Category Archives: Great Students

One Nation Under God… Indivisible? By John Rasplicka

John Rasplicka is a junior in my Advanced Placement United States History class. One of our required readings is Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States. The point of view reflected in this piece is that of Mr. Rasplicka.

I recently watched Good Will Hunting at the request of my teacher, Mr. Carson; in that movie there is one particular line that he said to watch for: “Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States, that book will f*ckin’ knock you on your a**.” I didn’t understand it at the time, but as I read the book for Mr. Carson’s course the last few months, it has.  I have grown up in a very conservative, Republican home, family, and community all my life.  Howard Zinn is, to say the least, a liberal.  I found that out not only through reading A People’s History, but also through recently reading Zinn’s response to the question “What’s the Future of the American Dream?”

In his response to what the future of the American dream is, Zinn asserts that if America did not spend so much on its military, and instead invested its money in to its people, it would be respected rather than feared around the world.  Zinn first criticizes America’s military power, stating that this power is used to extend its power across the globe; furthermore, Zinn calls for use of American money not for defense but for its people in terms of provision for fundamental necessities for every American. Zinn’s purpose is to challenge a widely held view (that military power is paramount) and introduce his view (that every American should be provided necessities such as food, health care, decent housing, and jobs. Given the fact that Zinn himself is a leftist and therefore holds leftist views, he aims to address those with much more conservative views and challenge their beliefs.

My conservative views and beliefs were, without a doubt, challenged. Though I have wrestled with why our military is so large, one of the largest areas of spending for our government, the idea of free healthcare, free food, housing, and jobs… for everyone? It could just be my upbringing, but the idea of free healthcare, food, housing, and jobs for everyone, even if some are taxed more than others? Simply preposterous, at least to the seventeen year old, upper class white male from Houston.

I am not close-minded to view points other than my own, but I am logical. I wonder why someone should receive something if they do not get taxed (read: pay) for it, why the “handout mentality,” in which the government will help pay for or provide whatever your heart desires abounds in our society. To me, Zinn’s response to the future of the American dream seems like a utopia that forever dwells just out of reach, a unicorn: the one thing that, no matter how hard is sought after, cannot be attained. I honestly do not think that the disparity of wealth in the “United” States provides for a society in which everyone will help their neighbor.

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Filed under Great Students, Howard Zinn, Ideology

Family Guy and Jesus in Popular Culture by Turner Batdorf

      http://www.microsoft-watch.com/FamilyGuyFamilyPromo.png

Turner Batdorf was one of my top American Studies students for the 2010-2011 year; he is a student in my AP European History course. One of the themes discussed in this course was that of religion and popular culture. Turner reviewed a number of academic articles on the dynamics of the American family and religion, while analyzing countless episodes of Family Guy in constructing this essay

The way the American family works and the typical values that are associated with various members of the family define not only what pop cultural portrays and mocks, but also the values influenced by Puritanism. But how does one possibly summarize the American family into simple roles for each individual and a set of specific values for the family to follow as a whole? Scholars of the typical American family, a middle class white family, have tried to define it, yet have always discovered that no family is the perfect model because every family is dysfunctional. While Puritanism describes the work ethic the father should possess to provide for his family and put a moral code into place for the family, not everyone is going to be able to follow that code. The Cosby Show, which portrays the “ideal family” consisting of smart, studious kids, a hard working father, a caring mother, and little to no problems involving drugs, alcohol, or violence is unrealistic. No family in America is like the Cosby’s because every family is dysfunctional. In his creation of Family Guy, Seth McFarlane “uses ‘uncomfortable humor’… by taking advantage of generalizations with stereotypes, race, and sex” (Employing Comedy: Family Guy). McFarlane is not afraid to show the flaws of the typical family, although sometimes he does in exaggeration. Ultimately, McFarlane tries to show how the family is, not how it should be, thus making the show directed toward the mockery of not only the typical middle class man, but also what he believes in.

