Lessons from Santa Barbara: Student Reflections #comments4kids

Last week Anastasis Jr. High spent the week learning and serving in Santa Barbara, California. Below are their reflections from the trip.


Whether we were tackling each other in the sand, riding bikes through the rivers, sliding down waterfalls, or hiding beneath the stars, my lips were constantly lifted into a smile and my heart was beating in a rhythm of joy; Santa Barbara will always be a place of memories and echoes of laughter in my head. When plunging into the cold water my spirit plunged into a zest for adventure. When the tires of my bike slowed in the mud my mind seemed to slow, which caused me to live in the present, not the past or future. When we served the people who didn’t have homes, my heart felt like it was the one being served. Two of the adventures that stood out to me the most were the Seven Falls and chapel at the Rescue Mission. The Seven Falls not only allowed me to step out of my comfort zone, but also allowed a new communication throughout our class. We struggled a little, but then we found our strength. Encouragement and hands reached out to me and helped me get to the top of the falls and the excitement and water did the rest. I saw the beauty of God’s creation not only in the holes of water, but in the care of my classmates. At the chapel, my soul felt alive. While hearing the worship songs be sung, I listened to the lady clap in front of me; it was beautifully off beat. I could see the true love and gratitude flowing out of her, and the room seemed to brighten. Sometimes I sing the songs and read the verses, but my heart only sways slightly side to side; in this chapel my heart danced. Each year Santa Barbara holds a different experience and every year I come back wishing I never had to leave.  –Megan

Going to Santa Barbara is a great time to get out of our comfort zones and build community. Getting out of your comfort zone is important because we will get new experiences. We have so many chances to step out of our comfort zones, but do we take hold of that opportunity? Over this trip I got that chance to step out of my comfort zone. On Tuesday of this trip we went on a bike ride, and we crossed rivers and rode around and through big rocks. This made me step outside my comfort zone a little because I wouldn’t normally choose to do something like this. On this bike ride I got to connect with some of my class mates and get to know them a little bit better. Even small things like getting to know someone better can build community. Community is a great thing, I really got to connect and build community with my class at 7 falls. We really helped each other out and showed community. This trip is so fun and I love going ever year to build community and get closer to my class. — Lauren

Santa Barbara, California is a beautiful place to visit, both to the eyes and to the soul.
Yes, the area was full of palm trees and beautiful horizons, which is wonderful, but I got to experience something more amazing than that, too: community. I met new people like Jon (our guide) and his family, and I got to strengthen my bonds with my classmates and teachers. We had a great time, no doubt because of adventures like biking and surfing, but absolutely because of friendship. I had a bunch of laughs when Macie put some kitchen liquids in my hair and spiked it up, not to mention when Alli and Lauren kept copying me when I spoke, but I also had a great time when Jack, Mitch and I decided to take a small adventure by sleeping outside for a night as opposed to wear we normally slept. Community is what really made the trip enjoyable. — Jackson

Sometimes the best way to feel alive is when you are in a new place, with new experiences and people to do them with you. Santa Barbara was not only a door to exploring, but also led to friendships and teamwork. A specific adventure strengthened my views on what it means to work as a team and build one another up. We went to 7 Falls and had to hike upstream in our tennis shoes and eventually climb up natural rock slides. The rocks were slippery and everyone struggled  to find that boost of endurance to keep them going. Finally someone made it to the top and immediately provided a helping hand. Each of us hoisted one another up onto rocks trusting that someone would hold us so we wouldn’t fall. We learned it was not a race to the top, but how we could use our strength to empower, help, and trust those around us. We learned to not be discouraged by our failures, but simply laugh at them and get back up and try even harder. The 7 Falls hike was not only beneficial to my character, but to our bond as a class and I am assured it has strengthened it in the process.   –Macie

Learning outside of the class room walls is the best way to get an education. In school we learn about math, science, language arts, history, but when is school going to teach you about life? Santa Barbara was an amazing trip that I gained so much knowledge on. Serving at PATH was an experience I will never forget. Talking and hearing these homeless people’s story’s is what will stick with me my whole life, not an A on a test. It’s beautiful to see a community with such wonderful stories gather together. Helps me realize that they shouldn’t be called the homeless but the hopeful. Each one of them showed hope through everything that they were going through. That’s something that a test at school can’t teach you. Learning outside of a class room also allows you to step outside of your comfort zones, to face your fears head on. In Santa Barbara I faced my biggest fear of sharks by swimming in the ocean. It helped me get over this idea of being eaten by a shark just by swimming in the ocean. Can sitting in a class room teach you that? Teaching people the word of God to people who have lost it is something you can only do. It’s showing others your faith in the Lord and possibly changing their loves forever just by expanding the class room walls to the edges of the earth.  –Angelina

Having a heart is more than loving yourself. It’s being able to look outside of the glass world you live in and putting a smile on someone’s face. It’s noticing when someone’s having a bad day and needs a kind word kindly spoken. Kind words spread across your heart, but kindly spoken words get rooted deep where no one else can find them. While we were in Santa Barbara, we discovered everything from little creatures at the depth of the sand floor to the water slides at top of a water fall. We didn’t just turn Santa Barbara inside out looking for adventure and activity, but we turned ourselves inside out looking for community and love. While we were looking for community and love within ourselves, what we were really looking was a family that was waiting for us to jump aboard. Santa Barbara is a trip that I will never forget, and it will be the trip that I remember as when I searched deep within myself but found something better in others. –Mak

