Saturday, September 7, 2013

First Week of School

Week one of classes has come to a close here at the Black Forest Academy and the first-year teachers are wondering just how they managed to survive it all. :)

I realize that it’s been a while since my last blog update, but, as you can probably imagine, my life has become a little more busy now that classes are in session, cross country is up and running, and the school year is in full swing. Therefore, I’ll do my best to update you on some of the bigger highlights of the week.

Garni Girls on the first day of school!
Monday evening was the official start of the semester and what BFA likes to call “Parent-Teacher Fellowship Night.” During this time, the parents of the BFA students have the opportunity to meet the teachers (hey, wait a minute, that’s me!) and preview the campus. For the evening’s agenda, each parent was given a copy of their student’s schedule and 7 minutes to visit each classroom. 

It was fun to see parents bustling back and forth across the campus, wondering how in the world their child will be able to get from the 4th floor of the main building all the way to the 3rd floor of the Janz Building all in less than 5 minutes! One of the things that impressed me the most about this evening was the opportunity to see so many world missionaries gathered together in one location. How inspiring to be surrounded by men and women who have given their lives to serve God and are willing to step out in faith and entrust the care of their children to the faculty and staff here at BFA. It is a decision that is definitely not easy, but one that will hopefully open so many new opportunities for their children to grow both in faith and in education.

Tuesday brought tidings of the Opening Ceremonies as well as the first day of school. A time-honored tradition at the Black Forest Academy, the Opening Ceremonies begins with a flag carrying procession in which every member of the senior class carries a national flag into the BFA auditorium. 
Flag Carrying Procession

Since most of the students at the school are TCKs, it is not uncommon for them to feel as if they come from several different countries. Therefore, it is often difficult for them to settle upon exactly which flag they want to carry. Students might choose to carry the flag of their passport country, the flag of the land where they spent the majority of their childhood, or perhaps even the flag of the country where their parents are currently serving. It is truly the diversity of this procession that makes it so spectacular. Who would ever believe that in the tiny town of Kandern, in the corner of Southern Germany, so many nations would be represented?

Along with the start of school, Tuesday also brought the start of cross-country! Though the team is small (4 boys and 5 girls), I am honored to be able to coach such a fine group of young people. We began Tuesday’s practice with a warm-up jog to the park behind the tennis courts. After a few minutes for drills and stretching, we headed out to Sitzenkirch on a trail affectionately known as the “Llama Run.” And yes, since I know you are going to ask, we actually do pass real llamas!

As I have quickly learned from my first week of coaching and running with the team, there is a variety of trails known only to the elite few who have even donned the BFA cross-country jersey. Each of these trails includes a creative name, so here’s a sampling of the names that I know…. there’s Monsoon (including both an easy version, “Mini-Monsoon,” as well as a more advanced version, “Big Monsoon”),  Fox Trot (haven’t run this one yet, so I’ll describe it for you later), the 5k race course (which just so happens to include a hill called “The Widowmaker”), Sausenburg Castle (almost entirely uphill!), and Sitzenkirch (aka the Llama Run). So far, I have greatly enjoyed my time with the team, which has consisted mainly of running up mountains, demonstrating form drills, encouraging the newcomers, and running up and down the forest trails looking for the boy’s team! (When do boys ever learn to follow directions?!?)

Friday was Chapel Day at BFA. This weekly service includes a Praise and Worship Band which is entirely student-led. So cool! There was also an encouraging message from the campus chaplain as well as an introduction to this year’s theme, which is “Seek Truth.” At the end of the day on Friday evening, I went with my roommates to the Italienisch Eis-Café to celebrate the successful completion of the first week of school. With two scoops of stracitella in my waffle cone, a group of friends all around me, and the beautiful stars in the German sky, I couldn’t help but thank God for this amazing opportunity to live and serve in such a place.

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