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Deja Vu - Golf Team Repeats as Conference Champions

Posted On: 10/25/2016 4:32 PM
The Boys Varsity Golf team secured the 2015 MIAA C-Conference Championship. Read about it here!
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Class of 2019 Legacy Gift to AACS Middle Schoolers

Posted On: 10/25/2016 4:32 PM
Eighth grade "Lead" Group dedicates commemorative plaque. Click here to read more.
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2015 Sixth Grade Retreat to Skycroft

Posted On: 10/25/2016 4:32 PM
Click to read about their fun experience, see the pictures and a short video!
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Iron Eagles Received Award While at VEX Robotics World Championship!

Posted On: 10/25/2016 4:42 PM
The Iron Eagles returned from Louisville on Sunday. Read about it and see a video of the team at the Championship.
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Upper School Admission Showcase

Posted On: 10/25/2016 4:45 PM
Come to our Admission Showcase event on Thursday, January 9th at 4:30.
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Spring Fling: Adult Volunteers Needed

Posted On: 10/25/2016 4:45 PM

   Spring Fling: Adult Volunteers Needed
Posted 11/22/2013 12:33PM

What is Spring Fling?

by Erick Hansen

Spring Break.  By virtue of its name alone, this is a time intended for recuperation, a respite from the daily grind of school.  I guess it shouldn’t come as any surprise, then, why each year Paul Brophy and I struggle to successfully recruit our peers to serve as leaders on the Spring Fling, AACS’ yearly four-day spring break excursion to Rockbridge Young Life camp.  I don’t begrudge my colleagues one bit; let’s face it: by the time spring break finally arrives, it’s not just the kids who need space from their teachers.  Most of our colleagues are smart enough to actually rest during their vacation.  How can I argue with choosing a warm beach or the comforts of home over a cabin filled with a dozen energized adolescents?  Each year, we return to school with that ‘now I really need a vacation’ feeling.  Honestly, why would anyone want to do this?

It’s not the teachers who attend the trip who impress me, though.   After all, we’re supposed to like kids.  The true heroes of Spring Fling are the 60+ parents, graduates, and adults who volunteer to use their vacation days – not to come down and watch the kids have fun, but to work all day long to ensure they do have fun.   For those adults not serving as cabin leaders, many spend over 12 hours each day in the kitchen, while others spend their afternoons on a tiny ledge in a tree helping kids navigate the ropes course, or fastening their harnesses in preparation for the 1000 – foot zip line descent into the lake.  And this is vacation?  This is what they ask to be part of year after year?  Again, why would anyone want to do this?

To me, the answer is simple:  every year, these four days remind us of everything we love about working with kids, everything we love about AACS.  In these four days, we have the privilege of watching kids be themselves in a way that happens in few other places.  They are free to be together, free to laugh without restraint, and free from the tyranny of schedules, bells, and cells.  We watch kids have fun.  We watch them sing.  We watch them actually have fun singing.  Every year we see kids start to understand that both fun and singing are expressions of worship to a creative God who offers us abundant life without end.  In the days following the trip, Paul Brophy asked two 7th graders – one boy, one girl – about their favorite parts about the trip.  Both, independent of the other, answered simply, “the zip line and the worship.”  Isn’t it great that these students paired these two activities together?

The vision for this trip was born 20 years ago in a conversation between Paul and a school parent after a soccer game at McDonald’s.  Paul, fearful that some of our kids were missing out on the relational thrust of the Gospel message, was inspired to give AACS kids a taste of the Young Life experience that had so shaped his own life.  This parent challenged him to make his vision a reality.  That next spring, Paul took 40 students to Lake Champion Young Life camp in New York.  Seventeen Spring Flings later, there is much about the trip that has changed.  Those 40 kids have multiplied many times over; one year we took 230 kids and last year 192.  In all, over 2,700 AACS students have been able to enjoy the Spring Fling experience.  

Despite the many changes over the past 14 years, the mission of the trip has not changed.  The goal of the trip is to invite kids to interact with the gospel in a comfortable, fun atmosphere: to portray the Good News as a relationship rather than a religion.  Following the Young Life ministry model, which specializes in meeting kids “where they are” with the message of Christ, we seek to tailor everything we do over these four days to facilitate kids’ encounters with Jesus.  Part of achieving this mission is the use of Young Life staff on the trip – one staff person serves as the speaker, while two others plan the program, the various games/skits/activities intended to help foster a spirit of fun and unity among the kids.  From the first minute kids arrive at camp, they are thrown into activities intended to help them interact with kids from different grades and groups.  This is true of the cabins as well; they are organized so that each cabin will have representatives from the different grade levels in order to help kids build new relationships. 

