Lady Comets Start Scoring Engine in Season Opener

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Lady Comets Start Scoring Engine in Season Opener

The Lady Comets opened the season against a Henning team boasting six seniors. After falling behind and seeing a four point deficit on the scoreboard Sophomore forward Olivia Foss caught eyes with her teammates and started the Comets scoring engine.

Senior Hanna Lavin opened scoring for Hillcrest, confident in her slicing to the hoop with Foss trailing and cutting to position for a rebound. Fueled by the Comet proficiency in breaking the press, Foss found the lane open as the Comet guards worked to reverse the ball in the opening few series. Foss took advantage, finding lanes to cut to the hoop as Lavin, Susanna Preston, and Ruthanne Erickson worked backdoor cuts and created separation around the the three-point line. 

Senior Ruthanne Erickson is the Lady Comets' top outside threat, able to spot up as Lavin slices to the hoop with aggression. Susanna Preston is the game manager, controlling the offense and setting up plays as she surveys the court. Preston's ability to see passing lanes opened shots for Erickson and placed the ball in Lavin's hands as Foss and Senior Abigail Christenson crashed the boards.

Foss found scoring early in her hustle for rebounds. Her quick put-backs closed the gap for Hillcrest and gave the Lady Comets a 14 all tie minutes into the game. With the defense shifting, working to manage both Christenson and Foss in the paint, Hillcrest's guards were able to generate separation off screens where Ruthanne Erickson found easy scoring to pull Hillcrest up back to a 16 point tie midway through the first half. 

The Lady Comets play an aggressive half-court defense. A few quick fouls by Preston and Senior forward Anna Newman put the Henning Hornets at the line where they shot 52% on the night, capitalizing on Hillcrest's first game jitters. 

The Hornets put together a surge in scoring to close the first half. An 8 point run put the Comets on their toes as Hillcrest regrouped, putting together two simple free throws and stopping Henning on defense before the final buzzer sent the teams to the locker rooms. The score at half was 28-20.

Henning came out of the locker room determined to put distance between themselves and the Comets. A 12 point scoring had Hillcrest on their heels before Foss found the backboard and posted a two-pointer to pull the Comets within 20 points of the Hornets four minutes into the second half. 

The Comets kept with Henning through the rest of the half, keeping the Hornets' lead under 25. The Lady Comets are known for their resiliency, playing through the final buzzer. Stout defense turned created a few turnovers as Preston, Newman, and Erickson jumped into a full-court press to add points to the Comets' column and finish the game scoring. Erickson knocked down a three-pointer, Newman found a simple layup, and Preston ripped the ball from the Hornets at midcourt, finishing the game with a strong layup and the crowd hungry for another half of play.

Olivia Foss led the Comets with 21 points. Ruthanne Erickson hit one three-pointer and 3 long twos for a 10 point total at the end of her stat line. Foss' compadre in the paint, Abigail Christenson, finished with four points, keyed the entire night by the Hornet defense. Lavin, Preston, and Newman each contributed 2 points as the Comets closed their first game with their scoring engine still revving. The 60-41 loss was a warm-up for their season.

Hillcrest plays Brandon-Evansville Thursday, December 1 in Brandon before coming home again for a night game vs. Park Christian in the Student Activities Center at 7:15pm.

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Snow Day Marks First Winter Wonderland for Many

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Snow Day Marks First Winter Wonderland for Many

Drifting, whipping, sideways blowing, frozen crystals of ice...SNOW. Canceled classes marked a significant first for a number of our international students.

A daring group of girls braved the elements and walked to The Viking for breakfast before the sun rose. Other students could be seen all over campus, making and throwing snowballs, studying the process of snow-angel and snowman formation, and sliding around on the sidewalks in their shoes. But for a few the day of firsts made them look a little unconventional in enjoying the snow day.

One male Thailand student, who shall remain nameless, was found shoveling snow outside in his socks. A dean had to yell, “Paul--put some shoes on!” That student has subsequently spent a good five hours outside. With shoes on.

Many of the American and Norwegian students are less excited about the snow, but perfectly thrilled to have the day off school. Here is the scene inside the Student Union: Blanket-swaddled students nestled around the fireplace while various board and card games are strewn on every flat surface with students huddling around. Outside, the wind howls and the snow falls intermittently. Winter has arrived at the Castle.

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Girls Basketball Starts Season with Enriching Bible Camp Retreat

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Girls Basketball Starts Season with Enriching Bible Camp Retreat

Loons called to one another from across the lake, the stragglers reluctant to head south for winter. The ice-blue water lapped against the bare sand of the deserted beach and the trees rattled their naked branches against a late autumn breeze. Down a leaf-littered path in the woods beneath a cerulean sky, 19 girls stood facing a broad log/beam  suspended parallel between two larger trees a good six feet off the ground. The goal? To get each girl up and over the log, one at a time. How would this happen? Communication. Teamwork.

