At Cornerstone and Pusch Ridge Christian Academies, the curriculum serves the culture. Our students flourish in a robust learning community that partners with the Christian home and church. Rooted in the Christian intellectual tradition, we focus on the development of the whole child: body, mind, soul and spirit. Our graduates are a reflection of our vibrant culture; they are servant leaders who seek wisdom and to glorify God in every arena of thought and life.
Year Of Foundation
Scholarships Received 2014
Student Graduation Rate
Pusch Ridge Christian Academy – M.S. & H.S. Latin, Foreign Language Department Chair
When asked to sum up one of her favorite teachers, one student simply said, “Ms. Ewing rocks !” “Whenever she needs our attention,” related one student, “she says ‘Carpe!’ and we say ‘Diem!’”
Ms. Ewing has a BA in Classics and Political Science from the University of Arizona. Now, according to Librarian Lori Abrams,“Her graduated AP students are legendary in certain U of A literature classes.” Her colleagues admire her ‘creativity, ingenuity, indomitable style and endless energy.’ English teacher Huntley Cooney describes how Ms. Ewing creates fun teaching activities that motivate and inspire her students, “She has Latin ‘graffiti’ walls in her classroom, and if you peek in during class, you might
find her class sitting in a circle on the floor working on Latin translations.” Cooney noted that Ewing brings the same ‘crazy, creative, fun and caring’ ways to her role as a Young Life leader. “She loves her students and relates to them very well.”
“Ashley Ewing inspires her students to think critically about what they are seeing or saying, translating or transcribing.” Like many of her colleagues in the Foreign Language Department she chairs, Ashley also goes far above and beyond the call of duty with planning and leading trips to the ‘other side of
the pond’ where students enjoy seeing first-hand the classical Latin world of Europe. She definitely lives out the name of our textbooks and makes LATIN ALIVE! Alive and well in the hearts and minds of her students at PRCA.”
Cornerstone Christian Academy – Grade 4
“She reads the best books!” “She loves reading, we can tell by the way she reads.” “She always uses expression when she is reading.” “She’s very descriptive in reading.” Mrs. Walker has a passion for books and loves to read aloud – and her students love it too!
Originally from Illinois, Mrs.Walker has lived in Tucson for the past 42 years. She graduated from the University of Arizona with a dual degree in Special Education and Elementary Education. Mrs.Walker stayed home to raise her children and then returned to education. According to her students, “Don’t waste minutes!” is one of Mrs. Walker’s favorite sayings. She likes to get things done and do them well. They also say she’s beautiful, fun, understanding, easy to understand, kind, helpful and loving. She is in her twelfth year teaching 4 grade at Cornerstone and she is still loving every minute!
Other teachers describe her as encouraging, “Susan’s smile often lifts me up. She is so loving and encouraging to everyone. I admire her ability to smile and keep a positive tone in her voice–even when her patience is being tried.” Her fellow fourth grade teacher effused,”Master teacher, God loving woman, beautiful, my amazing co-fourth grade teacher, but above all…MY FRIEND! She is counted as one of my many,many blessings of which I am so thankful God has given me!”
Pusch Ridge Christian Academy Math Department Chair, M.S. & H.S. Pre-Algebra, Course 3
Mother to three PRCA graduates: Scott ’04, Kristen ’07, and Kathryn ’11, Mrs. Linaman is regarded by fellow teachers, administrators and students as a wise, cheerful, patient, kind, loving and humble servant. Kendra received a BA in Elementary Education K-8 from the University of Arizona and passed the AZ state MS Math Proficiency exam.
Mrs. Lisa Wood refers to Linaman as an inspiring leader and “an incredible ‘idea bank’ of means to effectively teach the subject of Mathematics.” “Her love for the Lord is evident in her love for people, as well as in the ways that she sees the precision and majesty of God in the world of math.” HOS Mr. Dennis O’Reilly, a former math teacher himself, expressed gratitude for all the ‘countless hours’ Mrs. Linaman devoted to working on the Math sub-committee to review curriculum changes and praised her leadership abilities as department chair in motivating and inspiring the Math Department to excellence.
