There are currently over 15,000 international students studying within the state of Minnesota; I’m proud that 21 of them call Concordia Academy home. Our international students have come from over a dozen different countries, including Liberia, Thailand, Mexico, Vietnam, and, of course, China. Increasing interest over the last five years has prompted us to be proactive in building relationships with partners abroad to ensure that Concordia Academy has the best possible international students. So, this fall, I took my fourth trip to China in three years, while Sarah Adams, our other admissions director, headed to Vietnam.
In late October, I landed in China for what would be my most interesting trip yet. This time was a little different from past recruitment trips; instead of participating in structured educational fairs with other American schools, I was simply meeting with our Chinese partners, on their turf. I visited five cities (Shanghai, Xiamen, Jinjiang, Chengdu and Beijing) in 12 days. I have never felt more welcomed, and I think it’s safe to stay I actually visited the “real” China this time!
The Chinese way of doing business is different then the American way. It is almost entirely based on relationships and is truly all about who you know. My meetings were about getting to know each other and typically included a meal or two, followed by karaoke (a LOT of karaoke!). Thanks to karaoke, I found myself visiting the “real” China by eating local delicacies (including, but not limited to, fish skin, chicken feet, and cow stomach) and singing Christmas songs in October. It was so fun to actually experience this part of the Chinese culture, and I was amazed at how welcoming everyone I encountered was.
Through these travel experiences, it also showed me how different our two cultures are and how brave these students are for coming to study in a foreign country so different from their own. Our international students bring unique perspectives and consistently contribute to the CA community. We have seen them win at the state robotics competition, play worship music on the guzheng in chapel, become baptized, make best friends, and so much more. At CA, these students are seeing Jesus’s love, and for many it’s a new love never felt before—How powerful is that!?
As we see our international program grow, establish partnerships with Chinese schools, and continue to welcome more international students, I look forward to seeing what is in store for them…and for Concordia Academy.
One important factor for a Concordia Academy football player in the late 90s, when I attended CA, was if a girl on the sidelines was wearing his jersey or letter jacket. The days before a game were a flurry of inquiry, arranging, gossip, and swooning in regards to sporting a player’s garb. For good or for bad, this tradition seems to have gone by the wayside.
As both a former CA student and current CA English teacher, it's fun to look at homecoming now versus homecoming during the era of dial up, Beanie Babies, and the Macarena.
The older or younger Kuseske, Berner, or Aurich is there to greet you.
- Beware of sitting behind the student section—they proudly stand most of the game in support of the team.
- The grill is fired up and ready to go.
- Dave Boll flies a radio-controled plane, usually to Star Wars music, as part of the half-time show.
- The team and school continue to be small but mighty.
- The air is crisp, grass green, and autumn color brilliant.
- New food choices are offered in a new building on the new Carlander & Koepke Family Alumni Plaza patio.
- The pre-football game activities, including a middle school dodgeball tournament and family carnival, fill a majority of the school building and outdoor area with noise and fun.
- Facilities, team uniforms, and the marketing “face” of CA all have a familiar yet fresh look.
- Homecoming is more than the football game; boys and girls soccer, cross-country, and volleyball each have a well-attended homecoming game.
- Sadly, we are still waiting for the pep band to make a comeback. Perhaps this will be the year?
CA continues to be a community woven together by the present and the past. We have the same mission and emphasis on "Honoring God Through Excellence," but with improved facilities, a greater offering of advanced programs, and a stronger commitment to serve the Twin Cities. Come to the homecoming game on Friday, September 29, and see for yourself!
Change is a word often muddled with connotations of apprehension, sometimes excitement, and definitely, the unknown. We are reminded of change as we breathe in the cool September air. We see it as the shadows become long while the sun sinks down a few minutes earlier than previous days. As Minnesotans, we know that our glorious summers make way for the last hoorah that is the autumn season (even if all we can think about is the loom of winter). The bells began to ring again, lockers received fresh decorations, and squeaky new shoes filled Concordia’s hallways— the school year has begun. Although change can be uncomfortable at times, it is during these times where we truly can experience life and growth.
