A Word From the Head
May 5, 2017
Senior Thesis Presentations May 15-19
The Senior Thesis is the most tangible example of one of the goals of a Regents education- to graduate students who can declare, dialogue, and defend their position on an argument. This is the pinnacle of the classical Christian education model and the event is something every person who has a student at Regents should witness. The week of May 15-19 each senior will present their thesis and in so doing will have completed the final assignment as a Regents Knight. The smile on the face and the bolstered shoulders of a student standing alone at the podium as the crowd cheers their accomplishment brings tears to my eyes every time.
Seniors research their topic for nearly two semesters and then distill their knowledge down to a 20-minute speech. With the shepherding care of Mr. Carlisle and Mrs. Usry and their respective one-on-one adviser, they hone their vision down to a laser precise thesis following the canons of classical rhetoric.
The Senior Thesis is more than just a written assignment or a speech well delivered. After the presentation, the crowd applauds and the student takes a deep breath as the real test now begins.
For the next 20 minutes the senior fields questions from four judges while a live stream video broadcasts the final steps of the journey around the world. Every thesis is delivered from Knights Hall on the 3rd floor of the School of Rhetoric in front of windows looking upon the world the student will soon enter.
Senior thesis judges are hand-picked by a parent volunteer, many with expertise on the particular subject. A judge also takes questions from the audience using an iPad and may interject a thought from someone who could have an unconventional or completely opposing viewpoint on the subject.
While the judges probe and challenge the strength of the student's preparation, the audience watches with anticipation- and a little thankfulness- that they are not the one alone at the podium. My favorite part of watching the audience is seeing the senior's fellow students, many of whom may have walked this journey together as friends since Grammar School, and are now giving them non-verbal cues of affirmations – little winks, empathetic smiles, subtle nods saying "we stand with you."
At the end of the 40th minute, Mr. Carlisle or Mrs. Usry stand as the student finishes their final answer. She made it!!!!!!! The crowd explodes into applause. Collectively the room sheds a tear of thankfulness, pride or sheer relief. I am always moved by the body language and facial expressions of the senior as the crowd cheers. They walk away from the podium a different person than the one who started 40 minutes earlier. It is the end of one journey and the beginning of another.
Please do not miss experiencing the joy and affirmation of the Regents vision these thesis presentations provide. Here are the times and subject titles. See you in Knights Hall.
As you read this, I will have landed in India! Angie and I are visiting my daughter and her husband in southern India where she is doing her Fulbright research studying and translating ancient Syriac. I can't wait to share about this trip and I hope to tell you about this journey at some of our opportunities for community gatherings this spring, including our upcoming "Huddle with the Head" and our awesome Regents Cup.
Joyful orderliness exhibited by a teacher begets giggly, orderly joy in children. Let me explain.
Taking a break from my headmaster duties on Wednesday I ventured down Grammar Hall and inserted myself as the caboose in a line of second graders following their teacher back to their classroom. The little giggles started and the teacher (the train engine at the front) said with a cheeky grin, "Look, boys and girls, we have a NEW second grader today." We keep walking down the hall. Quiet and happy. I do this little caboose game often. It's fun.
All moms are invited as we welcome new moms to Regents and honor the mothers of the Class of 2017! The RPC Welcome Coffee is Thursday, September 1, at 8:30 a.m. at the home of Guy and Melinda Grace, 3901 Agape Lane. Please join us for this wonderful opportunity to cultivate new friendships while celebrating a new school year and learning about upcoming RPC events.
January and February tend to be the hardest emotional months in a school. I've written about this many times over the years in "Word from the Head." Personally, cedar fever last week followed with some kind of virus today. As I write, I'm looking out my window from home. Bright blue skies are blending with cool, crisp air on this glorious weekday, but I'm down for a day.
Next week when you receive the picture at right by email, you will be able to click on it and open up Arches, the new digital magazine of Regents School of Austin. Our aim with Arches is to provide an easily accessible way for you to get a snapshot of the amazing stories and student growth happening right before our very eyes.
Yesterday, I heard a heartwarming story. Last year one of our own students recruited several of his friends to attend Regents, and that led to four new students on our campus this year. Lovely.
As I gaze across our beautiful campus with many architectural vistas, one grand common theme is our arches. Arches are a key classical architectural element, and the arches at Regents echo this classical time period. In the curved pattern of every arch there is a central block called a cornerstone or keystone. Without this cornerstone, the arch will crumble. The bible references this word several times, naming Jesus as the "chosen and precious cornerstone" (1 Peter 2:6). Hence, the arches on our campus are a tribute to the classical and Christian education our students receive. But our arches also symbolize something more subtle yet very significant. They represent what our students experience as they "pass through" on their journey.
Baseball great Yogi Berra died yesterday, leaving behind many legendary baseball stories and "Yogi-isms". His most famous quote "It ain't over 'til it's over" helps us take a long view of parenting. A moved clothes pin in kindergarten does not mean life is over for a child. Proverbs 24:16 tells us that 'for though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again". A strike is just a swing and a miss. It does not mean we are out of the game.
In reflection of Yogi's famous witticism, and in light of our student's grades coming out this week, I was reminded of a Word article from 2011.
On Monday, the School of Rhetoric students went on a retreat to a local camp. Below is the letter from Mr. Doerksen to the SOR parents describing their experience.