One of Family Guy’s biggest targets is American Protestantism and the values that the average American calls American values, despite its Puritan origin. Family Guy’s approach to Protestantism is simple: They want to make God and Jesus look as silly and ridiculous as possible. Some people might say that this would drive away a large American audience, but in no way is that the case. Family Guy allows them to look at their own views and laugh at them from another perspective. While one person may have his own beliefs that define the way he lives his life, the show invokes humor by making the guy laugh and say, “Wow, that is horrible.” Though it may be looked at as “a light-hearted, yet potentially hurtful strategy” (Employing comedy: Family Guy), the show allows the viewer to not be offended by a lot of the humor because the characters are animated. While Peter may represent the average, stupid American, he is not real, and thus, his comments or actions cannot be taken personally, despite one not agreeing with what the show is saying.

American values obviously had to have an origin, as it is very improbable that the laws of our country do not originate around some random Moral Law. Therefore, when one looks at the most important documents of the United States, such as The Declaration or The Constitution, one sees that these documents make reference to a God, mainly because the majority of the nation’s founding fathers were wealthy Puritans. Therefore, the United States naturally adopted a Protestant value system. In their article, “American Moral Exceptionalism,” Uhlmann, Poehlman, and Bargh argue that, “one does not have to be an American Protestant to exhibit implicit responses consistent with traditional Puritan- Protestant values. One may only have to be an American” (Uhlmann, Poehlman, and Bargh). Because American values relate back to Puritanism, God and Jesus become easy targets for Family Guy.

On a consistent basis, Family Guy portrays God as a womanizer, a drunk, and someone not able to control his powers. For example, in “Blind Ambition,” God approaches a girl and lights her cigarette with his finger, to which he says, “Yeah. I got the magic fingers.” Then, God points and winks, setting her on fire. In response, God screams, “Jesus Christ!” and Jesus appears; God then says, “Quick, get in the Escalade; we’re out of here!” In another episode, “Death has a Shadow,” God is shown the audience at church. When the priest reads the story of Job, God responds by sighing and saying, “Oh crap, I hate when they tell this story.” While comments on You Tube would show that even Christians admit to their humor, a few parent organizations disagree. For example, “The Parents Television Council, a watchdog group founded by L. Brent Bozell III of the Media Research Center, has been outspoken in his opposition to the portrayal of God and other religious figures on Family Guy. Several times, the PTC has deemed the show ‘The Worst Show of the Week’ specifically due to the portrayal of God in a gag or longer sequence” (God). While they were upset namely by the episode, “The Courtship of Stewie’s Father,” where God is shown in bed, about to have sex with a girl (God), the portrayal of God is very similar to the rest of the episodes.

Jesus, on the other hand, is portrayed as a magician. In “I Dream of Jesus,” Peter buddies up with Jesus, who is on Earth because he “visits every once in a while.” Upon first having dinner with the Griffins, Jesus says, “I’m actually glad you are all here tonight. I want to tell you that one of you will betray me… ha! Just kidding!” Peter then replies, “Haha, he is doing that thing he did in the storybook,” obviously showing Peter’s lack of religion. Throughout the episode Jesus walks on water, snaps his fingers to make ice cream sundaes appear, and, upon the request of Peter, makes his wife Lois’, breasts much bigger. He then reveals himself to be truly the Messiah, and goes off without Peter, to party and be a celebrity. While it is true that Peter is definitely not shown to be religious by his “storybook” remark, Jesus is a target for Family Guy because, as Stephen Prothero would argue, he is present in every American’s life, no matter what his or her religion is.

A theistic creation is also mocked in “Airport 07.” In the episode, Peter Griffin attempts to explain the origin of the Earth to his family. The show depicts a logical transition from lizard to dinosaur, to show evolution, and then proceeds to show a genie, emerge from the same water that the lizard came out of, and nod her head to create the rest of life, to show creationism. This is only after God creates the universe by lighting a fart, thus the “Big Bang”.

