A Look Back at the Past

Five years ago, the MCA class of 2019, 20 students in all, received their eighth grade diplomas. After enjoying an eighth grade trip that included a day at Navy Pier and a day at Six Flags, the class received their awards and their diplomas, and went on to their respective high schools. That was the first graduating class I experienced at MCA, and it was quite a class, even in middle school.

Various measurements showed this to be a group of high achievers. At the time, the school used the Terra Nova Achievement Test as a measure of average yearly progress and the scores of this class were high. Many of them also did extremely well on the Map test, also known as the NWEA, in applying for admission to selective enrollment CPS schools. Several of the students experienced high school together at Chicago Hope Academy, while others scattered out to various other schools.

Being in a small, Christian school can produce the effect of being in a “bubble.” Critics will say that it is a shield from the real world, and in many ways, that is exactly what it is. But during the learning experience of children and youth, a controlled experience that shields them from distractions and danger, while providing them with the knowledge and skills they will need in this life, and the wisdom to apply what they’ve learned, is a good thing. I’ll take that.

And as our own class of 2023 is prepared to walk the stage and get their diploma, their classmates from five years ago are headed off to college. Several of them are honor students, at least one is a salutatorian of a graduating class, and the list of colleges and universities where they are headed, with scholarships, is pretty impressive, including schools like Johns Hopkins University, the University of Chicago, Notre Dame University, and Northwestern. Others, looking at their financial options, made some very wise decisions to avoid the student loan problem, choosing schools like UIC, where their scholarship money will cover all educational expenses, or Olivet Nazarene University, because they wanted a strong, Christian environment. These are students that were sitting in our classrooms just four short years ago, getting ready for their eighth grade graduation.

Even though we are a “bubble,” that does not mean that our students never experience the real world, and it certainly doesn’t mean that their school experience shelters them from it. Sometimes we think that the ideal Christian school is a real possibility, in which all families share the exact same values, think alike and have the same goals and objectives for their children. That perfect, ideal school does not exist. But what makes our bubble an effective means of education, and a highly successful one, is that there is the common element of Christian faith within the school community, and the students have teachers who are born again believers, mature Christians, who integrate the values and virtues of Christian faith into the curriculum objectives of every subject area.

The expected outcome is for our students to be able to function academically in any high school they choose, but also to be able to live by the values of the faith they saw integrated into their school life and curriculum when they were our students. We don’t just teach math, we teach Biblical values and virtues found in places like the beatitudes in Matthew 5, or the Fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23. We don’t just teach English Language Arts, we teach our students to respect God’s order, which includes the authority of those places in positions of responsibility for their education. We don’t just teach social studies, we teach a social order that is based on the gospel of Jesus Christ, living out the values of the Christian faith. We hope that the effects of the bubble here include a measure of Christ-likeness and faith that can be seen in their lives, and that they recognize they were created for a purpose, and that they know Christ as their savior, and see God’s hand and calling on their life as a citizen of his Kingdom.

And while the school is a primary influence in a child’s life, the most important influence is their parents. There is no replacement for a godly home build on the values of the gospel of Jesus Christ. What we do as a school is in partnership with the home. That doesn’t mean that you just pay us tuition and then shop around for what you want. It means that you trust us to provide a part of your child’s education for which we have a spiritual calling, spiritual giftedness and professional expertise to help you and support you. It doesn’t work when a parent thinks they can pay their tuition and then tell us how we are going to teach their child, based on their preferences. It means that, during the school day, we have the responsibility for teaching your child what we consider to be a set of essential skills and knowledge and you help your child figure out how best those skills and knowledge will help them fulfill God’s purpose and calling for their life.

As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith , just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.

See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the universe and not according to Christ. Colossians 2:6-8, NRSV

The excellence and effectiveness of MCA is quite visible in those who have graduated from the school and have placed themselves in God’s hands to be used according to his purpose, in his body, the Church.

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