God is good, and that definitely showed in many ways during last week. I got to bond with all of my classmates, form stronger relationship with my teachers, and have the best time trying new things I’ve never done before. It was so much fun I want to stay for another week. Just because we couldn’t that made our time together so much more precious. I don’t have a favorite part about this trip because all of it was equally amazing. I got to surf, play sand volleyball, cliff jump, have lucky charms at midnight, mountain bike, and many more activities. But if I didn’t do any of those activities and just had my classmates and teachers sitting down together talking and laughing I would be just as fun. My friends were the trip. We bonded so much I am in a loss for words. Since most of my classmates are  graduating this year we really had to be in the moment and not think about the future.”Good friends are hard to find, harder to leave, and impossible to forget.”-Unknown. All my friendships with my classmates and the memories that we made together are impossible to leave behind us. I will forever remember this trip and so stoked to be going again next year.  –Chachi

Santa Barbara was not only a trip where I can laugh, learn, and bond with new people but it is a place where I can grow my relationship with God. Santa Barbara is a place I will always remember and never forget. Through out this trip I never had a frown on my face ecept maybe when we played bean boozed. I was always laughing with some one weather it was laughing when Lauren got stuck in the quick sand or just laughing in the van. Every day I learned something new. When we were hiking the 7 falls hike I learned that we need each other to help us acomplish something. I also learned that team building is a very important skill to have. It is important to communicate and solve problems by useing each other’s ideas. On this trip I bonded with new people I only knew on a serfice level. I got to talk a lot with Maddie on this trip on the bike ride. As we were walking our bikes across the river we laughed and had a great time. My biggest take away of the whole trip was getting to know God through different prospectives. By doing the bike ride, surfing, and being in nature without my phone I got to experience God through simple things, like listening to the ocean or birds chirping. Overall this trip had so many highlights and lessons that I will carry with me through out my life.  –Alli

I walk out on this rocky path and explore. I explore beyond the 10 percent of who I am, who my neighbor is and the world that I am standing on. I start to see groups collide and start being transformed into one. I can feel the positive energy rise, and when the energy starts to drop I know it will rise again quickly. I experience caring, laughter and bonds of friends becoming one big family. Finally I slide off the rocky path while facing a fear. Then I open my eyes and realize that I am standing in a stream of water, with sand at the bottom of my feet and with a new family who is with me when I am afraid and when it’s time to go on another adventure while making memories.  –Maddie

At Santa Barbara we did not go just to play but we strengthen our community through these adventures and serving others. On the first day we got there we strengthen their community by climbing up these falls with no steps nor anything to hold onto, we just had to boost each other up and trust each other, that they have had our backs. We also had to trust the rocks like we have to trust God.
You had nothing to stand in your way except for yourself because you could do it if you believed in yourself. Even though you might not want to do it you would regret not doing it. We strengthen community by getting away from technology and not  always having our phones in our faces.   For example Lauren and I had nothing to talk about on the way there but on the way back we were full of conversation. Also getting to know people with out the stress of daily life and just being in the moment revealed a new side of each person. Over all I would go back again thousands of times and learn more about my classmates.  –Lauren

Going to Santa Barbara was an adventure to remember and to build community. Building community with classmates that I rarely hangout with made me grow stronger trough my friendships. I remember when Jackson, Jack, and I went outside to spend a night outside. We all learned to go out of our comfort zones. Climbing up the water slides on the seven falls hike made our community better and better. I know that this was my last time going to Santa Barbara but at least we spent our time well.  –Mitch

Black Hills Reflection #standagain #comments4kids



Black Hills Reflections:

“Beautiful Creation”
I could reach the skies, feel the wind, see the beauty not only in the nature but in the friendship I’ve been blessed to receive, Mt. Baldy was a phenomenal destination. As I reached the top, the wind wrestled with me, yet the solid, sandpapered rock held me strong and kept me safe. I looked around and my eyes adjusted, I saw the hills, the rocks, the dirt, the trees, and the horizon that awaited much more. My crouched body made way a couple of steps; my eyes went along. There was clouds and skies that touched the heavens, but there was even more. Faces. Each face entered my mind, followed with thousands of stories. Peace. Every breath I took my lungs would fill with peace and let go of the stress that it held. Freedom. I was free, I felt alive. I no longer worried about, “I need to Instagram this!” because I knew any photo I took would never be as crisp as the memory in my mind. Any photo I took, would not come along with the smell of the fresh air, the pine trees, and the sweat shed while climbing the mountain. Photos couldn’t capture the warmth of love or the comforting trust that settled within the air. We were on top of the world; without my friends I wouldn’t have been there. I knew any person I reached to they would give me a hand and help me to the top. “It’s easier to go down a hill than up it, but the view is much better at the top.” (Henry Ward Beecher). This year there was times I climbed down, yet my friends always pulled me up to the magnificent view. Creation is not just the mountains or oceans, but it’s the people too. It was possibly my last trip with some of them, maybe even last van ride, but forever I will remember being with my best friends on the top of Mt. Baldy. Trust, love, peace, laughter. Beautiful creation.
–Megan Suedkamp

“Ride of Pride ”
“I see a time of seven generations when all the colors of mankind will gather under the sacred tree of life and the whole earth will become one circle again.” – Crazy Horse. Anyone can hear about ones effort to change the world, but when you see the imprint they left with your own two eyes it unlocks a whole new perspective. Crazy Horse was a man who fought against the whites with pride and encouraged his people to never give up. People compete to see who can have the highest tower and don’t even think about why they are building it. The Native Americans knew why they wanted to build this memorial. The Native Americans thrived for building this monument because they wanted to provide strength and pride to their people and show the rest of the world that Native Americans are just capable as any white person on earth. You may believe that you must get to the finish line first, but what you don’t realize is your only competitor is yourself. “Slow down. Take a deep breath. What’s the hurry? Why wear yourself out? Just what are you after anyway?” (Jeremiah 2:25). This relates to me because I run so fast in life only keeping my eyes pressed against the banner that says finish. Along the way I miss everything else around me and when I think I have reached the finish line in reality my destination just keeps moving farther away. Just observing the monument taught me that the journey matters more than the destination. The Native Americans do not care when the monument will be finished, but they care about what comes along the way. I observed that the builders were focused mainly on the appearance of the statues size and compared it to the size of Mount Rushmore. The size of what you are trying to leave behind doesn’t matter, it’s the impact you are leaving. I heard stories of Crazy Horse and what he was like, but I was clueless until I was in the presence of the legacy itself.

