Westside Rhetoric

The Heade, Chest, Abdomen and Feet: Educated for Eternity

By Kristen Zuccola

Scottish fantasy writer George MacDonald tells the coming of age story of the character, Anodos, who, on the eve of his 21st birthday is given a key. With this key, he unlocks a compartment of a long-forgotten desk, from which emerges a fairy. The next morning, he awakens to see his bedroom transforming into a fairyland of sorts. He is ushered into this fairyland, a dreamlike place, where he discovers that he is in a “chronic condition of wonder.” CS Lewis, author of the Chronicles of Narnia, holds MacDonald’s novel, Phantastes in such high regard that he claims that the novel “baptized his imagination.” Much like Anodos, CS Lewis’s characters can live in the world of men and, through deep pools while wearing rings or through the doors of wardrobes, cross into other worlds. As Christians, we find ourselves in similar circumstances: we live with one foot in this world and one stepping into another. The classical Christian approach helps students reside concurrently in both the temporal and eternal. WCA students, particularly in their Upper School years, are being equipped to live with one foot in the world of men and the other in the eternity of God by examining three components of the complete man borrowed from Plato’s Republic: the head, which is the source of reason; the abdomen, which is the source of the appetite; and the chest, which is the source of the will.

First we will look at the head, the source of reason. The world sends a very clear and unbiblical message to our students. That perspective is that a man’s intellect is his own to develop for the purpose of achieving worldly success: securing a good job, earning the adulation of others, acquiring wealth and power. From this perspective education serves the man, not God. With a foot firmly planted on the eternal things, students learn that because they are made in God’s image, they are stewards of their intellect; in addition, it is not the core of who they are, for they are image bearers whose purpose is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. In this context, he is a man who will one day love and lead his family well. She is a woman who will create beauty. They will seek and proclaim truth. Each will invent things that will bring God glory, not destroy mankind and their families. What a better way to learn and grow than to understand the One in whose image we were created. That is why we endeavor to step into the world of the eternal as a faithful body who prays, studies and recites Scripture, and sings songs of praise. That is why we continue to hold fast to Proverbs 9:10, which says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” With two feet, one planted in this world, one stepping into the next, students grow ever-more equipped to use their minds to the glory of God, not themselves.

Second, we will look at the stomach, the source of appetite. In this world, man loves that with which he is familiar. Students are under the continual barrage of images, pop culture, and branding familiarizing them with things about which God tells them to take warning: love of money, power, laziness, physical beauty, and more. We also know that man becomes enslaved to those things for which he hungers and thirsts. We know that God has put eternity in the hearts of men, so it is fruitful to direct their feet into the world in which it is natural to love that which is good, true, and beautiful: learning, engineering, composing, order, discovering, competing, hard work, camaraderie, physical fitness, studying, creating, teamwork, athletics, serving, and the outdoors. Even when a student’s feet are in two worlds, with proper training, he can be equipped to love the things for which he should have an appetite. James 1:17 tells us that every good and perfect gift is from above.

Last of all, we will look at the chest, the source of the will. The foot planted in this world is led by catch phrases “Follow your heart”; “Your truth is your truth”; and “Whatever makes you happy.” Upper School teachers regularly direct students to heed the first commandment: Thou shall have no other gods but me. The autonomy that teenagers developmentally seek must be pursued within the confines of God’s order. This means that they learn to sit under the authority of their teachers so that they can sit under the authority of their parents and ultimately the authority of God. They read literature that helps them analyze the will of man when he attempts to be his own deity. This enables students to, from a distance, analyze false teachings. That way they can fortify their thinking against falling prey to infectious and contagious ideologies.

Living an abundant life with one foot in the world of men and one in the kingdom of God is possible with the grace of God, and made easier by an education that trains the whole person to become a man of virtue. In the Upper School, we continue to examine the degree to which students plant their feet in this world while preparing them to step into the eternal.

Young Minds & Ancient Myths

“Why does a Christian school spend so much time on mythology and ancient pagan cultures?”

