Students excel beyond the walls of RHS

by STEVE LEWIS

Assistant Principal, Rockford High School

As a community, we are aware of the accomplishments of our students in the academic arena with nearly half of our students achieving honor roll status. While many of the students excel in the classroom, they also carry their talents into the sports arena, winning many conference and state championships. Our band and choir also shine in state competitions as well. Last month our theatre students performed “Beauty and the Beast” that was on the level of a Broadway musical.

Perhaps the most compelling attribute of our students is what they do beyond the walls of Rockford High School (RHS). Our students’ compassion for others and the student service they do is simply remarkable. The following letter was written to RHS staff from one of their colleagues about student service.

Dear Colleagues,

I wanted to take a moment to tell you about an incredible demonstration by some of our students last night in Grand Rapids. Fifteen RHS students, some of them Youth Initiative members, some from my AP English classes and some from Mitch Gathercole’s Senior Composition classes, helped my wife Tammi and me make and serve a “Love Feast” in inner-city Grand Rapids last night. The students made spaghetti with meat and marinara sauce, Caesar salad, fruit salad and dessert (12 students made brownies and cakes) and served the meal to unemployed, indigent and homeless people.

I can’t tell you how proud I was of our students’ work ethic, creative problem-solving, and servant hearts. We were told to prepare a meal for 75-100 people and 140 showed up to eat and 20 asked for food to go for their friends and family that could not come. The students responded to each challenge with creativity and positive attitudes. Students had to serve each person, but also meet various and sometimes strange requests of some rude, caustic and demanding people. They illustrated agape love in every action whether cooking, serving or cleaning up.

During the evening, a few men stumbled into the hall obviously intoxicated, but hungry just the same. They were loud and boisterous, but our students were not intimidated or rude. They met their needs in the same fashion as any of the others. In another instance, a man slipped and spilled several plates of spaghetti he had planned to take to his homeless friends who could not come. Watching this food, which was of such great importance to him, spill on the floor distressed him greatly, but three of our students worked together to calm him down, clean up the spilled food, and replenish his supply.

During the night, one parent who had come with her daughter asked me, “Do you ever get nervous about the students doing this? I mean some of these people are a little aggressive and are following the kids around demanding more food and making strange requests.” I told her that I had prepared our students to serve an eclectic group of people of various races, cultures, ages and social levels, and that I had complete confidence that they would respond with professionalism and in humble servant-hood. She agreed that they were doing an exceptional job.

Toni, Jen Brooke and Char who run this event every week told me they were impressed at how our kids responded to the demands of such a large crowd and how they valued their responses to the night’s challenges, as well as their ability to serve and connect socially to the adults and children that attended the “Love Feast.”

We are truly blessed to work with these students. We have the opportunity to challenge them, guide them and watch them grow each day. Some days the students may frustrate us in the classroom, and we seldom get to see the pruning that is done each day come to fruition. However, I know that our students will use their gifts and talents to enrich others’ lives and to solve great problems that our world faces. I saw it, albeit in a small way, last night, and I thought each of you, who have such a large influence on each of them, should know that great things are happening outside RHS as well as within its walls. 

Dan Modderman

I know in this community and country there is concern about our youth today and the direction we are headed. I would say the Rockford community is doing a great job with our youth, and our future is bright.

Thank you to our students for your compassion and student service beyond the walls of RHS and making this a better place to live.

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Rockford Christian students work to serve others

Fourth-graders Breanne Melton (foreground) and Marta Siegfried serve customers at the Rockford Christian School Store.

Fourth-graders Breanne Melton (foreground) and Marta Siegfried serve customers at the Rockford Christian School Store.

In the fall of 2007, Rockford Christian School (RCS) staff member Mark Worst and teacher Bev Broersma had an idea: to create a service project for Bev’s fourth-grade class that would teach her students how to give. The idea was to set up a “school store” run by fourth-graders that would serve the Rockford Christian School community, and in turn, serve the world.

In addition to the snack items and school supplies that the class now sells, the fourth-graders also partner with other RCS class fundraisers to further boost their earnings. This school year they have already earned over $1,200, which has been donated to good causes throughout West Michigan and the world.

The class’ efforts have purchased everything from backpacks of supplies for Asian missionaries to water filters for small villages, to school supplies for a small Christian school in the Dominican Republic.

One of the class’ favorite projects was using the $416 they earned in November and December to purchase Christmas gifts for a Grand Rapids family. The students took their hard-earned money to Meijer and shopped for items on the family’s wish list, then brought them back to school to be wrapped and delivered.

April’s funds are already earmarked toward another project close to home. The class’ goal is to buy ingredients to assemble 1,800 individual snack bags full of trail mix to be distributed to kids in the Grand Rapids Public Schools.

 “The store has been such a blessing to us,” says Broersma. “When kids see what the money they earn can buy, it makes it more real to them. Their effort bought markers or presents or talking Bibles-not their parents’ effort. They get excited! My goal is to teach kids that ‘donating’ money to a service project isn’t always just parents handing over cash. It takes time and effort and sometimes requires us to give up time in which we could be enjoying ourselves-recess!”