In addition to her thoroughness and ability to simplify a tough subject, students appreciate Mrs. Linaman’s sense of humor, her kindness and willingness to help, the riddles she poses to them, and her stories about life. Blessed with the gift of encouragement, Kendra inspires colleagues with her positive outlook and her strong work ethic. Pusch Ridge Middle School Principal David Towne summed her up, “Kendra Linaman is a true professional and a gracious and kind person who demonstrates what it means to be a Christian educator.”
M – Merciful
R – Robust
S – Super
B – Beautiful
A – Awesome
D – Daring
E – Energetic
This anagram was created by one of Mrs. Bade’s fifth graders. Other students describe her as ‘funny, sweet, nice, out of this world, and amazing.’ “She makes all the subjects interesting and unique, is funny and happy all the time.” A few others said ‘trustworthy and forgiving,’ and almost all commented on how much she uses the Smart Board! In her sixteenth year of teaching primarily 5th grade, Mrs. Bade knows how to teach and talk to ten-year-olds. She left a promising advertising career behind when she felt called to teach. Now, Mrs. Bade loves being a teacher because she gets to use the same creative skills as she did in advertising, but with the immeasurable satisfaction in ‘helping to shape a mind and a heart for Christ.’
Cornerstone Principal Jeff Jones remarked, “Mrs. Bade is the consummate professional and an excellent educator who exemplifies lifelong learning. As a devout student of the Bible and a passionate reader she brings a tremendous amount of head and heart knowledge into her classroom. Her faith and her ability to apply God’s word greatly contribute to higher level critical thinking skills which help shape the lives of our fifth grade students.”
currently completing his Masters in Education. A teacher for 8 years, Mr. Brown has been teaching for four years at Pusch Ridge Christian Academy. His students concur that Senor Brown is a caring, unique, intellectual, witty, adventurous, fun-loving teacher who is passionate about the Spanish language and Hispanic culture and people. They appreciate his immersion approach to speaking the language and learning about the cultures of the Spanish speaking world in unorthodox ways.
“Whether it is an article of clothing, a current event in the news, a meal to taste-test, or a phenomena sweeping the Latin American world, he is aware of it and will constantly be engaging the students and introducing them to this spice of life.” Principal Jason Clapero praised Brown’s visionary establishment of a cultural exchange program between Pusch Ridge Christian Academy and a Christian school in Guatemala, his deft implementation of technology in the classroom and his relational ability with students, “many students have cited him as being a key mentor and encourager in their spiritual lives.”
“Chad Brown is the complete package as a master Spanish teacher: energy, excellence, ingenuity,” said Librarian Lori Abrams.” He brings cutting edge technological application to his teaching: cell phones, videography,web pages and customized workbooks are all employed to enhance student participation
and language retention. Best of all, Mr. Brown loves being with his students –before school, after school, at dances and during the summer. Senor Café is famous at Pusch Ridge Christian Academy for many reasons: creating world famous chorizo burritos, being the best disc jockey ever, performing amazing acts of hilarious agility at school assemblies and Project Evergreen (Elf Brown time), and spending his summers introducing students to the beauty of Guatemala and its people.”
Mr. Hauschildt and sixth grade is a match made in heaven at Cornerstone Christian Academy – and has been for the past thirteen years. Many students stay on for sixth grade just to have him as a teacher. When asked to describe Mr. Hauschildt, every single student had something to say about how funny and ‘punny’ he is. “If you take the middle letters out of church, what’s missing? You are (UR).” And, unsurprisingly, one of the things he says he likes most about teaching sixth grade is that the students are old enough to ‘get’ his jokes.
He is also well known for his wacky tie collection and for occasionally throwing erasers at students.
Mr. Hauschildt was strongly influenced by his own sixth grade teacher and began his teaching career in 1975. After teaching around the world, including Papua New Guinea, where he taught missionary children for eleven years, he joined the staff of Cornerstone Christian Academy in 2000.