I have heard this question many times in various forms and each time I answer it, I myself grow more deeply convicted that we must teach these myths purposefully, not squandering their ability to capture the imaginations of our students and engage them in the cosmic clash of good verses evil. 

Beginning in second grade, our students embark on a journey through history through the eyes of many pagan cultures: the mysterious world of the ancient Egyptians, the pantheon of immortal but highly imperfect Greek and Romans gods, the gruesome Norse tales or the romanticized knights and legendary dragons of the Middle Ages. 

At first glance it seems counterintuitive that our quest for the true, good, and beautiful could be furthered by wading into tales that are false, ugly and oftentimes terrible. The confusion begins to dissipate when we see that there is, at the core of all mythology, a desire for humans to understand and explain themselves and the world around them, therefore, all mythology contains elements of truth, albeit marred by our humanness. There is a longing and a yearning for something higher than ourselves which has been felt since Creation that no man can ignore. Mythology is an expression of that desire.

Without special revelation, like that of Israel, cultures across time and space have ascertained some basic truths through general revelation, such as: there is a higher power than us, we were created, we are not inherently good and we need a hero, a rescuer, a Savior. Those are deeply beautiful truths and can be found in cultural myths throughout recorded history. Some stories even align so spectacularly with truth that it seems God surely must have written them into the hearts of men. For example, I cannot read the myth of Pandora’s Box and ignore the echoes of Eve, a woman, who through curiosity and disobedience to her creator, brought every manner of evil into the world, but also the hope of redemption from those very things. 

Mythology is filled with these shadows of reality, hollow echoes of truth, warped but sincere attempts to explain the supernatural. In exploring the origins of humanity, acknowledging the reality of sin in our world, and recognizing our need for a hero to save us from it, we learn that truth is written in our hearts so deeply that we are often unaware. If sin became part of the human form in the garden, is it so surprising that with it came some dim, unfocused, longing; a sense of that world we lost, the one that was as it was designed to be?

Children feel a longing for a perfect world just as the ancients did. They grieve over unfairness and injustice in our world. Like the ancients, they also live in a world they do not understand and can connect with the feelings of confusion and a desire to comprehend the unexplained. They learn well through stories just as the ancients did. They are capable of extracting great truth from works of fiction. 

When the modern church sought to establish credibility with the world, our focus on logic, reason, facts, and apologetics became central to the Christian walk. While these things are good and proper and support truth, they have taken the spotlight and at times refuse to share it with faith, wonder, and dare I say, the “magic” of our supernatural heavenly Father and His sacrificial lamb who came to offer salvation to the world.  

C.S. Lewis inspired many of us to go through the wardrobe with him and recall the power of fictional wonder and magic to carry the weight of real truth. The leap to allow the same from pagan fictional stories can be a scary one. It is a necessary leap, however, our students seek to understand human nature and the cultures juxtaposed with the church throughout history. We do not seek to disciple students in a bubble — untouched by the world they are commissioned to serve —- but instead in a greenhouse, exposed with great care to the elements, until they are strong enough to withstand them alone. By teaching students at a young age to discern truth and beauty from ancient, fictional, pagan works, we send roots into the ground that will withstand the shaking of modern, fictional, pagan ideas that will surround them as young adults. 

So the next time you peak into a class of 4th graders reading Beowulf or hear 3rd graders recount the Myth of the Minotaur remember that there is a skilled pilot at the helm of these stories, steering them through the murky waters to discern truth, beauty, and goodness in or in contrast to the ideas contained within.

A Biblical Framework for Considering Risk

By:  M. Prentis &  N. Taylor

As I continue to grow older, I’m not sure if the “bad things” happening in the world are increasing, or if I’m simply becoming more aware of them. With the news and media at ever increasing rates of alerts, dings, and notifications, it’s near impossible to avoid all the “bad news.”  As a Christian, one thing is certainly clear: Our world is broken and in need of a Savior. And while this is true, it can feel deceptively simple to apply lofty theological truths to the choices we make each day. In a world where everything seems to be threatening and dangerous, the choice between staying inside or venturing into the outside world becomes not only relevant, but seemingly life-dependent. The problems our world faces can be dangerous and frightening. The stakes for the choices our community may make for this coming year seem high; these are our children, our families, our loved ones. The high stakes cause us to survey the trials and difficulties around us, to ask “How shall I then live”? 

