HSCA Christian Academy: A Stable Foundation in a Rapidly Changing World
A Speech at the HSCA Christian Academy Open House 2023
By: Zachary Waltz | Headmaster
Let me introduce the theme of the Open House: A Stable Foundation in a Rapidly Changing World. That the world is rapidly changing probably is obvious and never truer than now, but, I at least wanted to dwell on it briefly. In fact, this week I heard of a new change: apparently there is a new generation, Generation Alpha. I was just starting to get used to generation Z, and now there’s Alpha. Well, before Gen Alpha, and Gen Z, I was born, and it startles me how much has changed just in that span of time. So, students, when I was growing up, my family did not own a computer, I didn’t know what I laptop was, I didn’t have internet hookup, I certainly didn’t have a smart phone or a tablet, and these are things that all of you know, and which our society almost takes as granted for now, or at least has some familiarity with. In my short lifetime these changes have come about and revolutionized the way we interact with each other and the world.
The revolution continues, and, sometimes these changes are a little amusing. For example, when I was growing up, I had to write my speeches; now I can type “A Stable Foundation in a Rapidly Changing World” into Chat GPT and get a pretty decent ten paragraph speech. (I know this because I tried it, and I assure you none of this speech was written by Chat GPT.) Whether this is better than what you think Chat GPT can do, I’ll let you be the judge.
Those are the things that are amusing. But, alas, there are many more sobering changes in the world taking place as we can know from any news channel. For example, conflicts around the world and in our own country which we thought were dying down have resurged. Also, you can hardly turn on a news site and listen for ten minutes without hearing the underlining message that there is an impending catastrophe that our civilization is going towards unless we change to fix it or avoid it. And, at least in my mind, the gravest change that is befalling is the World’s determination to deny the existence and truth of God and consequences this will bring to everyone and everything.
So, forgive me for being sobering, but, I bring this up in order to acknowledge it and ask the following question. How do we at our school prepare our students for the world they’re going to be living in that’s rapidly changing? So, what I want to focus on is that, with any level of change, there is going to be adversity that our students are going to have to overcome. Perhaps the greater the change, the greater the adversity. So, how does our curriculum model adversity to the students so that they can start to develop those muscles of overcoming from an early age.
We do this in a plethora of different subjects, but for this talk, I wanted to focus on Latin. Latin is the foreign language we teach. We start teaching Latin in third grade, and in third grade we dip their toes in it to familiarize them with it. The study is very regimented; very simple as is appropriate at that age, but, starting in fourth grade, we jump in with this book, Lingua Latina. So you are aware, every page is in Latin. There is not a single English word in this book. And we have the students read it. Depending on their age, we have them read it faster or slower. The younger the student, the slower they go through the material slower so they can absorb it easier. However, metaphorically speaking, we’re dropping them in the deep end. We are having them face adversity in the curriculum; and they have to learn how to swim fast. They have to learn a lot of vocabulary and grammar quickly, and they have to do a lot of work to keep up. And, it’s kind of a joy every year to watch the students overcome this challenge.
That’s a way our Latin curriculum models adversity, but, on a deeper level, the ethos of the school starts to craft something in their souls that’s even greater: an attitude to face adversity. Ahead of this Open House I actually asked the students to volunteer a testimonial about their own education here. And these testimonials are quite beautiful. One thing that kept coming up was how much they liked Latin and its adversity. There was one young student, and it was her first year reading Lingua Latina. She said Latin was her favorite subject, which was amazing. However, even more amazing was the words of another young student. He said, “Latin’s not my favorite subject, but it’s fun. It’s fun and it’s a challenge; it’s fun because it’s a challenge.” And, that just blew my mind that this student at his young age had that attitude that something to overcome is fun. So, at our school, we not only model adversity in our curriculum, but we foster an attitude toward adversity, one that will at least endure it, but, even to possibly enjoy it.
Now, surely, not every student has that attitude in all subjects, but we are cultivating it at the school, and aspiring to that with our students. That attitude to face adversity combined with an attitude to even enjoy it is one of the many ways the school is providing a stable foundation in a rapidly changing world.