“Fun Size Devils Tower”
As I keep searching for God in my journey Fink takes us to the Black Hills. I was excited to be hiking Mini Devils Tower. The first hike that we went to was the biggest hike we went on and also my favorite hike. Jack, JP, Ricky, and I leave the class and run up Mini Devils Tower. As we get up to the top the rest of the class starts to come. Jack and I break off. Ricky and JP go to play Mafia with the rest of the class. I see Jack dangling his feet over this cliff and I go and do the same. We lay back on the crystal rock and talk about life in general. Now that I am reading this I begin to know how dumb it was because here we are my best friend and I sitting on Gods creation but still talking about “noise, crowds, hurry,”-(Foster) and drama. Then I closed my eyes, I pray that this end of the year will be great. There is a tense breeze that suffocates my breath and the sun comes out of the clouds. I say ,God, thank you, at that moment I have just a glimpse on how my journey plays out.

“Leap of Faith”
Cliff jumping in my definition is the leap of faith. Cliff jumping in the Black Hills was an unforgettable experience. When you see the rock when you drive up to it looks like two feet off the ground. As you climb up the rock, you begin to feel your heart beating faster and faster the higher you go. You finally get up on the top of the rock, you look down then quickly grab onto something because you think it is so high. One person after the other goes. Each time you hear a splash of water from someone jumping you think about how you are that much closer to making that sound yourself. It was finally my turn. Extremely slow I slither my way down to where you jump. Fink counts 3,2,1. It took me two times to finally jump. 3,2,1, I push off of the rock. You feel as if you are floating in the air. Then at the last second home girl over here does a belly flop. My head goes above the water, I gasp for air, I swim over to the rock that I jumped off of. Then I hit my chest on the rock. “Perfect timing” I thought. As I begin to catch my breath I hear people swimming over to me. Luke, Izzy, and Megan were my rescuers. Even though I was not smiling when they came I was smiling on the inside. After it all happened it made me think of how cliff jumping is just like life. You feel as if everything is going your way, but at the last second pain finds you. “For I know the plans I have for you”  (Jeremiah 29:11). God will come and help you catch your breath.
–Angelina Basso

“The Tower from all Angles”
The tower is an exploration, and every angle of the rock is a different sight. Say if you look at it from the front, then you went to the left front. Then you went to the right side. It’s different and it will be hard to recognize. The tower can be an exploration in anyway, maybe it’s going up and climbing on top of the tower and looking around Wyoming. Or maybe it’s looking at the rock 360 degrees and look at it from every direction. Also, maybe even going below to see what’s below the rock and see how it was brought to the surface. What would that monument be if the rock never came from the surface? What would it look like to not be the first national monument? Questions about the tower are answers humans may never know. The tower is 360 degrees around the body of it, but each boulder it takes to form it is 360 degrees. The tower in general, from the big rock to the rocks that fill in the gaps, the tower will never be looked at the same way that you looked at it the first time. In a community, a day will never be the same ever again, whether you think of the year that day came, or the time that happened and what happened, nothing will be looked like from the same angle or picture again. Sure, you may look at the front of a house the same as yesterday, but you did it the next day instead of 2 days ago, of tomorrow. Another day will stay the same, but another minute will be enjoyed. It just like what Anastasis talks about, joy lasts longer than happiness, if you enjoy the moment of today or tomorrow, then that is what people like to call, joy. Then joy will not come in the same way it did yesterday or next week, happiness maybe will, but joy will never in 1 million years be the same as tomorrow. That is what makes the tower a 360 degrees, everything comes in different angles, if you enJOY the moment.

“Black Hills trip”
During our trip Mr. Fink had a surprise for us. We went to a place called flags and wheels. It was a really cool surprise. It had go karting, Laser tag, bumper cars, and batting cages. It was so much fun. What I did most of the time was go karting. It was fun to race Miss Jamie Mr. Fink and my friends. Everybody went to laser tag. I stayed and I raced the person that was running the go cart and we were able to mess around on the track. It was amazing to go to flags and wheels I had so much fun go karting.

“Wild in Spirit”
Adventure lies in nature. The most exciting piece of South Dakota was camping in the wild, unknown, forest. I look over the thundering boulders to see the swirl of colors that is the setting sun. As the sun says goodbye for the day, and the shivers of the cold wind set in, I appreciate the natural beauty of this earth. My fear of bears and unknown creatures is swept away in the midst of the natural beauty of the setting sun, fallen trees, and tweeting birds. From the laughs of my friends, to the thrill of being in the middle of nowhere, (not really, more like 2 miles from a parking lot), I enjoyed every moment. The glimmering stars of the night sky spurred my curiosity of life outside of this world, and lit the colorful, laughter-filled stories being heard and told. Although they were quite random, My stomach hurt from all the laughter. As I fell asleep, my dreams were filled with curiosity, stories, and memories created from camping in the wilderness in South Dakota. “Wilderness is not a luxury, but a necessity for the human spirit.” (Edward Abbey) Although I am back in suburbia, I still stay wild in spirit.

