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Liberty Christian School Community Spotlight: Bethany Lucas

Posted on Jul 12, 2016 3:00:00 PM by Kim Schlauch

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This month’s Liberty Christian School Community Spotlight features class of 2012 alumni Bethany Lucas. Bethany, a recent high school graduate, has a passion for learning foreign languages and plans for pursuing this passion in college and beyond.  Here is what she had to share with us.

Q. In what grades did you attend LCS?

A. I attended Liberty Christian School from 6th through 8th grade.

Q. What have been your education and/or work experiences since you graduated from LCS?

A. Since LCS, I have attended high school at Chapelgate Christian Academy for four years and graduated from there this past May.

Q. What LCS teacher had the most influence on you and why?

A. All of the teachers at Liberty Christian School have had a huge impact on my life, but I would say Mr. Tibbels had the greatest impact. Under his teaching, I was able to develop and improve my writing skills.  He also encouraged me to challenge the status quo and try to positively change any situation.

Q. What is a favorite LCS memory of yours?

A. My favorite LCS memory would be the 8th grade Costa Rica missions trip I went on in 2012. I loved every minute of that trip. The ziplining and snorkeling were awesome, but the best part of the trip was making connections with the children of La Carpio and teaching them English and sharing the Gospel with them.

Q. What is an accomplishment that you are most proud of in your life so far?

A. There is no particular accomplishment in my life that I am most proud of to be honest. If I had to pick an event in my life, I would say earning my second degree black belt in Shotokan karate on May 25, 2013.  After I passed my exam in Philadelphia, I became the highest ranking minor at my dojo.

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Q. What types of ministries and leadership activities have been involved with since graduating from LCS?

A. At Chapelgate I was class vice president my junior and senior years as well as vice president of the National Honor Society at my school.  This summer, I will be involved in World Relief as a volunteer.

Q. What are your plans for the next few years now that you’ve graduated from high school?

A. I will be attending the University of Maryland College Park and I will major in Arabic Studies and minor in Spanish.  I am considering adding either Government & Politics or Community Health as another major.  During my time at UMD, I plan on studying abroad in Spain and Morocco.  I also hope to get an internship either at a government agency or a language institute within the next few years.

Q. What inspired you to pursue studies in Arabic?

A. There are multiple reasons I became interested in studying Arabic.  One, learning foreign languages is a passion of mine and I wanted to learn a language outside of the Indo-European language family.  Also, I find Arab culture and its people so fascinating and I want to explore it in every way possible, and the language and its structure is so important to begin understanding the culture. Additionally there is a gross misunderstanding and misconception about Arabs and their culture. I hope that learning about the Arab world will help me educate others into seeing the beauty of their culture and not the bad that so many people associate with Arabs.

Q. What do you envision yourself doing 5 years from now?

A. Five years from now, I will have graduated from UMD and have my bachelor’s degree. I’m not sure where or what I will be doing exactly. I plan to either live in Washington DC working for the government or a language institute, attending graduate school, or living somewhere in Spain (preferably Barcelona or Seville). I would like to travel to South America and the Middle East within in this time period. I also believe that my faith will be stronger in this time, and I hope to have shared the word of God with others that I meet. 

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Liberty Christian School Community Spotlight: Andrew Truong

Posted on Jun 28, 2016 3:00:00 PM by Kim Schlauch

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This month’s Liberty Christian School Community Spotlight features class of 2007 alumni and Naval Academy graduate Andrew Truong.  Andrew is currently pursuing his dream of becoming a Naval Aviator, a dream that was sparked by an event that took place one day during his 5th grade science class at LCS.  Here is what Andrew had to share with us.

Q. What have been your education and/or work experiences since you graduated from LCS?

A. After graduating from LCS, I attended high school at Chapelgate Christian Academy where I participated in both JV and varsity soccer, varsity lacrosse, and the National Honor Society. I graduated in June of 2011 from CCA near the top of my class and with honors.  Having been accepted into the United States Naval Academy, I left for Annapolis to begin my military career as a Midshipman at the end of that month.

