Houghton Academy Update March 2018

News and information for Houghton Academy alumni, friends, and parents 

Leading Globally, Loving Boldly

Houghton Academy models and communicates Christian community that reflects Core Values crucial in preparing students to live authentically, learn deeply, lead globally and love boldly for the glory of God.”– The Houghton Academy Vision Statement

Of the four elements referenced in our vision statement, “lead globally” and “love boldly” likely are the more difficult two to measure. After all, what can a high school student actually do, right now, to lead globally? What can a middle school student do, in this day, to love boldly? Yes, Houghton Academy is a learning environment where students are exhorted to live like Jesus, but what does that really mean in the present if something doesn’t happen this day?

Senior  Elaina Conklin '18  elected to study – and do something about – the worldwide human trafficking phenomenon as part of her senior Christian Social Engagement class. “I was significantly impacted by what I discovered – both the level of corruption and the fact that it is everywhere, even here. And all for money and power.” She connected with the International Justice Mission and its efforts against human trafficking worldwide and recently hosted a combined fundraiser with an informative community presentation at which $600 was raised in support of anti-trafficking efforts.

Elaina recollects, “The human trafficking topic pushed me way out of my comfort zone, opening my thinking to the possible pursuit of social work or political science in a university as well as a more global involvement in my future.”

As to the Christian Studies class, she said, “It’s been good for me – the application, the self-examination, the challenge to go outside the textbook into the real world. It’s had a powerful influence on me personally by making it evident there’s never ‘nothing I can do’ but rather always ‘something I can try.’”

As an Academy supporter through praying, donating, or passing the word along about the school, thank you for your involvement. I ask that you to continue to stand, pray, or donate in order that Houghton Academy’s work in God’s Kingdom will be a light to the world – for the Light of the world.

John Nelson
Head of School

Ask any former student about their favorite memories of their time at the Academy, and you will undoubtedly hear someone mention Winterim. Started in the mid-1970s by then-principal of the Academy, Buddy Keith, Winterim was created to give students, faculty, and staff a break from the normal routine of classes by offering classes students (and faculty) wouldn’t normally have during the school year. Winterim was initially three weeks long, occurred right after Christmas break, and consisted of two classes each day. The morning classes were more academically focused, while the afternoon classes focused on recreational activities. Over the years students have engaged in courses such as SAT prep, AP history, woodworking, skiing, horsemanship, drama, photography, lifeguarding, furniture art, movie-making, and more.

While Winterim has gone through various changes during its forty plus year existence, most notably in its length, this year Winterim was changed to incorporate a spiritual emphasis - Ignite! - to the week. The format also changed to allow students to explore more interests by registering for 8 one-time classes during the course of the week. Winterim took place during the week of February 26th -March 2nd; along with elective classes, students participated in Zimala (formerly known as chapel) twice each day from Monday to Thursday. Courses offered this year included acroyoga, baking, basketball, coffee roasting, drama, gemology, literature in film, model rockets, music review, personal finance, planet earth, roller coaster operation, track and field, Yahweh and the force, worship team, and many more.

“We wanted to breathe new life into the week,” stated Sarah Gurley, Discipleship Coordinator, and organizer of Ignite. “We have seen the need for a spiritual emphasis week at the Academy and saw Winterim as the perfect opportunity and time to incorporate such a week; we wanted Ignite to be a week that students wouldn’t forget and would regret missing.” 

Mr. Greg Speck, an author and world-renowned youth speaker, was invited to come and speak to the students. Using his unique sense of humor, storytelling, and candor, Greg spoke with the students on a number of applicable topics to challenge them in their walks with Christ. He quickly developed a good rapport with the students and they were engaged in every message he delivered. 

While Friday morning had been set aside for service opportunities, with the afternoon reserved for fun and games in the Academy’s gym, the week ended prematurely with a snow day. Although students, faculty, and staff were disappointed with the early end to the week, the overwhelming response to the changes was positive. 