The RCS store is open twice daily, during morning and noon breaks. At each time, two fourth-graders staff the store, collecting money, making change and serving their customers. Many students donate their change toward the month’s cause, and sometimes parents make additional donations.

The store has some academic benefits. “I can do math a lot quicker,” says fourth-grader Grace Parmeter. But the real goal of the store is seeing what a difference this class can make in the lives of others. Erica Holesinger summed it up: “It reminds me that I’m never too young to help other people.”

For additional information, contact Stacy Falk at (616) 855-1653 or Principal Jan VanderWerp at (616) 574-6402.

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Add years to your life, life to your years

by SANDY STANTON

ChiroHealth Rockford

Everyone is talking about the mind-body link and the mind-body connection. Recent scientific discoveries have placed this phenomenon at the core of the wellness movement. Educating yourself on the mind-body connection can make a big difference in your family’s health.

The Mind-The home of the mind is the brain. According to the February 1997 issue of Life Magazine, “This three-pound organ stores 100 trillion bits of information over the course of 70 years. That is equal to 500,000 sets of the Encyclopedia Britannica, which stacked, would reach 442 miles high. A fully formed brain contains 100 billion neurons, or nerve cells.” Wow!

While these numbers are staggering, what’s even more impressive is how these neurons function to originate thought and supply information to the body. This is what chiropractors and other holistic health professionals refer to as “innate intelligence.”

Your innate intelligence, within you, is the life energy that keeps you alive, heals you when you are sick, and enables your body to perform the extraordinary amount of work, effortlessly, that keeps you functioning at your full potential. It is important to keep your mind clear and sharp for it to be effective in the mind-body connection.

The Body-The performance of your body is extraordinary. “Breathing one pint of air 17 times a minute, we take in 78 million gallons in an average life span, enough to fill the Hindenburg airship one-and-a-half times. The average person takes one billion steps in his life and walks about 77,000 miles, landing on each foot with a force triple his body weight. Eight million new red blood cells are produced in the bone marrow every second.” Amazing!

What do you think will happen if you only take care of your body when it is broken? Unfortunately, there are many people who grew up with the mindset, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” These people ignored pain and did not participate in wellness activities. They are paying heavy prices today.

Just look at their posture. If people look bent over and crooked on the outside, how do you think their bodies are on the inside? Rather than commit to a wellness lifestyle, they cover up their problems with drugs and keep on going, functioning at much less than their full potential. Wellness is a much better choice, don’t you think?

The Connection-This connection has been written about since Hippocrates wrote, “Look well to the spine for the cause of disease.” Thomas Edison said, “The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, in diet, and in the cause and prevention of disease.”

The spine, spinal cord and nerve system is the vital link in the mind-body connection. Chiropractors have always understood the importance of this connection in relation to the well-being of the whole person.

When healthy, impulses travel over this system at up to 325 miles per hour. Research shows, however, that when the spine is injured from the birth process, or any other mental, chemical or physical stress, “neurons die in a domino effect.” This causes interference that affects every aspect of your well-being, lessening the expression of your innate potential.

What do you think would be the effect on a child if the link going to their ears was damaged? What if your stomach, kidneys or heart were compromised? How do you think interference in the link would affect your energy? If you wait until you “feel it,” the damage may already be occurring.

By removing interference to this critical link, chiropractors ensure the integrity of the mind-body connection. Babies should be examined immediately after being born. Children at every stage of growth and development should be checked.

Adults, with the stress of life and daily activities causing pressure on their spines, must keep their nerve systems functioning without interference, at all times, to have any chance of approaching the human potential.

When you consider the wonders of the mind and the capacity of the body, along with the power of the intelligence within, it’s no wonder the mind-body connection has become the most important health issue of our time. You must take care of your spine and nerve system, your connection, for you to stay healthy and reach your full potential.

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Yoga in times of crisis

by DR. JORGE RODRIGUEZ, Ph.D.

Doctor in health & physical education

Personal trainer/owner

Many people are unrolling their yoga mats and polishing their poses to find flexibility and sanity amid the financial chaos. Last month I read an article from  New York news that said fitness experts say gym memberships are holding steady or rising and yoga classes are thriving.  What I really think is that a yoga practice becomes a refuge from the negativity of an economic recession, and the studio kind of becomes the sanctuary.

Yoga uses movement and postures to strengthen the body and breathing techniques and meditation to quiet the mind.

People who take yoga class, “take a break” from whatever else may be going on in their lives. And at the very most, a practice can become a transformational experience that reenergizes and rejuvenates you. These days, especially when faced with any crisis, devotees are eager to cite the tranquility they have found by regularly participating in yoga.
Often, people get hurt because they assume that yoga is simple and that anybody can pretzel himself or herself on demand. At the same time, others see yoga as a practice originally conceived to help people achieve inner peace and tranquility, as a way to get a vigorous workout. More than five times as many people take yoga classes at health clubs today as did a decade ago, and enthusiasts have devised all kinds of variations found appalling to purists: hip-hop yoga, disco yoga, power yoga, not to mention other different controversial yoga branches.