“Pizza Runs”
When we camped up at Mount Baldy the 8th grade boys traveled down the mountain and back bringing up pizza. We ran down the mountain, not on the trail, but on a path that we cut through the woods. It was tons of fun jumping over rocks and logs, darting between trees. When we reached the bottom we waited for Luke to show up with the van. Luke doesn’t know how to start a car. We rolled down into the small, tucked away town of Keystone and pulled up to the pizza place. While waiting for the last pizza we all got cokes. Luke doesn’t know how to hold a drink. The pizza came and we headed back to the mountain. Walking up took much longer because we weren’t running and we were carrying grub. We reached camp just before dark delivering the pizza! The thing I enjoyed most about the pizza run wasn’t the running (I’m not a runner), or the pizza (still tasty). My favorite thing about the pizza run was spending time with my teacher and friends, growing closer in relationships. Running to go get pizza sounds like a chore, but it really wasn’t, we had good conversations and we got to grill Luke’s driving skills. I got to know people better. The pizza runs were an exciting interaction I won’t soon forget. The simple things are the most memorable. I could write about big things on a grand scale such as Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse, and The Devils Tower. Those things are amazing, don’t get me wrong, but the simple things stand out just as much. I’ll remember times like the snipe hunt or running down a mountain and maybe tripping a time or two just as much as the things people travel cross country to see. The trips are so special because of the little things mixed with the big things, the all around memories. “It is the sweet, simple things in life which are the real ones after all” (Laura Ingalls Wilder).

“Dreaming of Rushmore”
Every year at my old school the 8th graders would take a trip to South Dakota. When they came back they would present to the whole school on their trip. Mount Rushmore was my favorite part. It just looked so magical. I would constantly daydream about going there. It was never a real thought that I was able to see the place of my dreams. After years and years of waiting, I moved schools. It actually never crossed my mind I wouldn’t see Mount Rushmore.
I tap my fingers on my desk and watch as we go through the trip to South Dakota schedule. I hide my excitement when I know we get to go to the place I have just dreamed of for at least 5 years. I attempt to explain to everyone why I’m most excited for the Mount Rushmore part, but they just nod their heads and take it as nothing. That’s when I realized maybe this was something that was just a little more meaningful to me than everyone else. I didn’t care, we were still going. Cliff jumping was our first stop before Rushmore. “Jump!” everyone called as I stand on the edge of a cliff. I totally forgot today was the day. I push my legs, close my eyes, plug my nose and jump. After a rush (pun intended) into the van Mr. Fink tells us we are changing at the camp, and we are going to Mount Rushmore. The time has finally arrived after 5 years of waiting.
“I want everyone to guess why I pulled over” Fink tells us before our stop to Rushmore. We all scramble out of the van and look around. No one seems to know why we are in the middle of a road.  Some girls slowly walk forward and scream. I can’t find what their looking at. Now everyone’s screaming and I have no clue what’s going on. Megan turns my head up to the sky. My eyes stop and my mouth stretches to a smile. It’s George Washington’s head! I join the screaming and jumping before we hop into the van. It was the most surreal moment of my life. I walk into the memorial. A goal I never thought I would achieve I just did. Tears of joy were streaming down my face, and when I looked at the beautiful memorial, I never wanted to leave the place of my dreams. This was a day I will never forget.
Without this experience I don’t think I would really understand what realizing your dreams felt like. Going somewhere and doing something you have always wanted to do is the best feeling in the whole world. Every day I wish I could re-live that moment and I’m sad I’m not there. “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened” -Walt Disney. I am definitely taking this quote to heart after that day.
–Angelina Hogan

“I can’t feel my legs…”
South Dakota was such a fun trip with so many awesome activities. One of those activities was Harney Peak hike. As we were walking up I got to talk and bond with my friends. It was beautiful but it was windy. Once we got to the top I looked out over the rock and it was breath taking, I felt a sense of peace. Love is a way of connection with peace and that’s what I felt on top of Harney Peak. We took pictures and put all of our layers back on because it was really windy and cold. I had shivers running though my spine then I felt the Holy Spirit brush over me and I was calm. As we started to walk down some stone steps to get to a lookout. Our class climbed on the rocks and we sat down and over the rock were three mountain goats. As we started to hike back down I saw prayer flags. Prayer flags are what the natives put on trees for symbolism. Over all I thought Harney Peak was so beautiful and I loved the experience.

“Faith, trust, and pixie dust”
This Black Hills trip was by far one of the best trips. On this trip there were so many highlights that I will always remember. My biggest highlight was rock climbing. I had never really done rock climbing before so it was fun to work my way to the top of the mountain and then to trust my classmates to keep me alive as I worked my way back down. As I was climbing the mountain it forced me to think and watch my every step. It forced me to use a lot of strength that would soon get me to the top of the mountain. It made me push myself to reach higher and that was one step closer to the top. There were some challenges where I didn’t know if I could go any farther but once I found a good spot I could take it step by step and go to the top. My favorite part about rock climbing was reaching the top of the mountain and to look out at Gods creation. This rock climbing experience put me in a place to truly notice and enjoy Gods creation. Even though the weather was not great I still loved rock climbing and trying something new. Being in nature helps me connect with God and enjoy his presence. “You won’t understand the power of community until you are apart of one.” This year I have truly been a part of a community that is so meaningful to me. The best part about this trip was being in a community laughing and crying and making new memories that will never be forgotten.

After the months and months of the memories we’ve shared together, it has started to come to an end. At the beginning of this year I felt like we as people all represented a color. Nothing to do with one another. In the end we all came together making a beautiful painting. That night of the campfire speeches the painting was completed. We became a true family, and that’s just going to make it harder to say goodbye. The night was filled with so many emotions. Everyone was in tears and I thinks it’s because we realized each others value. It’s tough to move on but our colors will continue, their stories going on to make beautiful new pictures and memories. That makes the memories we’ve shared that more important. The point was, our campfire speeches ended the chapter and began a new era. Our campfire speeches were a farewell to the other colors within our picture. “A picture is nothing without the colors on the canvas.” (Unknown) Anastasis was a family and it was tough to say goodbye, but I guess it’s time to start a new chapter and paint a new picture.



The baptism experience in South Dakota was truly astonishing. I feel now as that if I have truly become a Christian and now know what it is like to walk with God. Now the wrestle with God truly begins, there will be ups and downs. In Christianity every person believes in the same thing but in different ways, now I feel like I am forming my own opinions instead of just believing exactly what my parents or piers think. Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome”
(Genesis 32:28). We will be blessed after wrestling with God and struggling with him. Our ultimate blessing is to be his child, and be granted into heaven.


