!