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Just before Christmas break, Mr. Welch had the opportunity to visit with several government leaders in D.C. related to the continuing role of faith-based education in America. While attending, Chip, together with his father, Bobby Welch, was called upon to speak to a group of educators at the Paideia Conference in Greenbelt, MD. Please read the excerpt below from a recent publication covering the events.
On Thursday-Saturday, November 30-December 2, 2017, THE PAIDEIA CONFERENCE convened in the format called Weekend Dialogue.
The Conference proper began on Thursday afternoon at the steps of the Capitol building. Admitted to the StromThurmond Room, the PAIDEIA group was hosted by senior staff and policy makers such as Jennifer Marshall, Vice President of the Heritage Foundation. From the Senate, we proceeded to the Department of Education, where we met with a half-dozen key members of the Department, including Maureen Dowling, Director of the Office of Non-Public Education. Again, our group expressed our concern over issues of religious liberty as it pertains to the mission and vision of our schools. Given Secretary DeVos’ own Christian school and college experience, and her evident continuing interest by onsite visits, we have reason for hope.
From the Department of Education we made our last stop on our tour and held briefings in the Indian Treaty Room of the Eisenhower Executive Building, part of the White House complex. There, we were addressed by Andrew Bremberg, Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy, and two other members of his team. Once again, we heard assurances that religious freedom is an inviolable Constitutional right for our schools and for all American citizens. It was an impressive closing to our extraordinary close-up to government.
Throughout Friday and Saturday, the chosen theme of “Government and the Faith-Based School” aimed at specific topics. Each topic was introduced by a brief address, followed by extended time for discussion and debate.
Bobby Welch, Vice President, PAIDEIA, Inc., and his son, Chip Welch, Head of The Habersham School in Savannah, GA, pointed to what ought to be a major distinctive among faith-based schools, namely our curriculum and its moral worldview based on authoritative texts. For the Christian schools represented, this means a Biblical worldview, which Bobby Welch helpfully defined as Formation in Creation, Deformation in the Fall, and Re-formation in God’s Covenants, and ultimately in the Incarnation of Jesus Christ. He challenged us to be more intentional in helping students acknowledge an awareness of God’s active presence in reforming his world through reforming humanity in his image.
(adapted from “The Peideia Letter”, Vol. XXIX, Number 2, Fall 2017)
Each year, right before Christmas break, Habersham students of all grades celebrate with Christmas parties to enjoy the festal spirit of the season with their classmates. This is combined with each class participating in various service projects. This is a fantastic reminder to students that the Christmas season is not simply about receiving gifts, but also about emulating Christ by giving them. This year, each grade at Gould Cottage will participate in a different service project, while students at Habersham Hall will be divided by House for their projects.
Gould Cottage: Serving by Grade
Raising money to provide winter coats for orphans in Eastern Ukraine who are housed in a church conference center near Kiev (pictured above). The kindergartners are being challenged to do hard things in order to earn the money themselves, and hopefully taste of the joy of being a cheerful giver. They are able to locate Ukraine on a map and they pray daily for these children. They are also making cards to send along with their monetary donation.
Sending cards and gift cards to Hope Academy, a local organization that helps refugee women learn practical and necessary skills (such as navigating American grocery stores) as well as providing ESL classes for women and their families.
Working with Fields of Life (World Vision) to bring about positive change through provision. These students are working toward an ambitious goal of raising $3,000 to purchase a hand-drilled well for a community in East Africa. This well will provide clean water for a needy community of up to 300 people!
Looking after local children in need this Christmas by donating books and hand-written Christmas cards to the children at Dwaine and Cynthia Willett’s Children’s Hospital at Memorial Medical Center.
Traveling to Summer Breeze, a retirement home on Wilmington Island. The kids are making cards, writing letters, and praying for the residents prior to the trip. When they arrive, they will share what they made, and read Christmas books to the residents of the retirement home. They will also be joined by Lizzie, the comfort dog they learned about as a class.
Serving with a community Christmas service project for the Union Mission in downtown Savannah. They are collecting much-needed warm winter socks for men, women, and children, to be delivered to the Union Mission December 20th. They also are making Christmas cards to send to Gabby Kennard’s father, who is currently serving overseas with his Unit.