So what does this show about pop culture and our society as a whole? Although he claims that Seth McFarlane is an atheist, James Snare, from Hillis Bible Church, states in his article, “What should a Christian’s Response be to Pop Culture” that, “The irony is that their [Family Guy’s] mockery and satire has probably done more to bring Jesus and Christianity into the minds of Generation Y than most preachers in the world (Jesus has appeared in Family Guy in 19 episodes and that doesn’t include appearances made by God or other biblical characters). Generation Y is a generation that is deeply interested in spirituality yet many of its members have almost no experience with the Church, let alone any conception of who the biblical Jesus Christ is… If we as Christians remove ourselves from the pop culture discussion by only condemning portrayals of Christ like those mentioned above then the only conception of Christ that many members of Generation Y have are those which the likes of Family Guy shows them… if we fail to recognize the awesome opportunity that pop-culture depictions of Christ and Christianity are giving us to engage with a culture that ordinarily shirks at the name of Jesus, then we ignore Paul’s lesson at the Areopagus to engage a culture in a language they understand in order to preach to them a message they desperately need to hear” (Snare). While Snare may offer a good point on the positives that the humor has for Christianity and does agree that McFarlane “is not out to destroy Christianity” (Snare), it does not explain why Christians find the jokes humorous. One could argue, that for starters, Christians laughing at these jokes show that the public is generally accepting of jokes that target the beliefs of a large audience. While there may be a few groups that are very upset by the mockery of God, Jesus, or Christianity on Family Guy, there has been no effort to remove the show, nor has there been any shortage of the amount of puns intended toward God.

That being said, does this make America more or less Protestant? On one hand, one could agree with Uhlmann, Poehlman, and Bargh that “popular media designed to shock and titillate may not always reflect the average American’s explicit moral values” (Uhlmann, Poehlman, and Bargh 29). But one could easily argue that Family Guy shows America to be more Protestant, as jokes towards other religions are definitively used less frequently, mainly because people are nervous or uncomfortable about laughing at a group that they are not a part of because they do not want to offend someone. This relates a lot to the use of the word “Nigger.” A lot of times, it is white people who are against using the “N-word” in the classroom and the Blacks more for it, just like a the average Protestant American is okay about laughing at himself, but uneasy about laughing at jokes that target someone else of a different group. Therefore, the constant mockery of God displays that Family Guy is continuing its strategy of allowing people to laugh at themselves, and, thus, shows America to be truly Protestant.

Along with the element of religion, Family Guy depicts the societal norms and values of the typical middle-class man in Peter Griffin. As Family Guy takes on a different approach in portraying the family, one must question why so many people find it humorous. Do people laugh at the show’s constant mockery of minorities and social misfits, such as homosexuals, minority races, especially Blacks and Hispanics, and the mentally disabled, or is there a broader approach to what Family Guy is trying to appeal to in popular culture? More specifically, could it be that by making fun of minorities and social misfits, Family Guy is mocking the common man’s stereotypes and viewpoints of these groups? It is exactly through the creation of Peter Griffin that his stupidity allows us to laugh at the common man. For example, in the episode “Family Gay”, Peter is short on money, and thus signs up for experimental drugs. He receives the “gay gene” and ends up changing his clothes, the way he talks and walks, and in the process, invokes every stereotype that society has of the homosexual, White male. But, what is to be noted is that Family Guy is not making fun of gay people, but of Christians, who oppose the idea that there is a gay gene and believe that being homosexual is immoral. This precisely demonstrates that “Family Guy’s spontaneous and sometimes foolish attitude is effective because it targets a general audience to either laugh at themselves or laugh at another specific audience” (Employing Comedy: Family Guy). But this all generates around McFarlane’s idea to not portray the ideal American family but show how the common, White American thinks, and, more importantly, his faults.

