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What Life is Like in the Hybrid Model

You come to school three days per week.

Class time is not wasted with long videos that can be watched at home, loading up dozens of computers on to the same app, or administrative interruptions. Your teachers guide you and your classmates through a lesson, teach you a new skill, and prepare you to accomplish a new task at home the next day. Working with your classmates throughout the day, your shared sense of purpose and fun builds lasting friendships. When the day ends, you depart with your books and notes and assignments in your planner.

On the homeday, you budget your time to read, write, reflect, practice, wander and create. You have a job to do, and you have all tools you need to complete it. Your parents oversee that you are being responsible, and teachers are available by email and phone. Over time you will become the master of your studies and have skills in college that other freshmen have yet to even begin learning – the ability to be independent and to learn on your own.

Little Windows

Frog stomachs splayed open with organs set to the side,

Arguments about the purpose of organized religion,

A research paper on artificial intelligence,

A house leader proposing a change in the rules,

A Pro-life club member speaking to the young about the value of motherhood,

Inked art on a page made as a gift for a friend,

A flower placed in a vase for Mary,

A dozen girls and boys in a heated soccer game,

A small book club based upon a shared love of mystery and adventure.

This is a partial list of a week at school. JPII flourishes, not in the big impressive, gaudy expenditures, but in its small, faithful, and beautiful moments of learning and charity.

For complaining, we have no quarter. For love, we have no limit.

What’s Latin got to do with it?

“What does it even mean to have a successful Latin program?” Someone recently asked me.

I can hear the children melodically chanting now from the courtyard,

Latin’s a dead language

Dead as dead can be,

First it killed the Romans,th

Now it’s killing me.

Okay. The standard defenses of Latin are somewhat okay, “It builds vocabulary, grammatical understanding, and ‘critical thinking.'” Is that convincing?

At some level, yes. Consider how many words have a Latin root in English. No, it’s not 80% as some overly enthusiastic patrons of Latin claim. But, the more realistic 40% is still a large chunk for a language of over 2 million words. Grammatical? Yes Latin is helpful for grammatical learning. But so is Russian, Spanish, German, and Farsi. As for critical thinking, certainly Latin is not the only road.

However, I think, first and foremost we are Catholic. Latin, it so happens, is a huge part of our heritage. To sing the Eucharistic hymns of St. Thomas Aquinas, the Latin of the Gloria, and to recite the Creed is great. But to understand these is a specially important way to cherish our tradition and allow it to become part of us. If we ignore Latin entirely, our personal faith will miss out on some of the most wonderful treasures bequeathed to us.

Latin acts as a foundational language art at our school and provides our students access to a rich treasury of prayers and hymns, a greater understanding of English roots and stems, a more robust understanding of grammar and rhetoric, and an initial connection to a 2300-year tradition of science, history, religion, and literature.

As JPII wrote, “The Roman Church has special obligations towards Latin, the splendid language of ancient Rome, and she must manifest them whenever the occasion presents itself.”

So what is a successful Latin program? It is one in which the students gain a proficiency to understand the prayers of the Church. All the other benefits, college credits, grammatical knowledge, vocabulary, and critical thinking are ancillary to that goal.

At least, this is how I submit we should see it.