This year we have been reading a book called Between the Lines by Jessica Page Morrell. The book basically teaches you how to write a book. It talks about the basic elements of writing a book. This book is one of my favorite books of all time.
The introduction talked about the ingredients of a successful book such as: balance, reader empathy, dramatic question, the why factor, intimacy, obstacles and layered conflict, resonance, unity, and a satisfying ending.
Balance keeps the book strait. You do not want too much of one thing but not that much of the other. You must balance everything in order to have a well-written book.
Reader empathy is what makes the reader want to keep flipping the page. It makes the reader want to read the book to the end to see what happens to the main character.
A dramatic question is the question the book asks at the beginning. If the dramatic question is a good one it makes the reader want to read on to the end of the book to find out the answer to the question.
The why factor is a statement in a book that makes the reader ask for example; why did he just do that? Or why did she leave him? It makes the reader want to read more to find out the answer to their question.
Intimacy is what describes the characters and settings in a story. This lets the reader know what the main character looks like or any emotional scars or anything like that. This helps the reader understand the story a lot better.
A book has to have some conflict or and obstacle the main character has to go through. If a book has no conflict then there is no story, at least not a good one. Conflict makes the reader pay attention while reading the book. If there is no conflict the reader will not be interested and stop reading the book.
Resonance is what makes the book flow. It’s what the reader feels in a certain situation. The writer has to ask himself when he’s writing the book; “What do I want the reader to feel when he’s reading my book?”
Unity is basically what unites the book together. It helps the reader to understand certain scenes and it leads up to the satisfying ending.
A satisfying ending is a terrific ending to the book. You don’t want the reader to read through the entire book and then when he gets to the end of the book he or she doesn’t like the ending. A reader likes it when he reads a book and he gets to the end he likes the ending.
Those are the basic elements to writing a successful book. I would like to recommend the book Between the Lines to all people who would like to write a book. It is a great book for all readers. So far this is my favorite book at school this year. It makes me want to write a book. I hope it makes you.
This week at school we had a visitor named Jose Espensa. He came and talked to us about his home country, Nicaragua. We also cooked some really tasty homemade salsa and chips with Mrs. Aldinger for lunch. We chopped up tomatoes, onions, green peppers, garlic, lime, jalapeños, and cilantro and put it in a blender. We also made ranch and nacho chips.
We all ate in the Blue Room. Jose told us that he goes on trips to his home country, Nicaragua, to help the people there and give them food. He tells them all about Jesus Christ. He also told us all about how people live there and what they enjoy there. People who live in Nicaragua eat rice and beans a lot for meals.
In Nicaragua they love to make pottery, they use natural materials from the Earth to make them. We talked about the Form Four students going to Nicaragua to help out for playing with the littler children or even helping with Bible study for the older kids and working for the people that live there. We might go for only seven or eight days though. We might be able to go but not any time that soon. We plan to go February, 2015. We prayed the Lords prayer in Spanish and in English.
Jose’ also told us he was a teacher and that he is a pastor for some churches in Cleveland County.
After lunch we went outside and played.
When we got to the art museum, we learned that the building used to be a school, and it was beside the Catawba Science Center that we went to last year. The first art section we went to was a wall of concert posters. The next section was all about traveling. There were paintings of cars and other ways to travel. The next section was about folk art. Folk art is art made by someone who was never taught how to paint and taught themselves how to paint because they liked to. Most of the artwork we saw was religious or patriotic. One of the artists was a man who lived on a bus and had a bunch of cats.
Another painter painted things about her life and after she died her family donated the desk that she used to paint with. She was also from North Carolina.
Another one painted things that were very patriotic or very religious. The last artist we learned about was a man that carved wooden sculptures. One of his sculptures was a family of wooden people. There was a man, a woman, and two kids.
Before we learned about those artists we had a scavenger hunt in which we had to search the paintings and sculptures and find the things on the list, like an alligator, ten snakes, a skeleton, a frog, a giraffe, a rainbow, a dinosaur, a cow, a jump rope, and many more.
Then we felt inside three bags and guessed what was in them. One had a rubber fish, another had a seashell, and the last one had a sea sponge. Then we went to a room where we got paper and pencils and drew a picture of ourselves. Half of it was normal, and the other half had stuff we liked made onto our faces. After we were done drawing we painted them with water colors and then went to lunch. After lunch students that brought money went to the gift shop and bought some stuff and others went and looked around the museum to se the stuff we didn’t see on the tour. Then we went back to the school and worked on any work we might have had to make up. Then we went home.