There were numerous unsuccessful attempts and much strategizing. They tried going over feet first. Backwards. Rolling up and across on their stomachs--ouch!! At last, a system was worked out as, one by one, the girls were boosted, muscled, and dragged over the beam. A couple of the girls made themselves human ladders and literally let their teammates walk all over them as they breached the log barrier. Balancing so high off the ground, trying to get a foot underneath their bodies proved to be a frightening position and some of the girls were visibly shaking. “You’re okay--I’ve got you,” was called out over and over.

Later, the team participated in a service project of raking and bagging leaves for the camp. The girls enjoyed amazing meals together and more group events that fostered trust and cooperation. Time was spent worshiping together around a campfire under a starlit sky. Several hours of the last morning found the team lounging in pajamas and affirming one another, eliciting many smiles, laughter, and a few tears.

How do these activities translate to life in general and time on the Bball court specifically, you might be asking?

1.They reinforce the reality that we were made for community. No one is strong alone. We need others because together we can do so much more than we can individually. There is no such thing as a one man team.

2.Everyone is important, not just a few. Naturally gifted individuals may stand out early on, but every person is necessary for the good of the whole. Every person has value. Every person has gifts and talents and brings something unique to the group. Those who cheer and encourage are as valuable as those who screen and score.

3.You can’t learn from others if you do all the talking. It may be that the quieter members of the group have the answers you need but you can’t hear them if you don’t stop talking. Listening to your teammates on the court can mean all the difference between a botched play and success. Others can see things you can’t. If you’re smart, you’ll listen to them.

Basically, I think the Take-Away from the retreat was a renewed appreciation for sisters in Christ--people who not only lead the way on the court but in the greater scope of life as well. These are the people we want to emulate--friends that display the heart of Jesus and point us to His finished work on the cross. People who make us want to be our Best Selves and, in all we do, bring honor and glory to God. It’s going to be a GREAT season of Comet Girls Basketball! Come on our and cheer us on!

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Hillcrest Music Impacted by Commemorating Veterans Day

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Hillcrest Music Impacted by Commemorating Veterans Day

The sun streamed brightly in from the eastern windows, flooding the room with all the warmth of autumn. Students in black dresses or black and white tuxedos wheeled residents of the Veteran’s home to prime real estate around the grand piano in preparation for the concert HLA choir members were about to give.

“Thank you for your service,” I heard over and over. “What branch were you a part of?” There were handshakes, tender youthful arms draped around frail shoulders, and many smiles.

When the choir took their places, they leaned in to hear a word from their director Mr. Bedwell. He reminded them that the vets they were about to address in song were the people who made our country great and secured the freedoms we enjoy today. And then, the musicians were off, singing their hearts out to a mixture of patriotic and sacred numbers. Some of the residents sang along heartily. Others smiled in appreciation and remembrance, and clapped wrinkled hands.

What impressed me most about our young people today was not the dignified way they stood, or the lovely pitch and dynamics of their blended voices. It was the tender way they interacted with the heros of our country. After the musical performance, the group dispersed to mingle over coffee and donuts with their audience. I saw strapping young men kneeling beside wheelchairs in order to hear and be heard. I saw a cluster of laughing girls being entertained by an older gentleman who sang a polka for them. One sweet Korean/American woman engaged three of our Korean students in their common language and invited them to tour her room. It was an awe-inspiring blend of generations, each greatly appreciating the other. As we drove away, one student asked, “When can we come back again?” Honor is a lovely thing.

 

 

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Holzner Explodes at State, Wiping Away Previous Time in Jumping 10 places

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Holzner Explodes at State, Wiping Away Previous Time in Jumping 10 places

Hans Holzner is a gamer. His 16:30 finish in New London, MN, propelled Holzner into the state meet. Pushing through pain and displaying resolve in running a more difficult, more hilly course with aggression, Holzner finished 23rd overall at the State Cross Country meet at St. Olaf in Northfield, MN with a 16:42.

Holzner packed his bags and threw them in the back of the family van, setting out from his home blocks from the Hillcrest Castle to the World Mission Prayer League house in Minneapolis on Friday night before the Saturday morning race. With his father by his side, Holzner mentally prepared for the race Friday evening. Having run the course a year earlier, finishing 32nd overall with a time of 17:03 last season, Holzner was determined to compete with more aggression and abandonment.

Holzner's preparation has involved mentally preparing to face pain. It isn't uncommon for him to reference others facing difficulties and experiencing pain as a motivation to face pain in running. So as his week of running dwindled from a multi-mile training earlier in the week to a simple 3 mile jog Thursday night, Holzner's mind wasn't set on the physical aspects. His body was ready for that. His mind was set on pain.

