Stephen Richmann was in the inaugural class of Clapham's Upper School through 9th grade. He completed his high school career at St Charles East, and he is currently a Senior at Hillsdale College where he is majoring in Economics and pursuing a minor in Mathematics. He is an experienced runner, amateur CrossFitter, piano player and obscure 80's music enthusiast.
What are some ways that your time at Clapham School helped prepare you for college?
I wound up attending Hillsdale College in Michigan, and I can safely say that my experience with Clapham accounted for most of the reasons I made that decision. The M.O. of joyful discovery served me well at Clapham and at St. Charles East, and has continued to serve me well in college. The fierce pursuit of learning for its own sake—as something inherently good—is an exceptional find in a body of higher education. Clapham’s philosophy not only prepared me for college, it defined a large part of what I was looking for in college.
What’s one thing you really enjoyed from the unique educational experience at Clapham School?
I appreciated the bonds I was able to form with a number of teachers during my years at Clapham. They have transitioned into mentors and friends more readily than most teachers ever do with their students.
Do you have a favorite memory of a moment of learning, or connection with a teacher, book, or subject that you can share?
Mrs. Katherine van Elswyk is of the teachers I reference above who have made a lasting and profound impact in my life. For my commencement from 8th grade, Mrs. Van Elswyk gave me a copy of C. S. Lewis’ Till We Have Faces. It’s worth mentioning that she didn’t grab the book off a store shelf on a haphazard shopping spree for the eighth graders. I was shocked upon opening the book to discover that it was annotated throughout, and was clearly a much-loved copy. Lewis himself said Till We Have Faces was his best work, and I agree: it’s my favorite book, period, to this day. It laid much of the foundation for my moral imagination, and I have Mrs. Van Elswyk to thank for that.
Can you share some plans or ideas on how you plan to serve Christ with your life and work?
Right now, one of the things that the Lord has equipped me to do—both by giving me a desire to do it and by giving me gifts that help me to do it well—is to speak into the lives of my peers with intentionality to point them toward fulfillment in Christ. I do not always do this well. Much of the past couple of years have revealed to me how it looks when I do this badly. Far from guiding me elsewhere, though, the King has continued to lead me deeper into an understanding of what it looks like to speak into darkness.
What advice would you give to your high school self?
The thing high-school Stephen probably needed to hear most is that authentic, godly strength is desperately needed both to make it through a broken world and to speak into the lives of those around you. It also happens to be in extraordinarily rare supply. I’m speaking about the kind of strength that comes from consistent humility and closeness with the Father, which so few men can honestly say they possess. I definitely can’t, and I think in high school, I needed to hear about the kind of grit that would be required of me, and which was available to me in Christ.
What advice would you give to current high school students at Clapham?
Motivational quotes, in my experience, rarely stick. I think possibly the most important thing I could say to high schoolers is that God is your Father above all else. So few ever talk about this, but it’s a truth that constantly yields new gifts upon reflection, and is at the core of how we are to understand ourselves. Pursue and know God as your Father.
Pursue and know God as your Father.
Stephen has touched the lives of all his teachers and fellow students at Clapham. He was a trailblazer for the Middle and Upper School. We are thankful for his contribution to Clapham School and we are proud to call him one of our own. It is a joy to see him seek the Lord and live his faith.
If you missed it, see our Alumna highlight of Laura Egan!