Last Friday, the kids at Willow Tree had a Beautification Day for the school building. It wasn’t the first Beautification, and it’ll be far from the last. If you are wondering just what Beautification Day is exactly, the name is self-explanatory. We beauty-a-fy the school itself! Or at least, to the extent of the exterior.
I’ve been to this church before, and for a good while too. But even now, I can see the benefits the church itself is getting thanks to housing us. They welcomed us with open arms, and we return their kindness helping the church look even more attractive.
The day began normally. Everyone gathered in their respective classrooms, and we got to our work. After lunchtime, the beautification began. I was the photographer of the week, so I took photos instead. Lazy, aren’t I? Here are some of the photos that I took.
Eventually though, the batteries on the camera wore out. I had to get a job after that. I helped out with the front garden, where I was dragged in unwillingly (though I must confess, I did leave my spot just to go tell my friend who was working there a joke, so I should’ve expected it.) There, I worked with planting pansies. We would dig a hole, put some fertilizer inside, and then finally put in the plant. We went for a grid-like view for it.
Along with that job, there were window washers, people who were sweeping up the dirt on the back porch, and finally another group planting a willow tree. Three years is a long time to get a mascot.
After the work was done, everybody (to the exception of the pansy planters, who never really got their work finished) got to enjoy some free time. There were bamboo fights, more “Zombie Tag” (It plays like tag, but those who are “it” never revert back to not being it), and plenty of other things.
When the day was done, we came back inside, and got done whatever unfinished work we had, and then left school for the week. But this time, we left the school looking a little better than before good ole’ Beautification Day. I’m pretty sure that the church had something to look forward to when they came to school for the following Sunday.
This week we went to Big Bald Banding station in Mars Hill, North Carolina. There we caught, banded, and released Tennessee Warblers, a Wood Thrush, a Crimson Crown Kinglet, and a Merlin Falcon. These birds are migrating to Costa Rica and Mexico where they will spend the winter. The smaller birds stop at Big Bald to eat and rest for the remainder of their trip south. The smaller migrating birds are being followed by the larger birds. The birds following the song birds are the raptors. They are following the song birds because they are their food source.
We caught these birds in special nets in the woods. These nets are designed to capture the birds without hurting them. The bird flies into the net and gets tangled up in the pockets. The volunteers go and check the nets every thirty minutes. The nets for the raptors are thicker. That way they will not bust through. The nets for the raptors are also baited with a fake owl because they will take each others' food.
The Tennessee Warbler miagrates back to Canada for the spring and summer. The Tennessee Warbler is a small greenish song bird. You determine the gender of the bird by the length of the wing. Males have wings that are 65 mm or more long. Females have wings 64 mm or smaller.
The Merlin Falcon is a smaller falcon. As an adult it will be gray. They are very fast, but not the fastest. Their gender is determined by wing length. It has some of the best eyes of the North American birds.
We dissected owl pellets, which are regurgitated hair and bones of the owl's latest meal. We then hiked up the mountain to watch for raptors. From the top of Big Bald you can see Tennessee, Virginia, and North Carolina. You can also see the highest peak in the south east, Mt. Mitchell.
After banding birds we went to Orchard Lake Campground in Saluda. we go to this camp ground every year. At the campground there was a zipline, a large pond, canoeing, and many other fun things! That night we roasted hot dogs over the fire. We then told ghost stories while roasting s'mores. Everyone camped in tents. During the night a raccoon came into the camp looking for leftovers. Even though it was cool outside, it was still very fun. Unfortunately we only stayed one night. That morning we all got up, ate a braekfast of cereal and pop-tarts, took down the tents, said goodbye, and went home.