Holzner woke Saturday and ventured to the course in Northfield. His final stretches and preview of the course led him to the starting line where he leaned gently in lane 23, waiting for the call to run one last time on the cross country course.

Pushing through the difficult course was made easier by the balmy 63 degree temperature. Straining over hills, Holzner's stride propelled him past a series of runners as he worked to remain in the lead pack after the first mile. A 5 minute mile split in the first 1/3 of the race is impressive. Holzner would hold tightly to this mark throughout the day.

Falling a little behind, Holzner continued to push his body, evident by the straining muscles as he fought the course. The second mile held more hills to climb and stunted Holzner whose easy stride made possible by his long legs is muted on hills. Shorter runners who churn their steps faster eat hills quickly. Holzner finished the second mile 30 seconds slower than his first, marking down a 5:30 split for mile 2.

After battling past the hardest portion of the course, Holzner stretched his stride. A mere 14 seconds separated Holzner from the head of the leader pack. With energy waning, Holzner pushed his body toward the finish line. Runners saving a kick for the final stretch found Holzner giving all in an effort to remain with the top pack. His final mile split was 5:12. Two competitors passed Holzner in the last stretch. Hans gave everythign on the course, marking the 23rd place in State with a time of 16:42. His pace evened out to a 5:23 mile to mark the 3.11 mile event.

When Holzner crossed the line there were a mere 22 other runners, some hunched over, others arching their back as if the oxygen were draining through into their throat. Holzner's 23nd place was monumental for him, beating his previous year placement by 9 slots. 

As Holzner posed for pictures with friends and family it was easy to think of this ending being the beginning. Teammates from his 4X800m track team flanked him in the picture. Their eyes are set on joining Holzner in representing Hillcrest with their legs.

For Holzner, the cap on his Comet cross country career is one for the record books. His two-time state berth, continuing to hunt for improvement and mature in his attitude and outlook on running, will inspire future runners to chase his records. Hans finishes his time at Hillcrest with a personal record of 16:21. He holds Hillcrest's record in boys' cross country.

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Defense Plows Path of Comet Road to State

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Defense Plows Path of Comet Road to State

The Comets stopped the Verndale Pirates in the first possession of the game. With the offense taking over in their own end zone, 3 yards from the goal line, there was a clear defense tone that rushed over the field. Sean McGuire then set himself under center. What happened in the next 9 plays the creaking start of the seesaw battle between two of Nine Man Football's best programs.

McGuire's precision on the first quarter drive led an attack that ended with a 64 yard pass to Reggie Undseth, putting the Comets up 6-0. Verndale took the ball on the next possession and proved why they were the number 1 team in Section 4. traveling 63 yards in 6 plays to tie the game.

Field possession was a hot commodity throughout the game as both Verndale and Hillcrest pushed to convert 4th down plays inside their own territory. With under 5 minutes left in the second half, junior Nate Frustol sacked Verndale and propelled the Comets to stop the Pirates in their own territory. An 8 play, 40 yard scoring drive, was capped near the 1 minute mark by Kyler Newman's one yard run. Reggie Undseth crossed the goal line for the two point conversion to give Hillcrest a 14-6 lead going into the half. 

After making a series of adjustments, the Pirates emerged from the locker room set to execute a second half push to topple the Comets. With 7 minutes left in the third quarter, Verndale capped an 8 play, 72 yard drive, with an 8 yard scoring scamper. A quick pass converted the two point conversion and the game was tied at 14. 

Defense was on display through the entire game, but a few more notches of intensity turned up as the game started the 4th quarter with the score tied at 14. The Comets were able to pin Verndale down in four places, forcing a punt. 

Verndale's special teams unit made it very difficult for Hillcrest to build momentum throughout the day. The 4th quarter punt set Hillcrest on their own 6 yard line. Verndale declined a roughing the punter call, opting to trust their defense to pin Hillcrest and force a turnover. Their strategy failed.

A quick pass from McGuire to Newman moved the chains and started Hillcrest on a 94 yard scoring drive, led mostly by senior Kyler Newman. The final push across the goal line left 2 minutes on the clock and only a six point deficit for Verndale to tie the game, after Hillcrest failed to convert the two pointer. 

The Pirates weren't done. With the season on the line the Pirates played with unique resolve, pushing the ball past Hillcrest's defensive front, converting a fourth and ten on the drive, to end with the game on the line at Hillcrest's 11 yard line. With the Comet defense hovering around the ball, Verndale stepped to the line with 26 seconds on the clock on fourth down.