There is no doubt that Peter is ignorant, socially unacceptable, and often, acts in ways that would peg him as a bad father. In fact, he is either rude or acts inappropriately to all of his children. For example, in “And the Weiner is,” Peter becomes very self-conscious and basically disowns his oldest son, Chris, because Chris has a larger penis than Peter. On another occasion (“Blind Ambition”), Peter becomes temporarily blind and waltzes into Chris’ bedroom, thinking it his own, climbs into bed with Chris, and mutters, “That’s right Lois, I’m your daddy. Shush, shush. Don’t talk Lois. Don’t talk. Just let me do all the work. Feel my warm breath on the nape of your neck, my hands on your big, soft boobs, running down your man-like chest… Holy crap, it’s Chris!” Peter, embarrassed, leaves the room, and is heard in the next room, saying “Honey, are you awake?” and is responded to by his other son, Stewie, an infant, yelling, “What the Deuce?”

This is also not the only time Peter mistreats Stewie. While wishing he was a mother, fat Peter caresses Stewie in his arms and breast-feeds him until Stewie realizes that there is one of Peter’s chest hairs in his mouth (“I am Peter, Here me Roar”). But, Chris and Stewie do not even get the worst of Peter’s immature behavior towards his kids. Meg, his daughter is constantly the receiver of the harshest puns. Primarily, one of Peter’s catchphrases on the show is, “Shut Up, Meg!” Also, Peter ravages Meg with disgusting behavior, like in “The Tan Aquatic with Steve Zissou”, where Peter runs around the kitchen after Meg farting in her face and laughing, until she falls on the floor and vomits, to which Peter replies, “Oh, not in the kitchen, Meg!”

But, when looking at the character of Peter Griffin, it is important to note that he has good intentions, and, while stupid, attempts to do the right thing on a daily basis. In all the examples sited, Peter has no intention of harming his children. He lacks basic common sense and maturity, and thus, finds humor in things like farts, wants to be a loving mother, and only “molests” his children as a result of his blindness. He feels threatened by Chris’ larger penis because he wants to feel like the man of the house, the provider just like middle class family ideology would dictate that the man is supposed to be the provider. But, while viewers find Peter’s worst moments to be the most humorous, and thus, the writers exaggerate the flaws of Peter and make them seen by the view more regularly, Peter still displays qualities that society would find admirable.  A great example is seen in the first episode of the series, “Death Has a Shadow”. The episode begins with Peter wanting to go to a stag party that his wife, Lois, is opposed to because of his irresponsibility when there is drinking taking place. She reminds him of the time he got drunk of the communion wine and said, “Whoa, is this really the blood of Christ? He must have been wasted twenty-four hours a day, huh?”, the time he got drunk off of butter-rum ice cream and passed out, and the time he got drunk at the movie Philadelphia and said, “I got it, that’s is the guy from Big. Tom Hanks, I love this guy. Everything he says is a stitch. (Tom Hanks: I have Aids) Haha!”. But Peter persists, saying authoritatively, “As the father of this household, I demand you to give me permission to go to the stag party.” “The oxymoronic nature of this statement is the “demand for permission” between two mutually accepting married people (Employing Comedy: Family Guy), and shows that while being the man of the house, Peter still has respect for his wife (In fact, the only time Peter ever cheats on Lois is after everyone thinks she is dead). But, Peter ends up going to the stag party, promising not to drink, and then under the poor influence of his friends, drinks “twenty-six beers, a new family record, thus raising the bar for his son, Chris.” Peter loses his job as a result and begins to worry about how he will tell his wife. He does this because Peter, being a good father and husband, wants to provide for his family. He invokes his welfare and begins to receive an inordinate amount of money from the government, an obvious mistake. But, he remains mute on the subject, buying excessive material gifts for his family until his wife becomes extremely angry with him. After realizing his mistake, Peter attempts to receive forgiveness from the both government and his wife, and states, “I cheated the government, and worst of all, I lied to my wife, and she deserves better”, showing that Peter does possess genuinely good qualities and intentions, despite his incompetence.

Peter is not a racist, as seen in his friendship with Cleveland, a Black man and does not discriminate against the handicapped, as seen in his friendship with Joe. He is against adultery and does not have any resentment towards upper class people despite his desire to be one. This is seen in his numerous attempts to befriend Lois’s rich father. Despite his lack of intelligence and bad decision-making, it is next to impossible for someone to find Peter Griffin, the exaggerated depiction of the flawed, middle class American, to be completely immoral.

