from the headmaster


“A Uniquely Human Ability”

From classicalchristian.org and www.thepublicdiscourse.com:

Casey Shutt writes on how the classical Christian approach offers a fundamentally different vision of education that families fed up with a factory approach to learning find compelling:

“Dewey’s dictum on the importance of a practical education lives on. The elimination of cursive from many school curricula is rooted in the notion that cursive has lost its utility; after all, people now spend most of their lives typing. A pragmatic understanding of education finds it difficult to justify the place of cursive (or any type of handwriting) in a school curriculum, just as fast food restaurants don’t bother with hors d’oeuvres. However, broaden the scope of education, and cursive and handwriting become of critical importance. Andrew Kern of the Circe Institute roots the value of learning cursive within education’s historic and broader purpose of ‘cultivat[ing] the human-ness of the student.’ Kern continues, ‘Handwriting is a uniquely human ability. No other animal has ever been able to imitate it, much less come up with it.’ But modern education shrinks the students down to their potential instrumentality within the economy. Consequently, the fluid grace of cursive is easily replaced by the pragmatic peck of keys.”

And that is one reason, among others why we teach cursive handwriting at Regents Academy.

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A Podcast Well Worth Your Time

If you don’t listen to podcasts, I heartily recommend the habit. And if you listen to podcasts regularly, let me encourage you to listen to a new one: BaseCamp Live. The BaseCamp Live podcast is a thought-provoking and engaging way to understand classical Christian education better. It will also equip you to be a better parent and more faithful follower of Christ. One of the best things you can do for your children is to understand our culture and how to raise children who are well-equipped to influence it rather than merely be influenced by it.

You can find the BaseCamp Live podcast on iTunes or Stitcher, but you can also listen by visiting https://basecamplive.com/. Please get started – you will not regret it!  Here is just a taste of the recent topics you’ll find:

Is Old ‘Bad’ and New ‘Good’ or the Other Way Around?

  • Worldview isn’t Enough
  • Wimpy or Worn Out? Finding the balance between indulging or burning out our children
  • A Fresh Perspective from Africa on this “Classical Christian School Thing”
  • You Are What You Sing
  • Wisdom from Alistair Begg on Raising the Next Generation
  • Education is not Neutral Oatmeal

And here is an excerpt from BaseCamp Live’s description of the show:

You are an influencer…you no doubt want the best for the next generation… academically, emotionally and spiritually…

The greatest challenge is how to shape young people who will encounter a culture that is often working against them and equip them to become flourishing adults who love Jesus Christ, think with confidence, believe with courage and serve with compassion.

Ancient Future Education isn’t something new. The approach has been around for centuries and today is often called classical Christian education. The greatest minds and servant leaders have been educated using this model. It is more than a curriculum…it is a way of life and the model to educate the next generation for the 21st century marketplace.

BaseCamp will equip you, the parent, grandparent, educator, or mentor, to climb that biggest mountain.

Our guests are some of the top thought leaders, culture watchers, and educational experts. They are familiar with the obstacles you’ll encounter on that uphill climb. They will offer you the tools you’ll need to summit the peak and raise the next generation of exceptionally prepared, compassionate, and thoughtful human beings.

Tune in each week for a short 23 minute show that will be encouraging and well worth your time.

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Wise Students Learn

Here is the message I shared with the students at Morning Assembly last week. I thought it would be good to share it with you parents as well.

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Hello, students. We call you “students” because you’re enrolled at Regents Academy, which is a school, and if you have a school you have to have students, too.

But what is a student, anyway?

A student is someone whose job is to learn.

But here’s the problem. At our school, like most schools, we assign grades to your work. Excellent. Good. Satisfactory. Average. Poor. The whole reason we give grades to your work as a student is so that your parents can see how you’re doing: whether you’re learning what you’re supposed to be learning and making the progress you’re supposed to be making.

So, you are a student, and you learn. Along the way you get grades. But something quite subtle can go wrong, and it’s something that happens all the time.

Instead of being a student, someone whose job is to learn, your goal can get confused and tangled and undermined and become all about getting grades rather than being about learning. Are you at school to get grades? Is your job to make A’s or B’s? Is that the most important thing?

