2016 Patriotic Program Transcript

Posted by on May 31, 2016

The following is a transcript of the 2016 Patriotic Program.  We hope you enjoy reading through it and are encouraged!

PATRIOTIC PROGRAM 2016 TO HONOR THOSE WHO SERVED

Students entered…

  • 2nd Grade sang – All the States and Capitals of the USA
  • 6th Grade sang – Meet the 44 Presidents
  • Kindergarten recited… Thoughts on the Constitution and Freedom

K – Thoughts on the Constitution and Freedom

  • “The Constitution is the guide which I never will abandon.”  George Washington
  • “The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government.” Patrick Henry
  • “We base all our experiments on the capacity of mankind for self-government.”  James Madison
  • “Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”  John Adams
  • “Can the liberties of a nation be sure when we remove their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people, that these liberties are a gift from God?”  Thomas Jefferson
  • Proverbs 2:6-7 – “For the Lord gives wisdom, from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.  He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk uprightly.”
  • “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on to them to do the same.” Ronald Reagan

WELCOMING STATEMENTS (Mr. Jeff Johnston) Welcome to Bradford Academy.  Thank you for joining us this evening.  Tonight we will be sharing some of the things the students are learning through song and recitation.  AND in doing so, we want to honor those who have served in our ARMED FORCES and honor that for which they sacrificed.  SO, you Veterans among us, you are especially welcome! Let’s all stand for our NATIONAL  ANTHEM then remain standing as I will lead us in prayer.

ALL – “The Star Spangled Banner”

Mr. Johnston – We live in a day of unprecedented material blessing.  Consequently, this generation is often guilty of enjoying this good gift from God and forgetting the principles that made this country what it is.  It would be tragic to forget the great foundations and the wisdom of those who gave us this country.  Listen now to 5th grade as they share some of the things our FOUNDING FATHERS have said to us today…

5th GRADE recited… A Conversation with the Founding Fathers

  • The Founding Fathers were thoughtful, intelligent, and well-educated men who had wise ideas about government and our nation.  As we celebrate our nation and those who have sacrificed to preserve our nation, it is helpful to remember some of the wisdom they valued and upon which they built our nation.
  • Mr. Adams?
  • Samuel Adams.
  • What do you have to say to the next generation?
  • If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home from us in peace. We seek not your counsel, nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you; and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.Samuel Adams
  • To one another: But how are we to hold on to this liberty?
  • Mr. Jefferson, you were there when they were fighting for liberty . . . didn’t you even write the Declaration of Independence? You thought liberty worth much sacrifice – do you have any advice on how to keep it?
  • “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be. . .History by apprising [citizens] of the past will enable them to judge of the future; it will avail them of the experience of other times and other nations; it will qualify them as judges of the actions and designs of men; it will enable them to know ambition under every disguise it may assume; and knowing it, to defeat its views.Thomas Jefferson
  • You agree, Mr. Webster?
  • “Every child in America should be acquainted with his own country. He should read books that furnish him with ideas that will be useful to him in life and practice. As soon as he opens his lips, he should rehearse the history of his own country.” Noah Webster
  • Yet knowing history, the people must act to take responsibility for and protect their liberty, right? Ah, Mr. John Adams!
  • “Government is instituted for the common good; for the protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness of the people; and not for profit, honor, or private interest of any one man, family, or class of men; therefore, the people alone have an incontestable, unalienable, and indefeasible right to institute government; and to reform, alter, or totally change the same, when their protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness require it.John Adams
  • OK . . .study history, take responsibility for holding the government accountable, what else? Mr. Adams? Samuel Adams?”
  • “[N]either the wisest constitution nor the wisest laws will secure the liberty and happiness of a people whose manners are universally corrupt. While the people are virtuous they cannot be subdued; but when once they lose their virtue then will be ready to surrender their liberties to the first external or internal invader.” Samuel Adams
  • Mr. Madison, you are considered the Father of our Constitution. What do you add?
  • “The aim of every political Constitution is or ought to be first to obtain for rulers, men who possess most wisdom to discern, and most virtue to pursue the common good of the society; and in the next place, to take the most effectual precautions for keeping them virtuous, whilst they continue to hold their public trust.James Madison
  • True, is it not, Mr. Washington?
  • “It should be the highest ambition of every American to extend his views beyond himself, and to bear in mind that his conduct will not only affect himself, his country, and his immediate posterity; but that its influence may be co-extensive with the world, and stamp political happiness or misery on ages yet unborn.George Washington
  • Where is Thomas Paine? He wrote something about the work it is to keep our freedom.
  • “Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives everything its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as Freedom should not be highly rated.”  Thomas Paine
  • Mr. Washington, you would like to add?
  • “Every post is honorable in which a man can serve his country. It is . . . [the citizens] choice, and depends upon their conduct, whether they will be respectable and prosperous, or contemptible and miserable as a Nation . . . this is the moment when the eyes of the World are turned upon them.” George Washington