Here are five tips for parents and students as you transition from middle school years into the high school experience.
- Take a deep breath. You’ll get used to the adjustment. Just as our bodies need time to get used to waking up (really) early, making long-lasting, meaningful friendships takes time.
- Ask a lot of questions. If you don’t know what time a sporting event is, ask! If you’re not sure of someone’s name, introduce yourself and meet a new friend. Inquiry is a great way to ease confusion and allow for a smooth transition.
- Get involved. Join a club, board, or athletic group. Attend parent conferences. Show up to school events and cheer on CA’s athletes! When you are involved, you will become invested—it is YOUR school.
- Develop the habit of putting forth effort. Sometimes the right thing to do is also the hard thing. Whether that is toughing it out as the homework starts to hit hard, or having hard conversations with your student, grit through it all. Your perseverance will not be in vain.
- Enjoy it. These years go by very quickly, but they will be impactful. This community of believers is special—our hope is not dependent on our circumstances. As we all transition into a new school year, our joy that is found in Christ will make it meaningful.
What a blessing it has been for me to watch my Freshmen Seminar classroom fill with students who are excited and perhaps a bit apprehensive about the transition from middle to high school. As we partner together this year, I would encourage you to consider these five tips. We are all in this season of change together! Blessings on you and your families as we walk through unknown and exciting new adventures.
Sarah Tramm, a 2009 Concordia Academy graduate, teaches Freshmen Seminar, a semester-long course designed to help students transition to high school, plan for the future, and develop their God-given strengths and talents.
I like to plan ahead.
I like to be organized.
At times, I even like to think I’m in control.
This illusion of being in control is a part of many areas of my life…but really, it rears its head most often with my girls. I have two little ladies, one in Grade 3 and one in Grade 5. Many things about being their mom have taught me that I am not as in control as I’d like to be.
I like to best invest my energy as a mom in relationships, opportunities, and experiences that help the girls grow in their faith. I want to offer them people and places that cultivate their faith and support their own personal walk with Jesus. I believe relationships, role models, and experiences will help them see Jesus as real and alive.
I believe my girls are on loan to me from God. They are gifts that I am entrusted with on this side of heaven, and I am blessed to parent them with my very best friend, my husband. Together, we decided long ago that Concordia Academy would eventually be our children’s high school of choice. Remember, I’m the one with the plan.
A top reason we support and choose CA is that we see first-hand that Jesus is living and breathing at Concordia Academy. The Word of God is brought to life in so many ways: in staff interactions with students; as teachers share their love of learning; in the numerous specialized academic programs that are offered; through extracurricular activities, including athletic teams, theatre, and the chapel band, just to name a few. The whole school is thick with living out the Word of God. Jesus is present and I feel it and hear it and see it every time I am there.
And I’m there a lot. Although currently too young to formally attend, our girls have many opportunities to experience Concordia Academy. We often take our girls to sporting events. They attend plays with their classmates. We’ve listened to His People and gone to concerts. Over President’s Day weekend, our oldest took a friend to the “Beacon Blast,” just one of the many official events Concordia Academy sponsors for middle school youth.
Our girls also enjoy the summer camps offered at Concordia Academy. Last year, one of our girls tried worship camp and dance camp. This summer we have a repeat for worship camp, as well as volleyball and basketball camp already on the calendar. New camps like photography, CSI, and auto shop are tempting, too.
My girls know Concordia Academy will be their high school. They, too, like knowing what is coming next. They feel safe and confident and excited about whatever they are involved in and enjoying at CA. We feel God will guide them through these next years as their own relationship with Jesus evolves through their opportunities as students. We are grateful that God has connected us to Concordia Academy long before we officially enroll our girls as students.
I think a bit more prayer, less controlling, and more trusting in God’s provision are in order with my parenting. I’m grateful for God’s provision and promises as well as partnering with Concordia Academy to share Jesus’s love and teachings with our girls.