That being said, how does Peter fit into the role of the father according to the scholars of the family? Eggebeen and Knoester claim in their article, “Does Fatherhood Matter to Men”, that men who are fathers are not only more dedicated to the work place, but also spend less hours working (Eggebeen and Knoester 384). If this is true of the typical middle class father, it is much easier to place Peter Griffin in the category of good fathers. There is no question that Peter wants to be a provider; after getting fired in “Death has a Shadow”, Peter tries numerous jobs, although failing in a lot of them. But, does that make him a bad father? No, it only displays his inabilities. In at least one episode, Peter attempts to bond with each of his children, including Meg, a child who a lot of viewers assume he hates. Additionally, upon becoming rich, he buys whatever his children want, all as a way of Peter trying to show his love. There may not be a great example of the Protestant work ethic in Peter, but he does attempt to provide for his family. He also revolves his goals around consumerism, just Family Guy is trying to depict of the typical American. But Peter fails is in his lack of control and minimal change upon becoming a father. Eggebeen and Knoester hypothesize that fatherhood should make a man reduce his risky behavior, such as a drinking, drug use, and smoking. As seen in the example from “Death has a Shadow”, Peter drinks a lot (twenty-six beers), and Peter could be setting a bad influence for his children, especially his sons. Stewie, is shown to have gotten drunk on occasion and there is an episode devoted to Chris doing a new drug the kids are using called “toad.” But, again, what rationalizes Peter is that he does try to think about his family, except that it comes after he has done something stupid. In “Death has a Shadow”, Peter sleeps on the kitchen table after the stag party, to avoid waking up his wife. And in the instance of Chris, Peter works hard to stop the use of “toad,” not only within his household, but also in the school itself. While his lack of social skills may get the best of him and determine how he treats his children, Peter’s fatherly work ethic, his will to provide for his family, and his respect for doing the right thing display that he is a good replication of the American value driven father.

For me, Family Guy, simply put, is humorous; I watch Family Guy because I find it funny. While I do agree that sentiment behind the humor is sometimes inappropriate, and I do often wonder why I am laughing at puns that are degrading to not only other people, but also me, I applaud what Seth McFarlane has attempted to put forward in the making of his show. Family Guy makes fun of me, the average American in many ways. As a Christian, I am targeted with the God and Jesus puns; my favorite music has been targeted, like when a character gave a Maroon 5 record to Meg and told her that “she would like it because he knew that she liked terrible music”; and above all else, I can find myself relating to the characters, especially Peter, even though he is simple-minded, to say the least. While Peter is immature, he makes up for his mistakes with a genuine care for his family, proving him to actually be a “Family Guy”. While the theme song is ironic, singing, “What ever happened to those good old fashioned values on which we used to rely?” and, yet, still displays excessive amounts of violence and sex, there is definitely a sense of values underlying in the Griffin family, namely those that actually do relate back to Protestantism. While the show is inappropriate, I must give credit to McFarlane, as he succeeded in creating the perfectly dysfunctional and highly immoral, Protestant value driven family.     

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Filed under Courses, Great Students, Political Correctness, Religion, Students, Teaching, tv

Good Students. Diverse Students.

I have blogged a great deal about the importance of faculty diversity, and why school leadership must make it an absolute priority when recruiting and retaining bright faculty members of color. Better yet, this topic will remain high on my priority list, as it has for a number of top-tier independent schools. Thus, it is one of the reasons why I have been so involved with teachers of color programs, as they tend to focus on topics related to hiring, nurturing, promoting, and  retaining a diverse faculty. (see earlier post here). There is nothing worse than reading about schools that discuss the importance of faculty diversity, but lacks the faculty composition to back it up. Moreover, the same can be said of a diverse student body. Recently while hard at work, or hard at goofing off … you decide, a number of young ladies from one of the courses I teach came by to take a picture with me. After looking at this picture, I could not help but think about the degree of student diversity we have here at Houston Christian. As is the case at any institution, you always want more. I promised these young ladies pictured below a post, and here it is. This is a great group of young ladies. And, it is always fun discussing topics of school diversity with them; it seems to be a frequent topic.

