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“A Case for Cloistering”

My friend and fellow headmaster Ron Gilley from Trinitas Christian School in Pensacola, Florida, recently shared some wise words, and I’m passing them on here.

In “A Case for Cloistering,” from the Trinitas school blog, Mr. Gilley offers compelling reasons to value the experience of our children attending a small classical Christian school. What do you think?

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Throughout the ages Christian monks have cloistered to free themselves from the ungodly influence of the outside world. The seclusion and the freedom from the day-to-day rat race provided them increased opportunity for study and prayer that was not otherwise available. That tradition gave us some fine scholarly work in areas as diverse as Christian doctrine and agriculture. Indeed, Western Christian thought and heritage was preserved by such cloistering. In our age of mega schools and assembly line secular education, I want to suggest that Christian children can benefit from the cloister-like atmosphere at a small classical Christian school.

One of the problems with a statement like that is Christians are called to spread the Gospel in the world, and that is hard to do when cloistered. But I am not calling for all Christians to withdraw from the world. I am merely suggesting that we should provide our children with the shelter and safety necessary to grow strong in the faith before we send them to spread the Gospel and do battle in the world.

I often quote or paraphrase G.K. Chesterton who maintained that education is the “transfer of a way of life.” God’s people are commanded by God to transfer a Christian way of life to our children, and not just for three hours on Sunday morning (Deuteronomy 6:4-9). Every education, whether in the public school, the prep school, or the small but serious Christian school is transferring a way of life to the children who are imbibing it. What Chesterton seems to have seen so clearly is that children of school age are in their formative years. I would add that the God who makes children made them that way for their own good—see again Deuteronomy 6. Children are learning and practicing now for the kinds of adults they will eventually become. They are being formed by their every encounter. And that is why cloistering is so important for Christian children.

We all can recall instances from our childhoods that remain with us for life. The negative ones seem most powerful, whether sights we should not have seen, fights we were not prepared for, or conversations that opened our eyes to ideas we were not yet mature enough to process. Perhaps even more powerful and lasting are the instances we do not recall—not even so much instances as the filler between the instances that was simply residue of the environment we were in. Both the instances and the residue are part of who we are now as adults, and we spend the rest of our lives trying to undo the damage. When we were children, our foundations were being formed, and a lot happened while the concrete of those foundations was still wet. Now the concrete is dry and we are stuck with the damage.

It can be different for our children. I have heard all the arguments against sending children to small Christian schools, but I have also lived the success of it with my own children. While they are not perfect and their small classical Christian school was no Utopia, the concrete in their foundations is beginning to harden with far fewer eternal imperfections and flaws than my own. The keys to this formation were community and purpose. Every school is a community, complete with its own purpose and a culture that flows from that purpose. What I am proposing, then, is that a small classical Christian school has the right community and purpose to produce a nurturing culture for Christian children, one that trains them up in the way they should go, coming alongside the church and family that are also working to do just that for their children.

Consider that your own children are being formed right this minute into what they will always be. Every encounter they have along the path of education is building their foundations, even transferring to them a way of life. Now is the time to cloister them away with their own people in a place where you can know that the foundation being laid is for the glory of God and the eternal good of your children. Do not be fooled into enrolling them in a school that has a different purpose.

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“A Compelling Case for Classical Education”

In last week’s Regents NOW I shared with you the exciting news of the major study conducted by the University of Notre Dame that looked at the life outcomes of adults aged 24-42 who were educated in one of 6 school types: public, private secular preparatory schools, Catholic schools, evangelical protestant Christian schools, religious homeschools, and classical Christian schools. The study is called “Good Soil: A Comparative Study of ACCS Alumni Life Outcomes.” I truly hope you’ve already been spending time reading the results of the study.

You’ll recall that the study examined 7 profiles, including college and career, life outlook, Christian commitment, Christian lifestyle, traditional and conservative, independence of mind, and influence. The study indexed these profiles in order to measure graduates of classical Christian schools against those coming from other types of schools.

Consider these summary comments from ACCS. 

This study showed that ACCS alumni were more grateful, more trusting, and lived with purpose. And, they viewed suffering in the context of God’s plan for their lives. They had more and closer friends. Spiritually, 90% were above the median on church attendance, they read their Bible more, and they talked with their friends about religion.

Are these what you want for your children?

Also:

ACCS alumni have the most conservative views about Scripture (with the possible exception of young-earth creation), more conservative views about government (with the possible exception that they trust government more than other conservative groups), and more traditional views of the church. Through cross-referencing different questions, we see they have a greater capacity for independent thinking. Their strongest difference is in their willingness and ability to engage our culture as evidenced through their leadership positions held, greater connection with influential people, and their desire and obligation to engage on social issues. Their academic preparation exceeds even private preparatory schools, and far more ACCS alumni earn high grades and a degree in college.