The good news in the midst of the bad is that our God never leaves us without guidance. He gave his Holy Spirit as a comforter and His Word as a light for our paths. And while we might not have a specific mandate about pandemics, there is always so much to be learned from God’s word. Ultimately, living a Christian Life is about living in risk. Jim Elliot seems to have understood this better than anyone when he said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what we cannot lose.” 

What is Risk? 

Christian Living

There are countless stories of apostles, church members, and missionaries taking major risks for the sake of the Gospel. They show us through their choices that Christians are never promised comfort in life, but we are promised comfort in the Holy Spirit. Following the comfort of the Holy Spirit may take us to the far ends of the world, or to boldly open conversation with our neighbors. All of our choices in daily life involve some risk assessment, no matter how minor the choice. This is why knowing the word of God is of the utmost importance – it is meant to be our guide as we discern Christian living. 

Balance of Reward and Suffering

Risk is about balancing reward or suffering. When we risk something we’re putting it on the line, saying “I’m willing to lose this for the sake of gaining something else.” Whether that be financial risk, physical risk, or health risk, it’s still a matter of reward or suffering. The reward may seem to be security or comfort in any situation. But the suffering on the other side of the risk is what we must be willing to endure. (1 Peter 5; 2 Cor. 4:7; Luke 14:27; James 4:13-15) 


Our God is Sovereign (Gen. 1; Neh. 9:6; Col. 1:16)

This truth is a timeless statement. God’s plan for His creation is constantly unfolding, we can see His hand through the past, and we must trust His control in the present and future. Remembering the faithfulness of God is a command to the Israelites throughout the old Testament for this very reason – trusting is hard to do in the face of risk, in the face of fear. But we know that God has always and will always be in control. His sovereignty also means that ultimate risk is removed. When our faith is in Jesus Christ, we are secure knowing that our eternity is already determined. Christians are called to make hard choices, and engage in risk because we know that our lives are not our own – we belong, body and soul, to our Savior. But ultimately, this truth means that we do not put the Lord God to the test. When  Jesus was being tempted in the desert by Satan, he brought him to the highest corner of the temple and dared him to throw himself down, saying that God “will not strike your foot against a stone” (Matthew 4:6). In his response, Jesus makes it clear that our sovereign God is not one to be tested. We don’t put ourselves in situations daring God to demonstrate his Sovereignty. 

Community Matters 

It is part of the Image of God to be in community together. We were designed to be in each others’ presence, for prayer, for worship, for fellowship, and to accurately image God together. This complex community is built on the foundation of the Gospel, but it values the diverse opinions of those who are committed to the community. There are no substitutes for the fullness of being in the presence of our fellow believers. We must strive for unity, to love our neighbors and to submit to authorities God has placed over us.

  • Unity (Phil. 3:15-20): Our Sovereign God commands unity rooted in the message of the Gospel. But not necessarily in agreement on all things. What risks are we called to take for the sake of unity? Being unified means that we are choosing to make the Gospel first. In unity, we are willing to discuss, willing to listen to each other in the face of disagreement and differences. Unity is not a feeling of sameness or tribalism,  it’s a choice that we are called to make and a risk we must take. In unity, we are willing to risk our opinions being heard, willing to risk our rights being observed, willing to risk ourselves for the sake of the Gospel.
  • Love our Neighbors (Gal. 6:2; Matt 22:39): In the story of the Good Samaritan, he chooses to care for the needs of someone incredibly different than him. Both men were members of different groups, different tribes, but the call to take care of our neighbors transcends any man-made social boundaries. Everyone is your neighbor, but there is a special bond with our brothers and sisters in Christ. 
  • Authorities (Titus 3:1; 1 Peter 2:13-14): The Christian life is lived in submission to God’s word which encourages us to submit to the authority placed above us. But the question is not about who has more authority, but rather what is being risked in submission to that authority. We understand that joining any community and submitting to it’s leadership may involve risk. Believers must assess both sides of what is being risked, what is the potential reward? What is the potential suffering? Once the choice is made, unity in community under authority mirrors God’s intended plan for His creation, His believers.