Pictured: (L to R) Alex Bui, Alaina Urbantke, Priya Chacko, Daniell Milton, Lane Walla, Kaimyn Kinkade. The doll is of W.E.B. Du Bois.

This article here explains the challenges of diversity as it relates to students. Ascertaining a diverse faculty is challenging, but far easier than doing so in the student body. Schools must commit to a diverse faculty.

While private schools can’t discriminate on the basis of race, they can be choosy about which students they accept, especially if they don’t accept any federal funding. Some schools require high admission test scores. Some will not accept students with disabilities or students who can’t speak English or those who have had previous discipline problems at other schools.

As a result, private school student bodies tend to be higher performing and fairly homogenous.

In 2004, 76.5 percent of private school students were white, compared with just 57.4 percent of public school students, according to NCES. Locally, private schools report only 6 to 8 percent of their student enrollment as minority, compared to 20.6 percent in Knox County Schools, according to the 2009 Tennessee State Report Card.

Minority achievement is higher overall in private schools than in public schools, according to the 2003 Nation’s Report Card, although there is still a gap between white and minority achievement levels.

One private school locally that attracts a larger than average minority enrollment is First Lutheran School, one of the city’s oldest private schools. Located close to downtown Knoxville on Broadway, it has about 15 percent minority students. “(We) fare very well on standardized tests – (we) score in the seventieth to eightieth percentile in the nation,” said interim principal Tim Wolfram. The school gives the Stanford Achievement Test and the Otis-Lennon School Ability Test each year.

“It has such a spirit and vibe about it. I like the caring, loving atmosphere. I like the unity there, and the diversity,” said Patrick Randolph, a parent of two students there. Randolph, who is black, attended First Lutheran as a child and now drives his two sons from their South Knoxville home every day to the school on his way to work.

Randolph pointed out that the school’s uniforms serve as an equalizer among students.

“The kids get a great education there. Nobody sees each other as a race or as a class,” said Randolph. “Everybody has the same white shirt, same blue jacket.” (Source)

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Filed under Diversity, Faculty, Great Students, Houston Christian High School, Independent Schools

Great Lunch

I was almost convinced that today was Friday, especially after being invited to lunch by three of my favorite students: Zach Dotson, Trevor Johnson, and Reid Bishop. Virgie’s Bar-B-Que was great. Plus, anytime I can join a group of students I like and respect, I am going to do it. I have so many great students. These guys are good for a great political discussion, too. We do not always agree, but there is enough respect among us to at least listen and engage in a healthy discussion. Hey, there is no fun in always agreeing with people. But, you learn a lot from disagreements. I do all of the time. This is one reason I teach.

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Last Day

I am just about done marking all of my finals; I wonder which desk below BEST represents approximate completion? All 100 plus of my students wrote an extensive essay as part of their final grade; I should use better judgment but in some cases it is difficult to measure knowledge through multiple choice questions only. With one section left today, I hope to be working on a writing assignment by noon.

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Filed under Courses, Great Students, Teaching

Receiving Thanks from Parents and Students

On occasion, I get very positive letters and emails from students and their parents about me and the courses that I teach; I learned years ago that when you get such great notes, place them in a file for a day when you really will need to re-visit them. For the most part, I am lucky in that I get a great deal of respect, support, and thanks from parents and students. Not only have I had the honor of going out to dinner or coffee with a student(s), but I have had parents call me up and invite me out to a ball game or for a beer. I say this because when you teach a number of students with various interests and personalities, you must double that number since they have parents. My students  will tell you I am fair and very compromising in my views and when I have been unfair. I will admit that I am a little different. Okay, I can be downright odd. As a teacher who believes in being an active academic in the areas that I teach, I work to inculcate a level of thought and scholarship that will get students thinking not like me, but like a diverse learner.