Musings from Team Fink

My feet trudged along the dusty path. Every once in a while, it felt like my feet would stop moving in sudden immediacy, and my journey would abruptly stop there. Every step my feet took me, I peered forward hoping to get a scent as to what lay ahead of me, but there lay a deep fog. I managed to see subtle blurs and predict what the fog may hold in store for me, but nothing was certain. At some times I couldn’t identify what was inches from my nose. I’ve walked this path thirteen years, and have revealed new experiences in the new fog, new people, and new places. Everyday I walk this path, unsure of what I may uncover in the fog ahead of me, the fog I like to call the Future. I may not know what is buried in this fog, but I know for certain that I’ll continue to walk into the fog although it may seem scary at times. Yes, I may sprain my ankle or I may have to replace my feet with a wheelchair at times. Every step is a brand new step, even though I may turn my head to see the footprints that I have already made. I believe that while every step may grow a little weaker and I will get older, I will want to stop my steps. The fog ahead of me may finally get into my head, but I look around me. I realize that I am not alone. Friends and family surround me looking deep into the fog just as I do. They give me a shoulder to wrap my arms around, and I do the same. Some may leave and walk into a new cloud of fog, and some’s path may stop there, but some stay right here with me. Sometimes I’ll look deeper in the fog and see a light. A light that somehow whispers through the darkness “Do not be afraid, for I will always be with you. I will walk the path step after step with you.” This light tells me to love how it loves me, to help as it has helped me, and to tell others about this light’s love and glory.  — Katie

A calm, starry night fell upon a small, but wealthy town. A girl with coarse hair and dark eyes sits on the porch of her small family home. “Any minute,” she says to herself. “He will come for me.” Sitting quietly, she gazes at the starry night sky. What felt like hours later for her, a dark, cloaked figure approaches the small girl. “Come,” he says, holding out his hand. She takes the hand of the figure and follows him, knees buckling and heart pounding. Down a steep rocky road they go, into the beyond. As they approached the portal and stepped in, she finds a world much different from what she expected. She was aching with pain. All around her was fire, death, war, hatred. The child exclaims at the figure, “You promised me a world. A world that I would love. A utopia!” She collapses with anger. The figure darkly chuckled and spoke. “A utopia, huh? Didn’t you know your world was a utopia? People loved you, cared for you. You had everything you could ever want. Love. You traded everything you had for another world. The world you had was created as a utopia!” The girl wailed. The figure removed the cloak that covered his face. Underneath the cloth was a tortured, lonely face. “I was just like you,” he started. “I was in the clouds. I was loved, I had anything I could ever want, but I wanted more. A utopia. I gave up all I had just to have more. And guess what I got? Nothing. A greedy one, I was, and you, the same, but you will learn your lesson. Just as I did. You had a utopia, you just did not see it. You were loved!” He screamed at the girl. Then the tortured figure disappeared, leaving the child in the twisted world of hatred.  — Izzy

I see it, coming for me out of the darkness. As it comes towards me time slows, my brain which was until now seemingly dysfunctional, abruptly starts. I move out-of-the-way, behind me where I was standing seconds ago a long black shaft sticks of the thick concrete wall, inches from my face. I start running, my survival instincts take over. Every few seconds I hear methodical thunk noises which I perceive to be arrows. I hear him, the man yelling out in the darkness. “I will break you!” I sprint forward, every bone in my body aching. I find my target in the inky darkness. I jump, lashing out with the last of my strength. As my clenched fist connects with the figure I yell. “I’ve been broken before!”  — Jacob

A string of laughter
A string of laughter vividly bouncing on each and every stone. Flying throw the pink peddle trees. It comes from a little girl in a white dress. She is sitting on a rope swing. With her long black hair in a braid. She sits there laughing at the way the crystal blue water moves in the stream. At the way the purple flower peddles blow away in the wind. A little boy in all black sitting with his white hair all in his face. He comes out of the darkness into the light as the darkness slowly drips of his body as he turns white. laughter flows into his body as life forms the earth. The boy went to go sit with the girl on the swing. When the boy sat the girl turned into a red string. When the boy touched the string the laugh of the girl would fill the air. The boy would then stand up and walk away. When the boy returned to the swing, he wished the girl was still there with him.  Every year the boy would bring back the string, and ever year he would get older. Now as a grown man he lives his life in a small apartment in a small city not to far away from the swing. He live his gray life, boring and simple. Every day after work the man goes to his apartment. That is gray, black, and white with only one red room In the red room is all his art, all his art from his hole life. In every painting, drawing, picture was the girl.  He would always paint her back, he would never painted her face. His son would sometimes come by to say hey. The son would always ask why you can see her face? The man would always say ”you’ll see” on the last day the son father would ever see him again, the son said why can you see her face? the man would say this one more time, but this time it would be different. This time he would say, ” it’s not for you too see.”In the last year of his life he brings his grandson to the little old swing where the girl once sat. He tied the now light pink string to his grandson’s finger and asks him “what do you hear?” The grandson says, ” I hear nothing.” The grandfather smiles. — Hope

Broken, broken is a thing that happens to us
mentally and physically. Well I am not talking about getting cut or broken bones. I am talking about be broken mentally. How we get broken mentally It doesn’t just last 8 weeks like a broken bone. It can last a longer time and it can hurt more than getting physically hurt. We can change that broken thought but we are so caught  up in this human mind-set were we just pout and mope about it. Instead of that we can fix that thought. This broken thought that always try’s to find its way into our head. And most of the time we believe that broken thought. We always can turn to God for help. And if we can overcome that broken thought the gift you had in the beginning is even greater in the end. “Amen”. — Coben