This week we went to the Broad River Greenway. Ethan caught a toad, and Brett found and caught a skink. As we were having lunch, a squirrel came to us, but it had tufts of fur missing, so it probably was in a bad fight. Marley had a big green lizard that was the size of her palm, but she let it go at the school. There were a few fishing docks at the river and most of the children were bending over the docks railings. All of the children played around on the playground, and the game that we played was called The Zombie Game. It’s where we pretend that the Zombie apocalypse came and one person starts out as a zombie and if they touch you, you become a zombie. We took a nature study walk at the Broad River and we looked for paw/hoof prints, leaves, mushrooms, and if were lucky some animals. We went to a creek that wasn’t very big or deep and it had stepping stones, but we stayed there for a while looking at stuff. We found a hollowed out tree, and it was big enough that Justin got in it. At school we are working on scrapbooks at Arts-n-crafts on Thursday, and for PE we played Sharks-n-Minnows on Tuesday and we had a lot of fun playing it. On Tuesdays we do Drawing class. Every day we have a lot of fun at school, and I think that all of us think of school as our extended family.
We were very surprised this year to find out that NC would be offering two new programs to help with the expense of private school. Applications for the first program, the NC Special Education Scholarship Grant for Children With Disabilities, will be available tomorrow, October 1, for students who will transfer to a private school in January. You can access information about the program and the application here: http://www.ncseaa.edu/K-12Grants.htm
In order to qualify, students must transfer from a either a traditional public school or a public charter school, have an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) in place, and be receiving special services daily. By accepting the scholarship money to attend a private school like Willow Tree, the parent waives the right for the student to receive special services through the local public school.
The grant provides up to $3,000 per semester ($6,000 per year) for tuition and fees, which means that the entire cost to attend Willow Tree would be covered. There is money in the budget for 2,400 students to receive the grant the first year statewide. Interested parents should submit their applications as soon as possible to be considered. Currently, Willow Tree only has space for 6 elementary students, 8 middle school students, and 2 high school students. Parents are advised to let us know asap if you are applying by emailing Jen at email@example.com or calling her at 864-761-6484.
Applications for the second program, the NC Opportunity Scholarship Grant, will be available by February 1, 2014 for students who will transfer next fall. This program provides a tuition grant of up to $4,000 per year to families who qualify for free/reduced lunch. This grant is also available whether your child will be transferring from a traditional public school or a public charter school. More information will be published as the time nears.Please feel free to share this information with anyone you know who may qualify. We would also appreciate sharing on social media sites to spread the word. THANK YOU!
This blog is the first in a series from the perspective of the students. Mikayla is a new high school student at Willow Tree this year. Our trip to the BAC at the beginning of the year is always a fun way for the kids to be active outdoors while getting to know one another.
The other kids and I had great fun at Gardner Webb’s Broyhill Adventure Course with Mr. Brame. Not only did we enjoy a sunny afternoon in the great outdoors, but we learned about teamwork and good communication through fun activities.
One activity we did involved balance. First we had to walk around the beams to test our balance. Then, we had a challenge tossed at us: we had to think of an animal and put ourselves in order on the beams from smallest to largest. The trick was that you couldn’t get off the beams, nor could you tell anyone your animal. Also, we were separated by gender to see which could complete the task faster. We had to use the sound our animals made to communicate. Even though the girls won, we all had fun listening to each other with our funny animal noises.
Another activity also involved balance, but instead of each of us balancing individually, we were on a large teeter-totter. The challenge was to see how long we could keep both ends of the board of the teeter-totter off the ground. It took a great amount of communication and with the variety of sizes, it seemed simple enough for a caveman. That all changed. At first, everyone moved about the board, and the board couldn’t keep still for a second. Through good communication, we finally realized that most of us had to sit down and be still while a select few kept standing on either end to balance out the board. For some odd reason, everyone talking and making noises seemed to help. In the end, we finally got the board to balance out, even a couple of times, and our longest time was around 40 seconds!
Our final challenge involved a lot more teamwork than the activities before. It also took strength and more good communication. We split into teams of 8 or 9, and both teams stood around a wooden “A” frame. Each of us grabbed a rope that attached to the tip of the frame and pulled it skyward till it was standing up straight. Then, we had to “walk” the frame. In my group, it was easy for us to communicate and with our strategy of using “slack” and “strain”, we almost naturally moved the frame to its destinations.