RECOGNIZE VETERANS  (Mr. Jeff Johnston)

God has given us liberty and we must all work to preserve it and protect it.  One of the means by which we have been given liberty is by the SACRIFICE of those men and women of our ARMED SERVICES.  If you are among that honored number, if you have served, please stand or raise a hand, so we can all thank you.  Thank you! This next song is dedicated to you!

4th Grade played recorders “Over There

All sang “Over There

Mr. Johnston – We are thankful to all those who serve; however there is another group within that number who made the ultimate sacrifice. This next recitation is dedicated to those who never made it home.

4th Grade RecitedO Captain My Captain, By Walt Whitman

O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done,

The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won,

The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,

While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring;

But O heart! heart! heart!

O the bleeding drops of red,

Where on the deck my Captain lies,

Fallen cold and dead.

O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;

Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills,

For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding,

For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;

Here Captain! dear father!

This arm beneath your head!

It is some dream that on the deck,

You’ve fallen cold and dead.

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still,

My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will,

The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done,

From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won;

Exult O shores, and ring O bells!

But I with mournful tread,

Walk the deck my Captain lies,

Fallen cold and dead.

 

OATH of ENLISTMENT (Mr. Johnston) – I am sure every veteran had his or her own reason to enlist.  I expect for most it was for a more greater cause than a mere paycheck.  Listen to the oath sworn by each person enlisting in an armed forces…

“I, (state name of enlistee), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”

I want to make four observations about this oath…

  1. Did you notice what they swear to protect? YES, the CONSTITUTION.  Not the land, not the people, not our “interests”.  Perhaps that is because it is the CONSTITUTION, and the RULE of LAW, that is meant to protect the American people.
  1. Did you notice the caveat (or qualification) placed upon their obedience?  They will obey orders ACCORDING to the CODE of MILITARY JUSTICE.  In other words even the those who give the orders, all the way up to the president, are still accountable to the rule of law.
  1. Did you notice the time limit on this oath?  No, me neither.  All our service members, past and present stand as defenders of the PRINCIPLES embodied in the Constitution.
  1. Lastly, did you notice from where their HELP comes?  It comes from the Lord, Almighty God, the sovereign ruler of nations.  Without Him everything is a futile effort.

So, once again, to our veterans… We say thank you.  Let’s take a moment now to think about the CONSTITUTION, the very thing they have pledged to defend.  Next the students will recite the PREAMBLE followed by a few thoughts from our THIRD GRADE.

ALL STUDENTS – PREAMBLE to the US Constitution

We the People

of the United States,

in order to form a more perfect Union,

establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility,

provide for the common defense,

promote the general Welfare,

and secure the Blessings of Liberty

to ourselves and our Posterity,

do ordain and establish this Constitution for the

United States of America.