“We were blown away by the students' response to Ignite,” commented Gurley. “ We saw students recommit their lives to Christ and others ask some very important questions. I had a student tell me that it was her favorite week of school ever.” 

Click here to watch a recap of the week!

The winter sports season concluded on Tuesday, March 6th with the annual winter sports awards night. Students, coaches, faculty, staff, and parents gathered to honor over 50 student-athletes for their efforts and accomplishments during the 2017-2018 season. 

While the varsity teams struggled to find wins during the season, each team showed marked improvement from the start of the season to the end. The  boys varsity  team finished with a 5-13 record and were led by first-year coach Phil Nelson. 

"While our hard work didn't translate to a winning record, this team never quit; they always came to practice and put in a lot of effort which led to success later in the season," remarked varsity boys coach Phil Nelson. "Everyone improved and grew in confidence and abilities, and I'm proud of each player."

The team’s improvement was evident in their second game against Whitesville Central School. Having dropped their first game against Whitesville by 28 points, the boys faced a tough challenge in their February 8th rematch, but did so with a confidence that can only come from hard work, dedication, and trust in each other. The team stayed close the entire game and pulled away late in the fourth quarter to secure a 48-43 victory. 

“That win really showed just how far we had come since the start of the season,” commented Nelson. “The boys could have easily written the game off as a loss, but they came out, showed their determination, and weren’t fazed by the results of the first game against Whitesville.”

The varsity girls were coached by Interim Athletic Coordinator Jessica Nelson and finished with a 2-17 record. While many would have expected the players to be frustrated and to become disenchanted as the season progressed, Coach Nelson noticed the complete opposite. 

“We struggled through a lot of games, and this was a challenging season not only for the players but for myself as well,” stated Nelson. “But I’m so proud of this group of young women; they showed up, plugged away at practice, kept working, and discovered they were capable of winning!”

The girls captured their first win of the season on the road at the Rochester School for the Deaf, 45-29, but it was their last home game that provided the highlight of the season. Playing in front of packed bleachers, the girls secured a 39-29 win on senior night.

“These ladies showed their true character during the season,” commented Nelson. “Regardless of the score in a game, whether we were winning or losing, these girls didn’t turn on one another. They continued to encourage and look for the best in their teammates. That, to me, shows a tremendous amount of character and leadership, which will take you further in life than any championship could.”

The JV boys team was led by Coach Mike Clark, who transitioned from coaching the varsity girls last year. Similar to the varsity teams, the hard work and dedication of the JV boys did not translate to many wins, but was evident in their improvement throughout their games. “The boys worked hard this season. While we only had three wins we had several very close games that could have gone our way,” commented Coach Clark. “It was encouraging to see improvement of skills in all the players from the start of the season to the end.”

Jessica Nelson also handled coaching duties for the girls modified basketball team. She noticed the girls had a similar attitude as the girls varsity team. “I didn’t have to ask for excitement from this group of girls. They brought it in bucket loads to every single game and practice.” While the team fell just short of an even record in their final game to finish 3-4 on the season, Coach Nelson was impressed with the girls’ character and potential. “The energy of this group was contagious and they were full of team spirit; the girls banded together and celebrated one another in a way that was uplifting. These young ladies reflect qualities and characteristics that shape an atmosphere of inclusion and competition.”

The boys modified basketball team was coached by Dan Gurley ‘01 and finished with a 2-6 record. With a number of new players playing basketball mixed with returning players, the boys focused on learning and developing fundamental skills. “I was impressed with the team’s passion, aggressive play, and never quit attitude,” Coach Gurley reflected on the season. “The guys gave 100% every game, from start to finish. It was a real joy to coach these young men this season, and there is a lot of potential moving forward with this core of young players.”

Congratulations to all of our teams for a great winter sports season!

The Houghton Academy Theatre will present "Hello, Dolly!" on April 26-28 at 7:00 pm. The musical was written by Michael Stewart with music & lyrics by Jerry Herman and based on the play “The Matchmaker,” by Thornton Wilder.

