Schooled Reporting on education

Pro-life lessons

Education | How Christian schools teach students to stand up for the unborn
by Bob Brown
Posted 1/29/20, 05:51 pm

WASHINGTON—Each year, Protestant and Catholic schools from across the country send busloads of students to the March for Life in Washington. On Friday, President Donald Trump even made note of the high level of youth participation when he addressed this year’s pro-life rally.

“This is a tremendous turnout—tens of thousands of high school and college students who took long bus rides to be here in our nation’s capital,” the president said. “Young people are the heart of the March for Life, and it’s your generation that is making America the pro-family, pro-life nation.”

Many of the young people who traveled to the March for Life had already learned the value of human life and the importance of protecting it at school. Teachers and students at the event said the repeated emphasis on the sanctity of life throughout their schooling helped them form pro-life views.

“The idea of [a] right to life is included in all aspects of our program from preschool through high school,” said D. Merle Skinner, executive director of the Christian Family & Children’s Center, which includes Champion Christian School in Champion, Pa. Students and staff from the school have attended the March for Life at least 25 times in the past 30 years, including last week. Earlier in the month, the school showed the pro-life movie Unplanned.

Melissa Wolfgang, a high school teacher at Champion who accompanied students to this year’s March for Life, said she discusses right-to-life issues in the health class she teaches. “We talk about how choices have consequences for everyone … future families and children,” Wolfgang said. “Abortion should not be an option.”

Students from Johnstown Christian School near Johnstown, Pa., have attended the march at least five times in the last 15 years, according to the school’s dean of students, Margaret Adkins. The “explicitly Christian focus” of the event impressed Johnstown 12th grader Daniel Hostetter. “The president affirmed that every life is valuable because we are purposefully created by the almighty God,” he said. “Praying with thousands of other people is an experience I will never forget.”

Johnstown addresses abortion in its Bible classes, according to Adkins, and incorporates right-to-life lessons in individual civics and history classes that cover the U.S. Constitution and Supreme Court.

Catholic schools attending this year’s march said they take a similar approach.

Heather Gossart, a senior consultant for the National Catholic Education Association, said while variations exist from diocese to diocese, Catholic students, starting in middle school, learn about the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision and subsequent court cases about abortion. The schools also teach about general cultural changes in America that have enabled acceptance of abortion. The topic is presented “as part of total education,” she said.

Associated Press/Photo by Morgan Lee (file) Associated Press/Photo by Morgan Lee (file) A third grader with her lunch at Gonzales Community School in Santa Fe, N.M.

Updating the menu

Just about everyone agrees that schoolchildren deserve to eat healthy, nutritious food. But many schools have complained for years that the school lunch rules spearheaded by former first lady Michelle Obama are simply too strict.

“Schools and school districts continue to tell us that there is still too much food waste and that more commonsense flexibility is needed to provide students nutritious and appetizing meals,” U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said earlier this month. “We listened and now we’re getting to work.”

New rules from the Department of Agriculture scale back some required serving sizes for fruits and vegetables and allow more latitude for cafeterias to serve foods a la carte rather than bundled as an entire meal.

Supporters of Obama’s 2010 “Let’s Move!” campaign that led to the school cafeteria rules decried the move, saying it would roll back gains toward promoting healthier youth and combating childhood obesity. But others conceded a spate of unintended consequences over the years. Gay Anderson, president of the School Nutrition Association, emphasized that the 2012 standards brought much-needed changes to school cafeterias, but they also led to higher costs, more food waste, and a noticeable drop in student participation. Cafeteria managers had difficulty finding affordable options that children would actually eat.

Those consequences led to several modifications already, including a loosening of the requirement for 100 percent whole grains to 50 percent in 2014 and the reintroduction of low-fat instead of skim chocolate milk in 2018. —Laura Edghill

iStock.com/alfexe iStock.com/alfexe

How to be a grown-up

In today’s high-pressure academic environment, many students grow up spending more time cracking the books than learning to crack an egg. Now classes in basic life skills—what the youngsters call “adulting”—are emerging across the country.

The University of California, Berkeley, has a popular adulting class taught by current students. It features topics like paying bills, meal preparation, and time management. Student-teachers Jenny Zhou and Belle Lau say they lacked many of those important skills themselves, so they see the class as an opportunity to learn and grow along with their peers.

And it’s not just a California thing. The “Adulting School” of Portland, Maine, offers online classes in nutrition, personal finance, wellness, and do-it-yourself tips.

But not everyone’s a fan. One letter to the editor in the Los Angeles Times reacted to the Berkeley class with outright scoffing: “These kids mean to say that they are capable of earning a degree from one of the world’s foremost academic institutions, yet they cannot figure out by themselves how to read a cookbook, get to work on time or how not to outspend their income?” —L.E.

Facebook/SynDaver Labs Facebook/SynDaver Labs A synthetic frog for dissection

Even better than the real thing?

Forget the smelly, messy high school rite of passage of dissecting a frog in biology class. A Tampa, Fla., company now offers life-size, synthetic frogs complete with anatomically correct internal organs.

The models, made by SynDaver, let students dissect frogs—and a variety of other animals—without exposure to preservatives like formalin and formaldehyde. They also help schools avoid the wrath of animal rights activists.

Students at J.W. Mitchell High School in Port Richey, Fla., recently experimented with the specimens, and Principal Jessica Schultz described just how lifelike they seemed.

“When you cut it open, you have to cut the breastbone of the synthetic frog just as hard and put as much pressure as you would on a regular frog,” she told Boston’s WBUR-FM. The simulated amphibians have skin that mimics the moist texture of the real thing.

But the faux frogs don’t come cheap. At $150 each, they cost about 15 times what an average classroom specimen runs, making it unlikely they’ll become standard issue anytime soon. —L.E.

Bob Brown

Bob is a graduate of the WORLD Journalism Institute’s mid-career course.

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  • NEWS2ME
    Posted: Thu, 01/30/2020 11:16 pm

     Updating the menu

    Children need more fat in their diet. By taking out the fat they are still hungry. So they eat junk.

    Children need to get back to whole milk. There needs to be moderation in all foods. And especially no artificial sweeteners.

    Has anyone looked into the natural flavorings that are in almost everything these days? What is it doing to our bodies?

    I guess we will find out something is wrong when we see an ad on TV for lawsuits against natural flavorings. 

  • Laura W
    Posted: Fri, 01/31/2020 11:34 am

    I'm assuming you mean artificial flavorings? Natural flavorings would be things like spices or orange oil or something like that. Artificial flavorings are usually a recreation of a particular flavor molecule that's expensive to mass-produce naturally. I do agree that the whole fat free craze went overboard, though.

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