With the snap of the ball Hillcrest's defensive backs began to back pedal. The line was exhausted, having to work against one of the State's premiere offenses for four grueling quarters. Putting pressure on the Pirate quarterback didn't rattle Verndale. The receiver made his cut across the field, the pass was crisp to his hands. But the pressure from the Comet defender, with a slap over the ball, left Verndale walking to the sidelines as the Comet offense marched on the field one final time. A simple knee to the ground marked the victory for the Comets, whose trench work on defense, and resilient offensive strikes, led the Comets to victory. 

Two 90+ scoring drives helped the Comets compile 389 yards on offense. Newman finished with 166 yards on 28 carries. McGuire passed for 148 yards on 8 completions, sprinting for 43 yards on six rushing attempts. Undseth hauled in 115 of McGuire's 148 yards passing. 

Hillcrest plays Cleveland/Immanuel Lutheran in the first round of the state football tournament. The quarter-final for State is played at St. Cloud State University on Friday, November 11 at 5pm.

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Holzner Advances to State

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Holzner Advances to State

Senior Hans Holzner is repeating success found his Junior year with an encore trip to the state cross-country meet. 

Setting a personal record, Holzner jumped out with the lead pack to start the race. Fans from Fergus traveled to New London, MN to watch the meet. Holzner qualified for state one year prior at the Section 6A championship in Long Prairie. His 17:30 time placed 10th in the meet. Having trained for a repeat trip to state this year, Holzner looked forward to an early kick in New London.

After a few turns and hill climbs Holzner found fans cheering him. After finding him in one corner, fans would dart to another spot on the course. Holzner noted that this helped him stay with with the pack, where he hung around 4th and 5th place for much of the race. 

Holzner noted that he wanted to run with peace during the race. Known to have many analogies with his sport and spiritual development, Holzner also spoke to a desire to remind himself of Christ's presence as he pushed himself on the field.

After rounding the final turn, looking down the final stretch, Holzner began to find his kick. Noting that his previous personal record was 17:01, two seconds faster than his State meet time from 2015, Holzner heard cheering from the sidelines. As he neared 400m to go he gave his all and pushed through the finish line. The last kick knocked off at least 15 seconds from his pace, helping him blow away his former personal record by nearly 30 seconds, finishing with a time of 16:37. The final sprint moved him from 4th to 3rd place, earning a decisive trip to the state meet at St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN. The State meet begins at 10am on Saturday, Nov. 5. Hans will run in lane 23 against the 150+ racers. He placed 32nd out of 176 racers last year.

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Class Propels Students to Live Deeper

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Class Propels Students to Live Deeper

“Sometimes the dorms can get really lonely and you can get really homesick,” one girl shares after reading Night by Elie Wiesel in Philosophy and Religion. “But God is always there for you...No matter how dark or lonely the situation feels.” Mr. Preston's class does more than teach philosophy. 

As students file into the classroom and take their seats, Daniel hands Mr. Preston his chocolate muffin and a couple of donuts from Service Food. “Alright class, let’s calm our bodily functions. I have a word from the Lord today,” Mr. Preston announces. After his devotional, students dive into books that provoke deep thought. Night and The Hiding Place cause gears to churn in the minds of students, awakening thoughts and ideas.

One classmate shares that the power of God is made perfect in weakness. Anxiety followed her to Hillcrest this year with the frightening thought of living in the dorms and not being able to see the faces of her parents before she went to bed each night. She was nervous and knew it was going to be a hard transition. But she also knew that God had her in his hands, much like Corrie Ten Boom in The Hiding Place, and Corrie's story provides perspective. The student was able to rest in the fact that God cared for her in the new surroundings. Seeing how God guided Corrie in the heart of Nazi Germany provides the girl confidence. God was Corrie's strength even when she felt weak.

Another girl shares about the loneliness she feels in the dorms. The Hiding Place make it clear to her that no matter what happens, she is never alone. Discussions in Philosophy and Religion reminds her of home--of conversations she had with her family before she came to Hillcrest. She is reminded that God is with her, just as God was with Corrie when she was separated from her father and sister to follow a path that God ordained. Although Corrie felt alone, God constantly showed himself to her. God spoke to her in little ways, like when he provided the Gospels for her to read in prison. This allowed her to communicate with God and God to communicate with her. God was reassuring Corrie that he’d never leave or forsake her.

“Many times we ask ourselves, ‘Where is God in all of this?'” Mr. Preston continues, addressing the class. He references Night when discussing how challenging it can be  to see God in situations that seem so dark.

One student addresses this issue by contrasting both books being discussed. He spoke of the power of hope. When people don’t have God’s hope, life becomes shrouded in darkness. The young man observed the uplifting spirit in The Hiding Place that contrasts with the heavy, somber tone permeating Night. “We don’t have to live with the despair that Elie had,” he concludes. “We have hope in Christ, just as Corrie did. So we can live freely and joyfully in that hope.”