With this goal of relationship-building in mind, each day at camp is carefully planned. Yet within this structure, kids are given large chunks of free time where they have the opportunity to enjoy each other’s company while participating in one of many activities:  zip line, ropes course, climbing wall, foosball, basketball, soccer, skateboarding, etc.  Often I think kids have some of their best times when they doing the least – simply hanging around in the snack shop relishing the lost art of conversation.  The days and activities are designed to maximize relationships and minimize isolation.  Can you imagine – a day full of activities that don’t require a laptop, cell phone, and cyberspace? 

Each day begins and ends what we call “Club” – a 75-minute gathering that includes a skit, singing, and a message.  I think it’s fair to say that Club is the focal point of the whole Spring Fling experience.  Not only is it the one place where all 200 kids are doing the same thing, at the same time, but it’s during these morning and evening sessions when kids are given the opportunity to enter into a powerful, unique worship experience.  Year after year, we’re told by kids that one of the reasons they love this trip is because it’s the one time of the year they feel free to worship without restraints.  A former student, Eddie Spuler, who helped lead worship a few years, says that kids are free to “express themselves to God in the way they want without feeling out of place.”  Mark Davis, another student who attended Spring Fling multiple times, added, “My favorite part [of the trip] is having a place to worship without feeling like I am being different.”  Personally, I don’t know if there’s anything I experience all year that’s more thrilling than having the privilege of looking out at kids singing their hearts out to God, eyes closed and hands raised in worship.  Perhaps the beauty of Club is best captured by another student, Martin Akram:  “The club time allows for all to simply worship carelessly of their surroundings and peer pressure – it is definitely the one time of the year where you don’t have to compete or prove yourself – you can just be you.” 

At the close of each day, kids are given opportunity to respond to what they’ve heard that day.  Each night closes with “Cabin Time,” an opportunity for each cabin leader to debrief that day’s talks with his/her kids.  These times are critical to the success of the week; we want to lead kids to daily apply what they’re seeing and hearing to their own lives.  This application process culminates on the last night of camp with a Young Life tradition known as “20 minutes.”  Immediately following the speaker’s message about the importance of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, he asks that kids leave the club room without a word, spread out silently across camp, and take the next twenty minutes to personally reflect on their own journey with Christ.  I can’t effectively describe the scene of walking out the club room and hearing only crickets, yet looking up to see kids scattered all over camp, filling the silence with beautiful offerings of prayer to God.  Each year, many kids will name this one twenty minute block of time as a highlight of their week.  Another former student, Matt Soldano relates, “The twenty minutes of silence helps me sit and think about what direction my life is going. . . That silence is something I don’t get very often.  I think that’s why I kept coming back to Spring Fling.” 

God has continually proven Himself faithful on this trip, using it powerfully in kids’ lives.  Each year we end our final Club with a “Say So” – a brief time when students who’ve made a commitment or recommitment to Christ stand up and share their joy with their peers.  Some years we are blessed to watch more than 20-25 students stand up boldly for their God.  In addition, God has faithfully provided for all our needs and details.  Following the stillborn death of their son, Paul and Sharon Brophy set up a memorial fund in his name – the Matthew Brophy Scholarship Fund – for the sole purpose of helping ensure that all kids could have a chance to benefit from this trip, regardless of their financial situation.  To date, God has used tragedy to help over 300 students hear the love of Christ for their lives. 

Why would anyone want to do this?  After 17 years of the trip myself, I can’t help but ask, “Why wouldn’t anyone want to be a part of an experience like this?  Personally, I love the trip because it allows me to feel fully alive – playing, laughing, singing, and connecting.  Lane Cheek, a long-time camper and then cabin leader, echoes this sentiment:  “It’s a time to remember why we are really here and what is most important – to live a life that honors and glorifies the Lord.”  God delights in giving His children full, complete life, and our goal on the trip is to give kids a bit more of a taste of this life than they’ve experienced before.  AACS grad Caleb Agnew expressed this well, “To spend one’s time worshiping until unable to speak, playing sports and games in an atmosphere of friendly competition, and simply taking in the majesty of God’s creation, seems to me a brief glimpse of heaven.”  Jeffrey Furniss, an AACS parent, had this to say after experiencing the trip for the first time:  “Spring Fling was even better than we have heard because you can’t really understand the impact unless you are there.”  While this is true, I hope I gave you a brief glimpse of why we believe in this trip so wholeheartedly.  We’d love to have you experience it with us.  Why wouldn’t you?