Principal Jeff Jones says, “Mr. Hauschildt has become an institution as the longest tenured teacher at Cornerstone Christian Academy. However, because he is deeply rooted in the Lord, you will never see praise and accolades go to his head. He is a shining example of a Godly Christian man, and his servant’s heart combines with a deep passion, wit, and charm as he mentors our sixth graders and prepares them for life in middle school and beyond.”
Mrs. Kirk earned a BA in English Education at Arizona State University and has been teaching for twenty-nine years. In her eleventh year of teaching at PRCA, Mrs. Kirk routinely ends every class from day one to the last with the following exchange: Kirk asks, “Guess what?,” students reply, “What?,” Kirk replies, “You’re a miracle!” and students respond, “I’m a miracle!” Her students describe her as a favorite teacher who is ‘encouraging, inspirational, authentic, joyous, helpful, enthusiastic, Mom-like, a great listener, relater, and a living example of Proverbs 31.’
Fellow teachers refer to Sarah Kirk as an “amazing mentor and role model, a dynamo who is an extraordinary problem solver, a daily embodiment of every fruit of the Spirit, a word woman who loves The Word, an encourager, and a literary wonder.” An inspiration to her students and colleagues, Mrs. Kirk has motivated countless former students to pursue careers in education and writing, and guided many more toward living life more abundantly.
Principal David Towne describes Kirk as “a masterful teacher who balances academic rigor with humor, an electric pace with genuine love for ALL students, and a passion to see all students succeed. She not only teaches a subject but she teaches LIFE with Christ at the center of it. Sarah is a Pied Piper for high school students.” As fitting today as it was sixteen years ago, the 1997 Tucson Citizen Student of the Year recipient wrote this tribute to her favorite teacher: http://tucsoncitizen.com/morgue2/1997/05/09/52787-tucson-citizen-student-achievement-award/
PRCA has been such a blessing to our family and the perfect fit for our son. We've watched him grow in his personal confidence and character, and in his relationship with the Lord. He's developed some amazing relationships and really enjoyed the opportunity to play and excel in several sports. We also love the personal connection and communication we have with the administration and staff, and the opportunities to be directly involved in the programs and activities of the school.
We have been so pleased to have had all of our children attend PRCA at some point in their education. The instruction has been top-notch but even more important, very caring teachers have made a major impact on their lives. During these formative years, we have been so grateful to have the staff of PRCA come alongside of us as parents and encourage growth in so many areas of their lives. PRCA has helped our children take steps towards finding their giftings and becoming more like Christ.
In the end we believe we can uniquely offend everybody, because God led us to utilize home school, public school, and Pusch Ridge Christian Academy in our journey. That in no way diminishes the significance that PRCA has played in our lives. It has unquestionably been an answer to prayer. The covenantal emphasis on family and the beauty of the Christian community has been marvelous. The partnership that teachers have formed with us for the benefit of our children is remarkable. The individualized attention faculty has paid to our children has been loving and compassionate. The classical nature of the school has allowed our kids to excel and positioned them for great impact in the world. The Christian worldview has complimented the teaching of our home. In gratitude we praise God for PRCA. It’s a joy to partner with you for the glory of God in our children and community.
We are so blessed by, and thankful for, PRCA. We moved to the Tucson area a year ago, assuming our son would attend a public school. When we learned of Arizona's tax credit opportunity, I felt strongly we must do what we could to ensure his attendance at the character-building and academically rich PRCA. We have not been disappointed. We have been impressed with his academic growth but, most importantly, we have witnessed his development in Christ-like character.
