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Tuesday
May152018

Students on Wake Up Wenatchee

Monday
Apr232018

Poiesis: Turning Thoughts Into Action- by Rachel Zolinski, Humane Letters/Apologetics Teacher

“Poiesis?  Sounds a bit too close to the word ‘poetry.’ Can’t be good,” said one cynical student.  Little did he know that what he said in skepticism was in part true.  If by poetry he meant that special intensity of emotion to powerfully express ideas, then yes, in that way the two words are similar.  Judging by his folded arms and pessimistic brow, however, it did not seem he cared much for definitions.  Perhaps a story would be more enticing.

In 2003, the LEGO Company was on the brink of bankruptcy.  What saved them was the executives’ two-part ingenious plan: capitalize on this generation’s propensity for instant gratification and create novelty out of the ordinary.  To do the first, the company increased the size of the LEGO bricks so that a castle could be built in a half an hour instead of six hours.  By the end of 2013, LEGO’s sales growth outpaced that of both Mattel and Hasbro.  Brilliant.

            After such a turnaround, it would make sense to continue doing what works.  However, the executives got creative.  They asked children one simple question: what are you most proud of?  One German child pointed at his sneakers, the soles of which revealed obvious abuse.  He said, “I’m the best skateboarder in town.  But the evidence I have for my friends are my sneakers.  You see, when you’re a really good skateboarder, you slide down the skateboard and it creates the wear and tear on the side of the sole.”  This was the answer for LEGO: if this kid had hours of time to fine-tune the soles of his sneakers, why wouldn’t he have time to play with LEGOs?  All he needed was the desire to do so.  Therefore, the company returned to small bricks, it invented the LEGO movie (sequel to be released in 2019), and it teamed up with Harry Potter and Star Wars.  Today, LEGO is not only the number one toy brand in the world, it was recently announced to be the biggest brand in the world.1  

            What does this have to do with poiesis? To answer that, it is helpful to utilize those pesky definitions. In Greek, poiesis refers to the art of creating something original.  While a thesis is an arguable claim backed by research, a poiesis is the implementation of that research.  So, if the thesis is the “what,” poiesis is the “so-what?”  Students ask themselves, “Do I believe in what I published?  What do I want others to do with the information I provided?  What’s the point?”  Of course, the process is extensive and the work weighty, just as all extraordinary work demands, but the intention is to expose a refined depth of insight and creativity about topics that interest each student.  This is comparable to what the LEGO company began in 2003.  They took a budding idea and brought it to fruition through tangible means.  In some ways, it is poetry in action. 

            The yearlong senior thesis and poiesis is truly a remarkable accomplishment.  It is a testament to the benefits of classical education and to the capabilities of our students.  Ultimately, the goal of this capstone assignment is to instill the kind of virtues that make great men and women: sacrifice, dedication, humility, integrity.  If done just for a grade, then the assignment fails its purpose.  But if it can develop character, then it has accomplished the mission of the River Academy. 

Wednesday
Mar282018

Senior Thesis: A Culmination of 12 Years at The River Academy - written by Tyler Howat, Rhetoric Teacher

Looming at end of The River Academy education, fearfully whispered about with solemn voices, is the Senior Thesis Project. For more than half the school, the Thesis Project is far in the distance, nothing more than the clouded peak of a high, lonely mountain, far in the distance. It’s something that we don’t need to deal with yet, for it’s five, ten, or even twelve years away. That’s for our future selves to worry about. Out of sight, out of mind.

Not exactly.

While to an extent this is true, and even though the process actually gets under way in the Upper School (10th-12th), it’s also something for which our teachers at TRA begin sowing many seeds in the good, fertile soil that are the minds of our students, regardless of age. The Thesis Project is, ultimately, the culmination of our students years at The River Academy, bringing together everything that they have worked so hard to learn, to understand, to achieve. It represents a synthesis of worldview (all years, in all subjects), grammar (1st-6th grade, all subjects), rhetoric (10th-11th grade), logic (8th-12th grade), the humanities (all years), and yes, the sciences (all years).

Yet, despite the prevalent, pervasive nature of the Senior Thesis Project, for which we have lovingly and purposefully prepared our students for years, there is a fear of that project. That fear, comes from the unknown. Many people, longtime school families, do not understand what the Thesis Project is. We have only “fear itself” to fear, however. Let me attempt to clarify this fearful unknown.

