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patterns of ink

How fruitless to be ever thinking yet never embrace a thought... to have the power to believe and believe it's all for naught. I, too, have reckoned time and truth (content to wonder if not think) in metaphors and meaning and endless patterns of ink. Perhaps a few may find their way to the world where others live, sharing not just thoughts I've gathered but those I wish to give. Tom Kapanka

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Open Doors and Open Arms of China...

Our 17 preschoolers walked like ducks in a row down the hall, and I stepped aside to watch them.
“Are you Mr. Kapanka?” asked the little girl at the end of the line.
“Yes, I am.” I replied.
“Did you really eat rattlesnake soup?”
“yewwwww!” moaned the others.

I had to laugh. Who would have guessed after spending two weeks in China, my first question from students would be about rattlesnake soup?

It is actually very good. So is eel, squid, roasted snake, snails and lots of other menu items I politely tried each day. (Though I must admit, after five days, I was glad to see a KFC at Tienanmen Square.) 

(Double-click on photos to enlarge.)

I have been eager to tell you about a recent opportunity I had to represent my school in China as a guest of my friends at www.theedulink.com.  In 14 days from October 23 to November 5, we logged 18,000 air miles, which is roughly the same as flying around the world at Chicago’s latitude. With the exception of some rushed sight-seeing in Beijing, the trip was all business involving international student fairs, meetings with investors, and visits to various schools in Beijing, Shanghai, Zhengzhou, and Nanning, China, (as well as 3-days in Bangkok, Thailand).

I was asked to bring as many Calvary promotional items as possible, but knowing little about this fast-developing nation, I was not sure how receptive students and parents would be to materials from a Christian school. Imagine my surprise on day six when we pulled up to one of the largest high schools in Zhengzhou, China, and saw a large electronic sign welcoming Calvary Christian School. (See video.)

Imagine spending three hours touring a school campus that looks more like a college than a high school with over 5,000 students in grades 10-12. Imagine meeting in a huge board room with a principal eager to make CCS a “sister school” in America. Not all schools became official partners, but I received the same hospitality everywhere our team went.

As I visited with English-speaking students across China, it was clear that many of them long to experience an American education.  

Calvary has been home to international students every year since 2002. This recent trip represents a strategic expansion of our international presence.  What an honor it is to share our perspective with these students—if for no other reason than to help them understand that America’s greatest values are not  determined by Hollywood and hip-hop music.

Like our Chinese friends, CCS values the heritage and ideals of our ancestors and founding fathers as well as the wisdom found in ancient words. The differences are important, to be sure, but communication begins where shared life overlaps.

It is our hope to expand our educational outreach to students in China. One of our pending plans involves a new private school in Shanghai. Words cannot express the experience of seeing this vast country on the cusp of unimaginable development and new educational horizons. It was an honor to be introduced to so many fellow educators in this far-away land. 

Please take a moment to view this photo-montage of highlights from the trip.

For some awe-inspiring professional time-lapse video footage of China CLICK HERE.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

First of Four Guatemalan Schools We Visited This Past Week...

Limited internet until we return to the states. For now, I'll simply post some pictures from the first of four Christian schools we visited in Guatemala this past week. This first school serves the poorest of the poor in Zone 18, which is considered a dangerous place to live and walk to and from school. These students and their teachers do it everyday.

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Grieving with a Former Student of Mine
from the Class of '93

If we had but one page, one chapter, one book
to hold the whole of all we know of life,
‘twould be enough to give the soul one look,
one glimpse of unimaginable joy and strife…
love and laughter, pain and sorrow…
tears below that fall like rain from above
on happiness and heartache until tomorrow
and yesterday and passing time become Eternal Love.
© 7-6-14 Tom Kapanka

These two links, here and here, provide some context for these lines.

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Some Movies Stay with You...

About thirty years ago, I watched and re-watched the The Elephant Man. (At the time of this writing, the movie is on Youtube at this link.) If you have never seen it, please do... not because it is pleasant entertainment but because it is one of the most compelling depictions of the full spectrum of the human condition ever put on film.

Throughout the 1980's, I showed The Elephant Man to my drama classes as an example of pathos and character. It was the first time I had ever seen Anthony Hopkins who plays Dr. Frederick Treves whose medical curiosity turns first to compassion and then to to genuine kindnessSo agonizing is the title character John Merrick's struggle in this world that the audience takes comfort with him in the final moments when he lies down to sleep, knowing he cannot breath in that position, but wanting so much to be at rest like the boy in the picture on the wall.