We Obey What We Fear (Ps. 128:1; Ps. 111:10)

Our emotions are not sinful, they’re part of how we were created; part of the image of God. Especially when faced with “risk” and hard choices, fear is a natural human reaction. But the actions we choose to take, how we interact with each other, how we communicate may become sinful if our behavior is driven by our unchecked emotions. We must choose to engage our emotions in light of scripture. Taking care of ourselves means bringing our emotions before the Lord. As Christian author, Brene Brown writes in Rising Strong, “The opposite of recognizing that we’re feeling something is denying our emotions. The opposite of being curious is disengaging. When we deny our stories and disengage from tough emotions, they don’t go away; instead, they own us, they define us.” Fear cannot be the foundation of our risk assessment. There’s nothing wrong with being afraid for a time, but we must find our reassurance, our comfort, in the God who created us, all things, and has everything under control. 

  • Redirecting our Fears (Luke 12:34; Matthew 10:28): The Old Testament is full of commands to Fear the Lord. This type of fear is deeper than the surface emotion of being afraid, but is ultimately from the same place. We obey what we fear. In Luke 12, we are told that “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” While treasuring seems like a lovely thing to do, it is possible for us to “treasure” our fears, by holding them close to our hearts. Being a Christian isn’t about stoically ignoring our fears, but rather redirecting them. We are not to fear the things of this world, but to fear the Lord God, the Sovereign Ruler of all creation. 
  • Love Casts out Fear (John 14:26; Romans 8:9; I John 4:18): While our emotions and fears are very real aspects of human nature, we are not left alone without a comforter. The Holy Spirit was sent to us to be our guide in discerning risk. He doesn’t just rationally administer information, he meets us in our emotions and comforts. The perfect love that casts out all fear is only found in this relationship. 
  • Humility is Confidence in the Face of Fear (Hebrews 11:23-29; Acts 7:22): Moses is considered one of the most humble of the Old Testament prophets. His willingness to obey the Lord in the face of fear is what makes him so humble. Moses repeatedly took his fears before the Lord, even his disagreements with what God commanded, but in humility, he was willing to act in obedience. He chose the reward of obedience instead of avoiding the perceived suffering. His story is one of an emotional, fearful man who chose obedience and is honored for his humble faith. 

Idolization of Comfort 

One of the pillars of our current American consumerist culture is that we deserve comfort. But risks presented to us create discomfort and insecurity. Our culture tells us that comfort is something we can purchase, something we can secure, something that we can control. The desire to make ourselves comfortable can easily become an idol in our lives. Christians know control isn’t what was promised to us. We confess our desire for control and submit to our Sovereign God who does give good gifts. Exercising the gift of community means that we can work together to fight the tendencies that are all around us. 

  • Suffering is Promised (1 Peter 4:12-14; John 16:33): It is clear that Christians are going to face “tribulations” while living on this earth. This is not how God intended things to be, but it is a result of the sin that permeates every facet of this world. Discomfort is part of this life. What matters is not the kind of suffering we endure, but rather how we respond to our circumstances. Christian author, Chelsea Patterson Sobolik, writes, “When we respond to suffering well, we practically demonstrate to the unbelieving world that Christ is more glorious and precious to us than any pain and difficulty we might endure. We have the opportunity to show where and in whom we find our true treasure.” 
  • Suffering is Multifaceted (2 Cor. 4:8-9): In his second letter to the Church in Corinth, Paul tells them, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down but not destroyed.” Suffering in this world may be physical, emotional, mental, or physical, or all of the above. Paul is describing the multifaceted nature of suffering that Corinthian believers endured, and the kind of suffering that believers can expect today, so that we might be compassionate towards our brothers and sisters. The risks we must face in this world does not result in one kind of suffering.
  • Suffering will End (Rev. 21:3): We know that the suffering of this world is not eternal. We know that because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the one who suffered most, that there will be an end to our suffering. This world is only our temporary home. We must remember, and help each other to remember, the beautiful promise of scripture that tells us, “God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Praise the Lord that he is coming again! May we all risk everything we have for the Kingdom of God. 