As students saunter out of the classroom they go with minds full of new understanding. Their hearts surging with the ultimate hope found only in Jesus. Philosophy and Religion brings life into perspective for many students, reminding them daily of the beacon of hope that is in the Savior.

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Captains Spur Comet Advance in Playoffs

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Captains Spur Comet Advance in Playoffs

YoungJu Yoo, Tommy Thompson, and Bobby Schultz are all smiles after their 1-0 victory on Tuesday. The winning goal is becoming a routine play for Thompson and Yoo, while Schultz continues to control the net. Their consistent play is enabling Hillcrest to change their game plan to create mismatches on both the offensive and defensive end.

Looking quickly at the shots on goal, it is natural to think that Hillcrest fell prey at the Sub-Section finals again, continuing their drought of the section championship for the 8th year. However, due to a new scheme implemented by head coach Rod Jensen, the Comets used their 16-4 shot deficit to rise above their competition.

Many estimate that the actual shots taken by St. Cloud Cathedral tallied near 30, but the Comet defense quickly diffused over half the shots, while Schultz took care of the rest in the net. 

The game felt to drag on after Hillcrest's quick strike at the seven minute mark. Thanks to decisive passing and a well played ball, Young Ju Yoo planted his feet at the top of Cathedral's goalie box while Tommy Thompson set the ball down in the corner and took a series of decisive steps in setting up the corner kick. 

Tommy and Young Ju know this play well. It was a similar connection that earned Yoo a hat trick in the previous game. The two couldn't have known that this connection would again earn the Comets a win. After Thompson's soaring boot, Yoo squeezed between defenders to head the ball in. It's a play all aspiring soccer players dream of, and the duo has made it look easy throughout the season.

After the goal the Comets set up in their new scheme. Smothering defense kept Cathedral fighting for inches while the Comets protected yards of green space behind the back row. The defense continued to push the ball up as Cathedral's talent was no match for the Comet's strategy.

As the referee signaled the end of the game the Comet Tri-captains breathed a sigh of relief. Each had an integral part in the win, hoping to avenge a difficult loss from the previous season where Cathedral outlasted Hillcrest at home. 

Hillcrest plays Bemidji, a team they lost to in their opener and one of the final losses in their 12-4 regular season record. Game time is 7:15pm in Bemidji. The winner earns a trip to the State playoffs.

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Young Ju Yoo Collects Hat-Trick Off Corner Kick as Comets Advance

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Young Ju Yoo Collects Hat-Trick Off Corner Kick as Comets Advance

The Comet season is marked by two losses that guided their progress as they look to playoffs. Falling in their first game with a shutout by Bemidji, the rematch earlier this week saw Hillcrest pack their gym bags with a score of 6-3 hanging over their heads. Bemidji is a mountain the Comets must climb at some point this season. Their 6-1 win yesterday in the first round of playoffs marks a team picking up steam. 

With 2 of their 4 losses on the season happening this week, the Comets were quick to control the game and right their course. After five minutes of the Comets controlling the ball, their defense pushing the ball up the field against Walker/Hackensack/Akeley/Cass Lake/Bena (WHA), Senior Tri-Captain set-up on the outside after a WHA foul. 

Sophomore Nick Foss set the ball and walked back to set up his pass. After assessing the field, Foss started his stride at the ball. While Foss was walking-off steps for his kick, Young Ju Yoo was setting up his defender. Shifting his shoulders, Yoo broke free of the WHA defenders, finding the right-side of the field open. Foss' kick found Yoo darting to the goal, where Yoo's strike stunned the keeper, who was standing flat footed as he watched the ball skip on grass to the lower left side of the net. 

The Comets set in to a series of volleys over the next ten minutes. Consistent control of the ball, cutting off WHA passes on defense, left Comet goal tender Bobby Schultz on his toes without much action as the Comets set the pace for the game. 

At the 14 minute mark Hillcrest found the back of the net on a one touch shot to the right post. Abdony Sokiri lasered the shot into the net off a loft from the left side by Yoo. 17 minutes later, Yoo found his second goal of the afternoon from a pass by HeeTae Nam. 

The Comets dug up the field on WHA's side for most of the first half. Setting the tone was important for them in their first playoff game. After scoring his second goal at the 31 minute mark, Yoo worked to put the game out of reach. Yoo has played with most of Hillcrest's recently successful teams and watched his friends score goal after goal in their march through playoffs. Taking his turn on the team, Yoo set up for teammate Tommy Thompson's corner kick. Another perennial player who is in his final season as a Comet, looking to take his turn in leading Hillcrest's successful soccer program through playoffs.  

