Monthly Archives: October 2010

A Butter Braid Triumph

Our Butter Braid fundraiser was a great success!

We raised more than $3,000 that will be used to pay off our playground. Pictured are the Butter Braid prize winners: (l. to r.) Ethan and Knox Fairley, Megan Marshall, Owen and Esther Fairley, and Mrs. Ellen Fairley.

Megan Marshall won the grand prize of a $50 gift card for selling 66 loaves of Butter Braid, while the Fairley family came in second place and won a Chick-fil-A gift certificate for selling 45 loaves of Butter Braid.

Great job, Regents school family!

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Military History Is Alive in the Mind of A Five-Year Old

Each school day I spend part of my afternoon with the Regents juniors and seniors in Omnibus. Every day is a new adventure.

We are on a journey through modernity, reading Les Miserables, Walden, and Romantic-era poetry. Along the way the class has been learning how to write a new genre — the profile. A profile is a brief written portrait of a person, place, or event that presents a subject in an entertaining way that reveals its significance. You often read profiles of celebrities or travel destinations in magazines or hear profiles of people on radio news shows.

I gave my students the task of writing a profile of a person they know. I am sharing with you the profile written by Regents senior Ashli McDonald, who profiled her little brother William, who, you will find, is quite a fascinating little boy. Please enjoy Ashli’s excellent work.

I move Gen. Robert E. Lee next to the bugler. This company is lined up just right and ready to advance on the farmhouse. I added bushes and trees to the landscape this morning. It looks more realistic. The cotton smoke is billowing out of the cannon, the felt river is flowing around the hills, and the Confederate and Union armies are about to engage in the Battle of Gettysburg right here in my playroom, atop this table.

From the time William could pick up toys, he was organizing and strategizing. The one-year-old boy would turn a pile of colored blocks, meant to keep a young mind occupied with exploring the shape, feel, and color, into formations and little block armies. Shapes, textures, and colors had already been grasped. It was time to move on to planning. He picked up a small toy revolver when he had just learned to walk. His little wrists were not strong enough to support it, so it just hung limp in his hand as his chubby baby legs wobbled around the house, but carry it he did.

When he was two, he discovered his older brother’s collection of toy soldiers. His eyes lit up. The rest, one could say, is history. Soon, as his young mind grew rapidly, William needed a bigger collection. You can’t have a full scale Battle of Gettysburg with only fifteen soldiers. He soon began to grasp the concept that war being is a series of battles, and that war takes place all over the world, all throughout history. His collections have now come to include Civil War, the American Revolution, World War II, the Alamo, the French Revolution, and a few scattered medieval knights. They all stay separate, in their own little wars, because he understands their stories, the flow of history.

William is five now. His kindergarten teacher tells his family every day that she has learned something new from the little savant. Military history just flows out of him. He is easily bored with letters and numbers. Those come so easily. What is more interesting is how Stonewall Jackson inspired his men or the tactics used in the Civil War. When he gets home, he throws his backpack on the couch, turns on the Military or History Channel and runs up the stairs to the game room. There he finds his soldiers waiting for him just as he left them, on the intricate six-by-eight foot diorama. He might take a break to sit at the little table arranged with paints and paintbrushes and add minute details to soldiers’ uniforms or the reins of a horse. Then, the war starts over again.

One day, his mother took him into the bank. All the flags that had been over Texas up to this point are displayed all around the lobby. William glanced around quietly, taking it all in, as his mother did business with the teller. After a few minutes, he spoke to the teller to get her attention, then he began to list them as he pointed. “This one’s the Texas flag, that one’s the Bonnie Blue…” He went through at least ten before he paused, “But I don’t know what that one is.” The lady stood there for a second, jaw dropped. “Well, aren’t you smart? Here, take this.” She handed William a poster with all the flags on display and their names. He smiled from ear to ear. I asked him why he liked flags so much. “The same thing about armies. It tells what army they are.” Of course, it has to do with military history.

Other five year-olds ask for popular movies, video games, or action figures. Other five- year olds do well to learn to read and do basic math in kindergarten. It is safe to say that Will is not average. He doesn’t spend a lot of time doing average things. When asked if he knew that other children his age do not play with soldiers, he replied, “I know. They don’t know the battles. They think I’m weird, but they don’t know what they’re talking about. I’m smart.”

