The “Other” Graduation Requirements

Forging potent worshipers is hard. It’s hard enough to just remain in fellowship all the time with those we love. How much more difficult is it to develop – in others – loves that you cannot see?

And yet that’s what we believe we’re called to do here at Evangel Classical School. Our work of enculturation includes the important and necessary element of academic training. We believe education is a good thing (which is probably good, since we’re a school), but we also believe that education is an element of enculturation. Immersion of our students in a certain kind of culture is our self-conscious aim. And our students flourish when they move from the spiritual greenhouses of church, home, and school with regular forays into the world.

As parents, our task is to fashion arrows, and we’re enlisting the loving help of the ECS community to help us.

We happily affirm Psalm 127:3-5:

“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
   the fruit of the womb a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
   are the children of one’s youth.
Blessed is the man
   who fills his quiver with them!
He shall not be put to shame
   when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.”

The effectiveness of these proverbial arrows depends, in part, on their academic training. We utilize the classical and Christian model as we straighten and smooth out these fresh shafts.

As a guy who likes to shoot bows and arrows, I can tell you that not all arrows are effective or of lethal design. Some are built more effective than others. The more effective the arrows, the greater the confidence of the father who “speaks with his enemies in the gate.”

Indulge me for a moment, as I tease out this illustration a bit more.

If academic training can be likened to the straightening of an arrow shaft, training in character is like the application of feathers to the back end of the arrow. If you’ve ever tried to fire a featherless arrow, you’ve seen that it flies erratically after ten feet or so. Character steadies the scholar to “fly” truly.

Since this is all so important, we think it is also important to check in on our students regularly to gauge progress in the forging of Raggant character. How do we do that? Glad you asked.

The HOW Behind the Other Graduation Requirements

We’ve identified six different descriptors for the fully-trained Raggant. We want our Raggants to be…

  1. Stout Image Bearers
  2. Generous Disciples of Christ
  3. Copious Producers
  4. Prodigious Learners
  5. Thankful Stewards
  6. Jovial Warriors

Now, we recognize that we will not enjoy full maturity in any of these areas this side of glory, but we all need to be progressing in these areas if we would be the sorts of people we’re aiming to produce…the sorts of people who are a threat to our enemies and a fragrance of life to the world.

And if this is our aim, then it behooves us to keep these attributes before our people. We do that in three ways:

Application for Enrollment

In each of our application packets, we have a document with the “Other Graduation Requirements,” and as a part of the application, the applicant must review and sign the document. This signature is not itself a wholesale endorsement, but it requires that the incoming family at least be exposed to the character pieces we aim for.

Report Cards

The attribute grading on each report card includes six different headings (one for each of the Requirements above), and each of our criteria for evaluation falls under one of these headings. For instance, the criterion “Accepts Responsibility” falls under the category of “Stout Image-Bearer.” Maybe you can take a closer look at these headings next time you review your child’s report card.

Interviews with Secondary Families

We implemented this piece last spring for the first time, and it was met with good success. If, for instance, we want our graduates to be identified as Copious Producers, then it is good for us to check in with families along the way to ensure they’re making progress in this area. It’s a pretty bad idea to bring this concern to the fore on the doorstep of graduation. Just because a student has collected twenty academic credits does not mean he’s ready to graduate as a Raggant.

So we meet with each eighth, tenth, and twelfth grader (and his or her parents) in the fourth quarter to talk through these requirements, identifying strengths and areas where each student needs to grow. Before the meeting, the students (for themselves) and their house advisors have completed an evaluation of the student in light of these six Requirements and compared (and talked through) the responses.

By God’s grace, may this be effective for helping us to identify areas where our students need to be shepherded, and may God give their parents (and us!) the grace and wisdom to do so well. Please pray for us to maintain faithfulness to our mission, and we’ll be praying for you as you fletch those straightened arrow shafts…and speak with your enemies in the gate.