3rd Grade recited – Thoughts on the Constitution

  • What is a constitution? William Paterson, one of the signers of the U.S. Constitution answered that question by saying:
  • “It is the form of government, delineated by the mighty     hand      of the people, in which certain ….. fundamental laws are established. The Constitution is certain and fixed; It contains the permanent will of the people, and is the supreme law of the land; it is paramount to the power of the legislature, and can be revoked or altered only by the authority that made it.William Paterson
  • The purpose of the Constitution is not to give people “rights”.  The framers of the Constitution considered our rights to be God-given.  However, it does protect our rights by limiting the powers of government through granting the Legislative, Executive and Judicial branches specific and limited powers listed therein.
  • James Madison remarked, “An elective despotism was not the government we fought for; but one in which the powers of government should be so divided and balanced   among the several bodies of magistracy as that no one could   transcend    their    legal    limits without being effectually checked and restrained by the others.”
  • Andrew Jackson later commented,“Upon this country more than any other has, in the providence of God, been cast the special guardianship of the great principle of adherence to written constitutions. If it fail here, all hope in regard to it will be extinguished.”
  • Unfortunately, we recently lost a strong defender or the CONSTITUTION.
  • Antonin Gregory Scalia, who referred to himself as an “originalist”, was an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1986 until his death on February 13th of this year. In the context of United States constitutional interpretation, originalism is a principle that views the Constitution’s meaning as fixed as of the time of enactment, just as the founders intended.
  • This is in direct conflict with the modern view that the Constitution is a “living document,” allowing courts to take into account the views of contemporary society.
  • Scalia often remarked, “The Constitution that I interpret and apply is not living but dead, or as I prefer to call it, enduring. Our manner of interpreting the Constitution is to begin with the text, and to give that text the meaning that it bore when it was adopted by the people.  It means today not what current society, much less the court, thinks it ought to mean, but what it meant when it was adopted.”
  • In Justice Scalia’s view, the Constitution was not supposed to facilitate change but to impede change to citizens’ basic fundamental rights and responsibilities. Justice Scalia abhorred “judicial activism” and believed the place for implementing change was in the legislature, where the will of the people are represented.
  • If the Constitution is to be changed, there is a process to do that called CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS.
  • Scalia went on to say, “As long as judges tinker with the Constitution to ‘do what the people want,’ instead of what the document actually commands, politicians who pick and confirm new federal judges will naturally want only those who agree with them politically.”
  • Though Judge Scalia was attacked by many for his views of originalism,  he commented “[H]ave the courage to have your wisdom regarded as stupidity. Be fools for Christ. And have the courage to suffer the contempt of the sophisticated world.
  • We must, as young citizens and leaders of the future, show our regard for the work of those who have gone before us by echoing their voices in the public square.  As John of Salisbury so famously said,
  • “We are like dwarfs sitting on the shoulders of giants. We see more, and things that are more distant, than they did, not because our sight is superior or because we are taller than they, but because they raise us up, and by their great stature add to ours.”

(Mr. Johnston) Next the students will recite the PREAMBLE to the CONSTITUTION of the STATE of NORTH CAROLINA, another important document in the defense of our LIBERTY.  Following the PREAMBLE, our 1st graders will recite a few key points from the NC Constitution.

ALL – PREAMBLE to the NC Constitution

We, the people of the State of North Carolina,

grateful to Almighty God, the Sovereign Ruler of Nations,

for the preservation of the American Union and the existence of our civil, political and

religious liberties,

and acknowledging our dependence upon Him

for the continuance of those blessings to us and our posterity,

do, for the more certain security thereof and for the better government of this State, \

ordain and establish this Constitution

1st Grade – Excerpts from the NC  Constitution

  • We hold it to be self-evident that all persons are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, the enjoyment of the fruits of their own labor, and the pursuit of happiness.
  • All political power is vested in and derived from the people; all government of right originates from the people, is founded upon their will only, and is instituted solely for the good of the whole.
  • All power of suspending laws or the execution of laws by any authority, without the consent of the representatives of the people, is injurious to their rights and shall not be exercised.
  • The people have a right to assemble together to consult for their common good, to instruct their representatives, and to apply to the General Assembly for redress of grievances; but secret political societies are dangerous to the liberties of a free people and shall not be tolerated.
  • All persons have a natural and inalienable right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences, and no human authority shall, in any case whatever, control or interfere with the rights of conscience.
  • Every citizen of this State owes paramount allegiance to the Constitution and government of the United States, and no law or ordinance of the State in contravention or subversion thereof can have any binding force.
  • Freedom of speech and of the press are two of the great bulwarks of liberty and therefore shall never be restrained, but every person shall be held responsible for their abuse.
  • The people of this State have the inherent, sole, and exclusive right of regulating the internal government and police thereof, and of altering or abolishing their Constitution and form of government whenever it may be necessary to their safety and happiness; but every such right shall be exercised in pursuance of law and consistently with the Constitution of the United States.
  • The people have a right to the privilege of education, and it is the duty of the State to guard and maintain that right.