While a midshipman, I participated on the Navy Paintball Team, the rock climbing club, the Company intramural soccer team, and held the billets of Company Adjutant and Company Platoon Commander my senior year. In May of 2015, I graduated from the Naval Academy with the USNA Class of 2015, receiving a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering, a Commission as an Ensign into the United States Navy, as well as a spot in Flight School.

That summer, while waiting to report to flight school, I worked as a sailing instructor at the Academy, teaching the incoming plebes basic sailing and seamanship while also having the collateral duty of being Maintenance Officer of the fleet of the Navy 26ft sailboats.

I reported to Pensacola, FL to begin flight school in October, where I completed Aviation Preflight Indoctrination (API) at Naval Aviation Schools Command. I am currently stationed in Corpus Christi, TX as a Student Naval Aviator, beginning Primary with Training Squadron Two Eight (VT-28) Rangers.

Q. What  LCS teacher had the most influence on you and why?

A. I was blessed to have had extremely caring and helpful teachers at LCS. They all cared about my development and I would not be where I am today without their help. While they all influenced my life for the better, the one teacher who had the most influence on my life was my 5th grade teacher, Mrs. Thompson. It was Mrs. Thompson who invited a pilot to talk to our class, which was the biggest influence on why I chose the military and Naval Aviation as a career. If it had not been for her lesson planning and her desire to make the lessons more interesting, I would not be where I am today.

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Q. What is your favorite LCS memory?

A. Playing soccer for LCS was probably my favorite memory. I liked the competition as well as hanging out with my friends on the field.

Q. What is an accomplishment that you are most proud of in your life so far?

A. The accomplishment I am most proud of has to be following the dreams I’ve had since I was a little kid and never giving up on them. Looking back, the Naval Academy wasn’t particularly easy, and I’m glad I didn’t give up and pushed through the tough times. 

Q. What inspired you to want attend the Naval Academy and become a pilot?

A. One of the science units during 5th grade was a unit on flight, where the students would learn the basic concepts of flight and how an airplane works. Well, one of my classmate’s dad, Mr. Anglin, was a pilot for Southwest and a Marine Corp Fighter Pilot prior to that. Mrs. Thompson, in an effort to make the lesson more interesting, asked him to come in and talk to us about flight and about being a pilot. To try and spark our interest about aviation and flight, he brought in some videos of planes getting shot down by missiles (no pilots in them of course), and a video of him taking off as an F-18 pilot. Of course, as 5th graders, we were all “oohing” and “ahhing” watching these videos of planes taking off and getting shot down.

After showing us the videos, he brought out the flight gear he wore as a Marine Pilot, which included a flight suit, G-suit, and his flight helmet. When he asked for volunteers, every hand in the room shot up wanting to try the gear on. Luckily for me, the book fair was right before that and I had purchased a book on military planes of the world. The book just happened to be on my desk, and when he saw it, he asked if I wanted to come up to the front and try the gear on.

I still remember this moment very vividly. I walked up to the front of the classroom and put on the flight suit and G-suit. He then explained how each piece of gear worked, and as he was explaining what a G-suit does, he blew the G-suit up, simulating what it does during high G flights. I remember thinking to my 5th grade self, “This is cool! I want to do this when I grow up. I don’t want to sit behind a desk all day, I want to fly planes for a living!” So, since that fateful day, I’ve been working towards achieving my goal of becoming a Naval Aviator.

Q. What are some of the interesting things you have done/places you have been since being in the military?

A. Being in the military has afforded me a lot of really cool experiences that most people will never get to do in their lifetime. I’ve been underway on a US Warship for a month (not as cool as it sounds) and underway on a nuclear submarine (way cooler than it sounds), where I’ve gotten to steer the submarine, conn it, climb into the torpedo tubes, and, of all things, sleep next to a nuclear missile.