A thesis is a claim that can be proven, an argument. This is something that we try to instill in our students. Our essays must be written with thesis statements driving them. This is to be a thesis paper, in which you propose a thesis—an argument for or against something, looking at the significance of it, and stating a resolution—and then you must support it using research-based evidence.

The Senior Thesis Project is a twenty page thesis-driven (meaning, argument-driven), research-supported essay. In the last week of the Junior year, students will pick a historical, social, economical, governmental, scientific, biblical, rhetorical, or literary topic to research. This will cover the modern era and must be relevant to the current day: any topic that they have the desire and interest to explore further and argue more in-depth. For example, they can choose a person who significantly impacted the world (but not a biography), a religion or worldview that has developed, a battle or war, a technological advancement, a theory of philosophy or government and its effects, or myriad other topics–but know that these are not reports.

This must be a topic about which they could argue from a biblical worldview. That means it cannot contain research alone. They must use that research to argue a point–their topics must inherently contain a debate. They must apply a biblical worldview, taking it further than simply agreeing or disagreeing with a subject. As with any thesis-driven essay, they must point toward something significant. We ask the students what they want to say to the school before they leave.

While all this sounds daunting, the process of this thesis makes it utterly accomplishable. While it is certainly a mountain for our senior to climb, they do not make the ascent alone, nor do they attempt the climb in one go. By the end of this project, they’ll have written two previous theses (Sophomore and Junior), so the process is wholly doable. Each aspect of the Thesis Process is broken down into its parts (note-taking, outlining, bibliography, drafting, revising) over a six-month period. Following the final, perfected revision, these seniors on the verge of graduation will stand before a panel of their teachers and an audience of their peers to deliver a speech based upon their papers. At this point, our seniors will have accomplished something truly remarkable, something that few young men and women in their position have–or can–accomplish.

If our goal at The River Academy is to train the next generation of Christian leaders, this is one of the means by which we hope to assess this. Can they think well? Can they argue well? Can they empathize well? Can they communicate effectively? By the end of their years at The River Academy, they can, with the grace of God and their own hard work.  


 

Monday
Jan292018

Mr. Devries on Wake Up Wenatchee

Tuesday
Dec122017

LEGO Robotics Competition 12/09/17

Robotics Competition Video from The River Academy on Vimeo.

 

Two teams; The Tridents & River Robotics, represented our school at the first ever NCW FIRST Lego Regional Robotics Competition. And, they represented us well. Students spent hours preparing for the competition and dedicated this past Saturday to demonstrating what they have learned in an exciting display of teamwork, presentation, engineering, and technological skills. The morning was spent with judges evaluating the 15 total teams on their Core Values, Team Project and Robot Design (see the judging rubric to better understand the scope of the robotics club). The afternoon was filled with the robots competing in 2 ½ minute time frames to complete tasks and earn points. River Robotics found success throughout the day and will happily be moving on in the competition for a January 13th Eastern Washington Championship in Spokane. Way to go team! The Tridents scored well in the morning evaluations. However, when it came time to show the judges what the robot could do, things just didn't go as planned. Students had carefully practiced, reprogrammed, double-checked and triple-checked but the robot couldn't quite accomplish the tasks. "That is the way it often goes" said Phil Bir; TRA's Robotics Instructor. "You can spend all the time in the world preparing and, when you get to the table, it just doesn't work." It may have been the slightly different measurements of the table, a momentary interference with the WiFi, or any number of factors. But that is all part of the learning process that makes Robotics such a great experience. We are proud that both teams demonstrated their ability to work together to solve problems, their tenacity and school pride. Nice job kids!

 And a heartfelt “thank you” to the parent volunteers who helped guide the two teams in their practices and competitions!

 

Friday
Nov172017

Happy Thanksgiving From TRA

 

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.

Worship the Lord with gladness;

Come before him with joyful songs.

Know that the Lord is God.

It is he who made us, and we are his;

We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving

And his courts with praise;

Give thanks to him and praise his name.

For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;

His faithfulness continues through all generations. Psalm 100

Echoes of JOYOUS SHOUTS filled the upper hallway of The River Academy this morning as 92 elementary students; along with teachers, parents and the senior class, sang at the top of their lungs to WORSHIP THE LORD WITH GLADNESS.

One parent, who didn’t realize we have a Friday tradition of hallway Psalm singing, found herself physically unable to leave after dropping kids off. She was happily hemmed in on every side by students with Psalters in their hands and expectant smiles on their faces. After singing was over and Mr. Devries had led the group in prayer, the parent remarked that she was grateful to have been inadvertently trapped so she could experience these JOYFUL SONGS.