Questions to Consider

  • What are the personal risks to my well-being this school year? 
  • What do I need to do to manage those risks rationally and emotionally? 
  • What does it look like to comfort and counsel others through risks? 
  • To what/whom do I turn for comfort and happiness in times of need? 
    • “I didn’t go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of Port would do that. If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly don’t recommend Christianity.”  – C.S. Lewis 
  • How do we see emotional self-awareness demonstrated in the Bible? 
    • Readings: Psalm 42; Matthew 26:36-46; 2 Corinthians 13:5-9

Encouraging Words

Words of Encouragement from our Fantastic WCA Families
As we navigated through the new territory of remote education, our WCA parents were supportive and uplifting the entire time.  Thank you for your prayers, support, and wonderfully encouraging words.

“We pray for you daily to feel inspired, encouraged and refreshed as you give so much to your students!”

“We appreciate your diligence and care of our children during this difficult time. Your efforts have not gone unnoticed. We thank God for you.”

“As a former educator I mourn with you all as this should be the best part of the school year. I always loved the 4th quarter! I can see how much you love and care for my children and I’m forever grateful for this. I cannot imagine going through this remote learning experience with anyone other than WCA. I am honored to have had you as a part of my childrens’ lives this past year. Thank you for continuing to pour into them. We miss you all and long for the day where we can see you face to face!”

“You are a blessing to all of us.May the Lord grant you strength, health, rest, joy and a deeper understanding of how much you are loved by Him and all of us.”

“You have done a fabulous job.! You rose to the challenge in submitting to God’s plan for this year.  You didn’t lose your focus, but, rather, taught the kids through your actions that it’s ok to refocus based on God’ s direction and still work with excellence. What parent wouldn’t want that model for their children. You are loved!  We are very proud of you!”

“Just thank you for all you do!!!!  I have always appreciated teachers….now I appreciate them even more!   They truly are a gift to our children!”

“You are all faithfully and generously serving. I know it must be incredibly challenging, especially while caring for the needs of your family also. Thank you for how you serve the Lord by serving our children.”

“Thanks for all of your hard work.  School has continued to be a place of learning and engagement to the glory of Christ.”

“I have really been blessed by seeing them act professionally and with integrity in front of the kids for live streams.  They have encouraged positive attitudes in conditions where I could have almost cried for them considering the frustrating circumstances they found themselves.  I think they have gone above and beyond in many circumstances with the efforts they put forth to provide a quality school day for each child.  Their patience and perseverance has been Christlike from what I have witnessed and it inspired me to also keep on pursuing Christlikeness in my attitude.  I am very thankful for their efforts of support and a pursuit to keep the kids engaged and having fun learning.  Great job, just a great job!!”

“I never realized until now how much effort, energy, thought, diligence and love all of you put forth for our children! Saying thank you is just not good enough and I believe all of you deserve so much more than what you receive but please understand from the bottom of my heart how much gratitude I hold for all of you and that you are always in my prayers!”

“This has been a really trying time for all.  But WCA and all of you – staff and teachers – have been a blessing to our children and our family.  Thank you  and God bless you.”

“You’re doing a fantastic job!  Us parents will really appreciate all that you do on a whole new level next year!”

“Thanks for their help and support, during these trying times for everyone. I personally appreciate all the help and kindness I have received during the time my kids have been at WCA. I think they are Great!”

“Keep up the great work!!!  You’ve accepted the challenge with a positive attitude, taken the bull by the horns and made it your mission to put your best foot forward…..not allowing Satan to gain even an inkling of footing.  Well done good and faithful servants!  We so appreciate your efforts!!”

