Ari is a well-loved Junior at Clapham's High School. She has been a student at Clapham since kindergarten. At a recent school benefit Ari shared how her schooling at Clapham is preparing her for life after school.
I want to tell you a story about my educational journey and how it is preparing me for life after school. Let’s go back 12 years to my kindergarten year when I first began attending Clapham.
Right from the beginning, I learned how to correctly form each letter of the alphabet. I learned how to study a leaf and see God’s wondrous creation in each vein and shadow. And, I learned how to narrate the books we read using the author's own language.
Most importantly, I was taught these skills by teachers that encouraged me and spent one on one time with me. The teachers at Clapham want to help each student strengthen their weaknesses and develop their strengths.
When I was in fourth grade, our teacher realized that the whole class was holding their pencils incorrectly. Instead of using three fingers each one was using four! Miss Redfield, now Mrs. Poppe, promptly issued rubber pencil grips to each student. I remember being so embarrassed having to use a pencil grip in fourth grade! However, I am forever grateful to her for having me use one because now I hold a pencil the correct way and can write with ease.
This is just one of many examples I have of the way teachers help each of their students with the smallest details so that the student grows up as a well-rounded person.
Transitioning into middle school was a much-anticipated change for me. There, I learned to write a fully developed essay with a topic sentence and a thesis statement. I learned to discuss controversial topics with classmates in a calm and respectful manner. I learned to play the infamous middle school dodgeball and I created strong relationships with those around me in many fun social events such as the day retreat, and a white elephant party at Christmas.
One trip I distinctly remember was to Washington DC in my eighth-grade year. That was the year Mr. Kelly was a baptised Moses because he parted the sea of people as we walked through the busy sidewalks. There are many more stories I could tell you of fun memories I have about Clapham, but we would be here all night!
Therefore, fast forward to the end of 8th grade, and the big choice loomed over me. Do I stay at Clapham for high school or do I go somewhere else? I chose to stay in Clapham and I believe the high school classes offered here have challenged me to grow in faith, knowledge, and the appreciation of beauty.
All of Clapham’s classes are rooted in the Christian faith and each student’s beliefs are strengthened through discussion-based learning. I have had my faith challenged many times by the texts we read and the conversations we have - always in a way that encourages me to learn more about the awesome and holy God that we worship.
Surprisingly, these texts that so challenge my faith also provide an enriched stream of knowledge that fills my mind with an appreciation for the great leaders, the history of our world, and a deep understanding of the cultures that surround us. For example, when my class read Homer's Odyssey last year, our discussions centered around what it looks like to be a strong leader. This topic stirred up questions in my soul: How are leaders made? How should they confront challenges? What does it mean to be a leader today? These types of questions are something I wrestle with every day in Humanities and they have grown my ability to think for myself and develop firm opinions based on strong, authentic texts such as Cur Deus Homo, Why God Became Man by Saint Anselm.
And here is where I want to focus tonight: Clapham provides an education that equips young men and women to go out into the world to cultivate God’s truth, goodness, and beauty. And so, I encourage you all as parents and students who believe in the education Clapham provides, to go out into the world and share every little thing you have learned at this school.
This uplifting form of teaching inspired me to go out and serve in the community. I now serve at an after-school program at Wegner Elementary School to show younger students how to use their education to serve the Lord.
Everything students learn here at Clapham, from how to hold your pencil, to the names of different trees, to the discussions on human nature, have prepared us to serve the world. Matthew 28:19-20 tells us,
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
Clapham guides its students in the Word of the Lord so that they are equipped as disciples to serve the Lord in all nations, bringing his truth, goodness, and beauty everywhere.