My front row seat

I’m a big fan of school (especially ZLO!).  It’s no secret.  I love the heft of a textbook and all the backpacks, papers and pencils.  Better than that are the kids who are interesting, friendly and funny.   And even better — is watching them learn.  Usually, this happens in subtle increments but on precious days, I get to be witness to some huge leaps and then it’s awesome!!  Some, well most, people don’t get it but if you could see what I see, you might get just as jazzed about it as I do.

Most recently, I had the pleasure of listening to my freshman class give informational speeches.  Simply put, they were phenomenal.  My role is to listen, critique, give encouragement and feedback, but I found myself just being a comfortable audience member, taking in their knowledge and able to relax as they had the time well under control.  What a pleasure to not only hear their speeches but also to be assured that we have some fabulous adults on the way to our community.  They’re articulate, caring people who have a keen eye on the world.  Sharp and smart, these kids give me enormous confidence and I trust them completely – not only in my classroom but in their future roles.

In other classes we’re reading novels and I see their wheels actively turning.  My 8th graders thought they had a pretty good idea of what went on during WWII in Europe, but as we read, layers upon layers of stories are just waiting to be discovered.  They often begin with, “You mean they…?” when hearing about mistreatment of Jews and other victims of the Holocaust and learning about the lengths Hitler and his ilk went to dominate the world.  I can see their mental appetites whet and they eagerly go home to research other heroes who took a stand against evil.  In Sophomore English we just finished The Grapes of Wrath.  At the beginning of our reading I told them, “You might love this book; you might hate it, but you certainly won’t forget it.”  We found ourselves experiencing both emotions while reading it but oh, have we learned!  Beyond the story is always something more (and more and more) and with a little poking, I heard their insights just yesterday.  One student put his finger right on the pulse of the novel when he made connections that many adults wouldn’t have.  With delight, I praised him.  Yes!  For years I’ve been reading with these kids and slowly showing them how to read fiction with their Christian eyeballs and to hear their insights as we sifted through a truly sad story, was heart-warming.  (See what you’re missing?!?)

Then there are those moments when I get to learn from them. I had the pleasure to see kindness in action when a student was feeling overwhelmed with a new concept.  Before I could reach her, the girl sitting next to her gently said, “It’s okay, you’ll get it.  Here, let me show you.”  Some days, an astute student will ask me a question that makes me re-think how I’m presenting something and I’m so thankful.   I must teach for how they learn, not necessarily in the way that I think will be more effective, but in a way that will actually help them grasp the concept.  Thankfully, they’re patient with me.

Beyond that are invitations to games, goodbye waves before they leave for the day, a hearty laugh at one of my puns…life is good. So I gladly sit in the front row, facing them, but also taking in all the goodness that sits in front of me.  Kids who are capable learners in so many ways…but more than that, they’re really cool people!

by Sue Likkel

Our Challenge to Serve the Poor

Imagine a place where people are ignored and almost literally trampled into the ground.  Or, a place where people freeze on the streets while others pass by doing nothing.  Who could live with such harsh treatment and conditions?  The poor who are living in poverty in America do.  Every day, hundreds and possibly thousands of men and women who are unable to get a job get passed by on the street as a “creep” or a “lazy bum.”  These people are not loved as neighbors and friends who are in need.

Our Sophomore English class recently read The Grapes of Wrath and in it, we saw the struggle in a man’s heart between his selfish desires and the commands of the Lord.  Multiple scenes showed the juxtaposition of this struggle between the “Okies” and businessmen and landowners.  What does Scripture say about how we treat the poor?

It’s not easy to be generous.  As humans, our first inclination is not one of grace when we encounter others’ hardships.  It says in Phillipians 2:21, “For they all seek their own interests.”  Day and night, our first thoughts are always of how to better ourselves and how to make our lives easier. The businessmen/landowners in The Grapes of Wrath were exactly this way.  They would only allow the migrants to remain on their land so long as they were helping the owners collect their “margin of profit.”  They would rather elevate themselves and “sit in the place of honor” (Luke 14) than humble themselves to the level of the poor.