What really happens on the SOR Retreat? I have heard that question a few times this fall, and after a great day yesterday, I want to fill in the picture. Evidence of hard play comes home in the form of a really tired sun-soaked teenager. And that is a goal. But, it is a goal in service of a greater one: academic discipleship.
Like many of you, I am a public school graduate. I received a fair education in the public school system in Wilmington, North Carolina. I enjoyed the tutelage of several fabulous teachers. My journey included the various tracks including "gifted and talented" (I fooled them). I was well served in that environment, and I still recall with deep fondness many moments with several great teachers. But, as I reflected on my education, I noticed a key element that was lacking.
Our school song is Non Nobis Domine. Many years ago a Regents kindergartner told his mother "We are learning Japanese at school!" Upon further inquiry, the mother learned that it was the wonderful Latin chorus Non Nobis Domine.
Barry McBee, our Chairman of the Board at Regents, led today's K-12 Convocation Chapel with the Invocation Prayer. Please consider regularly praying the words below over your children and over the community of Regents.
Twenty new employees have joined our community this year, for a total of 145 ministering teachers, coaches and staff members.
Our new hires come from a wonderful variety of backgrounds and include two Regents alum, a Regents dad with five children, a Yale Ph.D. who smiles all the time, a veteran teacher from Dripping Springs, a military veteran from Dallas, a Regents alum mom, a married couple from Houston, two incredible PE coaches, a board member of Lifeway Publishing, a Californian who started a video production company, a CEO of a baseball team, a published author, a new PhD who taught at Regents six years ago, and two Regents moms.
Take a look at their pics below taken by Ted Parker Jr., and then click here to read more about all of our amazing employees.
The campus buzzes with excitement as teachers, coaches, and staff members prepare the way for the new school year. The grounds flow with students as well. Yesterday children were flooding the playground before the last summer library day, while our fields were filled with athletes in fall training.
Families are needed to care for the chickens this summer. Care includes cleaning the coop, making sure the chickens have plenty of food and water, letting them out for the day and locking them up in the evening. A contribution of $50 per summer family to cover feed and summer costs is needed. Contact Laura Caskey at email@example.com for more information.
At our annual RPC Thank You Coffee yesterday, we enjoyed many annual practices. We prayed for the new RPC Chair-Elect, Kristen Sewell. We gave a gift to the outgoing RPC Chair, Heidi Wendland. We heard the vision of the incoming Chair, Kelly Benzon. We prayed for each other. And, we wrote notes of encouragement.
Our 1st through 8th grade students completed their national standardized exams last week. In a world where standardized testing has morphed into a high-stakes culture that dominates the experience of day-to-day learning, I am thankful for our ERB exam (or technically called CTP-4). Where some standardized testing processes can get in the way of learning, our ERB proves to be a valuable exercise that enhances the educational experience at Regents.
Verbs demonstrate animation in our lives. There are two verbs in the English language that equip us for parenting: Watch and listen. Contrary to popular belief and practice, "talk" and "lecture" are not in the top two list. Watching and listening suggest several important messages to your child.
Nick Gordon, our Director of PE, recently led our K-12 Staff Meeting with joyful zeal by introducing new objectives that he and his department have incorporated into our PE program this year. Nick used fellow staff members to demonstrate some of the new activities, which included your esteemed Head of School rolling around in a life-sized tea cup and making a fool of himself.
Beck Brydon, our Athletic Director, sent out an email last week to our 6th-12thgrade parents about the importance of our roles and behavior at sporting events. He and I talk about such things often, and our discussion stirred my thoughts towards the relationship between our community at a sports event and the Trinity.
Among many changes brought by our Skyward system, we're perhaps most delighted to announce an end to the registration packet. Beginning in a few weeks, registration will be completed online (at home, in your jammies!). Forms have been re-designed, and many fields are pre-populated, so the process is markedly faster and easier.
Our School of Rhetoric class trips prove to create memories and open new experiences. Check out the photo taken this week in Europe of Mr. Doerksen, Regents juniors (Cade Richardson, Tyler Robert, and Claire Hugman), and Matt Gore – Regents Class of 2012. As a Davidson College student, Matt is spending a year at Oxford University and was able to join the juniors briefly on their class trip.
What better day than a school snow day to cozy up together at home... and plan your summer activities!
Part of every Regents family's summer plans should include camps at Regents. Entering its 12th year of programs, Regents Summer Camps provide your children a great opportunity to stay connected to classmates, sharpen their skills, and have a lot fun. Everyone benefits -- the cost is more affordable than most summer camps, and it supports our coaches and teachers by allowing them to enjoy your children this summer while earning a little extra income.
Mr. Ron Wood -- our COO, Regents Men's Bible Study Leader, and a Regents grandfather -- is giving the School of Rhetoric Chapel talk on Monday. Below is part of his teaching from John 12. You can read the rest of it, as well as other great chapel talks and articles by our teachers and staff, at www.regentsschool.com/sorblog. Take a look. They are worth the read.
This season of Lent reminds Christians that we are fallen, broken creatures in need of redemption. Being redeemed from our brokenness resonates in the soul because we all share this human condition. All of us. Thankfully, we have a redeemer. Rob Williams, History Instructor in our School of Logic, is our guest writer this week. I love his insights on redemption through the inspiring paintings of Edward Hopper. My hope is that the message will kindle a spiritual pursuit in you this Lenten season.
Each morning I see students reading while they are walking down the plaza. Thankfully this multi-tasking is not as dangerous as texting while driving.