I Believe in the One Triune God – A Brief Testimony of Faith in Jesus Christ
The Apostles Creed summarizes the faith received by generations of fathers and applied to my life by the power of the Holy Spirit. Born to Christian parents, I was baptized as a covenant child. The first awareness of the reality of God came to me at the age eight years in a Sunday school class at First Presbyterian Church of Wappingers Falls, NY. The teacher asked each of us write a proverb. Although it may seem cliché in the 60’s to have children rewrite the Bible, I wrote and still possess in a scrapbook these words that I have never forgotten, “Listen to God, and remember.” Truly the Word of God became alive and powerful to me that day, as I knew from that moment that God is and that He has spoken to humankind through the Old and New Testaments. At age twelve, I was catechized, although somewhat reluctantly, in the Westminster Shorter Catechism. I seriously revisited these standards while preparing for ordination as a ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, and to this day adhere to that system of theology found in the Westminster Standards. After a few years of ambivalence, late in my teens and by His grace, a fire was stirred in my spirit renewing my faith, directing my life, and leading me to pursue ministerial training immediately upon graduation from college. This led to ordination into the gospel ministry in the early nineteen eighties. For fifty years belief in the One True and Triune God has informed, and influenced and at times fully formed my life, family, and career.
I believe in God the Father Almighty maker of heaven and earth. This is an established fact, revealed to me and to all God’s covenant people by the witness of Holy Spirit. It informs all of life in that the knowledge of God as omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent affects all of life. I believe in Jesus Christ His only Son our Lord. Born a sinner, He died for my sins and for all the sins of all those whom He has chosen. Truly “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” The Holy Spirit actively witnesses of these truths to my heart, convicting and comforting me as a son of the living God.
Over time the fundamental belief in the received faith became a comprehensive and selfconsciously held biblical world and life view. Beginning with Francis Schaefer around 1980, many authors have powerfully shaped the perspective that every arena of life and thought must be captive to Christ as the Lord of all. This comprehensive faith has animated every possible facet of my life as a husband, father, minister and head of school. It has made the Christian faith so much more exciting because it is not limited to a devotional compartment, but rather applies to everyone and everything all of the time. That is the reason for a life of direct influence through Christian education. By its nature it deals with every aspect of life as a totality. And, that is quite simply the reason for continuing in this career. So much more could be written affirming the Christian faith as a way to think, to live and of course as the basis of truth for every aspect of the education of children for God. “Faith of our fathers, holy faith! We will be true to thee till death.”
After a long process of looking for the very best Head of Schools (HOS) for our wonderful school system, we are pleased to announce to you that the CFCS Board has hired Dr. Rodney J. Marshall, effective July 1st. The process was thorough and complete, including input from the principals and head administrative staff at both school campuses. Dr. Marshall stood out as the best equipped to be our next Head of Schools and lead us in the direction of our founding vision and philosophy. He is very excited to become a member of a great team, and to pursue strategic goals for the growth of excellence in our school, leading faculty, staff, students and families.
Chair, CFCS Governing Board
One key aspect of the CFCS mission statement speaks of the goal of equipping our students with the “tools necessary to pursue a lifestyle and love of learning.” This past Friday I was able to witness our PRCA high school social studies teachers modeling this very concept. Arizona Christian University was hosting a conference developed by Hillsdale College, entitled Free Markets and the Constitution. I was able to attend along with Josh Brinkerhoff, Clint Nelson, and Susan Wixon. This day was a great reminder of the combination of joy and fulfillment learning can bring and the passion it can inspire in us. We listened to three lectures followed by Q&A sessions on topics as diverse as “How Free Markets Work,” “The Constitution and Free Market Economics,” and “Teaching Economics and Civics.” The overall theme was focused on tracing the influences of Progressivism and its harmful impact on both our economic and political freedoms and how a proper civics education would respond to this dilemma. During our lunchtime and later on the drive home, we were able to question each other, share insights and takeaways, and reflect upon how what we were learning would impact the classroom and hopefully our students. As I listened to the conversations, I was reassured when I considered Jesus’ reflection that “the student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher” (Luke 6:40 NIV). I am grateful that the CFCS teachers have such a passion for learning and sharing what they have learned with their students. No doubt their modeling of what it is to be lifetime learners will have just as lasting an impact as the content they teach!
It’s 12:30am and I can’t sleep. Normally my bedtime is 9pm and I conk out right when my head hits my beloved pillow. Not tonight. The big issue that is floating and rewinding through my head is what I had witnessed the previous night. It was the night of the 8th Grade Etiquette/Dinner dance and my face is still hurting from smiling the whole time as I witnessed the goodness of God through His body working together in a way that was beautiful, true, and right.