However, Jesus taught that we must give to the poor and raise them onto their feet.  Jesus said we are to imitate God and mirror His character to the world around us, and the Bible says that He is “a father to the fatherless, a defender of the widows.”  (Psalm 68:5)  So, if God is this loving, we just also take upon ourselves this duty.  We are to be kind to all those around us, but Jesus talks mostly of caring for the poor because it is easier to care for someone who can repay us at one point, rather than someone where our only reward will be to see them happy and healthy again.  In this age, we might not see the benefits or rewards of caring for the fatherless and the widows, but our reward is greatly built up in Heaven.

by student Titus Ungersma


ZLO Informational Lunch

Thursday March 26th @ 11:30

Invite a friend to come for lunch and learn more about ZLO. 

Please RSVP to or call 393-1092

Student Noah Johnson on “Why People Need Jesus”

Essay written for Beyond the Basics English Class.

Why People Need Jesus

Our world is filled with people who are misunderstood, and treated badly just because of stupid stereotypes and prejudices. Looking through my “Christian eyeballs” I don’t see these people with stereotypes and prejudices, I see them as people who need and love help and I want to reach out to them and guide them to God.

We see people like the ones in The Outsiders around our world all the time. People who party, drink, smoke, lie, pilfer and get arrested on a regular basis. We see people who don’t get along with other people other than their friends and family. And the people who live a reclusive life and don’t like other people and just get along with a select group-“outsiders”. We look at these people and think: “Uhhh…Let’s not talk to those people.” But reading this book has really made me think about the expression: “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” because I see that these people aren’t “bad people” they’re just people who need something to fill the void in their hearts with something good, Jesus’ love.

“I’d been to church before. I used to go all the time, even after Mom and Dad were gone…..When Johnny and I went , we sat in the back, trying to get something out of the servmon and avoiding the people…” – Ponyboy wants to know the truth and learn about the Bible and Jesus, but…“well, Soda can’t sit still long enough to enjoy a movie, much less a sermon. It wasn’t long before he and Steve were throwing paper wads at each other and clowning around…” (66) Ponyboy tries to apprehend the concept of a God and someone who loves him no matter what stuff he does. People like Dally need Jesus because his parents neglect him, and don’t care about him and he only gets love from his friends (mostly Johnny who gets the same treatment from his parents). He loved one person, Johnny, and he had no other real love for anyone else, and once that one person he loved so dearly died, the memory haunted  him, and he just couldn’t live with it so, he killed himself. He just needed love, he needed a pure, real, genuine affection from Jesus Christ to save him, and he just needed to ask him for forgiveness.

In our world, we see people like these, but hopefully, I’ve encouraged you not to look at these people the same was but look at them through your “Christian eyeballs” and help them see the light that is God’s love.



Congratulations!!  Isaiah Pellerin (current freshman) and Elizabeth Hale (a freshman last year) are two winners of  the Whatcom Dispute Resolution Center’s Peaceful Poetry Youth Contest!  Last spring during Mrs.Likkel’s poetry unit, kids were invited to write a poem about how to respond to conflict in a healthy way, maybe even offering peaceful solution ideas.  Many of our students & other kids in the county submitted poems and the Resolution Center chose six winners from those entrants.   We are so pleased that out of those six, two of the winners are from ZLO!!  Isaiah, Elizabeth and their families are invited to a dinner and auction in November in which they will read their poems for the audience.  Congratulations again to these two writers!

Advice From a Student

Student Abbey Clarke offers advice on getting through the school year.

read here: Blog post Clarke

Study History to Understand Our Future

“Why do we need social studies, when we won’t use it on a daily basis? Good question.
Consider, do we want our children to be cogs in the grind of daily life or actively impact their

Vanessa Vis asks and answers why Social Studies is necessary, especially now. READ HERE

Changing Course

They teach to a high standard not determined by the public school but by the parents and ultimately Our Heavenly Father.”

A new instructor’s view on being a part of ZLO at her blog here.

Why do I teach at ZLO?

I’d like to expand on the comment posted a few weeks ago and tell you why I very much enjoy teaching at ZLO.  Please connect to my blog by clicking here.

Books vs. Devices

With the proliferation of cellphones and other handheld devices, we might begin to worry that our teens don’t or won’t read anymore.  Our English teacher, Sue Likkel, has written her thoughts on that in this week’s ZLO blog post.  Click here to read it!