Again, does this describe what you want for your children?

In summary:

The most significant finding here is just how big the differences are between ACCS alumni and the next highest groups in every profile. Typically, these differences are an order of magnitude above the differences between others in the study.

What are your goals for your children? What is your vision for them as adults? Is it for them to lead lives of virtue, display mature character, love learning, and serve the Triune God? Is it for them to be salt and light in a decaying culture? Is it for them to know how to think well and to do so in accordance with God’s Word so that they live well?

This study shows that the best way to achieve this vision is by completing the course and launching into the world with the riches of a classical Christian education shaping their worldview and their character.

In conclusion, “For parents who realize that school is about more than just college admissions, the life outcomes and spiritual outcomes combine with the best college preparation to make a compelling case for classical education.”

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“Good Soil” for our Children to Grow In

Regents Academy is a member school, and is accredited by, the Association of Classical and Christian Schools, a network of some 300 schools nationwide committed to recovering the classical Christian model of education.

A significant moment has come for the ACCS and its member schools, including Regents. The ACCS has released the results of a major study conducted by the University of Notre Dame that looked at the life outcomes of adults aged 24-42 who were educated in one of 6 school types:

  • public
  • private secular preparatory schools
  • Catholic schools
  • evangelical protestant Christian schools
  • religious homeschools
  • classical Christian schools.

The study is called “Good Soil: A Comparative Study of ACCS Alumni Life Outcomes.”

The results of the study are nothing short of astounding.

Here is the way ACCS describes the study:

During the 1990s, families in about 100 communities across the United States started classical Christian schools with the hope of offering an education that would assist parents in raising their children in the paideia of the Lord. The question almost thirty years later is: “To what extent have the goals of classical Christian education been realized?” To that end, the ACCS commissioned a study by the University of Notre Dame’s Sociology Department.

Understandably, some will view the results of this survey skeptically because of the significant differences between classical Christian schools and the others surveyed. These results can be understood more fully by visiting the ACCS schools themselves. Arguably, the greatest distinctive is integration—the intentional way that the subjects and Christian truth are interwoven. Every class and every school activity has one purpose: to see God’s world rightly and to glorify Him. These communities are tight-knit, serious but joyful, and eminently curious. And, there is room for improvement.

And so the study conducted by Notre Dame compares the life outcomes of adults aged 24-42 in 7 indexes. The indexes “reflect survey answers about a healthy spiritual life, better life satisfaction, an independence of mind, a commitment to conserving the Western tradition, and the potential to influence culture.”

What is the key takeaway? According to ACCS President David Goodwin, 

the story of hundreds of data points becomes more clear: ACCS schools make a difference in these seven areas. While ACCS alumni shared some common traits with alumni from other sectors, the most significant takeaway is the magnitude of the differences. The differences seen for some of the profiles are an order of magnitude higher for the ACCS segment than for the differences between the other segments.

I am excited and incredibly heartened by these results, and I want to share them with you. 

Here is the link to ACCS’s homepage for the study:

https://classicaldifference.com/good-soil/

I encourage you to read and study the report. My hope is that what it shows will bolster and spark your own commitment to providing your children with a classical Christian education all the way through graduation. Remember, we are not raising children; we are raising adults. Our vision for our children is for them to lead lives of virtue, display mature character, love learning, and serve the Triune God. This study confirms that finishing the course at Regents Academy launches them on a lifelong journey toward fulfilling these great aims.

Please spend time digging around in “Good Soil” – you won’t regret it!

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Congratulations, Spellers!

Congratulations to our 5th, 6th and 7th grade Spelling Bee teams! 

Saturday, February 1st, our student teams and individual speller Dennis Choi represented Regents Academy very well at the Lufkin Kiwanis District Spelling Bee held at Lufkin High School.

The 5th grade team led by Will Baker (captain) and including Davin Garza and Servet Satir placed second in the K-5th division among 14 competing teams. The 6th grade team of Emma Rasberry and Jericho Maness, under the leadership of Armaan Rajani, placed second in the 6th-8th grade division, losing only to our 7th grade team of Abel Ketchen, Jean Choi and Ella Furniss (captain), who won first place in their division. All three teams came home with two-foot trophies and medallions. Regents Academy school spelling champ Dennis Choi did a great job among stiff competition in the individual bee, placing in the top five.

We are very proud of all of these spellers and all of the class teams who represented Regents Academy at the District Spelling Bee. Congratulations!

