Recently, Leisl Seigler (Class of 2015) dropped by Mrs. Belknap's office. She was bubbling over with excitement about her college experience, barely able to contain herself as she described the many classes and activities she is enjoying. I asked her if she would write a letter about her journey so far - here it is:
Why I would Choose Veritas Over and Over Again
As I walked down the halls of the only school I had ever known for the last time in May of 2015, I thought life could not get better. Of course I was excited for college, but graduation from Veritas Christian Academy is a huge accomplishment, and I remember thinking that nothing after that would make me more proud of myself. What I did not realize is that graduation was just the beginning, that I would soon begin a life in which Veritas would not leave me but would rather impact my life more than anything else.
I began my freshman year of college in August 2015 at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama. As my roommate and I walked the campus the night before classes began trying to locate our classrooms and buildings, I remember thinking, “This will be nothing like Veritas. This is a whole new world.” Never before had I been so wrong and so right all at once. College is a conglomeration of young people, recently graduated and on their own, trying to figure out what adulthood is and living off of Ramen Noodles and Kraft Mac ‘n Cheese. It is a beautifully chaotic period of growth that is essential in young adults’ lives. There is no one there to hold your hand, telling you to do your homework, what and when to eat, when to go to sleep, who you can and cannot hang out with, and when and where you should or should not go. Yes, college is a whole new world, full of every type of person imaginable and, simply put, only means something if the student himself chooses to make it the best he possibly can.
This is where I was so wrong about college being completely different from Veritas. In college, what you put in is exactly what you get out. Veritas is a similar institution. Of course, students are not nearly as independent or “on their own” as they are in college, but Veritas is not a spoon-feeding institution. Most classes mean most when a student puts forth effort and receives a reward equivalent with that effort. From a young age, Veritas begins instilling in its students the reward and the value of hard work by building skills that most students do not recognize the value of until they graduate.
People constantly ask me questions like, “How are you so confident speaking in front of people?” and “How do you know how to manage your time?” and “Is the work load too much at college?” My answer to all of these is simply, “My Veritas education taught me how to handle it.” I remember the skills that my professors praise most highly began in kindergarten at Veritas. I remember being taught how to memorize for the long term, how to speak in front of my class, how to structure sentences, and how to apply basic grammar rules. When you live in the Veritas Family, it is difficult to see how lacking the rest of the world is in these areas. When you go to college though, it becomes glaringly obvious.
So what makes Veritas so special? I get this question frequently as well. Veritas is a classical Christian academy, whose teachers and students value hard work and skills that can be used in all of life. What students do not realize is that while they are slogging through their third page of Latin translation, they are building critical thinking, mastering another language, and cultivating their minds; that when they reach the fifteenth page of their senior thesis, they have accomplished something that many college students still struggle to complete with finesse; that when they are crying in their room before AP Exams, panicking because they are stressed, they are preparing themselves for the load at college that will not seem nearly as difficult because of Veritas.
And how am I? I am perfectly fine. Thanks to the education I received at Veritas, my first semester at college ended with a place on the Dean’s List, recognition for being the top caller in my job on campus, a nomination to be a Samford ambassador, a nomination to compete in Samford’s speech competition, a manager’s position at the theater I work at here in town, and a sense of pride and joy in the work I put in to make all of that happen - all while holding down a full eighteen hours of classes, two jobs, extracurricular activities, and a social life. I would not trade the sacrifices we made to keep me at Veritas for anything in this world, because I know that nothing could ever replace it. And that is why I would choose Veritas over and over again.
Reprinted below is an unsolicited letter from Kathleen Moore, a member of our second graduating class, addressed to future Veritas students and any student or parent considering Veritas Christian Academy.
Dear Veritas, future students, and all prospectives,
This is the most unique school on earth because it is not just a school. It is a family. These people love one another and watch out for each other. That is what makes it special. When these teachers educate, it is so we will be fully ready for life in all aspects. It is one of the weirdest places you will encounter. That is because it is one of the few places that everyone is invited to be themselves. We are allowed to be quirky and it makes our times together that much more enjoyable and memorable. Where else do students go to Bible study at a teacher’s house, or a movie with kids from 4 different grades and a couple of teachers, or ask their teachers out for dinner? Where would a Latin teacher have a few students over to his house to learn how to shoot a bow and arrow?
As slightly adapted from a Robert Frost poem (Birches),
“Veritas is the only right place for love,
I don’t know where it is likely to go better.”
Basically, this place is the best school, house, church, etc. Cherish your days here. You will be glad you did. There is no replacing it. Love your teachers, respect your friends, do your homework, and finish strong.
Class of 2006
Reprinted below is a letter written by Christian Parobek for the 2008 Annual Fund for Excellence Campaign brochure.
If I were suddenly put on the spot, and given only thirty seconds to explain to someone, perhaps a grandparent or a college admissions officer, the essence of Veritas, I would be at a complete loss as to where to begin. Should I begin by explaining the faculty, the rigorous academic environment they encourage, their care for and interest in us students? Maybe I ought to start by explaining this unique and time-proven system of Classical education that Veritas offers. Or would the administration and college advising staff, Spirit led as they are, be a more appropriate place to start? What about the enriching variety of extracurricular opportunities Veritas affords - the music, theater, and sports? I would, of course, regret it if I failed to mention the warm, familial community that so many students, parents, faculty, and administration have deliberately fostered here. Veritas has so many high points that I would feel neglectful if I left anything out. You see my dilemma.
It has been more than two years since I walked the halls of Veritas as an enrolled student, more than two years since I graduated. I spend my time at a college hours away from Veritas. Veritas teachers no longer assign me homework or grade my papers, and I no longer wear the hallmark uniform or run for the cross country team. It would seem that I am no longer a student at Veritas. The reality, however, is quite the opposite: I am still a student here.
This may seem a silly claim, either emotional nonsense or some strangely backward compliment to the faculty. It's true though. The things they teach here are at once very sticky and very sweet. They are difficult to wash off, but then, why would anyone want to? A curious mind, the art of research, confidence in writing and delivery, an appreciation for the arts, an awe for the Mystery that is our God, these are the marks of a Veritas education that I have observed in myself and my fellow graduates. Not surprisingly, I am discovering that every one of these turns out to be absolutely essential in college. I am still a student here. All of us graduates are still students here, because every day we are remembering, relearning, using, honing these skills that Veritas nourished in us.
This is the secret of Veritas, though it has been out in the open for awhile now. Everything they do here, everything they teach here is designed to make enrolled students into perpetual students, people who remain students even after their formal education has ended, people who can think and reason for themselves. The faculty, administration, and families of Veritas all work together toward this end. This is their art; they are good artists.
I still believe it would be difficult, probably impossible, to create a summary of Veritas that does the school and the educational experience justice. If I ever had to, though, I think I would say that Veritas makes students out of students, and this is a priceless gift.
Class of 2006