The two Captains made their playoff statement with Thompson's corner kick. Setting the ball on the sideline, Tommy is known in the area for expertly placing the ball in front of the net. As his strike on the ball soared time seemed to stand still. Yoo leapt, almost simultaneously as Thompson kicked from the corner. WHA's goalie shuffled to receive the ball as he watched it soar past defenders and attackers on its way to Yoo, who headed the ball past the outstretched hands of WHA's goalie. The 4-0 score put the game out of reach as the Comets continued to control the game.

Yoo would go on to score a 4th goal in the contest, and Shantanu Mallick put one past WHA to give HIllcrest the 6-1 victory. The Comets outshot WHA 19-7 on the afternoon.

At 13-4, the Comets advance to the Section 8A quarterfinals vs. Detroit Lakes at 1pm on Saturday at Danielsen Field at Hillcrest Academy.

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On Empathy

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On Empathy

It is not enough to feel bad.

A classmate-a friend,  so resilient, abounding with courage and joy- is plagued with the heavy burden of cancer. Our hearts bruise with grief and confusion. Sorrow clouds joy.  

Our screens splatter with Syrian blood, mocking the grief we already feel. A young boy, bursting with potential, innocent and confused, wipes bloody ash from his face. This is the fruit of war.

Overwhelmed, our tender heartstrings are plucked- like a tearful harp. Notes of sorrow resound. This is empathy.

Empathy is not sympathy. Empathy is more than seeing grief, acknowledging it and attempting to comfort, to restore. It is not pity, it is not even sorrow. Empathy is tearing.  

Empathy is an irrational anguish towards injustice. When we hear the inconsolable cry of a mother, robbed of her life’s treasure, as a child, ravaged with cancer, is meaninglessly laid to rest. When our bones scream with a confused anguish towards all this wrong; when this essence of who we are moans for a grief that is not our own. When has your heart stopped beating? When has time stood still?

The Jews know empathy.“Sitting Shiva” is a vivid example. “Weeping aloud they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads. Then they sat there with him on the ground for seven days and seven nights. No one spoke a word…” [from Job 3:12] Throughout the seven day tradition of grief not a single word is spoken. No utterance of pity, no consoling sentiment. They sit together and grieve as one. This is empathy.

Jesus changes one’s view of empathy. Jesus did not feel for us, he felt us.

The same hands that molded galaxies, moved with love, touched the leper’s brow. His heart went out to all: the blind, the deaf, the lame, the pharisee, the tax collectors, the prostitutes and sinners, the woman at the well, the rich, the poor. He felt them, he was moved by them.  He felt the ache of hunger, the weariness of the traveller, the confusion of the refugee; he was the man of sorrows, familiar with suffering.  He felt the warmth of welcome, and the bitterness of rejection. He took our transgressions and bore our infirmities. He was crushed. He was bruised. He was ultimately betrayed. He died.

And in Jesus’ glorious victory few words ring truer: “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted as we are,and yet was without sin…  Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.  

So when tragedy clouds joy don’t just feel bad. Feel. And remember, Christ felt it first.

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Daniel Preston Shares Faith Formed in Stretching Time

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Daniel Preston Shares Faith Formed in Stretching Time

Daniel's faith is being made his own. Struggling to know if he is personally saved, Daniel felt challenged knowing that his faith was highly informed by his family. Over the years, Daniel has been stretched, and in the process, had his faith developed. Hear this quick testimony from Hillcrest's student body president.

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History Gains Perspective from Bible

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History Gains Perspective from Bible

Some believe studying history is a practice in learning from past mistakes. Mr. Garvin thinks it is much more than that. 

As Mr. Garvin opened his class this year students were found nose deep in the Bible. Classes around the nation hung quotes from famous and infamous men on white boards. The quotes from men gave perspective to why History is important. For Mr. Garvin, the truth in those quotes echo a Biblical Truth. History reveals what happens when men focus on Jesus Christ.

His class opened with a Biblical reading that propelled student to wrestle with God's chosen people and their careless abandonment of God. In calling Israel back, God iterated that the nation needs to remember what He has done. 

At Hillcrest, history is the discipline of studying nations that honor God, and those that don't. Those that don't hold up quotes from men as an ultimate truth, groping in the dark for guidance. Nations that honor God stand strong in both resolve and humanitarian works. 

Check out this video from his class and gain a deeper understanding at how Mr. Garvin started his class, and the path his class is on now four weeks into the school year.

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Consumer Math

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Consumer Math

Part of the Consumer Math class curriculum at Hillcrest is a Money Management Course by Dave Ramsey. Hillcrest's newest instructor, Mrs. Smith, is focusing her students not only on the advanced aspects of mathematics, but how understanding fundamentals can redirect student's life trajectory.

Today, Mrs. Smith's class focused on stocks and bonds and money markets. Students talked about high and low risk investments and discussed what makes for bullish or bearish markets.

“Why do this to teens?” you may find yourself wondering. “Why submit them to financial concerns that are beyond their years?”