“Thanks you for all you do in these tough times”

“God bless you all! Thank you!”

“We are praying for you!”

 “Thank you, thank you, thank you! And may God bless you for the wonderful example, focus and grace that you show our children. I could not be more thankful to God for this school.”

“We adore them and their efforts- we miss them!”

“I appreciate their efforts and care for our children.  Thank you!”

“I am so grateful for our WCA teachers!!! This has been an AMAZING 11 years of education for my children.  It has been worth the financial sacrifice time and again to have such loving, shepherding mentors in my children’s lives day after day.”

“Keep encouraging the students–your kind words do make a difference.”

“Thank you for all of your love and support for our kids (and parents) across the digital connections! Your hard work and dedication have not gone unnoticed. Thank you for all you do! We are so grateful for you and are praying the Lord will use this for good for us all!”

“We know how hard you have all been working.  Your love for the kids is so evident in each class that I over hear.  I appreciate all that you put into each class and each student.  Thank you for loving, teaching, and praying for our children and families.”

“Thank you for loving our children and for all the extra work required in making virtual learning possible.”

“You are all loved and appreciated. And we know this is tough especially for those that live far away. Not every teacher is able to stop by their students’ houses and provide them with messages, but we know the ones who can’t do things like that are just as dedicated. Thank you for all your lesson planning, for making helpful videos, for investing so much time and attention into your work. I hope you’re all doing well and staying safe and above all, staying positive.”

“Thank you for all of your hard work behind the scenes, for putting yourself in our shoes and making adjustments for at-home learning. We are grateful for your leadership and the love you put into all you do!”

“I know the teachers would rather be in the class , but they are still having an important impact on their students.”

“Thank you, Thank you for not giving up on educating our students well!”

“You are doing amazing! Thank you for all of the instructional videos and little touches to connect with the kids.”

“You are doing an amazing job considering the circumstances. Thank you for your help and guidance during this unprecedented time. Thank you for the encouragement and love you give to our children! We are blessed to have you in our lives!”

 “The teachers have been very available, helpful, and understanding. I really appreciate their patience as there has been a bit of a learning curve. Thank you!”

“The teachers have been so gracious and encouraging! They each have their own stressors and own families to care for and yet they are making time to write cards, get on class live streams when my child is having a rough day to encourage them, and even stopping by the home with a treat or special sign. I’m so thankful for how well they love my children and our family and their self sacrifice does not go unnoticed.”

“Thank you for your flexibility, ingenuity, positive, Christ-centered, and continued investment in our children.”

“Thank you for all the time you are putting into your class. I recognize you are also a parent and helping with your child’s ‘at home’ schooling. Thank you for how often you are available to help us.”

“Please stay strong in the knowledge that we love you and support all the extra hours you are putting into these last weeks of the 2019-2020 school year.”

“You are all amazing! You have handled this transition from classroom to distance learning with grace, making it look effortless! Thank you for all you do!”

“They are doing an EXCELLENT job. We are very thankful for their extra work they are doing to make this online teaching successful. We understand that this isn’t easy to do. You can see the effort they are putting forth for our daughter. We are blessed by each one. We have friends in other schools and have not had much Interaction with the teachers. Praising God for WCA teachers.”

“We appreciate the efforts of teachers who have reached out in special ways and accommodated requests for more help and/or more time.”

“I know this is challenging, but keep up the good (and hard) work you are doing! You are making a difference in our children’s lives.”

“May God bless them and hold them close to Him.  Their roles are now seen as even more important than before and that’s a wonderful thing.”

“The teachers did a great job with quickly organizing assignments and setting up google classroom.”

“Incredible job learning a whole new way of teaching on the fly. I imagine you’ve been busier than ever. Thank you. And thank you for your patience as parents and kids adapted.”

“I am proud of how quickly the teachers got google classroom up and running, this has been a learning curve for most of us. They have done a great job in communicating what is expected each day.”

“We SO appreciate their love for our children and grace when things may not be done their way!! SO THANK YOU!!”

