Monthly Archives: February 2011

Y’all Come

I want to take a moment to encourage you to come to the BIG Serve Kickoff Dinner next week, and bring your family.

The dinner is Thursday, March 3, at 6:00 p.m. at the Regents Great Room. It is being catered by Auntie Pastas, who is very generously donating the meal so that there is no charge to you. The food will be great, and so will the fellowship. Mrs. Kelly Young is doing a wonderful job planning the meal, and we appreciate her help.

The BIG Serve is our spring school-wide service project and fundraising event. Last year over 150 students, parents, teachers, and volunteers fanned out around Nacogdoches and served our community in a very visible manner. Also, families sought out donors to sponsor the students in their service, and we raised more than $36,500 for the school’s building fund. When you put these two efforts together – the serving and the fundraising – what you get is Regents Academy’s mission being advanced in an amazing way. The “BIG” stands for Blessed in Giving – and we are seeking God’s blessing in giving of ourselves through service and inviting others to know God’s blessing by giving financially to support His school.

The Kickoff Dinner is the start to our 2011 project, and it will be wonderful for you to be there to take part.
The truth is that tuition does not cover all the expenses of the school, so we are reliant on the generosity of donors to cover needed expenses like those associated with our beautiful school facility. The BIG Serve helped to cover that gap last year. We sent out hundreds of support letters and received hundreds of relatively small donations. When you put it all together, though, it adds up and makes a big impact.

Let me also say that the Kickoff Dinner will be a delightful time for our Regents families to spend time together around a meal. We have relatively few opportunities to be together in a casual setting and enjoy one another’s company, so with everything else that the Kickoff Dinner does, it also is a chance for good friends to socialize together.

And by the way, there will be little to no homework the night of the Kickoff Dinner. And could we ask you to RSVP to the school office by Tuesday, March 1? (You can call or email.)

I look forward to seeing you there, and thank you in advance for being committed to advancing Regents Academy’s God-honoring mission in our community.

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Eagles Basketball Wrap-Up

Here are some results of the 2011 basketball season. It was a great year for our Regents boys and girls!

Junior High Girls Team – Coached by Jill Milliken and Roy Bradley
The girls were undefeated in district play, and they also played some tough games in the city league. The team reached the quarterfinals of the Christian Schools Athletic Conference Championship bracket (12-team seed) before they lost in the final seconds to Trinity School of Texas, 18-17. Rylee Milliken had an outstanding season and was the team’s leading scorer. Kyla Alders, Kendall DeKerlegand, Michaela Hill, Megan Marshall, Sydney Williams, and Alice Bryant also made significant contributions to the team. The girls have high hopes for next year with a good group of younger players; Sarah Grace Alders, Madison Freeland, Annaleigh Andrews, Claire Culpepper, Lindley Bryant, Grace DeKerlegand, and hopefully some new faces.

Junior High Boys Team – Coached by Lee Hill and Bret Arrant
The boys had an outstanding year, remaining undefeated in district play and only a few close losses in the city league. The team also defeated the Central Heights Junior High B team. They lost in the first round of the Christian Schools Athletic Conference Championship bracket (14-team seed) but went on to win the Consolation Bracket!
Hudson Arrant and Harrison Perkins (homeschooler) both had outstanding seasons with the team. Unfortunately, Harrison’s broken hand in mid-season had an impact on the outcome of the first conference game. Akilesh Bapu and Graham Culpepper also made significant contributions to the team. Next year’s team should have a solid foundation with Aaron Bertke, Rowan Arrant, Patrick Dinan, Caleb Henry, Will Hill, Jake Hill, Colton Willhite, Wesley Young and younger boys moving up to play for the Eagles!

High School Boys Team – Coached by Mark Sowell and David Bryant
It was a year of “firsts” for our young team! We participate in TAPPS 1A District 3, playing teams in Longview, Tyler, and Henderson. Our High School boys’ team won two of their District games for the first time. Payton Andrews was selected for the TAPPS All-District First team (voted by the AD’s and coaches of the district) as he led the Eagles in scoring with an average of 18 points per game. This honor was a first for our team. Mitchell Henry and Will Alders were selected for All-District Second team for their outstanding contributions. Mitchell averaged 9 points per game and Will Alders contributed 8 points per game to the total. Ali Hosseinpour was selected for an Honorable Mention and most importantly, he received the Best Sportsman award. Another first for Regents was Timothy Marshall, who received the Newcomer Award for our district. Tim contributed 7 rebounds per game, and look out next year as Tim seems to still be growing! Our team was rounded out with contributions from Sam Alders, Aaron Bryant and Tyler Sowell.
The most important “first” for our team was their opportunity to play in a playoff game against The Geneva School in Boerne! The team travelled to San Antonio, and although they lost to a #1 seed it was an epic moment for our young team!
All of our High School players will be returning and welcoming the outstanding players moving up to High School from the eighth grade!