A journey is like an adventure…
My family loves to travel around the world. We enjoy to learn about God and to have excitement in different cities. You might know me a football player, but I also love to hunt. One day I hope to travel to South Africa, Argentina, and New Zealand to hunt and explore the world. I think of traveling to a place to learn about religion or serving others. Music is a big part of culture and religion. My family was in Israel for two weeks experiencing  culture, religion, and most importantly God. One night my dad and I went into old city Jerusalem to listened to different kinds of music. We stayed up way too late. It was a memory I’ll never forget. journey is experiencing exotic places and food. that can be our perspective of journey, but maybe it is having a journey in faith and with God. We can have a journey with Christ in many ways.  Praying, listening to God, and doing what he says are all ways we relate to Him. Going to Israel was a huge change for me because I got to experience the holy land. I got a better perspective of his land, His people, and his love through traveling to this special country. — Josh

😄A String of Laughter😄
One web of emotions. Tangled in my mind. Every day one string of my web is picked out and untangled from it.  After it is gone the spider finds room to spin another string of that emotion and keep it there tangled like headphones after you stuff them in your pocket. After funny story, a fun day with my closest friends, that one string that is so strong it never breaks, so long it never runs out. The one string of the web that the spider lives for. The one string it never has to spin again. What emotion and string it loves the most. The string that keeps you alive and rich in spirit. It’s my string of laughter. — Angelina

Lord of the Flies
Boys some were in this world searching for something that’s inside of them. The hot star with creepers following them though out this world. They call something that lives with them a beast something following their tracks something that has thirst for fear but they don’t know it’s them. The beast tests Them with fear and the head of fear scares Them to the point were the live on savageness the fear picks Them out like Vultures picking Them bit by bit. If lonely they let the beast go. — Mason

Some things are broken, but do all things broken have to be bad? Broken can be beautiful. A picture of broken glass can be amazing and sometimes we just have to go through hard, broken times to see beauty. The oyster got sand in his shell, yet he didn’t sit there, being lazy, having a broken time, but he tried to improve it and it turned into a pearl. I think of broken as an item that is destroyed. Instead it is really something that seems bad at the time, but later can turn into something wonderful. Some days will be broken, but it can make good days even better. So do all things broken have to be bad? Well if your asking me the answer is no, because some of the broken days or items are the most fantastic. Vance Havner once said, “God uses broken things. It takes broken soil to produce a crop, broken clouds to give rain, broken grain to give bread, broken bread to give strength.” This is incredible because it proves that broken items are actually giving. Broken can be beautiful. — Megan

We as humans strive for perfection and we always say ” If we could change these couple of things it would be perfect, the world would be different, we could be happy for once”. However we are never fulfilled and or selfish, greedy human nature is always wanting more and putting ourselves ahead. We think if we were the king we would do things right, people say communism could be done right if they were in charge, but power corrupts the soul and is never not abused. Power makes us even more greedy and we crave more and start thinking differently, but for the worse. The lie we tell ourselves, the lie the world tells us, the lies of politicians and the lies of media. What becomes better, what fixes the world will fall apart, from the top of the world, from the mightiest of empires comes destruction and all things will fall. The idea of a perfect world is completely unreachable and will only cause conflict, more fighting, unrest, and what may eventually lead to utter and complete destruction. The nature of man, the sin at our core, cannot allow for perfection. We always crave more than others no matter how holy we may seem. From the days we were born we’ve been crying and craving and being selfish. Our human nature will always want more than others, it will always want to be a step ahead of everybody else. It cannot agree with equality and a world that is completely fair. Evil is in this world and we cannot get rid of it. It’s always there and it will always be urging our sinful human nature on. A perfect world in fact might turn into an even bigger catastrophe than what we started out as and the mightiest societies may fall because of the root of evil within. We cannot bring heaven to earth. The only perfect world is not of this earth and it will always be the only home to holiness and true perfection. We who crave perfection so much are the reason it can’t exist. Mankind is sinful. Mankind cannot create perfection. Things will not get better. I’m sorry to say they will not. We may improve and be strong at times. But we will fall apart and start over again. It won’t improve. The world starts and grows and starts again and grows but every time it falls apart and we get more selfish and corrupted. We may not see it but we are not aware. We say make a change and we don’t do anything. What appears perfect is flawed. In a perfect world do you need equality? Should all things be fair? Are people allowed to be rich? To make a fully perfect world so many things would have to exist in a way that is impossible to create on earth. The world will never be perfect, we will never have Utopia. What we can do to improve the world might not be within government of anything like that but stepping down and making small changes that improve people’s lives. What can we do? The world is sinful and there is a perfect world waiting for us but what we do shouldn’t be fixing the world itself but changing people’s lives and the small things.  — Joseph

Inquiry: How the World Works

It’s hard to describe to people all of the magic that happens at Anastasis on a daily basis. It really does feel like something special, a magical quality of falling down the rabbit hole into another world where school is fun and challenging and wonderful. The learning that happens here is very organic, it lacks a formulaic approach. So when people ask us how they can do what we do, it isn’t a simple answer.

Anastasis learners are in a continual state of growth, discovery, and creativity. We are just wrapping up an Inquiry unit about “How the World Works.” As a school, we are preschool through eighth grade. All of our students engage the same big guided inquiry for a 5 week block. Although the driving inquiry is the same for all students, I break down the unit into some key concept lines of inquiry by age level. We have a primary, intermediate, and jr. high key concepts that provide entry points into learning at a developmental appropriate level. Our primary kids looked at How the World Works from the inquiry prompting that: people have daily habits and use time to help guide their day, week, month, and year. This gave them the opportunity to explore calendars, time, seasons, patterns in growth of crops, school habits, moon phases, sun, etc. Our intermediate students looked at How the World Works from the inquiry prompting that: predictable patterns help us explore objects in the sky and their connection to our life on Earth. This allowed our students to explore movement of the solar system, moon phases, constellations, galaxies, history of humans understanding of patterns in the universe, technologies that help us understand patterns, how the patterns in space impact life on earth, how animals and plants rely on patterns. Our Jr. High students explored How the World Works from the prompting that: Food comes from many places and goes through many changes on its journey to us. They discovered more about where produce comes from, what GMOs are, what the role of the FDA is, what chemical additives food has, farm to table, organic vs. non-organic, responsibilities of humans in food production and consumption, how food production has changed over time, practices for mass production of meat, what happens when our food resources have been exhausted?