There are moments when God peels away the curtain a bit in your life (or in a family, class, school or organization) and shines His glorious light as if to say, “I’m working, keep moving, don’t give up, you’re OK, things are happening even though it seems like nothing is happening, I have it under control, you are not in charge but I am using you, surrender, open your eyes, look up, be an eternal thinker, get over yourself and trust, etc.” That night of the Etiquette Dinner/Dance was one of those nights for me. To witness students dressed so professionally, engaging in a wholesome night of dancing, of honoring each other, of conversing at the table and on the dance floor, of laughing and enjoying the wonder of community, made me smile. And I can’t stop smiling.
I need to go to sleep but my mind is on overload as I think of the potential of all our students at PRCA. As we partner with the home, teach with zeal and rigor what is true, good, and beautiful, and offer opportunities for growth as in the Etiquette Dinner/Dance, we do get a glimpse of God’s grace and goodness. Isn’t that true Christian education?
What is the cure anyway for a face that is tired out from smiling too much? It might help me go to sleep!
M.S. Principal David Towne
With gratitude to M.S. Athletic Director Andrea Hendrickson’s stewardship of PRCA’s amazing God-honoring etiquette curriculum assisted by Mr. Brian Graham, and the dedicated efforts of a huge crew of parent, faculty and staff volunteers who made this a night for the Class of 2018 to remember always. I couldn’t possibly name all, but special thanks to our core parent Etiquette Dance Committee led by Lisa Keller-McCarthy, Committee Chair; Sacha Reilly, Decorations; Maecia Chapman, Food; Colleen Lienhard, Servers; Valerie Turner, Invitations; Sherrin Mitchell, Photography.
As I walked the CCA campus this morning, there was great excitement and anticipation in the air as our fifth and sixth grade students methodically reviewed their lines in anticipation of the upcoming Shakespeare Festival. This time of the year, we are often asked questions such as, “Do the students understand what they are talking about?” or “Why Shakespeare?”
If you have attended a Shakespeare Festival you already know the answer to the aforementioned questions. If not (aside from inviting you to attend next month’s festival), I will turn to our Book of Fives, which offers five (5) reasons for “Why Shakespeare?” (and neatly fits a blog such as this for both copy and length).
Our study of Shakespeare is episodic and age?appropriate. For the five weeks prior to the Shakespeare Festival each year, the Bard’s works constitute a chief component of our literature study. The works studied are age appropriate, with prose versions read in the earlier grades. The original works are
introduced in the older grades. At all age levels the original language is studied in some form (sonnets only the younger grades) and our children become accustomed to it at an early age.
Our study of Shakespeare is consistent with our philosophy. Our inspiration, Charlotte Mason, referred to the “banquet which is Shakespeare.” In our foundational document, the Arche, our founding headmaster, Jack Beckman, makes a convincing case for Shakespeare being a “hands?on” experience for grade school children, and that is the way we teach it. All in-class experiences culminate in the public event known as the Shakespeare Festival, in which every Cornerstone student participates.
Shakespeare stands alone among writers of English for his enduring appeal. Shakespeare’s thirty?eight plays and more than one hundred fifty poems establish Shakespeare as the foremost literary talent of his own Elizabethan Age and, even more impressively, as a genius whose creative achievement has never been surpassed in any age.
Our study of Shakespeare contributes to many of our successes. Our superior reading scores and the many successes of our students in vocabulary competitions are, in part, because of the rigor of studying and understanding Shakespeare.
Elementary children are perfectly capable of understanding and appreciating Shakespeare. One thing we never do at Cornerstone is to tell a student he or she is too stupid to do something. In keeping with our philosophy of “No child held behind,” we are committed to presenting our students with the best literature we possibly can, and Shakespeare clearly qualifies. To skeptics, we often say, “Come to our Shakespeare Festival. Look into the children’s eyes and tell us they don’t know what they are talking about.” The results are always evident to an observer: these children understand and appreciate what they are performing.
