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Calvary Schools of Holland high school students and staff in front of the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C.
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Our Living Education
May 2023 marked the trip to Washington, D.C., when Ambleside high school students from around the country gathered together for a time of learning in our nation’s capital.
It was a beautiful week. We shared meals and delighted in conversations with other students of a similar age, who are participating in the same educational model that we are. I immediately came to love these newfound peers because their minds were being shaped and nurtured in the same way as mine.
Something I typically experience when meeting other young people my age for the first time is a tendency to have a disrespect for a certain idea or a well-known individual – with the hope of then finding common ground. I was delighted to find that upon meeting these other students from Ambleside schools, they were vastly different. They looked me directly in the eye, and I sensed their care for me as we talked. I shared conversations with a couple other girls about our love for literature, art, and ideas. It was thrilling (and seemed like a novelty!) to converse on such worthy topics with others my age whom I had only just met. I have been fortunate to keep in contact with a couple of them even after our departure from Washington, D.C.
While visiting the capital’s governmental buildings, I was struck by the quotes engraved on many of them, and I also found the buildings’ triangular pediments quite fascinating. We’ve read about and discussed our country’s values in class, but seeing buildings that have stood the test of time and have those same morals carved into their walls opened my eyes to the reality of the values our country has held as important. The Library of Congress was potentially the most beautiful place I’ve ever been – not only in what was clearly visible, but also in the ideas my mind was left with from the many quotes painted in that building’s rotunda. I walked around the balcony twice, reading the beautiful words and taking in as much of the mural art as I could.
As we left the Library of Congress, I took time to reflect on what I was feeling. I realized I felt similarly to when I leave a class where we have had a fruitful discussion about the feast of ideas that was set before us. What a beautiful thing – that wise words could impact people for so many years, even after they’ve passed away. Although these architectural beauties could one day crumble and return to the dust of the earth, the ideas they hold cannot be destroyed. While in the Holocaust Museum, one of my takeaways was a quote by Helen Keller about ideas. She said,
“History has taught you nothing if you think you can kill ideas. Tyrants have tried to do that often before, and the ideas have risen up in their might and destroyed them.”
That is what I think the Ambleside model of education does well: the preservation of living ideas, of the very words and values of wise men and women from our past. I am very grateful and feel quite fortunate to have been a part of our Ambleside-wide trip to Washington, D.C. I believe I wouldn’t have noticed all the facets of beauty in quite the same way if I hadn’t experienced this education – our living education.
by Muireann Cruz
High School Student at Calvary Schools of Holland, Michigan