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When Not to Be Pro-Gun

I want to share another passage with you from Dorothy Sayers’ seminal lecture “The Lost Tools of Learning.” Delivered at Oxford in 1947, her lecture has been reprinted as an essay that has had enormous influence on thinking Christians interested in giving their children an excellent education. But don’t think of her lecture as a dry narration of medieval history or a nerdy recitation of educational techno-speak.

Mrs. Sayers’ lecture was more akin to a prophetic paradigm-buster. One paradigm she tackles is that of teaching subjects. She attacks the modern notion that education must be compartmentalized into vacuum-sealed subjects that are taught independently and that leave students unprepared to think and to learn on their own. Her words are quite piercing:

For we let our young men and women go out unarmed, in a day when armor was never so necessary [How much more is this true in 2011 than 1947? — DB]. By teaching them all to read, we have left them at the mercy of the printed word. By the invention of the film and the radio, we have made certain that no aversion to reading shall secure them from the incessant battery of words, words, words. They do not know what the words mean; they do not know how to ward them off or blunt their edge or fling them back; they are a prey to words in their emotions instead of being the masters of them in their intellects. We who were scandalized in 1940 when men were sent to fight armored tanks with rifles, are not scandalized when young men and women are sent into the world to fight massed propaganda with a smattering of “subjects”; and when whole classes and whole nations become hypnotized by the arts of the spell binder, we have the impudence to be astonished. We dole out lip-service to the importance of education – lip-service and, just occasionally, a little grant of money; we postpone the school-leaving age, and plan to build bigger and better schools; the teachers slave conscientiously in and out of school hours; and yet, as I believe, all this devoted effort is largely frustrated, because we have lost the tools of learning, and in their absence can only make a botched and piecemeal job of it.

Is Mrs. Sayers right? Do we leave our children unprotected in battle when we deprive them of the ability to think and learn? How much better is it to teach students the tools of learning?

Regents Academy teaches subjects. But then again, what we are really doing is teaching many ways to understand the same grand Subject – Christ, who is the Source of all knowledge and the One in whom all truth coheres. As students understand Christ’s creation through science, the power of the printed word (given by Him who is the Word) through literature, the structure of language through grammar and Latin, the story of Christ’s world through history, and the nature of mathematics, students are learning how to think Christianly. And on top of that, history is connected to literature, which is connected to grammar, which is connected to logic, which is connected to math, which is connected to history, and on and on it goes.

Classical education seeks to harness the power of these interconnections and this grand center point in Christ’s Word and unite them under a philosophy of education that teaches students how to learn so that they can be well-equipped to face an often-hostile world with a comprehensive Christian worldview.

Mrs. Sayers referred to being “scandalized in 1940 when men were sent to fight armored tanks with rifles, [but not being] scandalized when young men and women are sent into the world to fight massed propaganda with a smattering of ‘subjects.'”

I’m generally pro-gun, but when it comes to sending our children into the battle of ideas, I’m not. Instead, let’s teach our children to drive tanks and shoot big cannons. Let’s teach them to think.

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TAPPS District Champs

Regents Academy high school students competed in the TAPPS 1A district speech and academic competition at the Westwood School in Dallas over the weekend. The Regents team finished in first place with a total of 197 points. The second and third place teams scored 115 and 69 points, respectively, so this was a decisive victory.

Several of our students also competed in the art competition and finished in 4th place overall.

This is a real credit to the hard work and dedication of these students. They competed as a team in speaking events such as persuasive speaking, solo and duet acting, original oratory, and poetry and prose interpretation. Academic events (tests) included mathematics, current events, spelling, social studies, science, and ready writing. The team had a total of 8 first place victories which earned students the title of district champ in an individual competition.

Eleven of our high school students will go on to compete at the state 1A speech and academic competition in April: Sam Alders, Will Alders, Payton Andrews, Adrienne Duke, Haley Duke, Mitchell Henry, Ashley Herminitt, Kelsey Kunk, Miranda Kunk, Ashli McDonald,  and Tyler Sowell.

Four of our students’ art will go on to compete at the state level: Will Alders, Ashley Herminitt, Kelsey Kunk, and Ashli McDonald.

Also competing with the team and earning points for the overall victory were Aaron Bryant, Anna Daniel, Jacob DeLoney, Ali Hosseinpour, Tim Marshall, and Dylan Richardson.

We are very proud of our team. Great job!

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The Critical Importance of Learning to Think Critically

On February 9, 2011, NPR reviewed the recently released book Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses by sociology professors Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa. The NPR review summed up the conclusions of the authors:

[The study] followed 2,300 students at 24 universities over the course of four years. The study measured both the amount that students improved in terms of critical thinking and writing skills, in addition to how much they studied and how many papers they wrote for their courses.

Richard Arum [said] that the fact that more than a third of students showed no improvement in critical thinking skills after four years at a university was cause for concern.

“Our country today is part of a global economic system, where we no longer have the luxury to put large numbers of kids through college and university and not demand of them that they are developing these higher order skills that are necessary not just for them, but for our society as a whole,” Arum says.

Part of the reason for a decline in critical thinking skills could be a decrease in academic rigor; 35 percent of students reported studying five hours per week or less, and 50 percent said they didn’t have a single course that required 20 pages of writing in their previous semester.