With all of that said, I would like to invite you to attend the Shakespeare Festival on Friday, May 2nd at Cornerstone Christian Academy. To quote Huntley Cooney, “As you attend, sit back and delight in Shakespeare’s themes, language, and stories and rejoice in your child’s early appreciation for and facility with the language, knowing that you have given him this gift for life.”
Recently I attended a conference along with teachers Josh Brinkerhoff, Clint Nelson, and Susan Wixon at Arizona Christian University developed by Hillsdale College, entitled Free Markets and the Constitution. One of the guest lecturers shared the following quote in reference to the all-too common view of the Constitution in our society today even amongst our leaders. “How can someone hold in reverence something they have come to view as irrelevant?” This statement nicely encapsulates both the challenge and the opportunity that faces both parents and the schools as we covenant together to provide our children with a Christian/classical education. In this sense the general view of irrelevance and indifference towards the constitution closely parallels the contemporary view of both the Scriptures and God. How indeed can we come to worship God and revere His written word to us when both have come to be largely irrelevant in our society apart from the Sunday sermon? This is exactly we are so passionately committed to biblical and spiritual integration in each and every subject area and grade level at CFCS. Indeed we have taken this as far as to boldly claim before our students that “all Truth is God’s Truth.”
The ACSI Art Festival happened last Friday (4/4) in Tucson and Cornerstone was one of six participating schools. CCA art teacher, Mrs. Amber Dow, chose a variety of artwork from students of all ages to submit. Seventeen CCA students displayed works in all different mediums: paper, watercolor, pastel, clay, metal sculpture and pencil. Cornerstone took home seven “Superior” ribbons and five “Excellent” ribbons. Two of the three “Best in Show” ribbons were also awarded to Cornerstone students. Mrs. Dow is extremely proud of her students’ performance in the show and said, “It felt like the Superbowl for art teachers and that my team won!”
Cornerstone is blessed with a wonderful garden to compliment our Nature Studies program. Phase one was completed last year and this week our third grade class enthusiastically dove into spring planting. Armed with shovels, rakes and bare hands they worked to dig out the winter overgrowth and planted a variety of vegetables including cucumbers, peppers and tomatoes. By the time school ends in May, the garden will be blooming with flowers and vegetables.
Click on image for slideshow!
Greetings again. In my decade plus at Cornerstone, I have witnessed countless acts of kindness being extended to others. Through God’s love and grace, our school’s ability to come alongside in support of the Christian home is truly second to none. The philosophy of the school, our wonderful faculty and staff, our partnership with CPF, and parents themselves are what make this possible. Allow me to share a few words from a new parent who recently enrolled her daughter in one of our early-grades at CCA:
…”I wanted to thank you for everything. I have never felt so welcomed in a school before. Just the kindness I felt from the staff made me feel so nice. It’s incredible how a simple smile can make you feel so welcomed. Our daughter said she missed me and cried a bit, but she loved the school.”
I cannot tell you how many times I have watched a group of little girls joyfully welcome (read: mob) a new classmate with smiles and hugs. With such an enthusiastic greeting, I’ve seen even the most nervous child relax and smile. The mother went on to say, “I really appreciate everything once again. We are having a difficult time since we have no family here and we are all adjusting, but The Lord brought us here for a reason. I know that this shall pass soon. God Bless!”
The power of community and the fellowship of believers are just two of the many characteristics that make our school special. Thank you, again, to all those in our system who give and extend of themselves to glorify God and to better His Kingdom here on earth.
Yesterday, 27 Cornerstone kindergarten students and almost as many parents trekked out to Shamrock Farms to learn about where all that milk they love comes from. They were as excited about their first bus ride as the promised ice cream. Upon arrival, they played on the dairy themed playground before touring the milking facilities. They got to watch the cows get milked, bathed, and pampered in the “sisterhood spa” before watching a video about how all that milk gets turned into various dairy products before arriving in their grocery store. An over-sized tram took them to visit the cows and the highlight of the trip was getting to feed the ‘baby cows’. After a good hand washing they ate their lunches accompanied by white or chocolate milk and ended the tour with an ice cream treat, before piling back into the bus for the return trip to Tucson. It was a fun trip for all and a great addition to their “Farm” unit!