When some people think of yoga, they imagine having to stretch like a gymnast. That makes them worry that they’re too old, unfit, or “tight” to do yoga. The truth is it’s never too late to improve flexibility.

The series of yoga poses called asanas work by safely stretching your muscles. Yoga increases the range of motion in joints. It may also increase lubrication in the joints. The outcome is a sense of ease and fluidity throughout your body.

Yoga stretches not only your muscles but all of the soft tissues of your body. That includes ligaments, tendons, and the fascia sheath that surrounds your muscles. And no matter your level of yoga, you most likely will see benefits in a very short period of time.

Some styles of yoga are more vigorous than others. Practicing one of these styles will help you improve muscle tone. But even less vigorous styles of yoga, which focus on less movement and a more precise alignment in poses, can provide strength and endurance benefits. Many of the poses build upper-body strength. This becomes crucial as people age. The standing poses build strength in your hamstrings, quadriceps, and abdominal muscles. There are also poses that strengthen the lower back. When practiced correctly, nearly all poses build core strength in the deep abdominal muscles.

With increased flexibility and strength comes better posture. Most standing and sitting poses develop core strength. That’s because you’re counting on your deep abdominals to support and maintain each pose. With a stronger core, you’re more likely to sit and stand “tall.” Another benefit of yoga is the increased body awareness. This heightened awareness tells you more quickly when you’re slouching or slumping so you can adjust your posture.

In essence, the bottom line is that the human energy system is a profoundly subtle and nuance system. When we experience anxiety or intense stress, our system is signaling to us that it is time to review and adjust the way we are managing our energy. The yoga system is comprised of poses well-known for their ability to restore, replenish and strengthen the nervous and digestive systems, leaving you feeling more focused, a greater sense of calm, and an evenness of the mind and emotions. As yoga combines several techniques used for stress reduction, it can be said to provide the combined benefits of breathing exercises, flexibility, meditation practice and guided imagery in one technique. However, for those with great physical limitations, simple breathing exercises, meditation or guided imagery might be a preferable option and provide similar benefits. Yoga also requires more effort and commitment than taking herbs for stress reduction.

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What are symptoms, treatment for influenza?

by ALANNA WIARDA, M.D.

Advantage Health Physician Network

Northeast Office

 

Influenza, commonly called the flu, is a contagious respiratory viral illness which is most commonly seen in the winter months. The flu virus is spread person-to-person via respiratory droplets produced by coughing, sneezing or talking. There are many different strains of the influenza virus, each designated with an H and N number (example strain H2N3 was common several years ago).

The most recently recognized strain of influenza, the swine flu (H1N1), was first seen in Mexico in March 2009. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 29 countries have officially reported a total of 4,379 cases of this flu strain. As of May 10, 2009, in the United States, there have been 2,532 confirmed cases in 44 states, including 114 in Michigan. As of May 7, there has been one confirmed and 38 probable cases in Kent County. Symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of the swine flu are similar to other flu strains.

Symptoms of influenza infection include: fever, chills, headache, body aches, cough, sore throat and fatigue. Fever may last two to five days with flu, compared to 24-48 hours with other common upper respiratory infections. The illness typically lasts three to five days, but weakness and fatigue can persist for several weeks. A person is considered to be contagious from one day before symptoms begin until about one week later.

The most common complication of the flu is pneumonia, which can be very serious in the elderly, young children and those with chronic medical problems. You should seek medical care quickly if serious symptoms develop such as shortness of breath, chest pains, uncontrolled vomiting, dehydration, confusion or convulsions.

Influenza is diagnosed based on the typical symptoms occurring during an outbreak in the community or during the usual flu season. A nasal swab can be obtained to confirm this diagnosis, but is not always necessary.

Treatment of flu symptoms can help to make you feel better, but will not shorten the illness. Recommendations include rest, drinking plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration, and use of over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin) to relieve fever, headaches and muscle aches. Use of aspirin is not recommended, especially in children under 18, as this is associated with a serious complication called Reye syndrome. There are several antiviral drugs which can be used to treat or prevent influenza after exposure. These medications do not cure the flu, but do reduce the severity and length of time of symptoms and work best if started within 48 hours of symptoms. These medications include oseltamivir (Tamiflu), zanamivir (Relenza), rimantadine (Flumadine) and amantadine (Symmetrel). Antibiotics are not effective against the flu virus.

One of the most effective ways of preventing the flu is the influenza vaccine, which is given once a year during the fall and early winter. Each year, this vaccine is formulated to provide protection against the most common strains of the flu. Simple infection control procedures-including frequent hand-washing with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizers, and covering mouth and nose while sneezing or coughing-can help prevent the spread of influenza. People with influenza symptoms should limit contact with others until feeling well and may be asked to wear a mask while out in public or in the doctor’s office.

If you have any flu symptoms, or have any questions about the flu, it is best to contact your primary care physician. More information and updates about influenza and the swine flu can be found online at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/.

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