“We think all the WCA teachers are very cool. :)”

“We are so grateful for all you do! One of the “silver linings” to all of this is that we have been able to see and hear you working with our kids in a way that we never have before. The love and patience that you all have for your students and their families is amazing! I couldn’t imagine a better team of people to help us shepherd our children into adulthood! Thank you! ❤️”

“Teachers are trying to teach as best as they can remotely as we can see and trying to stay connected with all kids.Fantastic job!”

“We are so grateful for your positive attitudes, patience and helpfulness. Thank you for doing your best to help our children finish the school year! May the Lord bless you and keep you and give you strength and endurance to finish strong!”

“Thank you. You are a blessing and a treasure.

“Thank you for being available for google meet and FaceTime one on one sessions with my kids in areas that they struggle. They don’t want to receive all the instructions from me. It is nice from them to learn from their teachers who are way, way more educated than I am in teaching.”

“The teachers have handled this with such patience, and kindness and grace to us parents, who were totally overwhelmed at first. I’m so thankful for that. When I’ve dropped balls, and I’ve dropped many, the teachers were there to encourage, never condemn. I really needed that.”

“Great job!!! Very thankful for the “consistency” and “creativity” that they try to provide the students and try to adjust themselves as well. Well done!!! Praise God!”

“you have been amazing and wonderful. you have even figured out how to love on my kids via the computer!”

“We so appreciate the support, encouragement, flexibility, and love the teachers have poured out over these last few weeks. Thank you for all your hard work!”

“I Cor. 15:58 So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.”

“I so appreciate all the extra things the teachers have done to try to stay connected and maintain consistency for the kids. They put a routine in place with lightning speed which has made all this possible.”

“We know this was stressful for everyone but I pray we all learned and grew from the experience. We also hope you all have a wonderful summer with your families and that your time together is blessed.”


Dear students, it has been a pleasure to be your teacher these past years. I remember with fondness your first discoveries of the joy of Shakespeare in Room 116 as we performed Romeo and Juliet together. I remember, perhaps with less fondness, how I terrified Javy and others of you on my first day teaching you. I remember field trips downtown, college visits, compass group mafia games, and many, many other things with great fondness. It is with great joy that I address you on this, the capstone day of your academic career thus far. You stand at the pinnacle of one achievement looking at the rest of your life ahead of you. 

As you enter life as adults, I feel certain that you will be charged to “bring the light of Christ.” Specifically, though, what does it mean to bring the light of Christ? In this time, I could point out that you are particularly equipped to those who Christ called “The least of these”. I could point out that your reading and practice here has particularly prepared you to proclaim the gospel. I could point out that your preparation here has particularly suited you to enter a world where immorality is cherished and redeem that world. I want, however, to show how you are particularly well-prepared to address three other challenges facing our world. 

First: Fractured Communities. Our communities are fractured and broken. The people within them are distanced from one another (this separation runs deeper than just the social distancing policies with which we are now all familiar). The people in our communities have neither the close knit community of the monastery or the guild, nor the civic duty and sense of camaraderie of the earlier decades of our own country. Neighbors not only don’t speak to one another, they don’t even know one another. We live in a society which not only cannot love its neighbors, but doesn’t even know its neighbors down the street. A society which even has a hard time envisioning a world in which true community exists.

You have been given the vision of what redeemed community looks like. You have seen the way a community operates as you have been members of the WCA community. You have read books like To Kill a Mockingbird, Life Together, and The City of God that cast this vision for you. This will require you to take steps that will make you feel uncomfortable, because people who seek to build genuine community in our society are frequently socially uncomfortable. The way to go about this is also to do the uncomfortable things – meet your neighbors; talk to, cry with, build up, and listen to your friends; host meals and eat with others (even in a dorm room), build community in a thousand small ways.

You are all equipped to do this: I see that equipping in the tutoring you have done as you participated in our community by helping younger students. I have seen it in your desire to encourage and build up one another, younger students, and your teachers. I have seen it in your service in the kindergarten classrooms and other Grammar School classrooms. I have seen it in your senior theses where you thought deeply and carefully about precisely this activity. Don’t let this preparation go to waste – do the hard work of building community wherever you find yourself.