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A Truly Beautiful Education

Just as the Bible teaches us that Christ is good, so the Bible also teaches us that He is beautiful. He is so beautiful, in fact, that the Bible tells us to worship Him “in the beauty of His holiness.” And we long for the day when we will worship Him in the new creation, which the Psalmist describes as a place where we behold “the beauty of the Lord.”

Because Christ is the Lord of Beauty, He is the objective standard of beauty. Beauty reflects His character, and thus is not something that is hopelessly subjective. Beauty is not “in the eye of the beholder” if we are the “beholder,” since this would make us the measure of beauty instead of Christ. Something is beautiful only if it reflects His beauty.

But what does this view of beauty have to do with the education we give our children? Simply, put, everything. It certainly impacts visual arts, choir, orchestra, and all the arts, but it also impacts much, much more.

Think of the story we tell our children when we give them a non-Christian education. Far from telling our children the beauty of creation and our redemption in Christ, non-Christian schools tell our children a rather ugly story—that matter, with time and chance, coalesced into protein soup out of which evolved upright bonebags who return to the ooze when they die. Or that anything goes between consenting adults. Or that life is a mere choice. Sheer ugliness.

As God’s people, we alone have been given the only truly beautiful story to hold before our children because beauty itself is wrapped up in the Lord of Beauty. He created us beautifully. He placed us in a garden filled with beauty. We fell into ugliness by sinning against Him. But as our Lord of Beauty, He redeemed us by effacing the ugliness of our sin and “beautifying us with salvation” so that, one day, we will “behold the beauty of the Lord” forever.

To give your Christian children a truly beautiful education means giving them an education centered in Christ, the Lord of Beauty. At Regents, we don’t just talk about beauty. We actually worship Christ as the Lord of Beauty. And we strive to see His beauty all around us in creation and redemption. We also strive to teach our students how to live beautifully before the Lord. 

Thank you, parents, for joining us in this beautiful journey of educating our children for Jesus Christ, our Beautiful Savior.

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Surrounded by His Words

The Bible tells us plainly to give our children a distinctively Christian education at all times.  In a glorious passage, God declares, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up . . . You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” (Deut. 6:4-9).  

God teaches Christian parents six truths in Deuteronomy 6.  

First, God Himself speaks directly to us—“I command you today.”  This passage is not someone’s opinion but rather comes to us directly from the very mouth of God.

Second, God speaks to us as parents—“And these words that I command you today.”  He speaks to all believing parents who love Him, to those Stephen called “the church in the wilderness” (Acts 7:38).    

Third, God directs us to place His words in our hearts—“And these words . . . shall be in your heart.”  He promises to write His Word on our hearts and gives us His Spirit to guide us by His Word of truth (Ezek. 36:26-27).

Fourth, God tells us to surround our children with His words—“You shall teach them . . . to your children” because our children matter to Him (Matt. 19:14).  Our children belong to Him, and He gives them to us and tells us to raise them for Him and His glory.

Fifth, God encourages us to teach His Word to our children in a certain kind of way—diligently— “You shall teach them diligently to your children.”  We are to teach our children His words intentionally and purposefully. 

Sixth, God helps us see that we are to surround our children with His words everywhere and at all times—“You shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. . . You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

So God commands us as Christian parents to surround our children diligently with His loving and joyful words from the time they get up until they go to sleep at night, whether they are walking or sitting.  Simply put, our children belong to God all the time, including the hours from 8:00 a.m. till 3:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, August through May.  

At Regents Academy, we serve Christian parents by helping parents to diligently surround their children with God’s words everywhere and at all times.  In every class, at every place on our campus, we strive to teach our students to think like Christians, to apply God’s Word to every area of their lives, to see through the lens of God’s story of the world, to worship and serve their Creator and Savior. Together we are obeying God’s words in Deuteronomy 6, and we trust Him to add His blessing and favor so that our obedience is fruitful in our children’s lives. To Him be the glory!

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Juniors and Seniors Tour SFA Research Lab

A group of science-minded juniors and seniors spent Wednesday morning visiting the research lab of Dr. Shiyou Li, Director of the National Center for Pharmaceutical Crops, a collaborative effort with the SFA Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture. The students learned about Dr. Li’s three decades of research at SFA, where he and his research team have studied the chemical compounds of more than 1,300 species of native and invasive plants and have isolated more than 2,000 compounds, 186 which had never been discovered prior to their research. 

Over the past 30 years, Dr. Li has not only discovered an alternative source for the primary chemical compound found in some chemotheraphy drugs, but he has also discovered a “cheaper” source of shikimic acid, a key chemical used in the production of Tamiflu (a common medicine prescribed by doctors for patients battling the flu). Additionally, Dr. Li might be best recognized for his work over the past two decades with endocides and their role in managing invasive insect and plant species, most notably giant salvinia, the pesty plant that’s taken over many local lakes, ponds and creeks.