Dave Ramsey says, “Money touches every area of life. In fact, 86% of teenagers say they would rather learn about money management in a class before making mistakes in the real world. However, most schools, churches and parents aren't talking to their teens about it—and the result is a generation facing more debt and financial stress than ever.”

Studies show that teens are often targeted by advertisers as consumers since they often have a higher percentage of expendable income than most adults. What do we want our students to learn about work and money as they are first experiencing these elements of adulthood? What do we want to teach them about the pitfalls of credit and debt? Is there any part of life that is not affected by money and spending? How much marital stress revolves around money? How does God expect us to conduct ourselves financially? These are all matters open to discussion in the Consumer Math class at HLA.

Students who are wise in their spending also tend to exercise restraint in other unhealthy behaviors and learn to see themselves as stewards of God’s gifts and channels that He will use to bless the people around them. Money really does matter and these are conversations we are excited to have with our students.

 

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Lady Comets Turn The Crank in Big Win

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Lady Comets Turn The Crank in Big Win

Thursday marked a turning point for the Lady Comets. Under new coach Brian Pickering, the Lady Comets played with renewed confidence under their coach's new scheme that propelled them over the Ashby Arrows in four sets.

"This was a good indication that we are starting to feel comfortable with the new defensive concepts," Pickering noted, giving special praise to a noted senior hustler. "Hanna Lavin was all over the court tonight running the offense." Through the first few sets, Hanna proved to be an X factor for the Comets. After stepping in to back-up spikes, Lavin shot under the ball and put teammates in key locations for kills. Lavin ended the game with 35 set assists. 

Fellow Senior Abigail Christenson was a key beneficiary to Lavin's hustle. With the ball popping in the air on the Comet side off Lavin's series of sets, Christenson was found attacking the net in using her height to get on top of the ball and beat challenges by the Arrows. Christenson found 18 holes in the Arrow line on the night, killing volleys with precision and aggression before returning to her huddle as the Arrow gym reverberated in noise.

Fans from around the area descended to Ashby to watch a new look from both teams. The Comets played without their libero, forcing freshman Bella Beck into the lineup for her first varsity start. Beck responded with a near perfect night from the line (19/20) and backed up her front line with a team high 21 digs. 

The gym was packed for the match. An even set series drew more fans from the streets and hallways as the Arrows met the Comets forcing sets three sets to go beyond 25 points. After the Comets pulled out a 27-25 nailbiter in the first set, the Arrows worked to regroup, but fell 25-20 thanks to the Comets owning the serving line. Hillcrest pulled out the stops with Lydia Juhl (14/14), Abigail Christenson (15/17), Hanna Lavin (17/20), Olivia Foss (20/22), Bella Beck (19/20), and Sophia Iverson (9/14) dominating the unforced errors from the serving line. The Comets were an eye-popping 94/107 from the line, an 87% efficiency with 1/3 (33 aces) of their successful serves finding holes in the Arrow line. The Comets used their serving line to propel themselves to a four set victory, scoring 27-25, 25-20, 25-27, and 32-30 in their 3-1 set victory.

It was hard for coach Pickering to pull out a top player of the night. Each had a spot in the limelight. "I liked her (Hanna Lavin) leadership, and she put the ball in the right place at the right time when we needed a kill to turn the momentum or key a big run.  Meghan Peterson stepped into the middle back position tonight for the first time all season and played really well.  Bella Beck got her first varsity start tonight and came away with 21 digs to lead the team, contributed 7 kills and was solid from the service line.  Abby Christenson had a huge night at the net.  When we needed a point she stepped up and found the hole in their defense.  Lydia Juhl had a perfect night at the service line and was active in the middle at the net.  Olivia Foss was solid again continuing her excellent play the last couple of weeks.  Finally, Sophia Iverson had some big kills and digs when we needed them, and was clutch serving the last two points of the match.  It’s nice having her experience and leadership in those big situations.

The Comets look to prep for the Section 6A tournament when they play Pack Christian at home Monday night.

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Retzlaff Speaks to Truth in Tough Times

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Retzlaff Speaks to Truth in Tough Times

Ryan shared his journey in finding answers and truth in the shadow of the death of his 8 month old son, Carter. His testimony was a timely message for students facing difficulties and obstacles that leave them wondering where God is.

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Comets Make Move to Save Football and Preserve Teaching Points

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Comets Make Move to Save Football and Preserve Teaching Points

People die playing football.

On October 22, 2015, Bogan High School was playing Chicago Vocational School in a Friday night battle for bragging rights. It was the last play of the game when Bogan senior Andre Smith took a bone crushing hit.  When he came off the field he collapsed at the team’s bench.  Doctors later said he suffered a blunt force head injury. Smith died the next morning.  