3rd and 4th Grade:
Filling care packages with toiletries and snacks for the homeless, which can be quickly handed out and meet immediate needs. These two grades will also be caroling at a nearby nursing home.
Doing service projects in the neighborhood around Gould Cottage, as well as assembling bags of toiletries and other needed items for the CURE Foundation, which will be handed out to cancer patients during hospital stays.
Upper School: Serving by Houses
House of Pulaski
Volunteering to do yardwork in the Ardsley Park area around Gould Cottage as a way to minister to those in the neighborhood.
House of Lafayette
Making cards and cookies to share with the residents of nearby Rose of Sharon Apartments, a nursing home on Habersham Street.
House of Washington
Making cookies to take to the police and fire stations right around the corner from Habersham Hall.
House of Madison
Packing and preparing hospital-necessities bags to donate to The Cure It Foundation, an organization that provides funding for childhood cancer research and support for children diagnosed with cancer.
– James K.A. Smith, You Are What You Love
If you venture into Gould Cottage or Habersham Hall this week, you might fall under the same enchantment our students are experiencing as they adorn the buildings with glistening ornaments and hand-made snowflakes, while songs of the season echo through the halls. As our school celebrates Advent in preparation for Christmas, we are challenged to tell this story in the context of the Great Story.
Presently, our parents and faculty are working their way through Smith’s recent book, You Are What You Love. In this book, Smith stands on the shoulders of giants in his assertion that our humanity, both individually and communally, is heavily shaped by the stories we tell. Additionally, we cling to stories which inspire us and capture our imagination because they remind us of who and Whose we are. It is for this reason that Smith encourages Christians to immerse themselves in God’s story of creation, fall, redemption, and restoration. By regularly recalling and rehearsing this Gospel narrative, our hearts and desires are realigned with God’s immovable truth and his vision of flourishing, as opposed to the rival visions that surround us.
At Habersham’s upcoming Evening of Lessons & Carols, it is exactly this Gospel narrative that is being recalled and rehearsed. Over the course of the evening, we will progress through the Bible from Adam & Eve’s creation and fall, the prophecies of a Second Adam, and Mary’s startling news from Gabriel, to Christ’s humble arrival on earth as our redeemer and savior. All present will play an important role in creating this “narrative enchantment of the world” through speaking, singing, or playing musical instruments. We look forward to the Habersham community joining together to tell the glorious and awe-inspiring story of hope that is offered to us this Advent and Christmastide!
–Sharon Mays, Music Teacher, The Habersham School
Now that we are all in serious hurricane preparation mode, I thought I would share this comforting word from Rick Monroe. Many of you who grew up in Savannah were blessed to know Rick from Young Life or church youth group. You know his giant-sized heart. I know him well in that sense. He has been selflessly serving Savannah’s youth for decades. Rick is also part of my family and serves Habersham generously. I know he is praying for all of us. Please allow his words to encourage you. He allowed me to share them with you. I am prayerfully thinking of all of you, now and in the days to come.
by Rick Monroe
Hurricane season is upon us. Texas has had its life changed….no one even knows how much at this point in time. Hurricane Irma is coming this way…leading millions to wonder if their own lives will be changing forever in coming days.
Hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, tsunamis….these are called “acts of God”.
Flowers, hummingbirds, breath-taking waterfalls, awesome sunsets, snowcapped mountain ranges and even healing of wounds or injuries are attributed to “Mother Nature”.
It seems that God has a public relations problem.
Spoiler alert: Mother Nature is an act of God. God spoke words and everything there is sprang into existence as He called them forth. “Mother Nature” is our invention…not His.
Sometimes things go wrong in nature as a result of our fallen world. But, God is in control.
How do we know? When Jesus came He calmed a storm with a word. He did not calm all storms. Just that one.
Jesus walked beside a pool at Bethesda where all manner of infirmed people congregated. He healed one paralytic. Just that one.
Jesus was healing people in a large crowd when He stopped and said, “Let’s go to the other side of the lake.” There, they met one deranged man in a graveyard which Jesus healed in the dark of midnight. Just that one.