(Mr. Johnston) We will close with two familiar songs.  The first one, THIS LAND IS YOUR LAND recognizes our unity and blessed privilege to live in this land… followed by GOD BLESS AMERICA, a song that calls out to God for His continued hand of mercy upon us.

All – This Land is Your Land

All – God Bless America

(Mr. Johnston) Prayer

Flags

Stewards of Privilege

Posted by on April 2, 2016

The Lord has given to us many blessings and those blessings should not be squandered nor taken for granted.  Instead, we ought to be faithful stewards of our blessings.  I am convinced that the greatest earthly stewardship of all parents is their children.  God has given to every parent the great privilege to love and nurture, teach and learn, laugh and sorrow alongside those unique human beings with eternal souls.  Though they often can test us, children are  a blessing as Psalm 127 reminds us.  Despite their sin and foolishness, I would rather be their dad than anything else.     Sadly, as my own children grow year by year, I am increasingly being made aware that this stewardship will quickly pass.  I will occasionally look at past Bradford yearbooks and wonder how those small kids have grown up so quickly.  These precious lives are a stewardship.Picture1

Like most parents, I want the best for my children.  Within the limits of my providential resources I am determined to give them every possible blessing I can. The hard reality is not that I want or desire the best for them, but the real challenge is learning what the best is. I have to recognize that to be a wise steward of the great privilege of children, I need to be clear what the best means.  That is where the hard work begins; that is where we need wisdom and discernment.  Knowing how to be the best steward of God’s blessing requires God’s instructions and the Spirit to guide us.

You can be sure that there are many voices speaking to us about parenting and how to raise our kids.  There are many voices claiming to be experts but at the end of the day,  I will always turn to the Word of God to teach me how to steward that great gift of children that He has placed in my charge.  Before I turn to Dr. Dobson, Dr. Phil, Dr. Spock, Piaget, Erickson, or any other voice, I need to listen to the inspired Word of God.

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” I Tim. 3:16-17

In this text the Apostle Paul was reminding his young apprentice pastor that the Bible was sufficient to equip him in everything that a godly pastor needs to accomplish.  If the Word is sufficient for EVERY GOOD WORK, and being a wise steward of our children surely qualifies as a good work, then surely the Word of God is sufficient to help us identify what is best for them.  Do we believe that?

In short I believe that every parent, myself included, needs to think through biblical principles more often and more thoroughly when it comes to our stewardship.  We are too often tossed about by every new fad, theory, or trend.  Too often, we are instructed more by our emotions, selfish desires, or fatigue.  If we want to be faithful stewards of this great privilege, we need to hear from Him who entrusted us with this stewardship.  Peace and Grace.

Low Tech Old School

Posted by on October 21, 2015

When I was a child, one of the games we  often played was floor hockey (or “street hockey” if it was outside) .  We played it at school in the gym in P.E. class, on the play ground, on the road, and even at boys’ clubs at my church.  I have distinct and unpleasant memories of the sting of the hard plastic ball and the smashing of the knuckles as we vigorously imitated the NHL players so many of the boys adored.  Of course, we played without gloves, pads, helmet, or mask (which made playing goalie very unpopular).  Never-the-less, it was a very popular past time.  In gym class, the students would be instructed to grab a stick out of the barrel of battered school issue (government approved plastic) hockey sticks.  The first thing the boys would do is start bending the blade to the chagrin of the teacher.  We all loved curved blades because it helped us control the ball better.  The curve made our wrist shots look sweeter and even seemed to help grab the ball  from opponents faster.  The benefit of the curved stick has not been lost on professional players and as such the NHL has put restrictions on the amount of curve permitted. (In the eighties a beloved player, Wendell Clark of the Toronto Maple Leafs, was known for being one of the few players who still played with a perfectly straight stick.  It allowed him to shoot and pass back handed with devastating accuracy.  He was considered “old school” but ended up Captain of the Leafs for several seasons.)

The funny thing was that despite the advantage of a curved blade, the best hockey players in our gym class were still the ones who practiced and trained.  I could work a plastic blade into some unusual u-shape but still it would not guarantee that my play was sufficient to defeat some one who knew what they were doing.

