Cross Country Regional Champs, 2017

Congratulations to the Boys Cross Country Team, SCISA Region IA Champions!

Special congrats to Coach Gary Collier, Regional Coach of the Year!

Irma Update

With the expectation of tropical storm force winds and rain from the Irma hurricane system, Covenant will be closed on Monday, 9/11.

Be sure to look for information about Tuesday, 9/12, on WIS TV.

Stay safe this weekend!

May 10, 2016

As I mentioned last week, I really can’t think of a better way to find encouragement in our school than to look at the graduates we produce.  Life has a way of focusing our attention on the “here and now,” flooding our vision with all of the immediate circumstances and making us lose sight of the bigger reality that our Father does amazing things through simple faith and faithfulness.  In a world that’s driven by pragmatism and personal satisfaction, everything works against the principles and ideals of a classical education built on the foundation of a Biblical worldview, but when I look how our Father is blessing those efforts in our graduates, it reminds me that the best fruit comes through time and pruning.

This week we heard from Nereo Legaspi, “Nico” as he was known here at Covenant.  Nereo graduated from Covenant in 2011, then attended the University of South Carolina where heNereo Legaspi, College Graduation earned a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science.  He’s currently working at Palmetto Health Baptist, gaining experience as he prepares to pursue more training in Physical Therapy.  When reflecting on how the Lord used his time at Covenant to prepare him for his college experience, Nereo says:

“My time at Covenant helped me develop a strong Christian foundation.  The curriculum at Covenant helped me become a well-rounded individual who could express my faith and defend it whenever challenged.  Learning Latin has aided me in my medical terminology and rhetoric taught me to form my words with purpose.”

I don’t think I could come up with a better picture of “Christ-centered, Well-rounded” than Nereo’s own testimony.  It’s true that Latin is hard and sometimes boring (sorry Mrs. Rapson and Mrs. Berry).  It’s true that the teachers at Covenant are demanding and challenge our students to work at perseverance as much as anything else.  And it’s true that the philosophy and ideals of classical education seem old and irrelevant in a culture that tells us that current trends are “progressive” and “innovative.”

But students like Nereo show that nothing sets the stage for progressive innovation like a solid foundation.  Nereos’ testimony shows the fruit of deep roots, well nourished — a young man who stands steady in his faith, prepared academically and spiritually to impact the world for Jesus.

Continue to pray for our graduates, past, present, and future, that our Father will give them a big vision of His long-term plan, a vision of eternity that puts the “here and now” in it’s proper perspective as the training ground for future faith and faithfulness, and His glory seen in His work in His people.

In Christ,

Mr. Bolen

What’s your vision for your child?

I’ve shared in previous editions of “the News” how Gretchen and I came to have a commitment to classical Christian education.  It started when Tabby moved through her toddler years and approached school age.  We began to think about different school options available to us and ask our peers about the schools their children attended.  The options and the advice we received were all over the map.

Eventually, we decided that we needed to approach our question differently.  We were asking, “What’s best for our child right now,” a short-term question that, more often than not, leads to short-term decision making.  The kind of decision making that, as hard as we try to resist it, is often led by our child’s immediate happiness and our own level of satisfaction.

Instead, we needed to start at the end, asking, “What kind of adult do I want my child to be?”  Then, working backwards, we could get a set of guidelines that helped bring “right now” into the light of a long-term goal, pursuit of which would no doubt bring hardship and conflict along the way.  But if pursuing the vision meant dealing with the hardship and conflict for the “right now,” then that’s what it took.  In the end, we decided that we want our adult children to be like the men of Issachar, with the ability to understand the times in which they live, and know what God’s people ought to do in response (1 Chron 12:32).

When I came to Covenant as a teacher in 2009, I came in part because I saw why the classical philosophy of education, paired with a Biblical world and life view, has historically proven to produce “men (and women) of Issachar.”  It gave me the picture of practically applying Paul’s challenge to the Romans: resist the world’s attempts to push you into a mold of its own image, but be changed more and more into the image of God by the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:2).

In other words, the mind is the entryway into a life of transformation, learning to think well about God, His creation, and the challenges that come with “the times” in which we live so that we can figure out how, in any and every situation that arises, to respond to the glory of God.  The express goal of classical Christian education.

Here at Covenant we keep that vision in mind with what we call our “Portrait of a Graduate,” which we use as a guide when we ask questions like, “What kind of teacher do I need to be?  What curriculum should we develop?  What textbooks and resources should we use?”  When we ask those questions, we look at out “Portrait of a Graduate” and answer, “Ones that work to produce those kinds of students.”

Every year we have an opportunity to see how closely we come to hitting that mark, despite all of our failings, shortcomings, and challenges.  We see it every May, when our Seniors walk across the stage and into the phase the life the Lord has in store for them.