Making school all about getting a grade is really a way of missing the real purpose of school to start with.

Think about it:

Do you brush your teeth? Why? You brush your teeth to keep your teeth clean so you’ll have healthy teeth and a nice smile. But what if you hardly every brushed your teeth and then when you have a dentist appointment coming up, you brushed your teeth a few times before going to the see the dentist, just so the dentist will think you have clean teeth? Is that why you brush your teeth – to impress the dentist and keep him from thinking you’re gross? No! The purpose of brushing your teeth is to have healthy teeth! In the same way, if you study so that you can get a grade on a test, you’re not really being a student.

Or think about this. Why do your teachers teach? They teach in order to lead you to learn. But you know what? They also get a paycheck. What if they worked just to get money and did just enough to make sure that they get the paycheck at the end of the month? (Believe it or not, there ARE teachers like that out there!). If they did, they’d be missing the whole point of teaching, which is not to get a paycheck but to teach students.

This is what it’s like to go to school in order to get good grades! If you set your sites on getting good grades, you’re missing the point of being a student. Instead, set your sites on learning all that you can learn. Aim at cultivating curiosity and then trying to find knowledge. Do so because you love to know and you want to understand God’s world and know His will and His Word – then the good grades will come with it!

Listen to Proverbs 2:1-5, and pay special attention to the verbs:

My son, if you receive my words, and treasure my commands within you, so that you incline your ear to wisdom, and apply your heart to understanding; yes, if you cry out for discernment, and lift up your voice for understanding, if you seek her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures; then you will understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God.

These verbs describe the work of a student whose goal is to learn. Be that wise student, students! Don’t be the foolish student just trying to get a grade and finish school. If you do you’re in danger of becoming an ignoramus. Seek for knowledge and search for wisdom! Be the wise student who loves to learn!

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Prudence: Making Our Campus Safe

Prudence is one of the classical virtues, and also a virtue valued by Christians of all eras. “Prudence,” wrote C.S. Lewis, “means practical common sense, taking the trouble to think out what you are doing and what is likely to come of it.” According to Proverbs 27:12, it is a prudent person who “foresees evil and hides himself” while “the simple pass on and are punished.”

Our desire at Regents Academy is to be prudent when it come to the safety of our students during the school day. The beginnings of a sound campus safety plan lies in prudence, as we “think out what we are doing” and attempt to “foresee evil.” The Regents board and administration have endeavored to be as prudent as possible when considering campus safety, and especially so in light of the horrific and tragic stories that confront us after all-too-frequent school shootings.

Over the last several years, Regents Academy has added a number of safety features to the campus that have enhanced its overall safety.

  • Just this summer we added new security doors between the school foyer and the main hallway. The new doors remain locked during the school day and stiffen the entryway into the school. All exterior doors remain locked during the school day, which enables the staff to better monitor those who are entering the school building.
  • Securely locking doors on all our classroom doors. This feature enables us to securely lock down our classrooms if necessary.
  • A security system, which includes panic buttons that facilitate an immediate and stealthy call to the police. If one of the panic buttons is activated by a staff member, the police are alerted to come immediately but without an alarm sounding.
  • A closed-circuit security camera system, with cameras on both the inside and outside of the building. This system enables us to monitor the front of the building; in the future we will add more cameras so we will be able to monitor more areas of the campus.
  • An Automated External Defibrillator (AED), which is accessible in the school office. AED’s have become a common sight in churches, schools, and other public places, and we are glad this life-saving piece of technology is on our campus – with the hopes that we never need to use it!
  • In addition, the school has a thorough safety plan, practices safety drills regularly, and requires its teachers to complete bi-yearly sexual abuse awareness training.

And speaking of teachers, our school’s staff truly is its most important safety feature. Teachers are like shepherds who vigilantly watch over their little flocks daily. On Wednesday we will dismiss school at noon so that teachers can spend the afternoon receiving CPR training. Lord willing, we will never need to use the training, but we want to be ready if that day ever comes.

Prudence will enable us to foresee many dangers and be prepared to deal with them. We can thank our school board, diligent staff members, and committed parents for helping the school be the safest place possible. Most of all, we can thank the Lord – we are in His hands daily! “You are my rock and my fortress; therefore, for Your name’s sake, lead me and guide me” (Psalm 31:3).

