by Jim Whiteman
The following is a rendition of the address given by Jim Whiteman during the Twentieth Anniversary Celebration on March 18, 2017
God’s goodness and faithfulness is so evident at WCA. Much has changed at our little school over twenty years, yet there are plenty of attributes our alumni families would still recognize. (BTW, by alumni, we mean any student who has ever attended WCA)
As an institution, we have grown from infancy, through early childhood. We now find ourselves at the cusp of adolescence, beginning to plan our adult future. Just as each of us ages, we change, yet part of us stays the same. So it is with WCA.
- We now offer a pre-Kindergarten and in two years we will send off our first high school graduating class. We are still classical, and increasingly so as we develop the rhetoric phase.
- God brought to us 166 students this year and we expect over 190 when school starts in August. There are now two divisions: Grammar School (preK to 6) and upper school (7-12), each soon to be led by its own principal. God is faithful in providing.
- Our children still take many field trips to places like City Hall, Mapleside Farms, Playhouse Square, Cleveland’s excellent museums and even Washington, DC. But now we also take older students to The March for Life in Washington, Christian apologetics conferences and college visits. In two years we plan for our first trip to Europe with our juniors and seniors.
- We still have Field Day, but also have family groups.
- We still have Wednesday chapel – one for Grammar School, one for Upper School and sometimes combined.
- We still daily teach respect for each other, honor for parents and teachers, courtesy and manners. Students still memorize scripture, a history time-line and much more. We have speech meet, adopt-a-leader and engage with residents of Harbor Court assisted living.
- Students still see each other as family; the olders help out with the youngers; students still set up classrooms for Sundays, empty trash, vacuum classrooms, and shovel snow.
- We currently have 95 amazing families, representing over 25 churches. Our prayer is that we will grow in diversity – ethnically, economically and in giftedness. Yet, we are still solidly a discipleship school,
with a commitment to come alongside Christ-following parents who are committed to the word of God.
- As our school grows, so does our budget, now at 1.1 million. This year our Be the One annual campaign goal is $145,000 to provide assistance for those who could never afford full tuition, but have the same burning desire to raise their children in the classical and Christian tradition. God has allowed us to operate in the black the past six years and begin to plan for the future. God is faithful.
- We are solidly committed to our original mission: to train up leaders who will impact the world for Jesus Christ. Leaders in the family, in business, medicine, science, education, government, law and in ministry. No matter where our students go we want them to make a difference. Jesus said we are to be in the world and not of it. Thus, this greenhouse and training ground we call WCA is to come alongside believing parents that our children would not be conformed to this world, as Paul says in Romans 12, but to be transformed by the renewal of their minds. May we be obedient to this calling! Blessing comes through obedience.
So where do we believe God is taking us as we begin our next decade?
We believe he has called us to build on the foundation of our founding families, finish the classical model by completing the high school, and grow to a total of up to 450 students in the next ten years. We wish to deepen our classical program while strengthening the arts and sciences, keeping class size small and further build our family partnerships. We want to equip our students to think Christianly in a post-Christian society, to walk in Truth while residing in a post-truth culture, to recognize true beauty in a world that glorifies the flesh, and to know God’s goodness even through the toughest of times.
We want young people not to be duped into chasing after lucrative careers for false happiness, but to steadfastly pursue their God-given purpose no matter where that takes them. We want them to be able to focus in this world of distractions, work hard in a generation that avoids responsibility, think in a culture that does what it feels, know and live the love of Christ in a civilization that increasingly acts like there is no God. We want them to embrace the sanctity of God-given life in our emerging culture of death.
The WCA vision is for our graduates to live out God’s design for men, women and marriage and be used of God to pull their neighbor out of the slime of a warped worldview that distorts what it means to be human. This vision includes young people and their families who know what it means to pray as Jesus did, surrender as the apostle Paul did, stand firm in the faith like Daniel and rise up with grace and boldness as did Queen Esther, for such a time as this.
We have run out of room. Thus, we are now in the process of purchasing the church building we have been renting for the past 17 years. This will allow us to renovate and expand our campus, making the most of the 7.5 acres. Grace Baptist Church will then rent from us and we will work all the more closely with them to the benefit of both ministries. We want Grace to flourish in this change and they desire the same for us.
The purchase of the facility is for 1.5 million and renovations are in the neighborhood of $500,000. This will create four new classrooms, two new offices, upgrade the aging infrastructure and give several areas a needed facelift. God’s work will never lack God’s provision and He normally provides through His people. Please let us know if you wish to be part of this through a financial commitment.
We are considering a multi-phase building expansion over the next several years. By fall we should have more exactness to what the next ten years might bring and hope to then launch a capital campaign to fulfill this vision.
Let me close with this. I recently began reading the newly published book, The Benedict Option, by Rod Dreher. I recommend it to stimulate your thinking.
In the first chapter the author writes:
“We are facing our own 1000 year flood…. The light of Christianity is flickering out all over the West. There are people alive today who may live to see the effective death of Christianity within our civilization. By God’s mercy, the faith may continue to flourish in the Global South and China, but barring a dramatic reversal of current trends, it will all but disappear entirely from Europe and North America… For a long time we have downplayed or ignored the signs. Now the floodwaters are upon us and we are not ready. Don’t be fooled by the large number of churches…”
Dreher goes on to give statistics many of us know to be reality, that the majority of Christian students attending both Christian and non-Christian universities are biblically illiterate and unprepared for what will come their way. The majority of those being raised in Christian households will leave the faith and many are creating their own spirituality, that of Moralistic Therapeutic Deism, whereby by one’s idol is personal happiness and God’s role is to provide that.
As part of our needed way forward, Dreher writes on education in chapter seven:
“Today, across the Christian community, there is a growing movement called classical Christian education. It is counter-cultural in both form and content. … Doing it right requires a level of effort and commitment that contemporary Americans are not accustomed to – but what alternative do we have?
If you want to know how critical education is to cultural and religious survival, ask the Jews… Christians have not been nearly as alert to the importance of education, and it’s time to change that.
To that end, one of the most important pieces of the benedict Option movement is the spread of classical Christian schools. Rather than letting their children spend forty hours a week learning “facts” with a few hours of worldview education slapped on, parents need to… provide them with an education that is rightly ordered – that is, one based on the premise that there is a God-given, unified structure to reality and that it is discoverable. They need to teach them scripture and history. And they should not stop after twelfth grade.
Building schools that can educate properly will require churches, parents, peer groups and fellow traveler Christians to work together. It will be costly, but what choice is there?”
Thank you for being part of a God-honoring endeavor as he builds WCA. It is hard work, but a joyful enterprise. May God alone be praised for bringing His people together for his purposes. While we do not know for sure just what the future will bring, we do know Who holds the future and He is faithful.
Care to join us as we step into the next decade? Please commit to prayer, financial support and/or volunteering of time and talent. As with our founding families, God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things.