The Examined Life is Worth Living

1+1+1=Everything. This is the arithmetic employed by Aleksandr Solzhenistyn in his most read and taught work One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. Solzhenistyn explains how one character, during one day in one prison camp explains every day of every person in all of the camps employed by Soviet Russia during the horric trials of their concentration camps.

A work often visited in Mr. Gregg Preston's history course, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, known to students as Ivan, describes the suffering and degradation of the Soviet camps. Solzhenistyn works to depict suffering in terms of physical deprivation, working to give perspective to those who haven't experienced the debilitating realities of a concentration camp by famously noting, "Can a man who's warm understand one who's freezing?" Through Ivan students are introduced to aspects of suffering as the author pinpoints that suffering is not only physical and psychological, but also spiritual. 

Solzhenistyn paints a clear picture of how the Soviets sought to breakdown prisoners through their regimented, regulated prison camp practices. His understated ending of Ivan closes, "Just one of the 3,653 days of his sentence, from bell to bell. The extra three were for leap years". This documentation of the Soviet regimented camp shows Stalin's Communist regime's design to breakdown individual dignity and human solidarity.

However, Solhenistyn introduces an anchoring character into Ivan's life. Alyoshka is an honest man who draws strength from the New Testament he has hidden in his cell wall. Alyoshka is the only person who gives postive explanation to Ivan's experience as he states, "Be glad you're in prison. Here you have time to think about your soul."

From Solhenistyn's book students understand that suffering is a physical and spiritual issue, and from Ivan's example we see the resilience of life supported not from a physical strength, but a foundation of Spiritual assuredness given by Jesus Christ.

This is part of the Hillcrest experience. Note that Hillcrest isn't a prison, nor a completely regimented environment meant to take away the will of the student. Instead families find the month of May a blessed time of reflection of their manageable times of testing at Hillcrest. Students comment time and again that their mentor relationships, developed in class and dormitories through life-on-life mentorship, calls them to live an examined life.

Similar to Solhenistyn's outlook, "Here you have time to think about your soul", Hillcrest challenges students to think about the reality of God for both the world and themselves. Using the Bible as the cornerstone, teachers and staff develop meaningful study of physical realities and the deep spiritual consequences God instills into the heart of man. It's what makes highschool at Hillcrest about so much more than a diploma