HILLCREST CLASSICAL CHRISTIAN EDUCATION
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Hillcrest’s approach to Classical Christian education uses God-given strengths students have at each stage of growth to guide learning.
Junior high students are naturally inquisitive, and at Hillcrest we harness this trait to develop foundations to reason and discern truth. In high school students like to communicate. At Hillcrest we tailor our teaching styles to present various ideas, helping students to discern strong and effective communication methods. The result is a graduate who knows what they believe, why they believe it, and can engage a community of diverse thought to rest on logic, reason, and strong rhetoric.
At Hillcrest we equip students with tools for lifetime learning, teaching students the connections disciplines have to each other. In our integrated learning environments students often feel that history classes resemble Bible courses and Bible courses feel like English classes. Graduates from Hillcrest hold a strong mastery in reading, writing, science and rhetoric, with students who attend Hillcrest for more than four years comfortable in Latin, logic, and rhetoric. Because of the nature of Hillcrest’s program, the fine arts are available and essential to the Hillcrest experience. We find the Lord uses our program to shape students into followers of Christ, evident in the fruit of the Spirit; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
The fruit of the Spirit is a marker of Hillcrest’s base in the approach to training in academic, athletic, social, and emotional setting. This base is the Word of God. In using the Bible as the basis for training, students see that God is the Creator of all that exists, and therefore all knowledge is interrelated and finds origin and purpose in Him. Biblical standards of conduct in school life, academic endeavor, and athletic contest have their standard in acknowledging that Jesus Christ is Lord of all. Hillcrest acknowledges that God has given parents the responsibility in educating their children. Hillcrest instructs students under the parents’ delegated authority. Most Hillcrest graduates remain faithful to Christ even through college, with a heart to teach and train others to follow God.
HILLCREST’S THREE ROADS OF CLASSICAL TRAINING:
Traditionally the classical model is expressed in three stages of learning called the trivium. Grammar, the first stage, is studied most intently in elementary school. Students accumulate knowledge through memorization. The grammar stage provides an important foundation for higher orders of thinking. While all stages are present in each classical training phase in the trivium, each stage is highlighted based on the student’s developmental stage. At Hillcrest students receive basic foundational training in each class, with more advanced courses focusing on developing the other stages in the trivium.
The logic stage is often referred to as the dialectic stage. Hillcrest’s Junior High highlights the logic stage in explaining the foundation of academic disciplines. Students study logic as a class, in addition to Latin, building an understanding of root thoughts and languages as they engage further academic study. Students in junior high naturally are interested in debating and questioning everything from political boundaries, to elections, to parental rules. While some might see this as a desire to challenge authority, the exercise in debate is a craving to systematize their thoughts and engage in the adult world of dialogue. Students at Hillcrest will use their grammar training as a basic undergirding for thought and processing. Students will study foundations of law and order, challenging the western and Judeo-Christian thoughts with those of other cultures and faith backgrounds. This introduction into a reasoned thought process is the beginning stages of Hillcrest’s renowned apologetics program.
Hillcrest holds a unique approach to Classical Christian training. Hillcrest’s program utilizes a consistent draw from the grammar and logic stages to bolster the rhetoric stage. With most international and resident students transitioning into Hillcrest with little or no classical training, Hillcrest’s instructors take special care to develop skills in both grammar and logic to enable students to speak and write eloquently and persuasively.
The diverse international community naturally fosters a community of inquiry, where students desire to know how their friends from foreign cultures think. In desiring to understand their friends, students at Hillcrest naturally interact with the foundations their friends’ and classmates’ thoughts rest on. There is a consistent exercise in grammar and logic in Hillcrest’s classrooms, as students engage in the classical method of learning seamlessly while they understand cross-cultural communications.
With students engaging in classroom dialogue and thought, employing logic to reason through ideas, they are trained to communicate with each other in a respectful manner. Hillcrest holds over 17 differing cultural expressions, with students from Asia, Africa, Europe, South America, and North America. Students rest ideas on foundations in logic, learning that logic comes from the mind and character of the Creator who is expressed wholly in the Bible. In discerning logic in belief systems, students practice expressing opinions using facts and logical foundations. This is the fullest expression of the rhetoric stage of learning, where students captivate others in thought using words that express ideas. Students carry this stage into the dormitories, clubs, chapel program, and many other areas on Hillcrest’s campus where they communicate the mind, character, and Spirit of God.
