In the Classroom
Recently juniors in Mr. Flores’ Bible class completed an in-depth process that began with the question “How can I worship God with my talents and gifts?” and culminated with each student creating a project that identified and used these personal abilities in a worshipful way. Their final creation could be a song, artwork, or research, for example. Mr. Flores explains, “You can have a lot of abstract ideas about God, but until they’re acted upon, they remain just good thoughts. This project attempts to move the students from abstract ideas to the concrete, real world.”
Avid photographer Brooke Sprague submitted a thought-filled journal illustrated with several stunning photographs of nature. She wrote, “Our Creator has amazing, perfect attention to detail. He spoke into existence such beauty on even the most minute life-like these perfect little micro-mushrooms.” Several of her photos showcase the intricacies of mushrooms that are no bigger than a pinky fingernail.
International student Linh Truong submitted expressive manga illustrations paired with her journal. One page illustrates the many ways in which Satan tries to break our faith in God. According to Mr. Flores, work on this project prompted Linh to continue to seek an answer to the question “Do I want to follow Christ?” He added, “Linh takes a lot of this to heart. I know the Scriptures are having an impact when students are able to run with it, to journal and log their meditations. I want them to be transformed by the Word of God.”
Bible 10 students have been reading their Bibles and studying notes and commentaries in order to understand and take to heart Jesus’ ministry from the book of Matthew. Recently they each identified a theme from these studies and depicted it comic-book style. “I want them to visually see what Jesus did,” said Mr. Flores. “I’ll be returning these to them, and I want them to hang them up and be reminded of what Christ was doing. The more we can be reminded of that, the better opportunity we have of following in His footsteps.”
Justice Jackson submitted a strip with several cells depicting scenes where Jesus used physical touching in his ministry. Mr. Flores explains, “[Justice] chose a really good theme and carried it through the whole way, doing a good job of communicating this theme with his art, a job well done.” Mr. Flores further explained that what especially impressed him about Justice’s project was that he completed it the week that he sustained a concussion. “His resilience and desire to finish it that week really stood out. He came in during flex period and had a lot of conversations, so I know that he was thinking about it. It is a delight to have a student who comes back with questions and conversations. I really appreciate him.”
Students have been elbow-deep in lab experiments in Mrs. Galloway’s chemistry classes recently. In November, freshmen chemistry students Eduardo Vargas and Paige Hampton and junior AP Chemistry student Linh Truong decided to share their growing expertise at Westside’s Open House by setting up and demonstrating a total of six experiments for the prospective students who visited the chemistry lab.
Mrs. Galloway described Eduardo, Paige, and Linh as talented, inquisitive and motivated students and was pleased when they volunteered to share their chemistry knowledge as a way of engaging prospective students. “These students did such an exceptional job of being welcoming. They just took the ball and ran with it,” commended Mrs. Galloway. Eduardo enjoyed “showing students the electromagnetic spectrum produced by various gases such as hydrogen, neon, and krypton.” Students looked through a spectroscope at gas spectrum tubes, which allowed them to identify which gases were present based on their unique color signatures.
Linh described another experiment where they used a Vernier gas pressure sensor to monitor pressure changes and then analyzed the data with Logger Pro software. “We were showing that pressure and temperature are directly related: If the temperature increases, the pressure increases,” shared Linh.
They also demonstrated a double-replacement reaction, which is a reaction that occurs when parts of two ionic compounds are exchanged and make two new compounds. Linh explained, “We put lead nitrate and potassium iodide, which are both clear solutions, together. When they reacted, they created a yellow opaque solution.”
Paige said that the experiments they reproduced at the Open House were ones they had recently completed in class. “Some of my favorite ones are easy to set up and don’t take very long, but you can easily see what is going on, and they are very hands-on, so the prospective students could be hands-on too.” She sums up the day saying, “I love chemistry, and it was fun meeting new students.”
Mrs. Rose’s AP Euro class has been studying the five major European religious wars that took place between 1524 and 1648: the Dutch Revolt, Spanish Armada, English Civil War, French Wars of Religion, and Thirty Years’ War. As part of this unit, each student wrote and illustrated a children’s bedtime story about one of the wars.
According to Mrs. Rose, “If there was someone who didn’t know about these wars, after reading these books, they would know all the main people of the war, the main events of the war, and the context of what was happening in the world at the time.” Being able to put the wars in context with other historical events was a requirement for the project and significant to Mrs. Rose, who says it is important to understand that world events don’t develop in a bubble.
One particular project amazed Mrs. Rose, who explained that sophomore Livia McNeil created a book that went “above and beyond, in AP Euro, what my expectations were for the project.”
Livia chose to feature the events of the Spanish Armada on multiple pages of hand-drawn, vividly water-colored pictures that accompany her descriptive text. Even her cover, which is hand-distressed to look vintage, shows attention to detail. She spent over 30 hours on it, according to Mrs. Rose who explains that Livia’s “pictures are beautiful, and the writing is accurate, very well done and covers the war well. In everything she has done this year, she has really put pride into what she’s doing.”