No one expected it but the Woodlands' Expat Seminary Class did win the Silver Medal prize in the Seminary Olympics when the results were released in the middle of March.
What's the Seminary Olympics all about?
The Seminary Olympics is a competition held once a year around the world. This year it was held between February 26 and March 2. Most of the participants are from the United States. To compete in the Seminary Olympics students in seminary programs anywhere in the world have to undertake a series of activities over a period of one week. During the competition week, the class has to submit a report of its activities for judging by a panel of seminary teachers. Mike Matthews in New York is the organizer and genius behind the program.
Students voted to participate
The Woodlands' Expat Seminary Class voted to participate after their teacher, Sister Nonnie King, presented them with the opportunity she had come across in the Facebook LDS Seminary Group. It wasn't unanimous but there were more in favour than those who hesitated.
Assignment for each day of the Competition Week
Before the Olympic week began Sister King assigned each of the four seminary class presidents to be responsible for a day's activity during the competition. The class presidents rotate each month taking care of welcoming the class, assigning devotionals, prayers, and other ad hoc assignments.
What the students did during the Competition Week
Monday: 'Missionary Challenge' - Chase Meredith received 15 copies of the Book of Mormon from the Sister Missionaries. His assignment was to hand them out to the students (the Friday before the competition) and encouraged them to write their testimonies and share the copies with friends. They could have a conversation with a friend about their faith and or post something on social media. (Result: Gold medal)
Tuesday: 'Memorize Scripture Challenge' - Jared Rosenbalm was responsible for getting the Class to memorize Ether 12:27.
Wednesday: 'Creative Service Challenge' - Austin Napierski chose to raise awareness of the 17 students and teachers lost in the school shooting in Florida, the previous week. One of the victims was a 14-year seminary student – the class wanted to do something in her honour and let her classmates know that they were with them. (Result: Gold medal)
Sister King posted on social media about her class entering the Seminary Olympic and that the students were looking for ways to honour the 17 students who died in the shooting. She invited all to spend that Wednesday and throughout the remainder of the week doing two things:
*MAKING FRIENDS WITH 17 PEOPLE WHO THEY MIGHT NOT NORMALLY DO BEFORE THE TRAGEDY.
*SMILING AT 17 PEOPLE THEY MIGHT NOT HAVE SMILED AT BEFORE.
Austin Napierski and Afton Garner wrote similar messages in their school cafeteria message board to reach out to the students at the Singapore American School. The seminary students wore red ribbons on their fingers to remember the two objectives and the 17 victims.
Thursday: ('Book of Mormon Reenactment Challenge' - Faith Jorgensen and Caroline Meredith led the class and produced a gold-winning video rendition of Ammon and King Lamoni's story.
Friday: 'Bring a Friend to Seminary Challenge' - The students invited friends and neighbours to see what seminary was all about, and why would teenagers be getting up so early to study the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Sister King rallied the parents of the students together to help feed the guests before the class started. The parents offered amazing support to the students throughout the competition.
The students did not think they would win
Sister Nonnie King said most of the students thought they would not win. But to everyone's surprise, they did win the Silver Medal prize. The results were announced in a video. When the curtain revealed 'Woodlands Singapore Silver Medalist!' the students were speechless - they did not know what to say except to cheer and cheer. The Gold Medal went to Central High School in Cheyenne, Wyoming, USA.
Perhaps, none was happier than Sister Nonnie King, the seminary teacher. She said, 'These are the best group of students any teacher could dream of teaching! I love them all so much. Yes, we would definitely participate in the Olympics again. It was a wonderful experience that motivated us to do great things contributed to making this year's seminary a positive experience.'
'Winning is good; don't forget to serve'
Brother Stephen Lai, the coordinator for Seminary & Institute of Religion said, 'What a great achievement by the Woodlands' expat seminary youth.
'Winning such an honor is great but the greater importance lies in reaching out in service projects and missionary work to members and non-members alike during the competition week. This is the spirit of Seminary Olympics, as found in Mosiah 2:17: - 'And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.''