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What Defines a Christian Education?

As your children are growing, learning, and developing, the influence of those around them can be very powerful. When they attend a Christian school, you can be assured that the ideals, morals, values, and lessons being taught are aligned with what your family discusses at home. Integrating Christ into the daily lives of students equips them to deal with conflict, personal struggles, and real-world experiences in a loving and compassionate way.

Perspective

Perhaps the most impactful piece of any education is the perspective from which it is taught. Who is leading students and what are their own personal beliefs?

There is No Such Thing as Neutral

A common misconception about public schools is that because of the absence of religion, a neutral environment is present in the classroom. The reality is, there is no such thing as a neutral worldview. Oftentimes, personal beliefs can unintentionally affect what or how an instructor teaches.

The trust we place in our public institutions is natural and works to everyone’s benefit in most ways. We just need to remain aware that neutrality is impossible. Unfortunately though, most government entities in today’s world strive to avoid anything deemed “Christian.” So on top of ignoring your child’s faith in Jesus, a public school is likely to actively discourage it.

The World Through the Perspective of God’s Truth

Now, you already know that the teen years are critical for exploring some very big, personal and philosophical questions. Teenagers can also be very impressionable. Students who are surrounded each day by anti-Christian worldviews, from peers as well as superiors, learn to compartmentalize their faith, separating themselves from Jesus. That is quite the opposite of trying to help youth integrate their Christianity into their everyday lives.

When students come to Lutheran High School after having been in public schools, they often struggle to speak about their faith. It is a joy for us to watch these students learn to express their faith as God works in their hearts.

what defines christian educationPartnership with Parents

Believe it or not, one of the strongest predictors of student success in school is related to parental involvement. Several studies have shown the link between strong familial support and higher academic achievement. “No matter their income or background, students with involved parents are more likely to have higher grades and test scores, attend school regularly, have better social skills, show improved behavior, and adapt well to school.”

So although it might seem like a challenge to become more involved in your teenager’s life just as they are beginning to assert their independence, you know the importance of forging ahead. And at LuHi, we get that. In addition to facilitating communication between parents and teachers, we encourage parents to attend on-campus events whenever possible, to discuss with your child what they are learning, and to listen to them openly. We also understand the importance of connecting parents with one another.

Thriving Parents Group

Being the parent of a teenager is usually not easy. Teens are undergoing rapid and often confusing biological changes as well as significant psychological growth. Their bodies and minds use up tons of energy for all of this growth and that, coupled with increased hormone levels, can leave them feeling exhausted, short-tempered, and anxious. With impulse control still developing, all of this can lead to strong emotions and unpredictable mood swings.

Parenting a child who is experiencing all of this can leave you feeling isolated and beyond frustrated. The Thriving Parents Group is a place where parents of LuHi teens can come together and lift each other up. It is a sacred and respectful place for parents to connect, offer and receive support, and be assured that they are not alone!

Parents in Prayer

Perhaps the most important and impactful element of the Thriving Parents meetings is prayer. As they break into small groups and share prayer requests and then pray together, something incredible happens. To witness these moments is to be lifted up to God. The community that is built during these meetings is strong and always welcoming of new members.

what defines christian educationEducators in Christ

The teachers at Lutheran High School are special, both as academic instructors and as guides for teens living through an often tumultuous time. Each of our teachers are carefully chosen for their high levels of expertise, integrity, and dedication to our students. Sharing the Christian worldview is a critical piece of their effectiveness. Our teachers and staff lead by example with the presence of Christ apparent in all student interactions.

With a strong sense of mission, our teachers feel that they have been called to their position as an educator in Christ. This is not just a job for them and they strive for excellence. Again, leading by example, our teachers have a certain knack for helping students put forth their best - not expecting perfection, but also accepting nothing less than 100% when it comes to effort. The patience we see from our teachers as they value each student as a child of God is truly remarkable.

Another characteristic that sets LuHi teachers apart from others is their genuine love for students. It is a Christ-like love, where mistakes are forgiven, but lessons not lost. They teach from the heart and strive to show up for their students with a humble spirit. What makes this such a trusting and genuine connection is that teachers and staff are honest and real with students. We are all sinners, all broken, and all have struggles in life. By admitting that and demonstrating that LuHi is a family where there will be peace as well as conflict, a community of trust, authentic love, and deep connection is fostered.

Educators at Christian schools are unique because they are people who consistently work toward growth in their own lives. Not only in their academic field, but also in their faith in God. They continually seek wisdom and truth by thinking Biblically, sifting through the myriad sources in today’s society that can be contradictory to the Word. They know that the Bible is infallible and provides absolute truth. This is their compass and by trusting in God and encouraging students to do the same, they are truly changing the world, one LuHi Lion at a time.

Benefits of a Christian Education

There are unique benefits that high school students and their families experience in a Christian school environment. What’s more, the educational differences will ensure that a healthy, prepared, well-rounded graduate walks out of the building after four years.

what defines christian educationCharacter Development

A common theme when considering the particular needs of high school students is that they are asking some very big questions. The four main questions our Theology Department focuses on working through with students are:

  • Who am I?
  • Why am I here?
  • What is my purpose in life?
  • Is there any hope?