And you have an opportunity to see it, too, by coming to the Senior Thesis Presentations

IMG_2118
Covenant Class of 2016

this Thursday afternoon when this year’s graduating class demonstrates their ability to: “think broadly, deeply, and critically about a wide variety of subjects. They have the ability to organize and analyze information, generate original thought, and persuasively convince others of an argument.”

So I would encourage you to come by for one of the two presentation sessions.  Come see the way our graduates have been trained to think, understand, and respond.   Every year when I do that, I see right in front of me, in flesh and blood, a picture of the vision I have for my children.  And I’m blessed by it.

In Christ,

Mr. Bolen

Mary Ellen Fuller’s visit to the Junior and Senior Class

James Donovan was a lawyer who engaged in many of the 20th century’s most intense historical events.

Steven Spielberg’s recently released a movie, Bridge of Spies, that focuses on Donovan, who defended America’s most notorious captured Russian spy – Col. Rudolf Abel. Donovan also made the exchange in Berlin on a bridge during the Cold War and traded him for America’s U-2 pilot spy Francis Gary Powers, who had been captured when his plane was shot down over Russia.movie ”Bridge ofJames

Mary Ellen Donovan Fuller, who visited Mrs. Deena Bouknight’s history class on March 18, is James Donovan’s daughter. She spoke to the juniors and seniors about the movie unveiling experience in New York and meeting at length with Spielberg and Hanks, the historic event itself, and her father’s other historic accomplishments such as the Nuremberg trials and the Bay of Pigs to name a few.

Jim Donovan’s memoir of this spy event is “Strangers on A Bridge” and Mary Ellen signed copies for our students.

January 13, 2016

One of the things that makes our school unique is that we build strong relationships.  We understand that the “Covenant” part of our name is important to what it means to be a Christian school.  Even when folks move away, as many of our military families do, we still keep up with each other, enjoying the relationships that the Lord builds among His people as the family of God.
Earlier this week my wife Gretchen got a phone call from one of those families.  Most of you remember that Gretchen taught first grade here for a couple of years, and when she noticed that she had voice mail message on her phone on Monday, she found a sweet message from one of her former students.  The student was having a tough day, and wanted to talk with Mrs. Bolen for encouragement.  When Gretchen called back, she spoke to the student, and then she had a long conversation with mom, sharing news and struggles and praying for one another.
That’s what it means to be a “covenant school” and it’s what the Lord does among us here at Covenant.  Whether it’s through spirit week activities and games during basketball season, through events like the Fun(d) Run or Mother / Son Bowling night, or as parents work with teachers in nurturing their children, the Lord uses those things to build deep, life-shaping relationships that help us more and more feel His love and fellowship as we go through the challenges of daily life.
As we begin this new semester and a new calendar year, remember to pray for one another and reach out to one to grow those bonds of family love.
In Christ,
Mr. Bolen
P.S. — I’ll also throw in that, by the parent’s testimony, her student’s new teachers have commented over and over again about how well Covenant prepared her for success in their school.  There are certainly plenty of things around here that we can work on for improvement, but testimonies like that should confirm for us that we’re also doing some of the most important things right.

January 5, 2016

When I worked in St. Louis public schools during the early 2000’s, the phrase “21st century education” buzzed on everyone’s lips. The goal of every school was to prepare students for success in the 21st century economy. And to achieve that goal, schools worked to expose students to technology and technology driven systems. The idea, of course, was that familiarity with technology would make students more marketable in the technological age.

As I caught up on some reading during the Christmas break, I ran across a 2010 study commissioned by the Association of American Colleges and Universities. The study polled top employers to discover from them what qualities and characteristics they wanted to find in the college graduates they would hire.

Interestingly, the top answers had nothing to do with cutting-edge technology, the supposed marker of “21st education.”

The whole report is available here, but consider the following quote from The Humanities Institute at Wake Forest University summarizing the findings:

“The most desired quality, by 8% points, was effective communication skills, followed by critical thinking and the ability to apply knowledge to real world settings. Other highly valued learning outcomes included the ability to connect decision making to ethical dilemmas and to think creatively. This kind of expertise does not require a business degree or specialized training; rather, it is derived from a rigorous intellectual environment, one that compels students to confront big questions, challenges them to engage their community, and asks them to take ownership of their own scholarly production” (http://humanitiesinstitute.wfu.edu/leap-what-employers-want ).

According to this study, the qualities and “highly valued learning outcomes” that top employers want to see in their potential employees are exactly those that classical education has produced for hundreds of years — up until the 20th century, at least, when a huge worldview shift degraded what it meant to be educated. Effective communication, critical thinking, the ability to apply knowledge ethically and creatively — these are outcomes of the grammar, logic, and rhetoric that form the foundation of the classical philosophy of education abandoned by 20th century educators.