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Cleaning Up the Clutter of Conflict

Fair warning. Here is “cynical me” speaking. Two things are sure at our private Christian school: tuition payments and squabbles. (Maybe I’m just speaking from my inner Ben Franklin – you know, death and taxes). Well, there is not much I can do about the tuition payments. We have to pay our teachers and keep the lights on. However, there is something we can do about the squabbles. Conflicts are inevitable among any group of people, but God, by His abundant grace in Christ, enables us to live in peace as a community of peacemakers.

If you drop 50 things on the living room floor but do nothing to pick them up, by the end of the day the room will be a complete mess. But if you drop 50 things on the floor and pick each up immediately after it hits the floor, the room will be clean at the end of the day. Likewise, we may have any number of conflicts along the way, but if we’re careful to clean up each one, at the end of the day we will have a healthy relationship. But if we let the conflicts hit and leave them there, we end up with messy relationships cluttered with anger and resentment and bitterness.

One of the best resources out there for learning how to live together in peace is the work of Ken Sande and Peacemakers. His little book Resolving Everyday Conflict is a treasure of biblical wisdom and insight. Below are a number of selections from the first chapter, “The Nature of Conflict: What It Is and Where It Comes From.” Let’s learn together the grace and skill of peacemaking so that we can glorify God together in our school community.

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In the Bible, God gives us a powerful way to respond to conflict. Our natural approach to conflict is to focus on what an opponent did to us. Yet if we try to resolve conflict by focusing only on what someone else did wrong, we never reach a real solution. God’s approach begins with us understanding the gospel?everything Jesus Christ accomplished for us on the cross. Through the gospel, God treats us with extraordinary, unearned kindness. And his gracious response to us gives us power to respond to others in an entirely new way. Once we understand how the good news of Jesus empowers real reconciliation, we can begin to learn and apply God’s practical steps to peacemaking.

Peacemaking comes naturally to no one. It always goes against our normal human impulses. But the more we draw on God’s power, and the more we wrestle with and obey what God teaches, the more effectively we can work out disagreements with others.

As Christians we can’t escape conflict. Maybe you have picked up the idea that being a good person will help you steer clear of major clashes. If you try hard to do right, then people won’t disrespect or mistreat you. Or perhaps you have been taught that if you do clash with others, turning to God for help will effortlessly make everything better. Life as a Christian doesn’t work that way.

While many conflicts bring disastrous results, conflict isn’t always bad. Even the most mature of Christians experience conflict and can come out better for it.

The Bible teaches that some conflicts come from God-given diversity. Many of our differences aren’t about right or wrong; they are simply the result of these God-designed personal preferences. What God desires is unity, not uniformity.

Other conflicts result from simple misunderstandings. There isn’t a person on earth who communicates perfectly, whether speaking or listening.

Although much conflict is the natural result of God-given diversity and simple misunderstandings, many conflicts are the result of sinful attitudes and desires that lead to sinful words and actions.

The sinful root of conflict is really idolatry. As Christians, we know we should want what God wants, but when we allow an idol to control our hearts, we only want what we want. The one cure for idolatry is to look to God himself, returning him to his rightful first place in our lives and deciding we want his will for us above any other desire.

The good news is that conflict doesn’t need to ruin our lives. The grand theme of the Bible is reconciliation. We only have to read about four pages into the Bible?approximately five hundred words?before we see mankind leap into sin and experience separation from God and each other. Yet the whole of the rest of Scripture discloses God’s incredible plan to bring back to himself a human race that willfully walked away from him.

Unresolved conflict brings tragic results. When people lock horns at home or work, with friends, or in a courtroom, relationships are often severely damaged. Conflict robs us of time, energy, money, and opportunities. When we pause and realize the destructive nature of conflict, we discover how desirable peace really is.

Peace is worth our greatest effort. The Bible tells us that we should “make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3). The Greek word in this verse that is translated “make every effort” means to strive eagerly . . . earnestly . . . diligently. It’s a word that a trainer of gladiators might have used when he sent men to fight to the death in the Coliseum: “Make every effort to stay alive today!” Peace is worth that life-and-death effort. If we want to enter into all the peace God has for us, we have to give it our all.