I’ve done a sailing cruise where we sailed a 44 foot sailboat from Annapolis to Charleston and back with a crew of 10, tens of miles from shore, through multiple storms, and with no immediate help around. I’ve been able to receive fast rope training, where I’ve gotten to make three jumps out the back of a CH-47 from altitudes varying from 50 ft to over 100 ft (If you’ve seen the beginning of Black Hawk Down, then you’ll know what fast roping is).

I was able to participate in Powered Flight, a program that the Naval Academy had where they would give you 10.5 hours of flight time, and if you were able to complete the syllabus, you would be able to fly an aircraft by yourself for the first time. I’ve also been given the opportunity to participate in NOLS, the National Outdoor Leadership School, where we hiked and mountaineered through 115 miles of Alaskan Bushlands and Glaciers for a month, living solely off of what we brought and what we were occasionally resupplied with. I’ve had other exciting and funny experiences as a midshipman; however, these experiences are the ones that I hold most dear to my heart.

Q. What advice do you have for current LCS students that might like to join the military in the future?

A. This may sound cliché, but my number one advice is to talk to your parents about it. You may deny this as a kid and young adult, but parents are wiser than they seem. They know you better than you think and they can give you advice on whether the military is the right choice for you. They’ll be your number one supporters in life and I’m sure they’ll also appreciate the heads-up that you’re interested in joining the military. Other than that, if you are still interested in joining the military, go for it and give 100% in what you do. Everything else will work itself out.

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Q. What do you envision yourself doing 5 years from now?

A. Ideally, 5 years from now, I will have achieved my goal and will be flying F-18 Super Hornets off of aircraft carriers for a living. I also hope to be able to visit foreign ports and experience the different cultures of the world, as well as finding a woman that I’d like to settle down with one day.

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Liberty Christian School Community Spotlight: Caleb Hopler

Posted on May 24, 2016 3:00:00 PM by Kim Schlauch

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This month’s Liberty Christian Spotlight features alum Caleb Hopler, a 2007 graduate of LCS and son of former LCS teacher Terri Hopler.  Caleb’s interest in environmental studies led him to become involved in numerous international sustainability and social justice projects since his days at Liberty Christian School, including an internship with Maderas Collective in Nicaragua.  Here is what Caleb had to share with us.

Q. What have been your education and/or work experiences since you graduated from LCS?

A. After attending Liberty Christian School from kindergarten through 8th grade, I went on to Chapelgate Christian Academy for high school and Virginia Tech for college.

Q. What  LCS teacher had the most influence on you and why?

A. Titus McGrath (former middle school science teacher). His teaching methods and overall personality kindled a love for natural science in me. Beyond education, he and I became friends and are still friends to this day. Not only was he a teacher and friend, he served as one of my mentors during middle school.

Q. What is your favorite LCS memory?

A. During the school’s auction fundraiser, Mrs. Jackson (former 5th grade teacher) offered a fun overnight trip to her house for the winner plus three friends. I believe she had done this multiple years in a row and it was quick to become the prize every student wanted. Josh Hindle won and I was one of the friends picked to go with him. After school on a Friday we had a big dinner, went out to the movies and watched “Holes,” then just had a big slumber party the rest of the night.

Q. What is an accomplishment that you are most proud of in your life so far?

A. I have accomplished a lot so far in my life, graduating from Virginia Tech, conquering a multitude of severe health issues, and many international sustainability and social justice projects. However, what I am most happy about is the fact that I have been able to accomplish these things with God as my focus. I could not have accomplished anything if it weren’t for my reliance on Him.

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Q. Is there anything from your time at LCS that sparked your interest in environmental studies or working in Central America?

A.  Liberty Christian School  is as a wonderful school that taught me much more than education, it also instilled values, passions, integrity, and a respect for all life. LCS, as well as my parents, laid the foundation for me to be able to hear God’s calling, and in this way, LCS helped lead me to work internationally in sustainable ventures.

