On Sunday we celebrated my mom's 85th birthday. Mom is physically strong, but suffers from the growing confusion of Alzheimers. We had a family lunch and then an open house. Some of the residents of Meadow Greens stopped by, as well as many people from mom's church - Bethel Christian Reformed. It was enjoyable for me as well, as I was able to visit with many of the folks from my childhood church. The weekend was filled with lots of good family visiting on both sides of our family.
On Saturday, both Calvin and I received recognition at an award ceremony. Calvin was nominated by his teachers to receive the outstanding junior award, and I was nominated by my principals to receive the outstanding teacher award. Neither of us were selected for 'the grand prize,' but the Bulthuis' made a good showing at the district wide event. It was an honor which both of us appreciate.
My apologies to readers for my lack of blog material the past few weeks. I think that I was burned out of blogging for a while after the trip. Life seemed so routine and uneventful. Also a little depressing with the lousy weather. The past few weeks of school have been dominated with WASL testing. Our fifth graders had eight days of testing. Each section of the test usually takes an hour or less for the students to complete, but the state only allows us to administer one section a day. Our fifth graders take tests in math, reading and science. our fourth graders take them in math, reading and writing. The writing and science test are definitely the most difficult. Though many of the questions seem subjective, the scorers are very particular in what they expect students to produce. Next week will begin the task of motivating the students to further learning as they tend to let up after the pressure of WASL testing.
This morning we awoke to the warmth of the California sun. After a leisurely breakfast with Ellen, we got on the road and followed the steady stream of returning snowbirds up the Sacramento Valley. Our final college stop was Simpson University in Redding. The campus has wonderful views of the surrounding mountains, including Mt. Lassen and Mt. Shasta. All the structures are new since it is a new campus. There is a noticeable absence of large trees. The admissions office was closed, but a staff member graciously gave us a tour. The school has a relaxed family feel to it. The two main areas of emphasis seem to be Christian ministries and education majors. The long trip home from Redding was interrupted only by our traditional stuffing at the Home Town Buffet in Medford. Oregon greeted us with the familiar Northwest drizzle.
We have long wanted to go to Yosemite, but haven't taken the time to do it--until today. The crowds in the summer have kept us away, but the spring is a great time to go. There were relatively few people and the weather was great, though a little cool. We were able to see the main sights and take a small hike to a great lookout. Tonight we are back in Sacramento with Ellen.
Our final southern California college on the tour was Biola University. We had the most extensive visit at this school with a couple of conferences, a tour and a free lunch in the dining hall. (Now that'll go a long way with a Dutchman!) The school is similar in size to Azusa Pacific and the student body seemed very similar. Biola is more blatant about it's christian emphasis and requires all students to minor in Bible. Of interest to Calvin was a cultural linguistics program and a unique honors program that has a separate track of tutor style classes which fulfills all the core Bible and Humanities requirements. By the this time we were all about 'toured out', so we decided to do some sightseeing. We headed up to the Getty Center with its beautiful architecture, museums and gardens, all overlooking the valley. Wow! what a view. Fortunately, it was a clear day and we could see the whole valley. The museum and grounds are free of charge except for the parking. We all enjoyed the experience, though our legs were tired from being on our feet all day. Tonight we are in Bakersfield ready for our next adventure tomorrow.
We woke up to the sounds of a busy street in the San Fernando Valley-buses, horns, peeling tires and the occasional siren. Our first stop for the day was Simi Valley and Eternity Bible College which we heard of through Francis Chan, a speaker at Challenge youth conferences. It is definitely a low budget operation. Occupying a corner of a strip mall with a hundred students who all commute, it was certainly a contrast to Pepperdine. Our next stop was Master's College in Santa Clarita. We had a conversation with an admissions officer and Esther was our tour guide. She found her freshman dorm room. Then we went to Azusa Pacific University and caught a tour. It is a fairly large school with many opportunities. The last school for the day was Harvey Mudd College, a prestigious liberal arts college that specializes in the sciences. All students major in science and the academics are very rigorous. We were able to join an extensive tour of the campus, much of which is underground. One peculiar feature of this campus was the abundance of skateboards. Two thirds of the students we saw were on some form of wheels- longboards, scooters, bikes and even unicycles. It was easily the most unique school that we have visited. We've camped tonight at a motel in La Mirada, poised to visit Biola in the morning.
We spent last night in a Motel 6 in San Luis Obispo (No, not Walmart parking lot) After a hearty breakfast at Mickey D's, we drove to Santa Barbara and found Westmont College. We found the admissions office and were given some helpful info and they even arranged a tour for us. The campus is very nice, located in ritzy Montecito, with beautifully landscaped pathways. The college seems to focus on a strong relational christian liberal arts education. It has a relatively small enrollment which is kept that way because of the town's restrictions. After a late picnic lunch at the Santa Barbara mission, we quickly cruised off to Malibu to catch the admissions office open at Pepperdine. Fortunately, Andy Olson, who attends the University was available to spend the evening with us. We weren't too impressed with the admissions office-"here are some pamphlets and you can watch interactive video tour" But it was great to have Andy there who gave us an inside look at the campus. He did a great job of explaining his own appreciation of his education at Pepperdine. The campus is amazing. It reeks of wealth - BMW's Mercedes, Lexus, architecturally unified buildings on a breathtaking piece of property overlooking the Pacific. The students which we met through Andy seemed to be very friendly and appreciative of their opportunity to study at Pepperdine. After a late supper in town with Andy, we were off to the big city of LA to find lodging for the night. Esther was a little worried as we raced through Santa Monica and Beverly Hills, but we headed for the San Fernando Valley for some 'reasonable' housing. We stumbled onto Sepulveda Blvd. and found a suitable 'has been' motel and turned in at 9pm.