First, a word about what's not here this weekend. I had hoped to have a blog book column ready for now but lots of things -- including work related to my own new forthcoming book -- have slowed that down. Look for my exploration of new faith-based books next weekend.
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But the subject of books reminds me of school, which is what I want to tell you -- and ask you -- about. A new completely online Christian middle and high school, St. Mark's Academy, will start offering classes this fall.
This is what a press release about the school said:
"St. Mark's Academy provides an alternative for those middle and high school students whose needs are not being met in a traditional school setting," said Jamie Osborne, the school's Headmaster. "Our educational model is designed to provide a learning option that maximizes flexibility and personalization, without sacrificing academic quality."
The academy's Web site to which I've linked you says the school is non-demoniational, though it's a ministry of something called Shoutchurch.tv, which is affiliated with the Baptist General Association of Virginia. And, in turn, that association is in partnership with the Southern Baptist Convention.
I know that many colleges offer lots of online courses, and in many ways it is the wave of the future. But what's your thought about whether it's an appropriate vehicle for middle- or high-school students, whether in a church-affiliated school or not?
My own view is that young people of that age need lots of opportunity for guided socialization, to say nothing of spiritual mentoring. Even traditional Christian theology would affirm that we are built for relationship and part of the task of parents, families, clergy, friends and schools is to help young people form healthy relationships. I think that would be much more difficult in an online school. To make up for that, students will need lots of other opportunities beyond just hanging out with each other at the mall.
So if you could send your children or grandchildren to a completely online middle or high school, especially one affiliated with your religion, would you?
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TROUBLE FOR THE PAPAL JOURNEY?
What are the possibilities for the upcoming journey of Pope Benedict XVI to Israel? This report suggests there's a minefield of explosive issues that people with various agendas may seek to exploit. My hope is the trip will help people see the necessity for finding peace -- and soon.
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P.S.: You may remember my mentioning here a group called Care of Poor People and its annual Kansas City event headed by a man named Richard G. Tripp. Well, the event happened April 11, and C.O.P.P. has posted this 10-minute YouTube video of it. Fascinating. This is what Americans do to help other Americans.
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ANOTHER P.S.: Through the AIDS Ministry at my church, I'm a volunteer with the Good Samaritan Project, an AIDS service organization in Kansas City. GSP has a big fund-raiser coming up May 15. There are details on the GSP Web site if you want to help out. Oh, and thanks to those of you who contributed to the recent AIDSWalk in which I participated. My church team was able to contribute more than $1,000 of the more than $400,000 raised.
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OH, AND: You may recall this March blog entry in which I wrote about a Kansas City area teacher who was doing her best to give students a realistic understanding of the Holocaust. Lisa Bauman of St. Thomas Aquinas High School took students on a Holocaust study tour to Berlin, Prague and Krakow in April. Now they're back and eager to describe what they learned. There will be a "Lessons of the Holocaust" presentation at 7 p.m. this Thursday at the school, located at 11411 Pflumm in Overland Park, Kan. And the public is invited.
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FINALLY: Another Web site to check for a calendar of Kansas City area cross-cultural or interfaith activities is Cultural Crossroads.