I think the curved stick in hockey can be analogous to improved or increased technology.  I am certainly in favor of technology (I’m writing this on a laptop and expecting you to read it electronically), but I don’t view technology as an educational panacea.  Adding a computer doesn’t fix educational weaknesses any more than bending my stick really made me a better hockey player.  Bending my stick just covered up some of my deficiency in skill.  I remember playing at my church against a fellow who repeatedly would flick the ball up over my stick against a wall, go around me, and pick it up again on the other side.  He used this maneuver repeatedly to my frustration and humiliation.  Perhaps I am a slow learner or I just didn’t have a mind for the game or the ability to combine moves or tactics.  A better tool did not necessarily produce a better user.

This understanding is what is behind our decision to downplay technology in the early grades at Bradford Academy.  Essentially we have wanted the students to learn the skills necessary to write or compose well before using the technological aid.  While spell check can catch some errors, the autocorrect may actually cause some unintended mistakes.  There is no replacement for knowing the skill. For example, witch which is wich? Or is it which witch is witch? You get the point. Me and my sister could never get that write. Your not going be able to catch everything.  As a matter of fact my spell check only cot one of the many previous errors in this paragraph. (How many did you catch?)

Additionally, we have wanted the students to learn to read well, think well, and create well, without aids and before they had access to the internet.  They have to learn how to discern and filter information before their exposure to information overload.   My thought is that we wouldn’t ask our children to take a sip of water from a fire hose nor should we give them unfettered access to do research online at a young age.

Technology in school has been a rallying cry for education reformers for years.  Unfortunately, there has been numerous studies demonstrating that increased spending in technology in school and increased access to broadband internet has actually correlated with a decline in math and reading scores.1  Steve Jobs himself famously avoided letting his kids have iPads and admitted, “We limit how much technology our kids use at home.”Oddly enough, this seems to be the trend among many high-tech executives.  The NY Times reported that many of the most influential tech CEO’s limit screen time to only 30 minutes to 2 hours on weekends and none during the week for kids under 10.  They limit their older kids to “homework only” on weekdays.  More importantly, the Times article reported, “…there is one rule that is universal among the tech parents I polled… rule No.1: There are no screens in the bedroom. Period. Ever.”The Guardian recently reported on a similar trend in Europe.4

Again this is not to say technology is in itself wrong or dangerous, but as one tech writer put it, “Technology’s primary effect is to amplify human forces…”5 That is to say, if you already have good things in place, technology can increase its effectiveness and efficiency. However, conversely if you have poor or weak things in place, technology may also amplify those weaknesses.

So what are the tech skills we want for our students at Bradford Academy?

  • We want the students to think and problem solve well. How do we achieve that? By implementing a strong mathematics curriculum that emphasized computation in the early grades and moves into more complex abstract thinking as the students mature.
  • We want the students to think and compose written output well. How do we achieve that?  By emphasizing grammar, spelling, sentence and paragraph structure, exposure to and imitation of good writing at young ages and working towards greater complexity and excellence as the student matures.
  • We want the students to read and comprehend well. How do we achieve that?  By teaching them the importance of the written word and giving them the guidance and practice necessary to understand and discern both the obvious and subtle messages found in text.  As they grow we add the mental discipline of logic.

In all these areas we want to foster creativity and excitement.  Thankfully, we are seeing these skills growing among our students and in time we hope to add the tools that will amplify these skills.  But until then, we will persevere with paper and pen.  We will have our students do the heavy lifting by way of mental exertion in order to develop strong minds and a spirit of diligence.  Peace and grace.

1 – The False Promise of classroom Technology

2 – Why Technology Alone Won’t Fix Schools

3 – Steve Jobs: Low Tech Parent

4 – What Tech Leaders Won’t Let Their Kids Do

5 – Why Technology Alone Won’t Fix Schools

Alexander Wilson

Posted by on October 21, 2015

Bradford Academy was not the first classical Christian school in this area.  As a matter of fact, this area has an interesting tie to classical and Christian education.

You may have seen the name Melville show up locally.  We have the Melville Trading Company downtown and you may have seen historic references to Melville Dairy Farms.  Unbeknownst to many is the fact that the city Mebane is actually part of what is known as Melville Township.