As the school year has progressed, Will has made more friends. The little boys in his class have ceased to be intimidated by Will’s knowledge. Instead, they have become fascinated with the stories he has to tell.

His thirst for knowledge is never quenched. He’s always learning, always absorbing, and expanding his area of interest. It’s very easy to imagine him doing the very same thing with grey hair atop his head, perhaps a cane in his hand, showing his grandchildren the exciting, detailed little armies on the diorama. Perhaps by then all of his experience will make it appear almost lifelike. One thing is certain: there is a wealth of fascinating knowledge and a passion for history in the mind of that little boy.

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The Task of the Classical Teacher

In short, our own minds must be trained by the consideration of truth, goodness, and beauty as overriding priorities in every academic pursuit. Our job is to constantly help our students connect the ordinary and seemingly mundane to the sublime and transcendent values that define the meaning of our existence. We only inspire our students to recognize and pursue truth, goodness, and beauty to the extent that we pursue them ourselves. As we encourage this pursuit, we transpose ourselves from “inheritors” of the liberal arts tradition into “transmitters,” and we begin the same process of transformation in our students.

from Wisdom and Eloquence: A Christian Paradigm from Classical Learning by Robert Littlejohn and Charles T. Evans, pp. 154-155

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The Rigorous Training of the Mind: A Compelling Reason for Education

I recently read an article by Pastor John Piper in which he argues for providing rigorous training of our children’s minds so that they will be able to read the Bible with understanding. He presents his case with such eloquence that I decided to share it with you. Pastor Piper does not mention classical Christian education directly, but he doesn’t have to.

I was reading and meditating on the book of Hebrews recently, when it hit me forcefully that a basic and compelling reason for education—the rigorous training of the mind—is so that a person can read the Bible with understanding.

This sounds too obvious to be useful or compelling. But that‘s just because we take the preciousness of reading so for granted; or, even more, because we appreciate so little the kind of thinking that a complex Bible passage requires of us.

The book of Hebrews, for example, is an intellectually challenging argument from Old Testament texts. The points that the author makes hang on biblical observations that come only from rigorous reading, not light skimming. And the understanding of these Old Testament interpretations in the text of Hebrews requires rigorous thought and mental effort. The same could be said for the extended argumentation of Romans and Galatians and the other books of the Bible.

This is an overwhelming argument for giving our children a disciplined and rigorous training in how to think an author‘s thoughts after him from a text—especially a biblical text. An alphabet must be learned, as well as vocabulary, grammar, syntax, the rudiments of logic, and the way meaning is imparted through sustained connections of sentences and paragraphs.

The reason Christians have always planted schools where they have planted churches is because we are a people of THE BOOK. It is true that THE BOOK will never have its proper effect without prayer and the Holy Spirit. It is not a textbook to be debated; it is a fountain for spiritual thirst, and food for the soul, and a revelation of God, and a living power, and a two-edged sword. But none of this changes the fact: apart from the discipline of reading, the Bible is as powerless as paper. Someone might have to read it for you; but without reading, the meaning and the power of it are locked up.

Is it not remarkable how often Jesus settled great issues with a reference to reading? For example, in the issue of the Sabbath he said, “Have you not read what David did?” (Matthew 12:3). In the issue of divorce and remarriage he said, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female?” (Matthew 19:4). In the issue of true worship and praise he said, “Have you never read, ‘Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babes you have prepared praise for yourself’?” (Matthew 21:16). In the issue of the resurrection he said, “Did you never read in the Scriptures, ‘The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone’?” (Matthew 21:42). And to the lawyer who queried him about eternal life he said, “What is written in the Law? How does it read to you?” (Luke 10:26).

The apostle Paul also gave reading a great place in the life of the church. For example, he said to the Corinthians, “We write nothing else to you than what you read and understand, and I hope you will understand until the end” (2 Corinthians 1:13). To the Ephesians he said, “When you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ” (Ephesians 3:3). To the Colossians he said, “When this letter is read among you, have it also read in the church of the Laodiceans; and you, for your part read my letter that is coming from Laodicea” (Colossians 4:16). Reading the letters of Paul was so important that he commands it with an oath: “I adjure you by the Lord to have this letter read to all the brethren” (1 Thessalonians 5:27).