Q. What type of work and ministry have you been involved with in Nicaragua? Describe what led you to your internship with the Maderas Collective.

A. During my time at Virginia Tech, I had a yearlong internship that took me to Nicaragua twice, focusing on ecotourism and fuel-efficient cookstoves. With a love for the country and the contacts I built up, it was easy to decide that after graduating Virginia Tech I would work in Nicaragua in sustainability, hoping to create lasting partnerships that would allow me to return to Nicaragua for new projects in the future. After cold-calling the CEO of Maderas Collective, they took me in and mentored me until I was ready to begin my first project: biomass briquettes made from local agricultural wastes. Currently, I am creating and leading a briquettes team in San Jose de Bocay, teaching English in a local school, and helping to design a sustainability program with the wastes generated by production at Maderas Collective.

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Q. What are some of the interesting things you have been a part of since moving to Nicaragua?

A. Nicaragua is a fascinating place with a rich culture and gorgeous natural environments. I have hiked volcanoes, explored a cave with thousands of bats flying around me, rescued a wild sloth that was stuck in the middle of the road, watched a rural rodeo during a holiday… The list continues. Every day I experience something new.

Q. What do you envision yourself doing 5 years from now?

A. Though I love exploring new things, I also love familiarity, a place I know very well to return to after new great adventures. Therefore I’d like to move back to either Maryland, Northern Virginia, or Las Vegas, NV (all places I’ve lived) and work a job in sustainability while on the side, running a nonprofit to benefit Nicaragua.

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Liberty Christian School Community Spotlight: Sigrid Houston

Posted on Apr 26, 2016 3:00:00 PM by Kim Schlauch

Sigrid Houston

This month’s Liberty Christian School Community Spotlight features Spanish teacher Sigrid Houston.  Mrs. Houston’s enthusiasm and her love of foreign languages make Spanish class a fun and engaging experience for her students.  Here is what she had to share with us.

Q. Why do you like teaching at LCS?

A. I honestly love everything about LCS. I really mean that!  I love the supportive staff here, the students are just the best, and I love that I get to teach something that I am passionate about in a Christ-centered environment.  How could I possibly ask for more? 

Q. What motivated you to become a teacher at LCS?

A. I had served for 12 years as the Children’s Ministry Director at Covenant of Grace Church in Reisterstown while my kids were growing up. My youngest is now 18 and it’s time to get back to my passion:  Spanish!  Liberty Christian School and Covenant of Grace Church are very closely tied, so when I saw the vacancy announcement for a Spanish teacher, I jumped on it!  And I mean jumped!  It was just exactly what I wanted to be doing, and to be able to teach in a Christ-centered environment? Wow!  What an opportunity!  I feel so very blessed to be here!

Q. Where did your interest in Spanish originate? When did you learn to speak Spanish and do you speak any other languages?

A. My interest in Spanish originated in 8th grade and it was because of my wonderful teacher, Miss Doris Helms. Her enthusiasm for the language was contagious. She was a challenging teacher and her expectations were very high, but the reward was that we all learned so much from her! I went on to double  major in Spanish and International Affairs (combination of political science, history, geography, economics) at the University of Mary Washington.  I also speak Russian, and studied briefly at Middlebury College in Vermont.  After college, I worked as a linguist for the Defense Department and I learned to speak Russian.  In addition to teaching at Liberty Christian School, I have also been teaching  English as a Second Language to adults at Covenant of Grace. I teach the advanced class and have served in this capacity for 7 years. I get the opportunity to use both my Spanish and Russian in class as I teach English to people from all over the world. Even though the teaching is done in English, the knowledge of how other languages work enables me to better teach English to these populations.

Q. What is a unique experience, talent or interest that you bring to your classroom to help shape the learning experience of your students?