(You would border the township if you draw a line running east  from Quarry Hills Country Club, by the Haw River, straight to the Orange County line, then follow the county line north to Fuller Road just north of Mill Creek, then go west to Stagg Creek and follow it southeast until it joins the Quaker Creek Reservoir and continue along Black Creek back to the Haw River. )

The name “Melville” was taken from a CLASSICAL and CHRISTIAN school that had been established in 1851 by Alexander Wilson.  The school was located near the current Alexander Wilson elementary school around Hawfields.  Alexander Wilson, a Scotch-Irish Presbyterian educator and clergyman, came to America around 1818. He arrived in America on July 4th and soon began teaching at various private academies particularly the classics and theology.  Philosophically, these schools followed the Presbyterian tradition of Andrew Melville, a Scottish Reformer.  Because of Melville’s stature among Christian scholars, Wilson named his school Melville Academy.

Andrew Melville was a theologian of the highest caliber and some consider himMelville as important to Scottish Presbyterianism as John Knox.  He fought for religious freedom from the government of King James and restored a high regard for the Scriptures in education.  He served as head of various colleges and angered those who claimed the infallibility of Aristotle, a popular position of the academic elite at the time.  While he held a high regard for the classics and scholarship, he was at the same time a champion of the ultimate authority of Scripture.  He famously rebuked the King to his face calling him, “God’s silly vassel.”  Melville famously reminded him that in Scotland there were two kingdoms and James was not head of both.  There was the civil realm headed by the man James the Sixth, and the heavenly kingdom, the church on earth, headed by Christ Himself.
While the church instructs the state in ethics and morality and the state protects the church, the relationship between the two is ultimately one of separation.  This way of thinking shaped Presbyterian views of government in Europe and was carried to America by the persecuted Puritans in the Northeast and later by the Scotch-Irish settlers here in the Carolinas.  These forefathers were fiercely independent when it came to personal and civil responsibility and at the same time unashamedly spiritually dependent when it came to the Scriptures and their Christian life.  Their dependence was wholly upon Christ.

This man, Andrew Melville who is almost lost to us in Christian history, stood tall in the mind of the energetic educator Alexander Wilson.  According to local historians, “When Alexander Wilson, a teacher in the Caldwell Institute in Hillsborough, decided to open a classical school of his own. Henderson Scott (1814–1870) convinced him to settle in Hawfields so the children in his community could be educated.  Wilson moved into his home in 1851 and named his new school Melville…”  According to the Alamance County Architectural Survey, “In 1850 Alexander Wilson purchased a tract of land at Burnt Shop in Alamance County and started a private classical school, the Melville Academy.  Wilson named his house where the school was held ‘Melville’ and later the post office’s name was changed to Melville. Wilson’s academy became another of the renowned private schools in the state… The original Melville Academy building was demolished in 1902.”

Alexander Wilson was a very pious Christian man.  While teaching at a previous school he began holding prayer meetings and demonstrated such a godly life that he was encouraged to become a pastor.  He was ordained in 1830.  During that time, it was said that most young Presbyterian clergy went out teaching at schools and preaching the gospel.  While the term “Classical Christian school” is a bit anachronistic, it is certainly right to call his classical school a Christian school.  Any other kind of education would have been unthinkable to a 19th century Presbyterian who had Andrew Melville as a hero.  After establishing the school, Wilson also had a gristmill built near the school making the area a center for trade and business.  The gristmill was destroyed in  1875 and eventually commerce moved a few miles to the north because a railway depot was established in what is now downtown Mebane.

All this historical trivia makes for some interesting conversations,  but it also teaches us a few lessons.  First, it is another reminder of the reality of our pervasively CHRISTIAN heritage.  Sometimes we hear people criticizing “organized religion” for all its supposed evils when in fact we can trace virtually all of our civil blessings to the work of humble Christians in our past.  Where serious Biblical Christianity was taught and embraced, we see a corresponding blessing in many areas of life including, and especially, education.

Second, we need to be careful about our judgment of the past.  I have to admit that I had grinned at the name Melville because it had such a “folksy” sound to it.  Little did I know it was the name of a courageous and brilliant Christian scholar who stood uncompromisingly against a tyrant king during the Reformation.  Furthermore, the name came to this area by way of a Classical and Christian school.  There is certainly nothing folksy about that grand heritage.