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Of Eyes: Puppy-Dog and Otherwise

Recently I read this social media post: “Today marks a year since I paid nearly $200 to be told my dog was faking struggling to breathe in order to be carried.” The flop-eared pup in the accompanying picture is really cute. Isn’t it amazing how easily we can be misled and manipulated? If our dogs, cute as they are, can fool us into carrying them, just think what our children are capable of!

Yes, it’s true, and any wise parent will tell you: your children will fake you out, mislead you, and manipulate you. They’ll be cute while they do it, too. It wasn’t their fault. Someone else did it first. They can’t break away from screen time to do the chore because they have an urgent homework assignment to work on. They don’t feel good. Their puppy-dog eyes would rival those of the dog with breathing problems.

Scripture teaches us that our children are a blessing from the Lord; they are evidence of His favor and kindness. But Scripture also teaches that our children are born with a fallen sinful nature, and that they need a Savior. Parents must learn from God’s Word and seek His wisdom in order to be able to train up their children to love and serve God and to be men and women of integrity. Also, parents must be honest about their children and be ready to see their children’s attitudes and behavior for what they are, especially when it involves misleading or manipulating.

In my years of observing students and families in a school setting, I’ve seen more times than I can count when children pulled the wool over their parents’ eyes or led them around on a string. Maybe the child wasn’t even aware she was doing it, or maybe the parents were aware and were so dazzled by how cute she was that they just accepted it. Or maybe the parents enabled the child to do it and now it’s just easier to keep accepting it.

So in the spirit of encouragement to you as a parent (and also speaking as a dad who has been faked out by his own children!), I offer these bits of advice.

Don’t accept excuses from your children. Accepting excuses from your children is like throwing gasoline on a fire – it flares up into more and more creative and manipulative excuses for not doing the right thing, the hard thing, or the uncomfortable thing. Sometimes our children need us simple to say, “I’m sorry but I love you too much to accept that. You can do it, you will do it, and you’ll do it right away. So get busy!”

Don’t do it for them if they can do it for themselves. This is probably especially applicable to moms, but dads can be guilty here also. As your children grow, they should be given more and more responsibility and higher and higher expectations. We’re not raising children; we’re raising adults. Children who get used to someone else doing for them what they should be doing for themselves become lazy, irresponsible, excuse-driven adults.

Don’t believe everything your child says. Follow the Cold War dictum of Ronald Reagan: Trust but verify. Don’t assume everything your child tells you about the school day is the way it really was. Assume you’re hearing one side of it – a side that might be right but that just might also be flat wrong. We shouldn’t assume our children are liars, but we should realize that they are born with self-justifying lies in their hearts ready to come out.

Your children will learn to mislead and manipulate by watching you. In fact, our children learn from everything we do – and don’t do. So there is a high premium on us refusing to give excuses, accepting responsibility, and walking in integrity. It’s our job to teach our children virtue by showing them what virtue looks like when it is lived out.

So the next time your child gives you the ol’ puppy-dog eyes and needs to be carried because their legs hurt, look them in those big brown eyes, smile, and say, “Not today, dear. You’re walking!”

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A Little Conversation That Turned Ugly

Paul David Tripp, in his weekly devotional Wednesday’s Word, recently wrote about “A Little Conversation That Turned Ugly,” and his words are quite helpful guidance for dealing with conflict. In fact, his counsel applies to all of us, pointing us toward how to deal first with our own sin, whether that sin involves words or actions or attitudes. I encourage us all to hear Mr. Tripp and, for the sake of honoring the Lord and living in peace, take his words to heart.

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It was one of those conversations you want to take back. It was one of those conversations when you go where your desires and emotions are leading you. It was one of those conversations when you know you should stop or walk away but feel you can’t.

It was one of those conversations when afterward you are confronted with the sin that still lives inside you. Can you relate?

It wasn’t a big deal in one way. Just a small conversation that had turned a bit ugly. It wasn’t a dramatic life-altering moment. It was in the privacy of my home with one of my family members.

But maybe that’s the point.

