Monthly Archives: November 2015

SCS’ 7th Annual Accelerate Banquet

On a stormy October 9th, 200 guests gathered at the Crest Hollow Country Club for SCS’ 7th Annual Accelerate Banquet. However, the bad weather outside did not disrupt the spirit of expectation inside, as guests mixed and mingled while waiting to hear this year’s speaker and guest of honor, Jay Sekulow, President of the American Center for Law and Justice.

The program opened with remarks from Pastor Mike Jankowski of Lamb’s Chapel in Center Moriches, the church whose lawsuit propelled Jay Sekulow into the national fight to maintain religious liberty. In the early 1990’s, Lamb’s Chapel was denied access to their local public school for a faith-based video series they were offering to the public. Instead of settling for the denial, they worked with attorney Jay Sekulow to bring a lawsuit against the district which eventually went all the way to the Supreme Court. In a huge victory for religious freedom and freedom of speech, Jay won the case for Lamb’s Chapel, and today, the church continues to thrive and impact their community. Pastor Jankowski and an entire table of leaders from Lamb’s Chapel provided a great backdrop for understanding the critical importance of his work.

As Jay Sekulow was speaking, the room was riveted to every word. Jay is a dynamic, thoughtful, and extremely knowledgeable leader, and the stories he told all wove a common thread around the theme of Christians having influence in the cultural battles of our day. His work, which spans decades, has moved him onto the front lines of the battles for Biblical marriage and sexuality, religious freedom, and other important issues. He is also a strong advocate of Christian schooling and has made a great case for supporting SCS. After speaking, Jay answered questions in a Q & A session, moderated by local attorney Kim DeLorenz. The crowd was highly engaged as he answered tough questions and offered his analysis of the crowded field of Republican presidential candidates.

The evening culminated with a request for individuals to financially support the work of Smithtown Christian School. Just under $110,000 was raised, with $75,000 going to support the budget and $35,000 going directly to increase faculty and staff salaries through the school’s brand new Mission 200 Circle. The Circle is designed to recruit individuals and organizations to commit $200 per month for the specific purpose of raising teacher and staff salaries. With the average salary of an SCS teacher being only $37,000 per year, it is hard to attract and retain great teachers. This year’s banquet provided a great jump-start for addressing this problem.

Plans are underway for Accelerate 2016, and we’re excited to see how God will continue to raise funds to support the mission of Smithtown Christian School.

Parenting Social Media

This short overview of social media highlights some of the current dangers and pitfalls of teen social media use. This cursory glance at various social media outlets familiarizes parents with specific apps and the “kind” of apps that are out there available to their teen. Many of our students use social media in accordance to God-honoring principles, but we are not naive, knowing that the temptation to use social media in personally destructive ways is prevalent. As I saw my own unfamiliarity grow with some of the latest technology, I decided to create this presentation to help our parents know the basics about what to be watching for and what to be talking about with their children. Enjoy.

Apps Every Parent Should Know – Part 3

While many parents use social media sites like Facebook today, many of the same parents are unaware of all of the other popular social media apps teens are using. Quite frankly, it can be hard to keep up because new apps are constantly being created. That’s why it is so critical to monitor which ones teens download to their phones and other devices. Here are a few more apps I believe every parent should know about today…

  • OOvoo – OOvoo can be accessed on a computer or downloaded as an app onto a smartphone. It allows the user to videochat with up to 12 friends (or strangers), send video messages, record and upload videos to YouTube and use the instant messaging feature. It’s popular with teens because they use it to “hang out” with friends.  Many kids log on after school and keep it on during homework for group studying and face-to-face homework help. However, parents must pay attention to who their children are chatting with on OOvoo. It’s very easy to send inappropriate content in both video format and through messages. It’s also live, meaning face-to-face chatting. Therefore, people video chatting may be able to figure out private information by what they are seeing on a child’s bedroom walls, clothes they are wearing, trophies displayed, etc.
  • Peeple –  This app is similar to YELP. However, instead of rating the quality of a restaurant, hotel or movie, this app allows its user to rate other people, providing them with anywhere between one and five stars, and all without that person’s consent.  Even more disturbing, once someone’s name is in the app, there’s no opting out!
  • Vine – This is a social media app that lets users post and watch looping six-second video clips.  Teens often use this app to create and share silly videos of themselves and/or their friends and families.  However, it’s full of inappropriate videos!  Additionally, there are also privacy concerns with this app. The videos posted, the accounts followed, and the comments made by the user are all public by default.  Only if the user adjusts the settings, will his or her posts be protected and only viewed by followers he or she has approved.
  • VSCO – This app is similar to Instagram and Tumblr. It is the most premier way to shoot, edit and share photographs.  The positives of this app are that it has more defined and sensitive filters, which delivers higher resolution pictures. However, parents need to know that students often post inappropriate pictures of themselves and friends.

In addition to the apps listed above, there are also what are called “hiding apps” that can be disguised as other features on a phone or IPad, such as a calculator, but are actually hidden apps 
that enable teens to upload and hide pictures and videos.

  • Keepsafe (Android or IPhone, Free) – It 
allows users to upload pictures and videos into 
the app from the phone gallery and keeps them secured under a password. It has a “safe
send feature”.
  • Vault (Android or IPhone, Free) – It 
allows users to hide photos and videos.
  • Disguise Apps:
    • Smart Hide Calculator (Android, Free)
 – It appears as a calculator, but has the ability to hide photos, videos and other files.
    • Secret Calculator (IPhone, Free) – This is another calculator app that also has the ability to hide photos, videos and other files.
  • Disappearing Apps:
    • Poof – This app makes others disappear before parents’ prying eyes, allowing users to
 virtually hide apps they don’t want seen by others.

I know that for myself, it can certainly be overwhelming to think about all of the apps available to teens today that possess dangerous features. However, I think that if we remember to check their phones and other devices often and even more importantly, have real conversations with them about the dangers of these apps, we will undoubtedly keep them much safer. In addition, I believe that as Christian parents, we need to remember that just as we teach our children what is right versus wrong in the real world, we need to educate them in the same way concerning the virtual world.