According to the study, one possible reason for a decline in academic rigor and, consequentially, in writing and reasoning skills, is that the principal evaluation of faculty performance comes from student evaluations at the end of the semester. Those evaluations, Arum says, tend to coincide with the expected grade that the student thinks he or she will receive from the instructor.

According to the Washington Post, the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) studied more than 700 top colleges and universities around the country, enrolling over 6 million students, and found that students can graduate from college without ever having exposure to composition, literature, foreign language or American history. They found that less than five percent require economics and less than a quarter have a substantial literature requirement. Less than a third require U.S. government or history, or intermediate-level foreign language.

It’s stunning but true: students are graduating from American universities without the ability to think, without the skills that will enable them to succeed beyond the college level, and without exposure to the cultural inheritance that has made our civilization great.

Regents Academy is not a university, and we don’t propose to do what a university can do. However, when reading about the anti-intellectualism and lack of rigor on American college campuses, it strikes me that the classical Christian education provided at Regents is part of the answer to the problem. Classical education in the early years lays a strong foundation, teaching students how to think and how to learn. And Christian education is really the only true education because it is the only worldview in which truth is a unified and coherent concept.

We can all be thankful that our children are being taught how to think and how to think Christianly at Regents Academy.

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Celebrating 100 Days of Kindergarten

The Regents kindergartners just celebrated their 100th day of school. They collected baby blankets for the Heartbeat Pregnancy Center to mark the day. Their goal was 100 blankets, but their collected 172! Thanks to kindergarten teacher Mrs. Sharon Freeland for leading the kindergartners.

Pictured below is the kindergarten class with Mrs. Dee Still, the director of Heartbeat Pregnancy Center.

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Learning How to Learn

Implicit in Regents Academy’s mission is a critique of contemporary educational methods. Our school is self-consciously rejecting modern fads in education in favor of something far older and better tested: classical Christian education.

But what does it mean that Regents is a classical school? Many things, for certain. But one thing it means is that at our school students learn how to learn. Dorothy Sayers said it best in “The Lost Tools of Learning,” which was first delivered as a lecture at Oxford in 1947, and was then published by National Review in 1973. She said,

Is not the great defect of our education today – a defect traceable through all the disquieting symptoms of trouble that I have mentioned – that although we often succeed in teaching our pupils “subjects,” we fail lamentably on the whole in teaching them how to think: they learn everything, except the art of learning. It is as though we had taught a child, mechanically and by rule of thumb, to play “The Harmonious Blacksmith” upon the piano, but had never taught him the scale or how to read music; so that, having memorized “The Harmonious Blacksmith,” he still had not the faintest notion how to proceed from that to tackle “The Last Rose of Summer.” Why do I say, “as though”? In certain of the arts and crafts, we sometimes do precisely this-requiring a child to “express himself” in paint before we teach him how to handle the colors and the brush. There is a school of thought which believes this to be the right way to set about the job. But observe: it is not the way in which a trained craftsman will go about to teach himself a new medium. He, having learned by experience the best way to economize labor and take the thing by the right end, will start off by doodling about on an odd piece of material, in order to “give himself the feel of the tool.”

Let us now look at the mediaeval scheme of education – the syllabus of the Schools. It does not matter, for the moment, whether it was devised for small children or for older students, or how long people were supposed to take over it. What matters is the light it throws upon what the men of the Middle Ages supposed to be the object and the right order of the educative process.

The syllabus was divided into two parts: the Trivium and Quadrivium. The second part – the Quadrivium – consisted of “subjects,” and need not for the moment concern us. The interesting thing for us is the composition of the Trivium, which preceded the Quadrivium and was the preliminary discipline for it. It consisted of three parts: Grammar, Dialectic, and Rhetoric, in that order.

Now the first thing we notice is that two at any rate of these “subjects” are not what we should call “subjects” at all: they are only methods of dealing with subjects. Grammar, indeed, is a “subject” in the sense that it does mean definitely learning a language – at that period it meant learning Latin. But language itself is simply the medium in which thought is expressed. The whole of the Trivium was, in fact, intended to teach the pupil the proper use of the tools of learning, before he began to apply them to “subjects” at all. First, he learned a language; not just how to order a meal in a foreign language, but the structure of a language, and hence of language itself – what it was, how it was put together, and how it worked. Secondly, he learned how to use language; how to define his terms and make accurate statements; how to construct an argument and how to detect fallacies in argument. Dialectic, that is to say, embraced Logic and Disputation. Thirdly, he learned to express himself in language – how to say what he had to say elegantly and persuasively.

Mrs. Sayers did us a great service when she showed us how Grammar, Logic (or Dialectic), and Rhetoric grant students the tools of learning that can be applied to any discipline. This is an apt description of what we are about as a school.

Let me encourage you to go online and read Dorothy Sayers’ complete essay, “The Lost Tools of Learning.” You can read the entire lecture that has made such a critical difference in classical Christian education today.

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