At the outset of the story, millionaire Horace Vandergelder takes stock of his life and declares, “I've worked hard, and I've become rich and friendless and mean. And in America, that's about as far as you can go.” Horace decides that what he needs is a wife to clean up after him, so he engages the services of Dolly Levi, a vivacious widowed matchmaker who arranges marriages. Dolly begins to set up dates for Horace even as she sets her sights on marrying him herself. She conspires with his two clerks, Barnaby and Cornelius, as well as with milliner Irene Malloy and her assistant, Minnie Faye. When Dolly eventually becomes exasperated with Horace, she bids him goodbye telling him, “And on those cold, winter nights Horace, you can snuggle up to your cash register; it’s a little lumpy, but it rings!” What will happen in the end? 

The story of Dolly & Horace is the basis of one of the most beloved musicals in the history of American theatre. Houghton Academy’s production of Hello, Dolly!, directed by Tim Nichols, stars Elise Poorman '18 as Dolly and Liam McNeill '18 as Horace.

“Directing ‘Hello,Dolly!’ has long been a dream of mine; it is both one of the most beloved works in the canon of American musical theatre, as well as a great personal favorite,” states Nichols. “As we headed towards the senior year of Elise Poorman and Liam McNeill, I couldn't help but notice that they could be an ideal pairing for Dolly Levi and Horace Vandergelder. Liam starred in my first play ("Seussical") six years ago as a seventh grader. It has been my desire to do a multicultural "Dolly" that reflected the diverse nature of Houghton Academy, and I'm happy to report that our cast hails from Nigeria, Rwanda, Bangladesh, Korea, India, Vietnam, China, besides the United States. The cast is working so hard, and I know that Western New York audiences are going to thoroughly enjoy watching ‘Hello Dolly!’come to life on the Academy stage next month.”

The musical will be presented in the Rosemary Tysinger Auditorium at Houghton Academy. Tickets will cost $4 for students and senior citizens, and $7 for adults.

Original Production Directed and Choreographed by Gower Champion Produced for the Broadway Stage by David Merrick and Champion Five, Inc. HELLO, DOLLY! is presented by arrangement with TAMS-WITMARK MUSIC LIBRARY, INC. 560 Lexington Avenue, New York, New York 10022.

Math Team Completes Successful First Season

The Houghton Academy Math team completed their first season of competition with a second place finish in the Genesee Valley Math League. Competing against eight other schools, the Academy math team participated in four competitions from November 8 to February 9; placing fourth, first, fourth, and third.

“I am very pleased with these results and proud of the students during their first year of competition,” stated math team coach Patrick Barringer. “The students worked hard, performed well, and showed improvement not only in their skills but most of all, in the team’s confidence.”

Senior, Thomas Wang '18; junior, Kathleen Kim '19; and sophomore, Crystal Huang '20 distinguished themselves individually and were invited to join the Genesee Valley League all-star team. Additionally, Thomas Wang was the top scoring senior and Olivia Yin was the top scoring freshman. 

The team also took time to attend the Houghton College Math & Science Day on February 15, where in addition to sitting in on mathematics seminars presented by college faculty, they took part in the American Mathematics Competition (AMC). Students in grades 10 and below took the AMC 10 test, while students in grades 11 and 12 took the AMC 12 test. Academy students Olivia Yin '21Carl Cho '20Bobby Fang '21, and Josie Lipscomb '20 scored the top four spots out of 75 participants in the AMC 10 test, while seniors Ray Liu '18 and Thomas Wang '18 scored second and third out of 76 students who took the AMC 12 test. 

Asked about his goals for next year, Barringer commented, “my goal is that more and more of the students will be interested in problem-solving and that they will spend extra time prepping themselves with challenging materials. They are already excellent; a little extra nudge of preparation and confidence will make them unbeatable.”

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