I do value those parents and students that realize I put a great deal of time and effort into my classes and my students. Do I have shortcomings — you bet. There are too many to list on this post; however, my work ethic and clear qualifications make life easier. When I was in the hospital sick, it was my department, my wife,  students, and parents that took care of my needs. I am still giving thanks. I got this great email today from a family wishing me well. As a teacher, I tend to hear more negatives than positives. The very few that I get are usually associated with me being different or thinking different. But, I will say this, I teach in a great community with great families.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Dear Mr. Carson,

We wanted to say thank you for your investment in our son and your faithful preparations.  I know he greatly struggled in the beginning to adjust, but he absolutely loves your class and your teaching style. He is so very pleased with his grades and all that he is learning.  He loves the discussions that you have in class and that you affirm him with your responses.  Thank you so much for that affirmation .  He really struggles with keeping up with all the readings and assignments, but he knows his level of intelligence may not be where some of the other kids are;  but your affirmation of him is such an encouragement.  Your class is the only one that he doesn’t talk about falling asleep in.   I know he struggles because he never sleeps with all of the schoolwork he does.  What a blessing to have a child who loves his teachers as he does.  Thank you for all that you do to encourage the kids and spur them on.  Have a most blessed Thanksgiving and well deserved rest.  Thankful for you.

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Filed under Great Students, Houston Christian High School, Teaching

Office Hours II

My Saturday was packed; it started with a 7:30 AM meeting on campus with two students: Joel Turman and Sarah Salinas. A few students and faculty members are taking a trek in China this week. Jim Kelly, my friend in the science department and Christine Metoyer, my chair, along with Head of School Steve Livingston are set to leave on Tuesday. In preparation for this, I met with Turman and Salinas for a conditioning workout. While at a graduation pool party with a group of students earlier in the week, I told Turman and Salinas that I would train for climbing trips and treks by loading my pack with 4 – 5 gallons of water as I ran bleachers. Thus we agreed to do this. It was a great run with two of my favorites. I will write more about the multiple graduation parties attended as well as one Eagle Scout induction. I do have great students. They do a great job supporting me. I hope I can do the same for them.IM000850 Above: Carson and Abbey

IM000847Above: Sarah Salinas, Joel Turman, and me on a sprint.

IM000844 Above: Catching my breath

IM000846Above: Im still catching my breath. Joel was a monster.

IM000842 Above: Sarah after a quick trip to the top. She is also a competitive soccer player.

IM000841 Above: Joel is a big time swimmer on our swim team.

Pix with Jenny

Above: Jenny Drews sent me this picture; I got a chance to briefly catch up with her at Sam Driver’s and Jon Magiera’s post-graduation party. It was great gathering as I spoke with a number of parents, colleagues, former students, and people I did not know. Jenny will be attending LSU to study history. She is already a member of the American Historical Association.

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Above: Jon’s gift from Ana Resende. I want one of these shirts. I had a blast talking politics with Jon, Sam, and Ana this past year. Jon plans to attend the University of Texas at san Antonio.

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Above: I attended mt second ever Eagle Scout induction. Congrats former students on reaching what only 2% of all scouts ever attain. Sam, positioned to the far right, will attend Boston College.

Sam's Party

 Above: Sam, Ana, Emilly, and Izzie. Ana will be attending NYU, Emilly is off to Baylor, and Izzie is set to attend Loyola Marymount University.

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Above: This is Katherine Driver — older sister to Sam; she has long been a favorite; I taught her in AP US and AP European history; she is now a senior at Texas A&M University majoring in sociology. Oh we have had a number of excellent conversations about race, gender, and happy hour.

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Above: Shelby See and Hannah Turner. I have taught both ladies for the past two years. I was excited to visit with them some at their post-graduation party and watch them practice the wedding cake cut. Shelby is off to Maryville College and Hannah will be attending Trinity University.

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Filed under Great Students, Houston Christian High School, Running