The nice thing about having ALL students in the same big guided inquiry during a block, is the incredible overlaps in learning that occur between classes. This provides truly amazing opportunities for our students to learn from and with each other. We take advantage of that overlap as often as possible!

For each inquiry block I give teachers an inquiry guide with the driving inquiry question, the key concept, and the individual lines of inquiry that could be explored. This is a launching spot. I also provide resources for students and teachers on a Pinterest board. This board gets added to throughout the inquiry block as I know which lines of inquiry students are exploring (they often come up with great lines of inquiry that I haven’t considered). This becomes our “curriculum.” It is always evolving and growing based on the needs of students. Teachers send me requests for books, videos, apps, and hands on materials that they need throughout the block (I LOVE Amazon Prime!). The Pinterest boards are shared with students via QR codes that are hanging throughout the school. At any point in time, they can use their iPad to snap a picture and instantly they have access to a library of materials and ideas that they can explore related to the inquiry block. If you are interested in what this look like, you can check out the boards here:

This is the point that the magic I mentioned above starts to happen. Our teaching staff is awesome. They are some of the most creative, innovative, forward-thinking people I know. Even better: they provide the space for kids to be curious and expertly help them navigate that curiosity for new learning. This block offers such a rich picture of what learning looks like at Anastasis that I just have to share it. Notice that EVERY level of Bloom’s Taxonomy is addressed in this process, every subject woven into their learning naturally.

The students in Team Weissman began this block with a field trip to a local observatory. This was a really neat trip that I had the privilege of attending with them. Our students got a private tour of the observatory, complete with a history lesson of Colorado’s landscape when the observatory was built, the changes it’s gone through, the building history, and the science. The kids LOVED exploring each part of the building and learning about all of the little “secrets” around the observatory and why it was built the way that it was. They got to go into the basement to see how the base of the telescope is actually free-standing and not attached to the building. They got to open the ceiling. They got to explore each separate part of the telescope and ask questions and learn from an expert. The observatory expert’s passion was contagious. The spark for inquiry was lit in those moments. When the students were back at school, they each chose a line of inquiry that they wanted to know more about. They chose to learn about moon phases, galaxies, planets, constellations, Fibonacci, fractals, waves, plant life, etc. Each student snapped a picture of the QR code for this block to begin digging through resources. This was a great spring-board for discovery. As students dug into discovery, they chose different projects and ideas of how they could share their learning with others. This led to the building of a planetarium that the whole school could tour through to learn more about the universe, green house design, art work to teach about the relationship of plants/fractals/Fibonacci, a telescope, a black hole demonstration, a planetary model, a genius art demonstration of moon phases for the planetarium, and a model of different types of waves.

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Prototype Lab-Anastasis Academy

Anastasis Academy- Planetarium

Planetarium tours: Anastasis Academy

Pattern study: Anastasis Academy

Student Created Greenhouse: Anastasis Academy

Prototype Lab: Anastasis Academy

There was a lot of research that happened in this unit. One student showed me how she was using multiple devices to compare sources as she did her research…brilliant!

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Throughout the 5 weeks I heard exclamations of excitement, pride in what students had created, excitement as they saw what other students in the class were doing. Completely fantastic, magical moments of learning! This week, the students invited every other class in the school to be a part of their learning. They gave each class a tour of the universe in the planetarium and each presented their findings over the last 5 weeks. They also walked them through how patterns in the universe are mimicked here on earth in their greenhouse (made with pvc and shower curtains!).

Inside the planetarium: Planets

Inside the planetarium: Black Holes

Anastasis is a 1:1 BYOD school. Each of our students has an iPad (the only supply on their supply list) in addition, sometimes they bring a phone or iPod as well. You know what? As awesome as the technology is, it fades into the background. It really is just another tool for learning that we use at Anastasis. It helps tremendously with research, connecting with experts all over the world, typing out and recording ideas. What I love about this last unit is that none of the students chose to show their learning through technology. Each of them chose something tangible to demonstrate learning. The use of technology was brilliant. Truly hybrid learning! The students who worked on the planetarium used an app called Sky Guide to figure out exactly where in the sky each constellation and galaxy was so that their planetarium would be a true picture of what it would be like to look up into the night sky. After building the planetarium, the kids decided which way they would align it in the classroom. Then, using the Sky Guide app, they would get in, find out where the constellation was in relation to where they were standing. They poked holes in the plastic in the shape of the constellation and labeled it with a piece of tape. A brilliant coming together of technology and creativity!

I wish I could bottle up the excitement that the whole school had as they watched the planetarium being built. The amazing anticipation of getting to see the finished product. The sneak peeks they tried to take. This was a school community learning and exploring together.

As Team Weissman worked on this, students in Team Baldwin each chose a pattern that they wanted to learn something more about. They connected to experts, researched, and came up with really incredible questions. The outcome of this was also student created projects to show others what they had learned. These kids also held an expo day to let others in the school see their learning. They got to be the expert. Students explored everything from patterns in the circulatory system, to service animals, to electricity, to dub step, to patterns in baking, the moon, coding, and plant growth. When I asked the kids what they liked best about their projects, the common answer was: getting to talk to my expert. Connecting students with an adult expert (usually using technology) was so meaningful and lasting. They were proud to share with others what they were now an expert in.