Perhaps it’s very important because that’s where I live every day. You see, you and I don’t live in a series of big, dramatic moments. We don’t careen from big decision to big decision. We all live in an endless series of mundane moments and little conversations.

So I knew I couldn’t back away from this little conversation that turned ugly. I knew I had to own my sin. But the minute I thought this, an inner struggle began.

“I wasn’t the only one at fault. If he hadn’t said what he said, I wouldn’t have become angry. I was actually pretty patient for much of the conversation.” These were some of the arguments I was giving myself.

Rather than appealing to the mercy of the Lord in the face of my sin, what I actually do instead is function as my own defense lawyer and present a list of arguments for my own righteousness.

The theology behind the defense is that my greatest problem is outside me, not inside me. In so arguing, I’m telling myself that I don’t really need to be rescued by the Lord’s mercy. Instead, I’m telling myself that what I need to be rescued from is that sinner in the conversation who caused me to respond as I did.

Here’s the point. Before you can ever make a clean and unamended confession of your sin, you have to first begin by confessing your righteousness.

It’s not just your sin that separates you from God; your righteousness does as well. Because when you are convinced you are righteous, you don’t seek the forgiving, rescuing, and restoring mercy that can be found only in Jesus Christ.

So the next time you have a little conversation that turns ugly, don’t argue for your righteousness, shift the blame, or run away. Instead, appeal to the one thing in your life that’s sure and will never fail.

Leave the courtroom of your own defense, come out of hiding, and admit whom you are. But do so unafraid, because you’ve been personally and eternally blessed. Because of what Jesus did, God looks on you with mercy.

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“The Parent’s Attitude Toward Education”

A few years ago WORLD magazine’s WORLD on Campus website published excerpts from a speech by former education secretary William Bennett at Patrick Henry College. His remarks are quite incisive:

How can American education improve? Education gets better locally. The single most important adult in a child’s life is the parent. The single most important thing about the education of the child needs to be the parent, and the parent’s attitude toward education: Not how much he or she knows, but attitude. The parent can be illiterate, not able to do any of the homework with the kid, but still saying, “This is important. You turn off the TV [or today he would say, “Get off your phone!” – DB]. You do your work. You listen to the teacher.”

And does that teacher need to be good? The research on this is fascinating: There’s a ton. It’s not class size. It’s certainly not facilities. It’s not technology. It’s the quality of the adult in front of the classroom. The research is clear: You are much better off in a bad school with a good teacher than a supposedly really good school with a bad teacher. If you take kids from the 50th percentile in the third grade, and you give them a teacher everyone regards as excellent, in two years they’ll be at the 85 percentile. You give them a teacher everyone regards as not very good, in two years they’ll be in the 35th percentile. What more do you need to know about evaluating teachers and rewarding excellence?

Mr. Bennett is affirming two truths that are central to a classical Christian education.

First, it is parents who have the primary responsibility to educate their children. It is not the state, not the county, not the Department of Education, but parents who are instructed by the Lord God to educate their children for Him. Deuteronomy 6:6-9 and Ephesians 6:4 are quite clear in this regard. It is parents who are the essential component of a quality education, and to be faithful to God parents must seek out the best and most God-centered education possible for their children. Do you embrace this responsibility? Do you embrace it with more than a tuition check but with daily conversation with your child about what she is learning? Do you read with and to your children? Do you engage with them and challenge them and encourage them? God has placed you in this crucial role and loves your children through you as you care for them.

Second, Mr. Bennett affirms that skilled teachers are the essential piece of the education puzzle. Our Lord taught us that “A disciple [or student] is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher” (Luke 6:40). Teachers model, inspire, train, encourage, correct, and embody the traits and knowledge they are striving to inculcate in their students. Please pray for your children’s teachers and ask the Lord to give them strength, courage, and consistency in this high calling. I am always so heartened when a parent speaks of his or her faithful prayers for our teachers. And then I am even more encouraged to see parents getting to know and lifting up teachers. What a blessing Regents parents are to our school’s teachers, as they strive to bless our students daily.

God is indeed blessing the work of Regents Academy, and He is doing it through people, who are among God’s greatest gifts. Let’s keep trusting Him to do His work through us. And let’s keep trusting one another and getting to know one another better as we, together, seek to fulfill our great mission at Regents.

