By Head of School Michael Dewey
“I have said it before, and I will say it once more, this year just feels different. I’ve actually had parents tell me that in passing. Without them having to explain, I know exactly what they mean. Yes, there are more students on campus than we have ever had. Having 151 students in just our third year certainly has a different “feel” than when we started with 36 in August 2021. Having more students definitely conveys the “we have arrived” feeling. But that’s not what I’m talking about.
We are now offering more courses and subjects than ever before, making use of every single room in the building. With a total of 78 classes, 9 AP courses, and 20 different elective offerings, we have expanded our school to the point where our students have many of the same available options provided by much bigger programs. As I like to say, we are a small school with a “big school” vibe. But that’s also not what I’m referring to.
What is it that makes our school feel so different this year? The only answer that I can come up with is that this year we have seniors. Finally having a twelfth grade means we are now a fully-fledged high school program. It’s the arrival of seniors on campus that makes the difference. High school is not really “high school” until you have seniors. After all, having seniors to graduate is the whole point of high school.
The culminating moment of a high school education is graduation, the moment when each student receives their diploma and is celebrated for completing an achievement twelve years in the making. It also marks the start of a new journey as each student heads off to college or embarks on a new career. Graduation is, after all, where the proverbial rubber meets the road. Our school’s mission is to prepare the next generation of Christian leaders. Having seniors who go out into the world to fulfill that mission is the ultimate indicator that we have effectively done our job.
On the academic side of things, our seniors are working to complete their senior thesis, the 15-20 page paper where they articulate what they believe, defend what they believe against a contemporary criticism of the faith, and then apply what they believe to an area of their choosing. They are readying themselves to then defend that senior thesis in front of a panel of faculty members who will ask them tough questions, challenging them to defend what they have written. As the culmination of the Essential Questions Project and a Christian Studies program that has worked to ground them in scripture and its proper application, we are doing everything we can to ensure that once they graduate, they are ready.
It is because these young women and men will have endured such an academic gauntlet, that we must prepare to celebrate them accordingly. Here are just a few of the things we have already planned:
Graduation Ceremonies. We will be hosting graduation ceremonies on May 24, right here on campus. This will take place in the gymnasium, with a committee of parents and staff members tasked with transforming the gym into a chamber worthy of celebrating our first graduating class. The ceremony is scheduled to begin at 3:00 p.m., with a reception and light hors d’oeuvres to follow. Everything will conclude no later than 6:00 p.m. and all members of the ECS community are welcome to attend. The ceremony will include music, a special slide presentation honoring our seniors, and a featured guest speaker (along with all the traditional pomp and circumstance).
Baccalaureate Service. On May 23 we will be hosting a special prayer breakfast for our seniors and their immediate families in the school gymnasium. I will be speaking on this occasion, sharing a few thoughts about our graduates, and reflecting on a scriptural challenge. We love our seniors deeply, and this breakfast will be our chance to share our hearts and pray over them prior to graduation. Details for this will be provided directly to the families of the senior class. It is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. and will be followed by a graduation rehearsal for the senior students.
Senior Week. The week leading up to graduation will be filled with memorable activities and events. All grades will be finalized the week prior freeing seniors from having to attend classes in the days leading up to graduation. In addition to the breakfast previously mentioned, there will be a special award assembly on May 20, followed by a pool party on May 21. We’re still working on what we might do on May 22. Full details regarding Senior Week activities will be provided to families in the coming weeks.
Oral Defenses. Senior Oral Defenses will be scheduled for the week of April 29 – May 3. The school office will schedule individual sessions for each student (lasting a minimum of 30 minutes), inviting parents and pastors to attend. Regardless of how stressful this event may be for our students; it is important to have others there to provide support. Most importantly, we want family members to see how well their child or sibling performs under pressure.
Senior Trip. We are currently planning a senior mission trip to South Florida to volunteer at an organization ministering to the children of migrant workers. The trip will take place March 15 – 19, prior to our regularly scheduled Spring Break.
Of course, our students still have several months to endure, and more than a few challenges to face. They will need our prayerful support and the following reminder from Proverbs 4: 25-27.”
“Let your eyes look directly ahead and let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you. Watch the path of your feet and all your ways will be established. Do not turn to the right nor to the left; Turn your foot from evil.”