Lastly, let it also be a reminder of the harsh reality of compromise thrust upon us by the passing of time.  What was a prosperous and effective school is now completely lost.  The classical learning that had gained a noted reputation over a century ago has almost vanished in this area.  God has blessed faithful men of the past, but after generations of neglect we have seen those blessings diminished.  The name of Melville has been almost lost to us as well.  The spiritual battles he won had blessed generations and yet the man is largely unknown in our churches.  Sadly, the work of Alexander Wilson has also been virtually erased from our collective memory.  I wonder what he would think of the school that now bears his name.  Perhaps he would be thankful that so many children have the opportunity to get an education but at the same time I suspect he would be desperately perplexed at the methods and the complete eradication of Christianity from the curriculum.  The times have changed.  Perhaps he would be excited by the number of books students had access to in the library.  However, can you imagine his reaction to Captain Underpants, Goosebumps, or any of the other trite novels served up as children’s literature?

In order to build upon the blessing of our forefathers we need to know and preserve those blessings.  Alexander Wilson loved the Bible and prayer.  It prompted him to teach and speak.  Should we be content to do less?  At Bradford Academy we are attempting to give to our students something that was not given to us.  We are trying to regain that which was the norm in the education of the past.  If Alexander Wilson could do it in the backwoods of 1850’s North Carolina countryside, can’t we do it again in Mebane?  Can’t we regain a Classical education that is thoroughly Christ-centered and produce a generation of godly leaders?  I think we can.  I think we must. Peace and grace.

For further reading:

Quiddity

Posted by on September 29, 2015

By Tony Fairchild, President of Bradford’s Board of Directors

I am a deer hunter.  That is to say, I enjoy hunting deer even though I am not very good at it.  I have often sat in the woods waiting for daylight on a morning hunt.  I look up at the multitude of stars all around me and I am in awe of God’s power. There is a moment, right at daybreak, when a single bird chirps and is quickly joined by others. Squirrels scramble out of their nests and down the trees.  The temperature drops a few degrees and I can begin to see the fog rising from the creek.  Sometimes in that moment (if my mind is not distracted by my “to do” list, or thoughts of how cold I am, or my desire for coffee) I am utterly amazed by the tangible, indescribable, realness of God’s creation.  There are many such moments in our lives, but I am afraid that most of the time we miss them. We spend our days seeing, but not seeing, tasting, but not tasting.  Reader, I would like to encourage you to stop and soak in the realness of God’s creation; the “isness” of everything that surrounds us; what C. S. Lewis calls the “quiddity” of things.  In the book, Surprised by Joy, Lewis speaks of a friend who encouraged in him “a determination to rub one’s nose in the very quiddity of each thing, to rejoice in its being so magnificently what it was.”  This is the way God intended us to see His creation.

The world in which we live has been saturated by postmodern thought. This is the worldview that says that nothing is really knowable.  There is no objective truth or reality.

“There are no hard distinctions between what is real and what is unreal, nor between what is true and what is false.  A thing is not necessarily either true or false; it can be both true and false.” Harold Pinter (Nobel Prize winner)

This sounds so absurd that it is unimaginable that anyone really believes it.  Never-the-less, this philosophy is a driving force in our society and our educational system.  We want the students at Bradford to be equipped to go out into this lost and blind culture and be able not only to see for themselves, but also to help remove the scales from the eyes of those around them.  That is why we saturate them in a Christ centered worldview.  Every subject is taught with Christ as its focal point!  You see, the very real, quiddity of this world was intended to point to the very real God who created it.  We cannot fully know, understand or enjoy the universe without knowing its Creator.

Can a postmodernist enjoy the beginning of the day that I described earlier?  Yes, but not the way I can because I know that it is real and it is not an end unto itself.  The beauty of today points to a far greater reality. The beauty and joy of the present reality is only a drop in the ocean compared to what I will see.

So, as we begin autumn and very quickly enter the holiday season, try to stop now and then and take in the awesome realness of what God has done.  Observe with wonder the colors of fall.  Taste the turkey and the pumpkin pie with greater pleasure because God made such flavors.  Enjoy the quiddity of our Heavenly Father’s world.

For by him (Christ Jesus) all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. Colossians 1:16