If you would like to be part of this trip some time, or are interested in donating to the Matthew Brophy Scholarship Fund, please contact Paul Brophy at pbrophy@aacsonline.org.

 

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News vs. Announcements

Posted On: 10/25/2016 4:45 PM
Learn about the difference between News and Announcements, and why it is important to know where to go for daily information.
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Alumni Update, Garth Thorpe '01

Posted On: 10/25/2016 4:46 PM
Garth Thorpe ’01 is currently the Field Coordinator for (un) adopted, a ministry of Lifeline Children’s Services, in Birmingham, Alabama where he facilitates in-country orphan care projects. He graduated from Multnomah University in Portland, Oregon in 2005 with a degree in Bible and Theology and Educational Ministries and upon graduation served as a missionary for two years in Bangladesh working with Muslim refugees translating an unwritten language into oral Bible stories. After this he worked at an outdoor alternative educational school where we lived with troubled youth year-round outside teaching life-skills and planning various backpacking and canoeing adventures.
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Alumni Update, Nathaniel Elliott '06

Posted On: 10/25/2016 4:46 PM

Nathaniel Elliott ’06 took the plunge and left his full- time job at a consulting firm to go into business for himself in 2013. He wanted to build a disruptive technology that you could touch, feel, and see that created jobs for individuals that wanted to work from home. And thus he founded ahWriting, which produces handwritten cards for enterprise organizations to help them increase their sales, consumer engagement, fundraising efforts, and many other business needs. Nathaniel and his wife, Aletheia, currently live in the Bowie area. To hear more about ahWriting visit http://ahwriting.com or email hello@ahwriting.com.

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Alumni Update, Megan Griffith '13

Posted On: 10/25/2016 4:46 PM
Megan Elizabeth Griffith ’13 is currently living in Los Angeles, California pursuing her dream as a singer, musician and songwriter. A multi-faceted instrumentalist and composer of the piano and guitar, Megan’s sound is described as “Katy Perry meets Adele.” Her debut single and music video, Closer to You, is set to release in Spring 2014.

Megan Elizabeth, founder of the #BeKind No Bully Zone Campaign will be introducing the campaign and performing live on Monday, March 17, 2014 in D.C. at Starbucks (1401 New York Ave. NW), hosted by Radio/TV Personality Jeannie Jones. Please visit www.OfficialMeganElizabeth.com for more information.

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Upper School Choirs on Tour in Atlanta

Posted On: 10/25/2016 4:47 PM
The auditioned choirs from the Upper School Choral Program went on tour to Atlanta. Read about their time here!
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AACS Students Perform with MD All State Chorus

Posted On: 10/25/2016 4:47 PM
Congratulations to our chorus members who participated in the Maryland All-State Music Festival. Click to read about it here.
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Into the Woods

Posted On: 10/25/2016 4:47 PM
The Upper School Drama Club presents its spring musical, INTO THE WOODS, on 3/7, 3/12, 3/13, and 3/14 at 7:00 pm. (The performance originally scheduled for 3/6 has been rescheduled to 3/12.) Click for more details!
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Christmas Choral Concert: Festival Of Nine Lessons & Carols

Posted On: 10/25/2016 4:47 PM
This Christmas season you don't want to miss our Christmas Choral Concert on December 12th & 13th. Click for details!
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Intellectual Art From Our 5th Graders

Posted On: 10/25/2016 4:47 PM
After reading their novels, the 3rd-5th graders do a project called "Intellectual Art." Click to read more and see pictures!
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Taking Steps to Impact the World for Jesus Christ

Posted On: 10/25/2016 4:49 PM
Update on Our International Student Program.
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AACS Expanding to Fourth Location

Posted On: 10/25/2016 4:49 PM
AACS is opening a 4th location in the fall of 2015. A new Lower School near Severn is in the works.
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AACS Opening New Lower School Near Upper School Campus in Severn

Posted On: 10/25/2016 4:49 PM
AACS is opening our 4th location in the fall of 2015. A new Lower School near Severn is in the works.
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AACS GOALS

Posted On: 10/25/2016 4:49 PM
Please take a moment to review the AACS goals.
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The Love of God is Magnificent!

Posted On: 10/25/2016 4:49 PM
How do we know what love is? The author of 1 John writes about this. Read this story of how God's love has blessed an AACS family.
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