Did you know that there is a thriving Charlotte Mason book study group right here in Cleveland County? Well, there is! We have been meeting monthly for about four years now. As a matter of fact, Willow Tree Community School actually grew out of those meetings! This an eclectic and lively group of people that love to read and discuss Mason's ideas, research, philosophy, and practical application both at school and at home. Our group ranges from seasoned CMers who can offer support to CM newbies who are just dipping their toes in. It is such a nourishing time, and guess what? YOU ARE INVITED! Whether you are a homeschool parent, a CM teacher, university professor, or just an interested person, please join us this Thursday at Christ Covenant Ministries from 7-9 pm. You can see the entire meeting and reading schedule here
, and don't forget to find us on Facebook!
This summer, our school found itself with a wonderful and daunting problem. As our readers know, for the last two years Willow Tree has been housed by Boiling Springs United Methodist Church. But congregational and school growth had really created a space crunch for everyone. At the end of May, it was decided that it would be best for all parties if we found a new home. Knowing that it takes time for churches to make big decisions, and recognizing that repairs and upgrades to an existing building would likely need to be made in order to pass inspection, our board immediately began praying that God would go before us and prepare the hearts of a group of people to receive us quickly. He answered us in a big way by leading us to Christ Covenant Ministries.
From our very first meeting with the pastor and elders, this group of people opened their arms--and their hearts--widely. You see, they had also been praying--praying that God would send them the people that He would have them partner with and invest in. Viewing us in that light, they said yes immediately and without hesitation. Interestingly, this same church had envisioned a school eight years ago, and some of our school parents had participated in a prayer walk then that God would put a school there.
As the elders took us around the 23,000 square foot building, we could see so much potential for growth and for creating the warm, inviting atmosphere that is characteristic of a Mason school. The huge kitchen would accommodate large groups of students to prepare our monthly At Table meals. There was plenty of gardening space outdoors. There was a preschool wing already built, which meant that we could begin to seriously plan to add programs for children ages 3-5. There was even a "coffee shop," which we knew would be a favorite hang-out spot for our teens. But best of all, there was an outward-focused and service-oriented group of people who were eager to embrace our school and be partners in ministry.
Once we decided to move forward with the partnership, both the church and the school began the hard work of actually making things happen. The first thing we had to do was have the fire marshall and a representative from the health department come out and do a walk-through. The church elders worked tirelessly to be sure everything was up to code, and we all waited breathlessly together when one potential obstacle, which could have cost $150,000 to fix, threatened to jettison the deal. But we watched in awe with grateful hearts as God worked out detail after detail, and very little money had to be spent in the end.
Once we got the green light to move in, we began preparing the physical space. There was painting to do. And packing. And moving. Many hands made light(er) work during this time, but we all went to bed bone tired many nights. A local interior decorator came in to help us create the atmosphere we were looking for. We scoured salvage and thrift stores for home-like furniture. We also received very generous donations. We spent many hours cleaning and organizing everything in order to make a beautiful space for our students.
The finished space is more than we could have imagined three months ago. When the parents and students came in for orientation this week, they could hardly contain their excitement. It feels so warm, safe, inviting, and nourishing. It is a place where ideas, love, and grace will abound. And when people come in to visit for the first time, they will sense immediately that Willow Tree is a special place to learn.
Our lives in our new home began with a prayer walk through the building. Parents prayed in each room for the students, the teachers, and the families. They prayed for the financial health of the school and Christ Covenant Ministries, that God would continue to provide for our needs, and that He would bring in new families that need us. They prayed continued blessings on Boiling Springs UMC. It was a very special time.
The students began classes in their new school on Wednesday. We broke in the "Shakespeare" stage with the first scene of Much Ado About Nothing. We caught a spectacular moth, which we have yet to identify. The children were introduced to scrapbooking, this term's handcraft, because a friend from two hours away brought us a carload of materials when she came to help out with the move. It was a wonderful start to our third year in operation.
So I would like to say thank you. Thank you, God, for pouring out blessing upon blessing this summer. Thank you, Boiling Springs UMC, for providing a home for us in our first two years. Thank you, parents and volunteers, who gave your trucks, your time, your money, your "stuff," and your sweat to help make Willow Tree beautiful. And thank you, Christ Covenant Ministries, for partnering with us. I can't wait to see where this leads. And I hope that Willow Tree can be at least as much of a blessing to you as you have been to us.
If you would like to come tour our new facility, please come next Sunday, September 8, at 10:30 to worship with us a Christ Covenant. I will be speaking to the congregation about Willow Tree and Charlotte Mason, and light refreshments will be served afterwards during a community open house.