Smith’s story is one of many that has some asking if America should celebrate or jeer a sport that is promoting violence and savagery.  Can football be tamed? Hillcrest’s football staff think the sport is worth saving.

Hillcrest is taking steps to make football safer because they think there are important lessons for young men to learn in the sport. Coaches are teaching tackling techniques that allow players to keep their head out of the play, preventing unnecessary head or neck injuries. Concussions can occur frequently in football.

“Teaching proper tackling technique is very important,” said Zack Tysdal from Tysdal Chiropractic. “People don’t understand the seriousness of concussions, and that’s where they can get in trouble.” “Eyes through the thighs”, and “heads up” are a few tackling sayings, joining techniques, that Hillcrest players are being taught to implement on the field. The sayings call attention to actions that prevent dangerous and fatal concussions. Concussions that inhibit players abilities to participate and therefore limit the lessons they can take from football.

The “Hawk-tackling technique” is another tool that has also made it’s way into Hillcrest’s locker room. The technique is an initiative coming from the National Football League that teaches players to tackle by keeping their head on the backside of the opponent’s thigh. The name “Hawk-tackling” comes from the mascot of the professional team in Seattle, Washington, the Seattle Seahawks. The Seahawks were the first football team to incorporate this style of tackling into football. They are sharing videos, that were watched in the locker room at Hillcrest, to teach this method of tackling. All of this is being done in an effort to make football safer without ruining the lessons students can learn in the sport.

Another step Hillcrest took over the summer is purchasing higher quality equipment that provides more protective features. The Xenith football helmets provide better protection and ultimately reduce the number of concussions occurring in the sport.  Xenith helmets strap into a protective, shock-suspension, head-padding wrap that is separate from the shell of the helmet.  This allows a player’s head to move independently from the shell, mitigating dangerous rotational forces induced by major hits on the football field.

When speaking about the purpose of Hillcrest football, Steve Moline, who has been an assistant coach for eight years said, “Hillcrest football is about teaching discipline. We are trying to build men of character.” Taking shots and getting bumps and bruises is part of the sport, but what one decides to do after he gets knocked down is what builds character. That’s why many times at practice, Hillcrest coaches are throwing out phrases like, “When you get knocked down, get back up,” and “Never quit.”  

Coach Moline also talked about the bond players form when they face trials together. He identified hard work, and getting hit, in games or at practice, highlight a bond that shows up when teammates go through trials or hard hits that life brings. “Life’s not always easy. Every day is a battle, every play is a battle.  What I love about Hillcrest is you have that family, those brothers, that will battle with you every day no matter what.  And knowing those guys have your back is uplifting.”

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Undseth's Excitement Carries the Day in First Weeks at Hillcrest

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Undseth's Excitement Carries the Day in First Weeks at Hillcrest

Steve Undseth shared his philosophy in teaching English. Highlighting that all people bear God's image, Mr. Undseth gave a poignant Biblical explanation to the study of English. His explanation is a quick example of what has Hillcrest Academy listed as one of America's top Christian Boarding Schools

After 34 years of teaching English at Hillcrest Academy, Steve Undseth has never been more excited to begin a school year. His primary function at HLA is to instill a love of WORDS in his students, beginning with “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” When God speaks, things happen and he has granted humans a portion of this same creative power in language--the spoken and written word. Words are powerful. Words can outlive and outlast the one who speaks/writes them. How important then, that we learn to use words wisely?

Mr. Undseth opened American Lit this week with the account of the prophet’s verbal trapping of King David, exposing his murderous and adulterous acts with Uriah and Bathsheba. “You are the man!” Nathan announced. When confronted with the truth, David was immediately brought to contrition. He was later called, “A man after God’s own heart,” and yet he was far from perfect.

The study of Proverbs, written by David’s son Solomon--will be central in Mr. Undseth’s classroom this year. Bringing God-breathed Scripture alongside classic literature makes for enlightening, in-depth discussion about the true nature of man and the things that undo him. Take, for example, this piece from 19th century poet, Stephen Crane:

In the Desert

In the desert

I saw a creature, naked, bestial,

Who, squatting upon the ground,

Held his heart in his hands,

And ate of it.

I said, “Is it good, friend?”

“It is bitter—bitter,” he answered;

“But I like it

“Because it is bitter,

“And because it is my heart.”

Analyzing this poem was the students’ first writing assignment of the year. They needed to consider: What does the Bible teach about the heart of man? Is it easier for us to be comfortable with our own bitterness, our own sin--because it is ours? In what ways can bitterness destroy us? Who is the creature in this poem and who is the friend?

Mr. Undseth teaches his students to look at facts and make inferences as they read; to think critically and to draw conclusions they can defend verbally and in writing. In so doing, they will grow in their ability to use God’s gift of language effectively, a skill that will serve them well as they move through and beyond high school.

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