Second: A World Without Imagination, Wonder, or the capacity to appreciate Beauty. Our society’s conception of the world has neither the color of Chaucer, nor the mystery of Lewis. People in our society do not love beauty. Folks around us don’t care about it because they haven’t seen enough of it. Their environments are filled with ugly, practical things. They have been made to live in cities and buildings which are designed not for beauty, but for efficiency with much of the same mindset as that used to design particularly inhumane dairy farms. The language they speak has none of the imagery of Shakespeare nor the tripping lightness of Frost. To people who speak a purely utilitarian language, the beauty of Christ as the Word makes no sense whatsoever. If people do not know what beauty is, they will not desire it. If they do not desire beauty, they will not create or contemplate it. Without beauty, the people perish. “Sin is the receding of the soul from the beautiful” – Gregory of Nyssa

Yet you have the ability to see the world as miraculous; to see the world as George Herbert did: 

The world is charged with the grandeur of God. It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;

You also have the ability to create this beauty all around you. You have practiced this with Mrs. Halleland and Mrs. Ziegler. You have studied from those who are greatest at this – Homer, Michelangelo, Milton, Bach, and Monet. I see you creating and loving this beauty in your writing, in your music, in your art, and in your dance. Continue to do so. The creation of beauty is not a hobby or a secondary task, it is vitally important to make us fully human. 

Third: Metaphysically Misled. Those around us do not know who they are or what their place is in the kingdom of God. They question even the nature of reality, but are too intellectually indolent to ponder what the true implications of that may be. This is not to disparage anyone, but to point out that as a society, intellectual indolence is valued. People in our society are not only metaphysically misled, but dangerously metaphysically lazy. 

As the Nigerian author Chinua Achebe has said, we live in a world where “things fall apart.” The philosophical basis for understanding and interacting with reality has been taken away by men like Derrida and Beckett. Aquinas, Augustine, and Plato have been left behind. We must call people back to a world where truth is valued and where inquiry and the quest for truth is both acknowledged as hard and yet daily attempted. 

You have been prepared to address this dangerous lack of truth in the world around you. You have read and considered the deepest thinkers of the Western World. You have written so much that your writing is precise, efficient, and logical; an excellent vehicle to communicate and seek after truth. You have sought for truth in class debates, in socratic discussions, in essays, and in presentations. Keep seeking for truth, and keep inspiring others to do it as well. 

A warning before I wrap up: You have well-sharpened intellects. You have been given all of the necessary tuning, sharpening, and oiling. You have been prepared in all the right ways. Sharp tools, however, can be used for the wrong ends. It does not matter how much you sharpen the axe, if you use it to cut a hole in the boat, you will still drown. Use what you have been given in the right way and for the right purposes. 

Calvin, who is always ready with a witty remark and a wise word

Morgan, who is always full of joy and who brings that joy to others

Jayna, who motivates us to excellence because of her passion to pursue it. 

Javy, who is unceasingly kind to everyone, regardless of circumstances

Danny, whose writing is sharper than a knife

Stephen, who blends wit and a search for the truth in an incredibly winsome manner

Benjamin, who leads others well in every situation

Olivia, who loves and shares beauty in all she does

Priscilla, whose passion for Christian service is always evident

Abby, whose big laugh and big heart blesses everyone with whom she comes in contact

Eden, whose ability to build relationships and encourage others amazes me

and Helen, who thinks deeply and creates meaningful beauty as a result

It is for you that I give you this last charge which is especially dear to my heart: Continue to learn, be life-long learners. Search out truth with a vigor unfamiliar and strange to your contemporaries. If you do not continue to learn, you waste what you have learned so far. Learning which does not lead to more learning and more of a desire to seek out is sterile, useless, and wasted. Learn not only because it helps you to achieve other things, that is the vacuous route of Pragmatism. Learn as an end in itself.