Patterns in baking: Anastasis Academy

Electricity study: Anastasis Academy

The Jr. High was so impacted by what they learned about where our food comes from, that they created a conference for Anastasis students and parents. They had sessions, round table discussion, asked parent experts to come in and share, and invited a keynote speaker. They also invited other classes in on their learning by asking them to share learning they’ve done throughout the year at their expo. The round table discussion among the students was hands down my favorite part of the day. Hearing these kids challenge each other’s opinions about GMO’s, Monsanto, being a localvore, food production, health, etc. was incredible. They were well researched, thoughtful and considerate of different opinions. They referred back to field trips they had to Growhaus and a local meat market. They started out in the community with experiential learning, used technology to learn more, and finished by inviting community to learn with them.

Hydroponics: Anastasis Academy

Primary students shared their greenhouse:

Anastasis Jr. High Round Table discussion

This is what learning looks like. It is hard work, there is challenge. There is also beauty and excitement and pride.


Learning happens everywhere #1


The Anastasis Jr. High has been writing and compiling their reflections from the their trip to the Great Sand Dunes, they are too good not to share with everyone!  For the next few days, I’ll be posting all of their reflections.  Enjoy!

|Mrs. Tenkely|

On October 9th, the Anastasis middle school set off on a journey to The Great Sand Dunes. Some were jumping with joy, others not so much. The excitement of having school away from school was great! As we packed the 3 vans, each of us knew something great was going to go down. As you read the responses below you will see 2 things. First, the greatness of God’s power to be able to reach into hearts. Second, the power of community and how nature brings us together as a school. 

          -Caroline F

The Great Sand Dunes:
We were arriving to the Sand Dunes, and as we were turning the corner, there were the most  beautiful Sand Dunes I have ever seen. My breath was taken away and they looked as they were paintings but made from God. When we arrived to the base of the Sand Dunes, we started hiking up to the top. When I reached the top, I felt like I had completed Gods painting, his creation, and that I was unstoppable. 
          -Maddie H
The hike at the Great Sand Dunes was absolutely amazing. I had a blast climbing up  the great sand with my friends. When we got more than halfway, everybody started to slow down including me, but God gave me the strength to push through. When I got to the top, I saw all of the marvels of the world. God loves us enough to give us all his beauty to use and to take care of. I will never forget this trip because of how it impacted me. 
          -Micah D

There I stood at the foot of the dunes. The crystallized sand played with my eyes and the light breeze tugged at my hair. My classmates around me took in the scenery, then eagerly started forward. Crunching underneath our feet, the sand seemed to pull at our shoes and yank us deep into the sand, but we pushed our heals deep into the dirt. Time passed slowly, with the warm, brief, wind blowing here and there, and the crisp fall scent filled our noses. With each dune we approached the more tired we became but quickly encouraged one another to keep moving. When we finally reached the top, a sense of accomplishment filled inside of us, then we gazed at the view. The sky had churned to a brilliant shade of blue, and the crisp fall leaves seemed more vibrant from a distance. At that very moment, God’s love washed over us. It’s hard to describe the feeling exactly. It’s almost as if God gave each one of us a stroke of assurance, that he will always be there for you. It’s a moment I will never forget.

          -Alexis B

Community is something we don’t often think about, though I did think about it on this trip. We were at the campground having fun, roasting marshmallow, playing night football, and climbing trees. It felt like there was no sadness because everyone cared about each other. If someone falls, we help them up. That didn’t come easily. The real bond happened when we climbed up the Great Sand Dunes. Going up the dunes we encouraged each other and the bond happened. When we got to the top, every one was happy. When we got to the camp site, after a small 1/2 mile hike, every one was exhausted. No one was in little groups any more. We were a community.
          -Zac C
Our class went to the tallest dune in north-America it is called, the “star dune.” We also went to a waterfall. I felt like God was with us on this trip. It was amazing to see the beautiful scenery.  When we got to the base of the dunes it looked a lot smaller than it really was, but when we got to the top it looked so much bigger. I think we should get out of our house, get outside, and get a better angle on life. I thought it was nice to have class outside in peace and to get out of city life.
          -Grant M

The day we climbed the Great Sand Dunes, I was tired. I was so worn out that I didn’t think I could make it. When we got to the top, I was amazed with the beauty. I thought about how God made everything surrounding the dunes. Without the help of our Lord, I probably wouldn’t have made it, but I knew God gave me the strength to climb that mountain.

          -Braden H
We climb together, hoping the top is near.
The sand gets hotter, our hopes get smaller, and our bodies weigh us down.
We encourage and help each other; no one is left behind.
We work together and we strive together, As a community.
We trudge onward, hoping the reward is near. 
And it is; Our work has paid off.
Sitting at the top of that dune, literally jaw-dropped;
and the Creator’s beauty is ours to adore.
          -Kaylee W

On the day of the sand dunes hike, I thought to myself, great another hike that I am going to hate and probably complain about the whole way. When we got there, I was amazed at what God had made for us to enjoy and to take pleasure in. When we were hiking, I was just hanging out with my friends. I had this sudden urge to climb to the top first. I believe that God gave me the will to push on. I have this Huge fear of heights, and I did not even think about it the whole time. I really saw in the hike that, “You can do all things in Christ who gives you strength”. PHILIPPIANS 4:13

          -Blake J

My trip was challenging through physical and emotional pains. From the physical pains of climbing up the Great Sand Dunes to the emotional part of I can’t do this I want to go home. When I got to the top I was proud of myself, and if I knew how hard it was I probably would have still come. Mr. Fink and Mr. A, I think were trying to teach us a lesson of, no matter how hard life can be if you don’t give up there is an amazing view at the top. That is how I felt through the climbing of the Great Sand Dunes.

           -Kelsey F
When we were heading to the waterfall hike, I looked back at the Great Sand Dunes and it looked easy to climb, but it was not easy at all. This is like faith. When you let God in your heart, it’s easy at first, but then as you get older it gets harder. When we were climbing the dune it’s go harder and harder. Even when life gets hard, keep trying hard and God will help you
          -Ben L