High School at Veritas Classical Academy

Parents have many choices for high school in the Beaumont area. Why Veritas? As Beaumont’s only Christian, classical school, we offer most students a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to complete a well-rounded “liberal arts” education.

The Liberal arts

High school is often our last chance to ensure all students receive a well-rounded, liberal arts education, in every subject, before the pressures of majors and specialization come into play in the college years.

College these days is ridiculously expensive, which means most students will choose majors directly related to their intended field of work. Yet, 100 years ago, no one was considered truly educated unless he or she had exposure to what we call the “liberal arts.” By liberal, we do not mean a political orientation, but rather a well-rounded education in history, literature, mathematics, science, the Latin language, and religion. It was called “liberal” because it was the type of education thought appropriate for free men and women.

This type of education focuses on understanding the great works of our civilization, from Socrates to Dickens, such that one can join the “great conversation” of Western Civilization. It is the type of education our Western forefathers thought best for the type of people who would lead our societies. As one old saying goes, “You either study the liberal arts, or be ruled by those who study the liberal arts.”

Perhaps you have heard about elite “prep schools” in major metropolitan areas. These schools, while mostly rejecting a Christian worldview, still teach by classical methods. They teach Latin, and students learn about Greek and Roman history. While public schools have pursued a utilitarian model, seeing students as units to be manufactured with certain skills, the elites have reserved the wisdom of the ancients for themselves. They know that educating leaders requires more than checking boxes.

From Alexander to Washington, nearly all significant Western leaders for thousands of years received a classical, liberal arts education. What distinguishes a liberal arts education? Simply, it teaches a student how to think, rather than what to think. It is a true education, not political indoctrination. Unfortunately, this is often not the case in other types of schools.

rhetoric

While the benefits of classical education are enormous at all stages of a child’s development, what happens in high school is truly magical at schools like Veritas. It is the capstone of all of classical education. Students have completed elementary school, where they learn facts about the world. Then, they complete middle school, where they learn to put these facts together in logical sequence.

Finally, in high school, we come to what we call the “rhetoric” stage. Having mastered facts and reason, students now learn to communicate their ideas beautifully. They learn the fine art of how to say things, and that when influencing human beings, often how we say something true is just as important as the truth itself.

In other words, high school at Veritas is when students learn to take the truth of Christ that is inside them and become effective advocates for the Kingdom that influence others around them and the broader culture.

The Cost

Many families desire a traditional high school experience. We get it - football games, cheerleaders, the marching band - these are strong and enduring parts of the American culture. Veritas students of course have opportunities for athletics and extracurriculars, like our excellent mock trial program. But it is fair to say that these auxiliary programs are not our focus. Our focus is on the students we send out in the world as ambassadors of Christ, on inculcating enduring values and skills that bless them their entire lives.

The Risks

Let’s be frank. Many parents do not understand what high school is like these days. If you went to high school before the advent of the smartphone and social media, your experience might as well have been 100 years ago compared to what kids experience today. More than ever, conventional high schools present serious moral risks to Christian students still developing in their faith.

We also live in a society increasingly hostile to Christian beliefs and morality. At a conventional high school, faculty members are not vetted for their worldview or lifestyle choices. School districts aren’t even allowed by law to ask those kinds of questions, and those hostile to the Christian faith are more brazen than ever in their speech and behavior. While they may be gifted educators in their areas of expertise, inevitably the deep relationships they build with their students bleed over into areas of faith, worldview, and morality. Those who are most hostile take particular pleasure in attacking the faith of students from good Christian homes. Spiritual warfare does not stop at the schoolhouse door. It intensifies.

Part of the natural development of high school students is seeking their own identity, and seeking to distinguish themselves as an individual and establish their adult independence from their family of origin. The identity they seek for themselves during this critical time of development is highly dependent on their peers and the other adults in authority over them, in particular their teachers. Many Christian parents have decided that the cost of a private Christian school is preferable to leaving these influences to chance at the local public high school.

Choosing a Christian high school education

Many families begin thinking about choosing a high school in the latter part of middle school. Some parents make this decision defensively, seeking to please the student rather than making their own decision based on a student’s long-term best interest. As a society, we don’t allow middle schoolers to drive because they generally lack the judgment necessary to make good decisions, even small decisions like when to change lanes or how fast to drive. As parents, we need to consider this immaturity when making a decision about high school.

A middle schooler will naturally tend towards wanting to conform, to wanting a “normal” high school experience. If we hope for something better for our students than our society’s morally degraded notion of “normal,” we must at some point make decisions that reflect our values. For many parents, this means taking a firm stand for Christian education, despite what a student thinks they want. As Dave Ramsey says, “if you want to live like no one else, you have to live like no one else.”

Ironically, many families are most interested in Christian education when it matters least, notably the early elementary years. If we were to eavesdrop on kindergarten classrooms in our area, as Christians we would likely not hear anything that would be particularly concerning. We might notice what was missing, notably references to faith and Scripture, but for the most part we would not object to the content.

Yet when Christian worldview matters most, say in a high school biology classroom, some of these same parents drop Christian education out of fear. They fear “missing out” on the American high school experience, and are willing to risk the compromise of their student’s faith and worldview to achieve it. We would do well to remember Christ’s words about gaining the whole world at the cost of our soul.

The Benefits

God-willing, we pray and work for the following outcomes for our students:

A Veritas graduate will know what they believe and why they believe it. They will understand the reasoning and apologetics behind their deeply held faith. Having studied the counterarguments, they will not be intimidated, or even very impressed, by hostile criticism they may encounter on a secular college campus. Beyond this, they will take with them communication skills, and a deep appreciation of history, literature, and art that will give them a unique perspective relative to those who lack a liberal arts education.

By learning how to communicate, and with a mastery of many of the great ideas of our civilization, they will be natural leaders in whatever specialized field they pursue.

The Results

High school students at schools like Veritas achieve excellent results on the SAT and other standardized tests. Some parents worry that smaller Christian schools will compromise their students’ post-high-school options. Yet, the objective evidence of SAT scores shows the risk is precisely opposite this misplaced anxiety. If students from Christian, classical schools score higher than their public school and conventional private school peers, the risk is losing opportunities because a student could have attended a Christian, classical school and chose not to. If the concern is academics, there is no rational basis for choosing another type of school.

Test scores, however, are not our focus. Our focus is producing students who love God, love learning, and have a deep understanding of their faith and Western heritage. We believe modern education has gone astray, and that classical education is simply more effective. We are not surprised that fair assessments, like the SAT, would detect this advantage and reward our students for their hard work.

If you believe Veritas might a good fit for your family, find out more about how to apply.