I always wonder who was lying beside the paralytic at the pool. He might have said, “Hey, what about me?” Or maybe there was a mother with a paralyzed child who had stood in a long line all day, and she was next when Jesus left for the other side of the lake. She might have yelled out, “Hey, what about my baby?”
The fact is Jesus did not come to heal everyone or calm every storm. He showed His power in doing so, but only as credentials to His deity. He said that He “came to seek and to save that which is lost.” His bigger mission was to heal everyone….to calm every storm…..but not necessarily here. Just hereafter….for eternity.
I believe God calls us to pray for calming of storms and healing of infirmities. He can and sometimes still performs miracles. But sometimes He doesn’t….here.
He didn’t calm the storm when Peter began to sink, but He got him back into the boat safely. He didn’t heal Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” but He led him into all the known world to change history. He didn’t deliver John from exile, but He did show him a glimpse of Heaven so he could communicate his Revelation to the rest of humanity.
Maybe today you feel like you are sinking with a thorn in your flesh that has you exiled from peace and joy.
Remember: Jesus cares for every sparrow. He numbers every hair. He considers ever lily in the field. But He came…and died… for you. As if you were the only one. Just one.
God could have stayed afar off where hurricanes look like beautiful swirls of spotless white clouds. But He came from that lofty place down on the ground……in the midst of the storm, to ride it out with us and even lift us up to that place where we see the storm from His perspective.
“Peace. Be still.” Hurricanes really don’t change lives forever.
by Leslie Waller
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”
― Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad/Roughing It
Thoughtfully engaged. Culturally aware. Community minded. As we think about what a graduate of The Habersham School ought to look like, student travel is one of the means for accomplishing this goal.
Here are 3 ways student travel develops graduates:
- Having a cup of coffee or a meal with someone of another culture gives the traveler an appreciation for people and rituals that vary from their own.
- The Humanities that have been read and studied come alive for the traveler. Imagine seeing the remains of the Acropolis and standing where the Apostle Paul spoke to the men of Athens. Consider walking into the coliseum where Christians were persecuted and gladiators entertained thousands of spectators. Picture yourself driving the Appian Way and descending into the Catacombs outside Rome. Stand in front of The Declaration of Independence and imagine John Hancock signing his name. Visit Mount Vernon and wrestle with the idea that a man who fought for freedom also had slaves. Imagine seeing a work by Michelangelo or Van Gogh in person rather than in a book.
- Independence and problem-solving skills are developed when the student travels. Buses and planes are late. Bodies get tired and museum tickets get lost. How does the traveler respond in such circumstances? The very act of traveling is a test of one’s patience and fortitude.
Allie Waller and Sara Delk, both Habersham graduates who participated in the Europe trip their junior year, could not recommend the trip more. Sara admitted that a large part of her decision to participate in this opportunity was because most of her friends were going, but that she thinks she “…still would have gone…even if some of my friends weren’t going to be there, because of the awesome opportunity I was presented with.”
For Allie, traveling to Europe with her class “sparked a love for international travel” that is leading her to move to Scotland this fall. “We made some of the best memories there,” she added. “If I had the opportunity I would [go again]. The whole process was growing. I strongly believe everyone should take any opportunity to go.”
Sara concurred, recalling her most memorable experience of the trip to Europe: “…When we were at the Temple of Poseidon in Greece overlooking the Aegean Sea, it was like I finally had a visual to put with all the great books we had read and all the history we had studied, because sometimes I forgot that those places are actually real and it was so cool to see them in person.”
As these two graduates testified, seeing the world leads to a deeper understanding of people and things beyond Savannah and our daily paths. Travelers are rewarded with a new appreciation for both other cultures and their own culture, fresh opportunities to build independence, and a beautiful time to strengthen friendships.
By Connie Bayliss
I stepped out of my Old English class on a rainy morning in mid-June. Hardly a week into the summer term, I was still tired; thinking about a summer of Old English made me feel more tired.
I’ve been taking summer classes almost as long as I’ve been teaching, so the rhythm is familiar. Finish school in a flurry of final grades, rush through inspiration and hope for next year in professional development, fly or drive somewhere far away, and hit the books. I love taking classes, and reading books, and having discussions with classmates and professors, and writing papers. That’s what I told myself, anyway, as I crossed the slate walkway slick with rain to drop off my books.