On Day 3 of the 8th Grade D.C. Trip: The morning began with a visit to Arlington National Cemetery, where the group observed the wreath laying ceremony and four PRCA eighth graders had the honor of placing the wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The four, Isaac Warren, Laura Randall, Kelsey Mason, and Presley Cain won this opportunity through an essay contest. Read Isaac Warren’s winning essay:
“Honor in Laying the Wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier” by Isaac Warren
God has blessed me beyond measure through gifting me with a family heritage of patriots. My family’s military history dates from Vietnam all the way back to the Civil War. Growing up in a patriotic family with a legacy of servicemen has greatly influenced my military passion and inspirations.
One of my Civil War relatives was fighting in the Battle of Perryville, Kentucky, when he was hit in the head by a cannon ball. Thought to be a dead man, he was left there on the field. But when it was discovered that he was alive, no one could find him anywhere. So his sister went on a search for him, and ended up finding him in a hospital a distance away. I have another Civil War relative that was in the 1st Wisconsin Calvary. He was with General Sherman on Sherman’s famous march through Virginia. My Great Uncle Carl served in World War 1 and received a purple heart, the symbol of an injured soldier, for being gassed while he was in Germany.
My Great Grandpas (both sides of the family) served in World War 2 and one of them got to see Nagasaki shortly after it was A-bombed. My maternal grandfather served for twenty-four years in the Air Force as a Chinese linguist, beginning with the Vietnam conflict. My family’s rich military history even extends into the White House. I am related to Vice President William A. Wheeler, who served in the White House as President Hayes’ Vice President (1877-1881).
My family’s military heritage has not only inspired me to have a goal to attend the United States Air Force Academy and to serve in the Air Force, following in my grandpa’s footsteps, but this profound legacy has also helped me to understand and to appreciate how serious and solemn an honor it is to place the wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. I would treasure the honor of placing the wreath on the tomb, and it is why I’m so interested in this unique opportunity.
I truly realize the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier represents every fallen soldier in the United States Military, and that it holds the hallowed remains of unidentified soldiers from which it derives its name: “The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.” The tomb is located in Arlington National Cemetery, where there are many gravesites of fallen soldiers (many that do not state a name because the soldier who is buried there was too deformed to identify). The guards of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier follow a very specific marching pattern: The Tomb’s Guards march twenty-one steps south down the black mat laid across the tomb, then they turn and face east, and hold for twenty-one seconds. Next they turn and face north and change their weapon to the outside shoulder, and then wait twenty-one seconds. Then they march twenty-one steps down the mat, turn to the east and hold for twenty-one seconds. Then, they turn and face south and switch the weapon to the outside shoulder and wait twenty-one seconds. They then repeat the routine until the Changing of the Guard. This solemn ceremony is conducted twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year, regardless of weather.
My family legacy has taught me that such devotion is required, and Scripture teaches me to “give honor to whom honor is due“(Romans 13:7). God has blessed me with a rich, family military history, and – as such – I would count it an extreme honor to be chosen to lay the wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
“Davy, Don’t Wish Your Life Away”
It all happened a few weeks before Christmas and Easter break each year. I would begin to whine and tell anyone who listened, “I can’t wait until school is out!” “Five more days until I am free from school!” “Two hundred hours and 17 minutes until Easter break!” And on and on I would drone to anyone who would listen. The person listening the most was my long-suffering mother who would gently say to me, “Davy, you don’t ever want to wish your life away.” each time I uttered my desire to be liberated from the scheduled days of school.
My mom was so right and so biblical in her reminders for me during those formative years. There is nothing wrong with looking ahead and there is nothing sinful in remembering the past. But God is a God of todays! In Matthew 6:34 we are reminded of this truth about what we do with our ordinary days and of not wasting our focus on future happenings: “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.” (The Message)
As we all enter this Christmas season, may we be attentive, each day, of what an amazing school community we are a part of, of how we get to do life together, of the joy of learning together in a place that is a mixture of home, church, and school.