Hillcrest Classical Introduction Reading List:
The Rule of St. Benedict
The Song of Roland
The Fellowship of the Ring
The Nine Tailors
The Dragon and the Raven
The Gospel of John
The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
The History of the Kings of Britian
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
The Divine Comedy: Inferno
The Canterbury Tales
The Bondage of the WIll
Winning His Spurs
The Two Towers
The Return of the King
Codes of Hammurabi & Moses
Early History of Rome
Gilgamesh - translated by David Ferry
Herodotus: The Histories
The Last Days of Socrates
The Odyssey of Homer
Plutarch's Lives: Volume 1
The Twelve Ceasars - Suetonius -
The Church History
The Ecclesiastical History
The Best Things in Life
The Unaborted Socrates
Chosen by God
The Holiness of God
The of the Ninth
The Chronicles of Narnia
The Screwtape Letters
Till We Have Faces
On the Incarnation
CLASSICAL EDUCATION EXPLAINED BY TEACHERS
My sophomore year was a turning point for me in more ways than one. To me, it felt like the two year transition into American culture, coming out of Sub-Saharan Africa, had ended. I had assimilated. I was ready to thrive.
I set two specific goals for myself: I would make the Varsity Squad in soccer, and I would audition for the Chamber Choir. I signed up for my choir audition, and registered for soccer. Throughout that week of scrutiny I gave it my all. As I ventured home Friday, tired and sore, I knew I had done my best. Now I would rest, patiently awaiting what week two would bring.
Monday delivered a double blow. I didn’t see my name on either varsity soccer or chamber choir list. I was once again a JV soccer player, and a second rate Concert Choir member. That night I struggled with discouragement. I resolved if I was to be in Concert Choir instead of Chamber, and on JV instead of Varsity, that I would do my best to help others.
My efforts did not go unnoticed. Those two weeks set the tone for the rest of the year. I had incredibly successful athletic seasons, and was part of multiple award winning Choral ensembles. I excelled academically, and worked every task to my utmost ability. I learned something that Friday. It’s always worth it to strive, even when faced with failure, because overcoming produces a virtue found nowhere else. Resilience.
I see Hillcrest as a sort of divine potter's wheel. The clay of my life was scrupulously collected throughout my years in Africa, and now it has been refined, molded. It now has purpose and use. God has used Hillcrest as a place to truly begin to show me how I am His vessel.
WHERE STUDENTS GO
Hillcrest holds strong bonds with their students that extend past graduation day. Recently the student body committed to writing the graduates from the previous year. Their notes of encouragement continue the bond of friendship while continuing the commitment to spiritual growth.
It is common for alumni to visit Hillcrest during college breaks. Many times students slip past their underclassmen friends to find their way into the classroom with the instructors who made an impact. In these meetings, if we listened in, it would be very normal for the former Hillcrest Comet to share where they’re going to church, what their friend group is like, and how their daily devotions are impacting their life at college. Hillcrest instructors aren’t as concerned with what college students’ favorite classes are. Their number one objective is to mentor former students in continued spiritual growth.
It is under this banner that Hillcrest formed a mantra. While most schools are concerned with what students’ SAT scores are, Hillcrest focuses on how students are developing their faith and intellect to form Christian character. Many schools will gauge success on what kind of 18 year old walks away from their school. Hillcrest wants to know what kind of 28 year old returns to the Castle to show their family the place their spiritual commitment was realized. The best test of our program is to look at the 28 year old graduates.
Here are a few statistics from those students:
Taylor Filippini | ‘10
“I learned to follow God step by step at Hillcrest.” Taylor is a Duke University Medical Fellow, working as a primary agent for funding of research and development.
Cody Joy | ‘12
“I developed a love for science in Hillcrest’s robotics program.” Cody is completing his doctorate at Baylor University while serving as a specialist in research of a portable cancer detection device.
COLLEGE AND UNIVERSITY
Hillcrest students are prepared for college, and more importantly the challenges they’ll face in life, at Hillcrest. Our program integrates the Bible into every discipline, academic and extra-curricular. That means students learn to live life with Jesus, being challenged to engage every aspect from a Biblical foundation.
With this training students are propelled from Hillcrest. The academic program develops preparation for university rigor, while also calling students to consider their giftings. While each student is challenged to enable a smooth transition into the university, some students seek a Christian mission project or link year program following their senior year at Hillcrest. Many students join mission movements, feeling equipped to share the Gospel boldly following their time at Hillcrest. Other students crave practical training, taking a link year experience where they explore employment, seek out internships, and support the local church. All of these choices fall in line with Hillcrest’s mission, to equip students in a Christ-centered Bible-based environment for lives of eternal significance. For some that means attending the university. For others they feel called into specific ministries directly from high school. For still others they may feel called to engage the work force. Hillcrest is more concerned with what kind of 28 year old comes back to visit Hillcrest than with what schools our 18 year olds are accepted into. That said, we do have students attending many rigorous and well-respected universities.
WHERE STUDENTS CONTINUE THEIR SCHOOLING
Class of 2018:
82% Attending a College or University
8% Attending a link year Christian discipleship program
5% Serving in a Christian ministry
5% Entered the workforce
Some of the Colleges the Class of 2018 are attending:
Gustavus-Adolphus, University of Pittsburg, Liberty University, Concordia College, South Dakota State University, Grand Canyon University, Santa Monica University, The University of North Dakota, North Dakota State University, University of Kansas