As you and your family prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving, please join The River Academy in giving praise with joyfulness in our hearts for HIS ENDURING LOVE. We hope you enjoy this video of a few of our younger students voicing their thankfulness. 

Tuesday
Oct242017

TRA Key Club- Making a Difference All Year Long

This Saturday many people, young and old, will join forces on Make a Difference Day, one of the largest annual single days of service nationwide, designed to improve the lives of others through a wide range of community-driven service projects.  For members of The River Academy’s Key Club, this mission happens all year long.  

Several of our members will be partnering  with Kiwanis for Make a Difference Day to winterize Camp Zanika, but they have already been hard at work making a difference in their school and community.  Earlier this month our Key Club members created a glowing obstacle course for younger runners participating in Serve Wenatchee Valley’s Light the Loop Fundraiser.  They also organized TRA’s fall “house” service day,  where all secondary students participated in one of three projects.  Their efforts resulted in 25 painted pumpkins for Colonial Vista, 25 Thanksgiving baskets for Serve Wenatchee Valley, and 70 filled shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child.  Dressed in a wide array of costumes, Key Clubbers will also gather on October 31 to trick-or-treat for UNICEF,  raising funds to help prevent  maternal and neonatal tetanus around the world.

During the winter months, TRA Key Clubbers will host a game/craft night for elementary students, organize a holiday drive-in movie, assist Kiwanis with their Christmas giveaway, wrap gifts in the mall, collect money for Life Choices, send care packages to members of the military, and plan another “house” service project.

As the weather warms and spring approaches, Key Clubbers will “rock-n-rowl” for CASA, organize a talent show, work food fair booths at Apple Blossom, attend District Convention, and host a National Day of Prayer breakfast.  

Because TRA Key Clubbers engage in so many service projects around our Valley, The River Academy has received Youth United’s Volunteer School of the Year award for the past two years. When a student joins our Key Club, they truly embrace our motto:  “Caring, a Way of Life.”  Most importantly, they joyfully model for others the example Christ gave in Matthew 20:28: “Even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

 

Saturday
Sep232017

More Than a Game

This past Friday, as is every Friday at TRA, was House Lunch.  The House teams meet while eating lunch and conversing and/or planning and then gather to do a project, play tournament games or engage in service for the school or community.  This was a tournament day and the houses battled in an EPIC game of capture the flag.  Highlights of this bonding game included: 1. Seeing some of our new students become key players for their house and a few become flag-capturing heroes!  2. Watching students who are more inclined to outdoor activity than indoor academics, find joy and success in working hard with their multi-grade team of TRA students. 3. But most heartening and bonding of all was the participation of the teachers of those students. More than a dozen red-shirted students streamed after Mr. Hettick as he ran with their flag toward his safe zone. He was caught! Several teachers attempted to stop some of the upper-class students from stealing their team’s flag and when outright speed failed them, there may have been a sort of wrap up capture that deflated those speedy kids.  

It’s hard to explain, if you weren’t at the park with us, while the sun shone down and the student body enjoyed the thrill of battle together, with their teachers.  Some of the photos might help you capture the feeling.  Maybe next time you should join us

    

Monday
Sep112017

Tall Timber 2017

This Wednesday will mark one of the beloved traditions of The River Academy; the secondary retreat at Tall Timber in Leavenworth. It’s a chance to get excited about the school year ahead, connect with other students and experience God’s presence in the midst of His wondrous creation.

Asked what she likes best about the retreat, one student shared, “Everyone [in secondary] gets a chance to interact, older kids and younger together. The older kids, grades 10-12 get there a day earlier to get ready for the younger students. Everyone gets pumped up for welcoming the younger kids.”

As the 7th to 9th graders arrive, the older students line the drive and welcome them with cheering and celebration. Older students are assigned to younger students and personally greet them, grab their luggage and show them to their cabins. Then everyone goes to a main area and the fun begins as 7th graders and new students are given their House assignments amidst lots of fanfare and excitement.

The next two days are filled with House team-building activities like the High Adventures and the zip lines. There are also times of student led worship, bible studies taught by staff and students and all are encouraged to seek quiet times of spiritual reflection. And of course, some free time to enjoy unstructured fellowship and the beautiful surroundings!

Please join us in praying that our secondary students grow closer to God and to one another as they venture off on this year’s retreat!

Tuesday
Jun282016

End of Year Celebration

The students love this day of fun.  The older students play with the younger and everyone soaks up the sunshine and joy of starting summer together.