The ability to read does not come intuitively. It must be taught. And learning to read with understanding is a life-long labor. The implications for Christians are immense. Education of the mind in the rigorous discipline of thoughtful reading is a primary goal of school. The church of Jesus is debilitated when his people are lulled into thinking that it is humble or democratic or relevant to give a merely practical education that does not involve the rigorous training of the mind to think hard and to construe meaning from difficult texts.

The issue of earning a living is not nearly so important as whether the next generation has direct access to the meaning of the Word of God. We need an education that puts the highest premium under God on knowing the meaning of God‘s Book, and growing in the abilities that will unlock its riches for a lifetime. It would be better to starve for lack of food than to fail to grasp the meaning of the book of Romans. Lord, let us not fail the next generation!

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Visiting Pastor at Regents

Regents Academy was happy to welcome Father Paul Key of St. Mary’s Church in Nacogdoches as our visiting pastor on Friday, October 22. Father Key spoke to our students and teachers and encouraged them to be grateful for the great privilege of classical and Christian education.

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A Musical Treat

Regents students enjoyed a musical treat on Monday.
Music teacher Mrs. Carolyn Andrews has been introducing her third through eighth grade students to the world of opera. She gave the students a real-life experience with opera as they welcomed performers from Stephen F. Austin State University, who presented several selections for the students.
Two senior vocal performance majors displayed their singing talents:  Michelle Ferguson, from Lewisville, and Joshua Dennis, from McKinney. They each sang solos (one from a Puccini opera, the other by Tomas) and then sang a duet from Romeo and Juliet. They explained the stories behind the songs and told why they sang in a foreign language. Mr. Gene Moon, conductor of the Orchestra of the Pines and talented pianist, accompanied the students.
All three musicians fielded many questions from interested students, and Joshua explained why he didn’t like opera at first but now loves performing opera. The students enjoyed seeing (and touching) two elaborate costumes, including a dress from an opera they discussed in class, Tosca.
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Plant a Seed at the Auction

Teachers and parents have this in common: they both need loads of patience. Robert Louis Stevenson advised, “Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.” We may see the harvest or we may not, but every day we plant seeds in the lives of children and trust God that the harvest will come.

The same is true for schools. They require diligent planting, watering, and cultivating, and the harvest comes as the organization and the community grow and mature. There are many people who plant the seeds – teachers, administrators, parents, supporters in the community, alumni. And the seeds that are planted are time, talents, and treasure; we all have our contribution to make as we work toward the harvest.

The silent auction in the fall and the BIG Serve in the spring are two key seasons of seed-planting for the Regents community.

I want to encourage you all to take part in the silent auction coming up next weekend. This year the auction has been planned in conjunction with a fall festival and a dinner. The auction committee has done a stellar job planning an event that will be a great time of family fellowship and fun and also a successful fundraiser for the school. Dozens of businesses and individuals in Nacogdoches have contributed items and services for the auction.

There are tons of fun activities for children – bouncy castles, an obstacle course, pony rides, face painting, and more. Regents parents can buy armbands for $5 each that give children unlimited activities. (But buy your armbands at the school office early – they will be $10 if you wait to get them on October 23.) While the children play and munch on popcorn, parents can have a different kind of fun bidding on stuff.

There are many wonderful items up for silent auction and raffle. Please bring your checkbook and plan to bid until you win. You will get something you enjoy, and the school will get the benefit of your donation. With your generosity Regents can raise $15,000 through the fall festival, raffles, and auction, and every penny goes toward paying off our new playground equipment. It hasn’t taken long for the playground equipment to become something that we could never live without! We love it, and the children’s giggles and whoops as they run and play on it are a delight.

In short, please know that every dollar you spend at the fall festival, dinner, and auction supports the ministry of Regents Academy to your family, to dozens of other families now at Regents, and to hundreds of families yet to come as the promise of classical Christian education yields a bountiful harvest.

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Eagles Take the Bronze!

Congratulations to the Regents Junior High soccer team, who won third place in the Good Shepherd Fall Tournament 2010. The students were wonderful sportsmen who played hard and represented their families, their school, and their Lord very well.

