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School life begins at the age of four or five when one would enter a primary school. The first seven years of education are done in grades P1 to P7 (preparatory one to preparatory seven). At the age of ten or eleven, one would take his eleven plus (11+) test. This is an aptitude test to determine whether one will attend a high school or a grammar school for his secondary education. Those with the highest level of achievement will go to a grammar school while the rest will go to a high school. Although the same scholastic materials are used in both types of school, the academic standard is much higher in a grammar school. A high school prepares a person to go into various trades while a grammar school prepares a person to go on to college.

The beginning of secondary education (forms 1-3) lays down the foundation for the work that follows. After the third year of secondary school, one would start his G.C.S.E.’s (General Certificate of Secondary Education) – a two-year course consisting of seven to ten subjects of your choice. The only requirements are mathematics, English, and one foreign language. A variety of courses are offered including most languages, computer courses, English (along with literature, drama, or media), lower or higher level math, science (which is divided into biology, chemistry, and physics), physical education, music, art, technology, religious education, home economics, economics, history, and geography.

After completing one’s G.C.S.E.’s, the choice of how to further one’s education is up to the individual. The next stage is A-levels (advanced levels) – a two-year course specializing in two to four subjects. An even wider range of subjects is then available.

The school day is about the same length of that in America. The school year spans ten months, from the beginning of September unto the end of June. The school year is divided into two terms, two before Christmas and two after. There is a two or three-day midterm break and a week at the end of each term. Two weeks are taken off at Christmas and Easter. Day holidays and exceptional closures are also taken.

All schools require a uniform of certain colors. A typical girl’s uniform consists of a collared, button-up shirt, a tie, a jumper, a knee-length skirt, bunched up knee-high socks, and a certain style of shoes. A boy would wear the same style of shirt and tie, a blazer, plants, shoes and socks.

Public transport is used by a majority of students. The schools issue free bus passes to the students outside a two-mile radius. Every morning, those of us who get the bus have to walk a mile. The same trip has to be made each evening.

Most schools provide a number of sports activities including football (soccer), hockey, cricket, tennis, table-tennis, athletics, badminton, and netball – a girlish way of playing basketball. Everyone is required to participate in P.E. (physical education) and games (outdoor sports). Extracurricular activities include choir, orchestra, public-speaking, quiz teams, chess teams, debating, and Christian Union.

On the whole, school life in Northern Ireland is not much different from that of America. More studying is required of the students here, the reason being that N. Ireland has a higher standard of education. Also, more emphasis is placed on math, languages, and science. After a year, we have gotten used to the changes and we all have settled down well in our new environment.

The Christian is placed in many different circumstances while on this earth. Some are characterized by hardships and trials, and others are full of joy and peace. How should the Christian respond? Throughout the Bible there are numerous times where God’s people sang in response to their various circumstances. Singing in response to God’s ordering […]

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The book of Proverbs was written by King Solomon to his young adult son. Solomon’s purpose in writing Proverbs was “that the generation to come might know them [God’s wonderful works]…that they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments” (Ps. 78:6–7). Throughout the book, Solomon […]

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The group of churches that John writes to in this trio of epistles had recently experienced a split because of doctrinal controversy. We do not know the exact content of the error that these false teachers were spreading, but it is apparent from John’s writing that their teaching somehow denied the truth of the incarnation—that […]

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Jael: An Example of Christian Warfare

This article was originally presented as a speech at a Protestant Reformed mini convention held at Quaker Haven Camp in August 2021. Jael lived during the era of the judges. Deborah the prophetess was the judge who served Israel at the time of Jael. During this time, the Canaanites under the rule of king Jabin […]

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Indiana Mini Convention Review 2021

One of this year’s “mini conventions” was hosted by Grace and Grandville Protestant Reformed Churches at Quaker Haven Camp. Located just over two hours away in northern Indiana, the camp was a perfect fit for the 120 kids and 15 chaperones who attended. A total of twelve different churches were represented: Byron Center, Faith, First […]

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Editorial, November 2021: Catechism Season

At the point that this edition of Beacon Lights arrives in the homes of our subscribers, most young people in the Protestant Reformed Churches will have been sitting under the catechism instruction of their pastor or elders for more than a month. If our readers are honest, that observation probably comes with a (quiet) sigh […]

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Tennessee Young People’s Retreat 2021

The 2021 Tennessee young people’s retreat was held August 9 to 13 by Providence, Hudsonville, Unity, and First (Holland) Protestant Reformed Churches. The retreat took place at Eagle Rock Retreat Center in the city of Tallassee. It was about an eleven-hour drive, give or take a bit due to stops for food and restrooms. Though […]

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