The score of the final scene in the film is the haunting solace of Barber's Adagio for Strings.

As a musical direction, the Latin word adagio simply means "slowly and gracefully."  In ballet, however, adagio typically refers to a section in which the ballerina and her male partner perform extended and demanding steps, lifts, and turns as if in slow motion.. For those watching the ballet, adagio looks effortless, but it requires greater balance, strength, and skill than the same actions performed in normal time.

On the evening of the film's final scene, John Merrick had just been to the ballet for the first and only time of his life. He completes a model of a cathedral he has made from scraps of cardboard and says, "It's finished."

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Stone Soup

Do you remember the old folk story called “Stone Soup"? I was about four years old when I first heard this culinary classic read by Captain Kangaroo. I can still hear his voice giving life to each line.

The Youtube window below is the book Bob Keeshan read from but features a different storyteller. It's well done, but I would love to hear it again as I did as a child.The story has stayed with me all my life.

Some think it is about three clever soldiers and a naive village. Such a summation misses the greater lesson or "moral."  This story is about our natural tendency to put our own needs above others, to "play poor" in order to avoid being generous, to settle for surviving in isolation rather than thriving in community.  “Stone Soup” teaches us that when everyone puts “skin in the game” toward a goal that serves the interests of the whole group, it’s not just a better plan--it's the best plan and a much better way to reflect God the father, as illustrated in Matthew 7:9-11 (ESV)

"Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone?  … how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!"

I hope you enjoy this tale about a village that had “nothing to give,” but through the contagious power of joining others willing to put "skin in the game," they set a table fit for a king.


Friday, January 24, 2014

CCS Homecoming Blizzard of 2014

One of my favorite author-narrators is Earl Hamner Jr., best known for his television show, "The Waltons,"
which aired through the Seventies. By "author-narrator" I mean a writer whose own voice is inseparable from the tone and rhythm his words pull from the page. If you remember the show or have watched its re-runs, you've heard Earl's voice toward the end of the show as the exterior of the two-story clap-board house is show (just before all the "good-nights" and the soft chord played on a harmonica). You can also hear his voice at this link as Hamner's reads the opening of The Homecoming, which was the basis for The Waltons. The story is about a blizzard that almost kept the father of the family from getting home in time for Christmas.

CCS has its own story of a Homecoming blizzard.

Tonight we were scheduled to play our Homecoming Basketball Games, announce the king and queen, and proclaim the winners of this week's class competitions. Last night at the Pep Rally, we introduced the teams and the court, and Dr. Tom Watkins, our announcer, optimistically reminded everyone to come to Friday night's games, but had all heard the forecast for today was blizzard conditions with -30 below zero wind chills. By 5:30 AM nearly every school in a 100 mile stretch along the lake shore had already canceled, and we had no choice but to follow. Even as I type, I can hear the winds howling outside my living room window reportedly ranging from 30 to 40 MPH. We will announce the rescheduled Homecoming Games ASAP, and we'll keep our 80 participants for Saturday's Homecoming Banquet posted if that also needs to be rescheduled. At the moment, we are still hoping for the best.

It is not the first time that a blizzard has effected Homecoming events, but it is the first time that it has happened since we had a school website. So as you're sitting there at home safe and warm, enjoy these pictures of the place you know you would rather be today--good ol' Calvary Christian Schools!

These pictures were taken the morning after Wednesday, January 22, 2014, which set a record-breaking "lake effect" snowfall in a single day at CCS. Fifteen inches fell between daybreak and when the last car left the parking lot. (Actually, there were four cars left stranded in the parking lot as you can see in the second-to-the-last photo below.) The total snow depths and drifting will be much worse after today's high winds. Many thanks to our snow-removal team for keeping up with this fierce winter.

Monday, December 09, 2013

The True Meaning of Christmas

I try not to expose my family too much here at POI, but I could not resist sharing this clip of my three-year-old granddaughter telling the story of Christmas in her own words.


Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving Snow 2013

I woke this morn to unexpected white
that somehow sifted through the night
without a sound. No wind had blown
as Winter’s work was softly sown
to flock each roof, downy and thick
and quiet as the quilt and feather tick
in some forgotten cottage in a wood.
And now throughout the neighborhood,
the scraping sounds of shovels call…
I would have rather watched it fall.

©11-28-13 Tom Kapanka

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