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Answering the Big Question

Fritz Hinrichs, in his article “Why Classical Education?”, does a great job of simply yet eloquently answering this question.

We live in the continuum of western history. In order to evaluate this stream of which we are part, we must step back from it and discern the ideas that have shaped it. To attempt to ignore the ideas that have shaped our cultural history is to guarantee ourselves not only cultural irrelevance but also entrenchment in the Christian ghetto. This position will not only lead to our own intellectual poverty but will also disgrace the Sovereign God who needs not be mocked by the cowardice of His children. The King’s children do not hide in the alleys but walk confidently knowing that the sun that shines belongs to their Father.

I would submit that this is a powerful answer to the question of why our school exists and why you and I and so many other parents are sacrificing to send their children to schools like Regents Academy. Our children are the King’s children, and we aim for them to walk confidently and purposefully, to His glory.

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Things You’ll Never Hear at Regents, Lord Willing

As we close out another school year, I offer my gratitude to God and my congratulations to you on a great year of learning, growth, perseverance, and peace. Here at the close of the year, it’s good to stop and consider just what our children are receiving in this distinctly Christian and classical education in which they are being nurtured.

So, here are a few things that in the years ahead you and your children, Lord willing, will never hear at Regents Academy.

“God is irrelevant. You know, 1+1 is still 2 even if you don’t worship Jesus.” In fact, your child will be told over and over again that we know reality only because the Triune God is, and His Son, the Divine Logos, is the meaning of all math and history and language and literature and science. We aim, unapologetically, for the Lord Jesus Christ to be the center of every lesson and every subject and every classroom.

“You have to decide for yourself what’s right and wrong.” In fact, your child’s teachers and administrators are under the authority of the Word of God, and they seek to apply the truth of Scripture to every heart and life, beginning with their own. God is the author of all that is right and just, and He alone decides what is right and wrong. It is our job, as His redeemed people, to know His truth and follow it in order to glorify Him. Your child will be told “No” when their actions, words, or attitudes are sinful, foolish, or unloving. This is what Christian love looks like.

“We’re spending class time getting ready for the STAAR test.” In fact, at Regents Academy standardized testing serves as an objective way to measure the learning we are already providing – something we believe accords with the actual educational value of standardized testing. In other words, we aim actually to teach the Trivium, not test scores. Every day in class, students are being trained and educated according to our school’s mission statement, not any standardized test.

“The only thing that matters, at the end of the day, is academics: test scores, college entrances, scholarships, and careers.” In fact, we are interested in so much more than the gray matter and future earning potential of your children. We desire to shape their virtue and habits and hearts and relationships as human beings and image bearers. Regents Academy is not a prep school, though we provide many of the same academic benefits of a prep school. Our vision for our students reaches far beyond academics to the character, passions, and personhood of our students. This is why we partner with parents.

“There’s a new educational fad that we’re going to try out next year. We hope it works!” In fact, the beauty of classical Christian is its embrace of what educator Christopher Perrin calls a well-walked path of the tried and proven. Theologian Thomas Oden referred to “the cheap promise of radical newness” which is “the most boring and repetitious of all modern ideas.” Classical Christian education rejects the whole notion of fads and instead seeks to embody an older, deeper way of educating that is more relevant than ever in our fragmenting culture.

Now, maybe you’re thinking of other things you’ll never hear at Regents Academy:

“Tuition is going down and there’s no more fundraising.”

“Homework is cancelled forever.”

“We are so over reading.”

Well, yes, in fact nothing is getting cheaper these days, and we do need to fundraise. Sorry, but homework is indispensable. And it’s true: we will never fall out of love with books!

But we hope you can continue to be such faithful parents who so lovingly support your children’s school and sacrifice daily to provide an excellent education for your most precious responsibilities – your children.

We look forward to keeping our end of the bargain, however imperfectly, in the years ahead and seeking to fulfill our mission of serving your family by providing a classical and Christian education and training your children to view all areas of life and faith from a Christian worldview and equipping them to lead lives of virtue, display mature character, love learning, and serve the Triune God.

May God bless your family this summer!

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