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Something Astonishing Under the Sun

People continually amaze me. Perhaps they shouldn’t. I’ve lived long enough to understand something of what the Preacher said in Ecclesiastes 1:9 – “That which has been is what will be, that which is done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.” Yet I still find the endless variety of human personality, virtues, and vices fascinating and frequently surprising.

My family moved to Nacogdoches about 16 months ago. That’s not very long for so many of you who have lived here for decades or generations. But it has been long enough to get to know the kind of people who inhabit these piney woods. There really aren’t any new virtues or vices here under the East Texas sun. But then, I have been surprised also. Maybe astonished is a better word.

I am utterly astonished at the people who give so much to make Regents Academy succeed. Sure, I mean donations of money. And I also mean parents who volunteer and give to the school in countless ways. But I am thinking of the staff members who sacrifice so much to give to the students of our school day in and day out.

Did you know that several of our staff members work at Regents Academy on a completely volunteer basis? Even the ones who get paid give far, far more than their salaries can possibly compensate. Consider: what could these volunteers be doing with their precious time, extensive talents, and obvious passion? A lot. And they could to it for a great deal of money. Yet they choose to pour their time, talents, and passion into the families of Regents Academy.

Why do they do it? The cynical among us will say, “There’s nothing new under the sun. They are giving to get something out of it. They are only trying to help their own children.” Well, of course they are getting something out of it! It is basic human nature to seek a reward. However, the faithful laborers at Regents Academy show a remarkable sense of vocation. Ask your children about the meaning of the Latin word voco that serves as the root of “vocation.” Voco means “I call,” and the staff at Regents Academy are called by God Himself to the great task of Christian education. They are responding to God’s call to invest in our most precious resource and our greatest responsibility – our children.
Each day these volunteer educators loyally soldier on, without need for strokes or even recognition. They are following the beat of a more transcendent drum.

Nineteenth-century missionary David Livingstone famously reflected on his years of faithful service in Africa. In 1857 he spoke to students at Cambridge University: “People talk of the sacrifice I have made in spending so much of my life in Africa. Can that be called a sacrifice which is simply paid back as a small part of a great debt owing to our God, which we can never repay? Is that a sacrifice which brings its own blest reward in healthful activity, the consciousness of doing good, peace of mind, and a bright hope of a glorious destiny hereafter? Away with the word in such a view and with such a thought! It is emphatically no sacrifice. Say rather it is a privilege.”

I have a hunch that if we could peek into the hearts of our Regents volunteers we would find these same sentiments.
So when you think about what it takes to give your children such an excellent and God-centered education at Regents Academy, thank the Lord that He has given you the means and the vision to send your children here. But thank the Lord also for the sacrifice of faithful volunteer teachers and staff members who give and give and give.

There truly is nothing new. God gives to us, and, under the bright sun, we give in imitation of him.

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A Typical Night

One of our parents recently shared some reflections with me about what a typical weekday evening is like for her family. I wonder if your evenings are like those of the DeKerlegands?

As we got our girls to bed, I finally had a moment to reflect on our evening.  It was a typical night at our house, but I couldn’t help thinking that it probably wasn’t a typical evening at a non-Regents house.  Let me explain.

Our evening began as our family sat down at the dinner table.  Our three girls, grades 8th, 5th, and 3rd mentioned that they might have the opportunity to hear an opera at Stephen F. Austin State University during school later this semester.  That conversation led into a discussion of our girls telling the “stories” behind the operas they have been learning about in music class. One daughter loved Madame Butterfly while another daughter liked Die Fledermaus.  My husband and I were amazed that they could name so many operas and the stories behind them.  As we finished dinner, we began an evening of school-related activities as well as musical practice of the various instruments they study.  One daughter practiced piano while another one practiced violin.  While music was filling the background, the youngest daughter drilled her math facts.  Next on the agenda, the girls took turns reciting Isaiah 6:1-8, their September Scripture memory passage.  The oldest daughter practiced her timeline for Omnibus and then launched into preparing for her Physical Science test the next day.  As the oldest was preparing for her science test, the middle daughter picked up Robinson Crusoe which she is reading for the Regents Reading Program.  After all the books were closed and all the instruments put away, I once again thanked the Lord for our wonderful school.

Our evenings are filled with beautiful music, discussions of beautiful music from the past, God’s Word, timelines of past history, math and science facts, and quality literature.

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