Thank you, Dr. Li, for spending time with our students and for showing them a glimpse of the exciting work you’ve been doing.

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A Mission in Submission

One of the foundations of our school is commitment to the absolute supremacy and Lordship of Jesus Christ. Having been raised from the dead in power, He is now seated at His Father’s right hand, so He is “far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. And He put all things under His feet (Eph 1:21-23). Our job is to love, serve, imitate, and follow Him, and, further, to teach our children to do so also. This is our purpose as a school. Our school’s mission is in submission to the Lordship of Christ. 

So we can have smart kids who excel academically with curve-busting SAT scores, eye-popping scholarships, and mind-blowing vocational success, but if we’ve not cultivated in them a desire for His kingdom, then we’re in danger of gaining the whole world and losing their souls. 

Lord, deliver us.

Consider the words of the Apostle Paul: “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor 10:4-5).

Jesus is Lord of all. He is Lord over civilizations and cultures, kings and rulers, peoples and powers, both visible and invisible things. He is Lord over thoughts and worldviews, philosophies and loyalties, both those things that are devoted to Him and those things that are not. So we must line up “every thought,” every loyalty, everything in our lives with Him and His will. And God has given us mighty weapons to use when we enter into the combat it takes to do this. Our little ones – the children God gives us – are the key weapons God has prepared for us. Education is our work of arming, sharpening, and training our children for battle in the service of Christ and His kingdom. We are always in battle, and we are always called to be faithful to the One who is Lord of all.

As Dutch theologian and journalist Abraham Kuyper wrote, “No single piece of our mental world is to be hermetically sealed off from the rest, and there is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine!’”

Let me urge you to stay true to the classical Christian vision because Christ is Lord of all.

“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence (Col 1:15-18).

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Congratulating VFW Contest Winners

Regents Academy students won the top prize in the high school division and swept the junior high division of the 2019 Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) youth competitions which focused on this year’s theme, “What Makes America Great?” VFW Post 3893 Commander Don Kirkley presented awards to the winning students at Friday’s morning assembly.

Sydney Rotramel, daughter of Blaine and Melissa Rotramel, won first place and was awarded a plaque and a check for $100. Jack Mayfield, son of Brian and Jodie Mayfield, placed second and was also awarded a plaque and a check for $75. Third place – which also was accompanied by a plaque and a check for $50 – was secured by Rachel Cunyus, daughter of Michael and Lori Cunyus. All three students are members of Miss Jenna Herrington’s 7th grade writing class.

Commander Kirkley also awarded junior Caroline Alders, daughter of David and Nicole Alders, a first place plaque for her winning audio essay. Caroline also won a $500 scholarship which will be presented to her upon her graduation next May. 

Pictured with the students (from left) are Headmaster David Bryant, Miss Jenna Herrington, Rachel Cunyus, Jack Mayfield, Sydney Rotramel, Commander Don Kirkley, and Caroline Alders.

Congratulations, students!

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Let’s Celebrate Books

Books are a big part of what makes Regents Academy the school it is. In a digital world that seems to be making books obsolete, we persist with a love for good books – paper, glue, ink, and all.

C.S. Lewis famously wrote, “Literature exists to teach what is useful, to honour what deserves honour, to appreciate what is delightful.” Reading shapes students’ loves, character, and imagination, and this is a big part of why Regents students read so much, both in and out of class.

One of our goals as a school is to graduate students who are literate, with broad exposure to books. As our Vision for a Graduate observes, “Educated people are well-read and able to discuss and relate to central works of literature.”

And then, books are powerful. When a book opens, children enter other worlds. Poet David McCord said it best:

Books fall open,

you fall in,

delighted where

you’ve never been.

Hear voices

not once heard before,

Reach world through world,

through door on door.

Find unexpected

keys to things,

locked up beyond

imaginings….

True books will venture,

Dare you out,

Whisper secrets,

Maybe shout,

across the gloom,

to you in need

Who hanker for

a book to read.

This week we are celebrating books. Our library is sponsoring two big happenings:

  • The Book Fair. A wide variety of Usborne books will be available Monday through Wednesday of this week (just in time for Christmas). Students and parents alike can come find a treasured book that will spark imagination and learning.
  • Favorite Fictional Character Day is Wednesday. Students and teachers will come to school dressed as their favorite character from literature. What a delightful way to experience the characters we love in the books we read.

Let me encourage you, parents, to nurture a love for books in your children. Turn off the screens as often as you can and read with your children. Read the books they are reading and read aloud from books you love. Talk at dinner about the books your children are reading.

What a great gift books are!

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