A. I try to keep language fun.  This, of course, means that we get a little loud sometimes. I like to challenge my students and I’m just so excited for them when they meet my challenges. I know they can do it, and I love to watch them see that, yes, they CAN do it!  It makes my heart sing!  With the lower school students, we do puppet shows, songs, games and other things to make learning fun!  The kids just love those puppets!

Sigrid Houston in Costa Rica

Q. You had the opportunity to be a part of the LCS Costa Rica Mission Team this past February. Tell us about your experience and what it meant to help lead a group of LCS students on a foreign missions trip

A. It is almost difficult to put into words how it felt to lead a group of students to Costa Rica for the first time. It was amazing!  I feel that God truly blessed me with the opportunity to use my experience with Spanish language, ESL teaching and Children’s Ministry to serve in La Carpio. All my past experience led to this place. I am just in awe of our Creator and how He knows exactly what He’s doing when he leads us all our different life paths. La Carpio brought them all together for me.  Watching our 8th graders serve and share Christ with these impoverished children touched me deeply. Our students quite willingly and enthusiastically shared their time, shared their hearts and shared the love of Jesus with these adorable kids.  Seeing their tears as we served in La Carpio on the last day and they had to say goodbye to the kids. Oh my!  How blessed we are here at LCS to have such tender souls. We are all changed as a result of having been there.  We will not forget this experience.

Q. What are some of your interests and hobbies?

A. I am a huge fan of puzzles. In fact, I just started a 1,000-piece puzzle last evening, so I won’t see my dining room table for a while! In fact, I look at Spanish and Russian as puzzles. I like to pick languages apart and see what makes them “tick.” I also love walking/hiking. I’ve done quite a bit of this with the boy scouts, but I’ve missed this a bit during the school year. I have big plans for doing lots of day hikes with my 18-year old before he goes off to basic training this summer though.  He and I are big hiking buddies.

Q. Tell us about your involvement with the Boy Scouts of America.

A. Boy Scouts. I have to say I just love this organization. Both my sons are Eagle Scouts from Troop 634 out of Covenant of Grace Church in Reisterstown.  I have been involved with scouting since my older son, Tim was a first grader and he’s now a junior in college. Ack! That’s 15 years! I started out as an involved parent when the boys were cub scouts and then, as they advanced to boy scouts I jumped in with both feet. I served as the troop committee chairman for two years until I started teaching at LCS, and I still serve on the committee.  My son Michael and I travelled with the troop on a High Adventure trip to Florida Sea Base where we spent a week as crew aboard The Yankee, a 75-schooner.  Florida. July. 30 people on a boat.  Need I say more?  It was great, but, as with all high adventure trips, not always easy...but always worth it.

The Houston Family

Q. How do you inspire your students to love learning?

A. I have to say I just love foreign languages!  OK, so maybe I’m a little weird, but I’m hoping my enthusiasm rubs off a little bit!  I challenge my students to think. Growing up is all about learning how to think on your own, and learning a foreign language teaches you more than just that language. It teaches you things about your own native language that you may have never thought about before.  It also teaches you to think outside the box. I like being outside the box! It’s fun and challenging out there! 

Q. What do you want your students to gain from having known you? 

A. My hope is that my students learn to challenge themselves and strive for their very best in all circumstances.  One person’s best isn’t necessarily the same as another person’s, and I want my students to feel confident in their own abilities to succeed. Spanish is a tricky thing to teach. Some students take to it like sponges, and others not so much.  God doesn’t need a world full of linguists anyway! He needs a world full of servants who serve Him and always do their very best with the skills they have.  I want my students to understand that God isn’t always going to put us in comfortable situations, but that He is always our Comfort.  When we do our best to serve Him even in those challenging areas, we will be blessed beyond measure. I saw this lived out in Costa Rica when my students were scared to use their Spanish the first day. Then, as they got used to the environment, they used more and more Spanish and grew in their Spanish ability and in their overall confidence.

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