But this summer it was hard to remember the feeling of curiosity, followed by the satisfaction of discovery, that drives academic pursuit. My mind was full of declensions and conjugations, and trying to distinguish the usage of þ and ð. 1 We’d been reminded that day of the mid-term paper just around the corner, and I steeled myself to skip the post-class croissant and coffee and head straight to the library. I bowed my head to keep the rain out of my eyes and trudged around the corner of Lincoln College, narrowly avoiding a septuagenarian cyclist in tweed as I turned down the lane toward the famed Bodleian Library.
Oxford is a city of small fortresses, all built up against each other. Carefully monitoring the comings and goings of tourist and scholar alike are the porters at every set of massive wooden doors. The walls of Brasenose Lane, the short alley between Lincoln and the library, are tall and crenelated. A venerable sycamore leans out of one of the gardens of Exeter College on the left. And beyond it, the close confines of the lane meet the hubbub and rough cobbles of Radcliffe Square, in the shadow of the library.
In the morning, the mobs of tourists are just beginning to form. They are mostly packs of Italian, or Spanish, or Chinese students studying English with a minor in Places Harry Potter was Filmed. Harmless individually, they are as formidable en masse as the rioting townspeople who originally stormed the colleges’ walls. 2
Entering the main quad of the Bodleian library is a bit like falling into Alice’s rabbit hole. The seas of tourists inside its confines ebb and flow, packed and deafening one minute, then appropriately silent the next as a tour empties back out into the street. The noise and the unpredictability of the crowds, distracted by audio tours, selfies, and the 17th century grotesques adorning the walls can be overwhelming. As Alice discovered, it’s best to keep moving and not try too hard to predict the patterns around you. But you have to keep your direction firmly fixed in your mind. Wander into the wrong door, and you’ll be herded back into the seething masses by the discreet security who zealously guard the Bod.
I entered the main building of the library (“Act confident. Brief eye contact, nod. Keep your card visible. Swipe. Don’t pause for the gate”) and clambered up the dizzying old wooden stairs. The Habersham Hall stairs were good training, but I was still breathless as I reached the top floor and prepared to enter the Upper Reading Room. 3 Anyone who enters a reading room gasping for air is sure to attract unwanted attention, so I waited as I caught my breath and watched the crowds out the window. Finally, I bolstered my courage and entered the room to see rows and rows of desks and scholars.
Each was oblivious to my appearance, engrossed in his or her own work. Piles of books littered most desks, and librarians efficiently and discreetly materialized with new documents. The energy of the room, so still and yet humming with the intensity of true focus, shook me out of my lethargy. As I found a seat and pulled out a well-loved copy of Beowulf, a feeling of awe came over me. The words of a poet, recorded around 800 AD but quite possibly even older, resonated in my ears. The fear and rage of the monster, tortured and torturing; the boasts of the warrior, ringing with confidence yet framed with respect and humility. The devout authorial asides that beg the reader to understand God’s control, while recalling the atrocities of kings of the past. 4 The characters and the emotions of the poem were not stale because I had read them before. They were like new friends, who cannot be truly understood until familiarity and trust has been established. I was not tired of reading. I had just gone too long without reading properly, carefully, deeply. I needed to wake up.
Renewed and reinvested, I worked for hours. I missed lunch that day, but found more satisfying sustenance in remembering what it was like to read to learn. My interest was amplified by knowing that every phrase I interpreted, every picture of Anglo-Saxon art I snapped in a museum, every idea garnered in class discussion, could be passed on to my class in just a few weeks. The only thing more satisfying than realizing truth is sharing it with someone else.
1 The letters thorn (þ) and eth (ð) both make variations of the modern English “th” sound.
2 The long history of town-gown conflicts in Oxford is well-documented, and might serve to put the problems caused by new SCAD cyclists on the streets in perspective.
3 The main rooms of the many buildings that comprise the Bodleian libraries are called reading rooms. They are full of books, but only a fraction of the library’s books are actually on the shelves, and others can be requested.
4 This can’t begin to do justice to the awesomeness of Beowulf. For a slightly fuller picture, find me in between classes or after school and I’ll try again. Or pick up Seamus Heaney’s translation and find out for yourself!