Apparently, 21st century employees want graduates with a 19th century education. Which is to say, they don’t want to hire people who follow the times, but those equipped to transform the times.

Those same qualities and outcomes are the ones Covenant Classical Christian School has instilled in 11 classes of graduates. They’re the same qualities I want to see instilled in my own children, and as we look forward to rest of this school year and into 2016-17, I hope it’s what you want for your children, too.

In Christ,

Mr. Bolen

October 8, 2015

Covenant Family,

I pray you are all doing well as our city and state continue to recover from tragedy. With the sunshine, the activity out on the major roadways, and the reopening of businesses, it appears that we are returning to a state of normalcy. At the same time, we know that workers are still busy assessing and repairing roads, people are still calculating their losses, and thousands of Columbia residents remain without clean drinking water.

I’m sure that those of you who are able have been out helping friends and neighbors in need. I wanted to let you know about a specific opportunity for us to participate as a school community.

From 12 – 6:30 PM tomorrow, Friday, October 9, Covenant is scheduled to help man a water distribution site at the old Sam’s Club located at 1401 Sunset Dr. (Not Sunset Blvd. in West Columbia. This is near N. Main St. where Broad River Rd. turns into River Rd. and then Sunset Dr. before turning into N. Beltline. Leave it to us Southerners to the give same road four different names, and multiple roads the same name.)

The United Way, who is organizing the site, would like at least 4 volunteers at all times. Amanda is organizing volunteers from our end, so email her at cccs@covenantcs.org to schedule a shift.

I also wanted to give you an indication about when school might reopen and under what circumstances.

The biggest concern for us, as I mentioned before, is making sure that we have clean water for students while they are here on campus. We are working on getting a large donation of bottled water and hand sanitizer from a fellow Christian school in Charlotte.

If we get enough water, we will plan to open full time on Monday, October 12. We’d ask parents to send students with a full water bottle from home to conserve our supply, but we would be able to provide students with clean water when that runs out.

In the event that we cannot get an adequate water supply, we will still most likely open on Monday, but go to half days with a noon dismissal. That way, students can still receive instruction, but they can also return home at lunch time to make sure they have what they need to stay healthy throughout the day.

We have not yet determined if after school care will be available. Again, that will depend on how confident we are that we can ensure student health while at school.

I will be able to give you more specifics later today or tomorrow. Please continue to check email, the school website, the Facebook page, and WIS TV for more information.

In Christ,

Mr. Bolen

October 6, 2014

Covenant Family,

Like many of you I’m sure, I rejoiced in the sunshine that broke through the gloom this morning.  The rain had me feeling cooped up, and so I ventured out to check the school and surrounding neighborhood.

I was thankful to see that, while the Father is graciously providing for those who suffered from the floods, He chose to graciously spare our little school from any real damage whatsoever.  Mr. Collier mopped up some water that collected in the Art and Language rooms, we have a couple of ceiling tiles to replace, and a little wet carpet.  That’s about it.

The roads around the school are passable as well.  Covenant Road shrinks to a single lane at one point, but the school is easily accessible from the Beltline side.  Even families from the Garner’s Ferry area can find safe routes around the trouble spots.  If there weren’t other considerations involved, we could really open tomorrow for business as usual.  Praise the Lord for that grace.

There are other considerations to take into account, though.  First, just because I found a safe route to school from Elgin, that doesn’t mean everyone will find a safe route from their home.  Second, even if many families could get to school, there are still several that are without power and water, and getting life back in order is still a primary priority.  And even if all that were worked out, the city water supply is still compromised, so we would not be able to fully protect the health of students with clean drinking water.

For those reasons, we will most likely follow the same course of action taken by USC and Richland School Districts One and Two, remaining closed for the rest of the week.  Please continue to check the school Facebook page, the website, and email for updates.

In the meantime, if you are in a position to help others, this is an excellent time to teach our children how to share the love of Jesus with people in a time of need.

Along those lines, I mentioned in yesterday’s communication that some of our Covenant families suffered damage from the flood.  As the week goes on, more details will surface about specific needs, but one I’d like to share with you now is the Berry family.  Beverly Berry started as a part-time teacher for us this year providing intervention for our struggling math learners and teaching our 7th and 8th grade Latin classes.  I got word Sunday that the flood waters had swamped Beverly’s home, and received confirmation yesterday that they have suffered a total loss.  Thankfully, they have a rental home that they can move into for shelter, but all of their family belongings are gone.

To help the Berry’s, we’ve set up a GoFundMe account through which they can receive gifts to help with expenses.  If you’d like to contribute, you can do so here:

I’m sure other needs will arise in the next few days and weeks.  So we will do what we can to keep you all informed about ways to help one another in deed as well as in prayer.

Finally, if you’d like to keep your children up to date on school, many of the teachers have lesson plans posted on RenWeb.

In Christ,
Mr. Bolen

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