Hallmarks of adolescent development include discovering one’s identity, moral development, and relationship building, each reflected in these important questions. As this is a time for crucial answers, what better environment for the inquisitive child than a Christian one? One that is aligned with your own beliefs, values, and expectations.

The bottom line is, during these formative years, your teenager will make some leaps and bounds in the development of their character, affecting the rest of their lives. Having confidence in the school’s ability to provide a quality education to your child is one thing, but will the teachers and staff have a positive impact on your child’s character?

A Christian education will provide an environment where Christian values are lived in a demonstrable way. Your child will learn empathy, integrity, and respect for that which God calls us to. At LuHi, we utilize Biblical theology, Christian staff and many other resources to create that environment.

Commitment to Loving God and People

A Christian education will prepare your child for all that is to come after high school. Practical skills like time management, task organization, and teamwork are important. So is academic knowledge like reading comprehension, solving complex math problems, and human biology. The difference your family will see with a Christian education is that students learn all of these critical pieces, but also how to influence the world through love in action. 1 John 4:19 says “We love because he first loved us.” As Christians, we are committed to exemplifying love for God and each other in all we do - classes, activities, free time. Your child will begin to embody the Christian values you practice at home as a result of this focus at school.

what defines christian educationLife Preparation

Stepping out into the world after high school can be a jolting experience for graduating students, especially if their education has not included a focus on building life skills. It makes no difference whether graduates are headed for college or career, the previous 4 years will have been instrumental in establishing their preparedness.

At LuHi, college and career readiness are as much of a focus as teaching students how the real world works. Courses like Web Design, Personal Finance, Leadership, and Business Studies teach marketable skills. Courses like Men’s Christian Decisions and Women’s Christian Decisions prepare students for life by covering topics relevant to the issues young men and women face in the world today. The classes are discussion-based and like all LuHi subject areas, are taught through the lens of a Christian worldview.

Community Impact

As Christians, a pillar of our faith lies in service to others. Every high school, Christian or not, should do its part to aid its local community and teach about the importance of community service. The unique benefit of this tenant in a Christian school is that it’s much more of a focus than just a club students can join.

The Saved to Serve program matches students with causes that they feel called to so that they are not simply completing a task, but they are truly feeling the impact of what they are doing. Our end goal is not simply to have students put service hours on their resume or college applications but for students to learn what it means to have a servant heart.

what defines christian education

The Differences Between School Classifications

There are several defining characteristics of Christian private schools, but there are also similar ways in which secular private schools differ from public schools. You can think of private and Christian private schools as different from public schools in much the same light, only that in schools like Lutheran High, we bring Jesus to school with us. Why? Because he is a deeply interwoven part of life and should not be separated from education. Let’s explore some distinctions between Christian private, private, and public schools.

what defines christian educationPrivate Schools Offer Smaller Class Sizes

Imagine a typical high school classroom, buzzing with chatter before the bell rings. The teacher stands up in front and quietly garners the attention of the 20-25 students before him/her. Now imagine 10-15 more teenagers in that same room - not only competing for physical space, but also for each other’s attention, the teacher’s attention, and their own mental space to tune out distractions and concentrate. It’s easy to understand how smaller groups of people - young students in particular - will function better in that setting than in one more densely populated. At LuHi, we keep class size at an average of 25 students because research shows improved academic performance when compared to larger classes.

An important aspect of our commitment to retaining smaller class sizes is our recognition of student engagement. Rather than allowing students to feel lost in the crowd, we encourage strong one-on-one relationships with faculty to keep kids engaged and supported. This type of interaction is most easily achieved when classes are smaller.

Compartmentalizing Faith

The goal of public schools, as previously discussed, is to avoid anything relating to religion within the walls of its institutions. This comes at a great cost to those families working to integrate Christ into their daily lives. The separation creates confusion for teenagers who are already struggling with personal and philosophical questions. We believe that clarity lies in the openness of faith and love for God and His teachings that permeate all parts of our lives. But how did schools arrive here?

The history is long and it is rich with court rulings that strike down the presence of religion in schools. In 1962, the landmark ruling in Engel v. Vitale stated that school sponsored prayer violated the Establishment Clause (the clause in the First Amendment of the US Constitution that prohibits the establishment of religion by Congress). From this ruling, we saw banishment of Bible reading for religious and moral instruction in the 1960s. Fast forward to 2000 and school-sponsored prayers at high school football games were deemed unconstitutional and therefore, prohibited. So as the movement to strip all public schools of religious affiliation grew, so too did the establishment of private religious schools. The freedom to integrate faith and God’s word into a child’s education is now available only in a private setting.

But it’s not all doom and gloom! At LuHi, we are thrilled at the opportunity to enrich the lives of our students and their families with personalized curriculum and extracurricular activities. In fact, one of our favorite traditions is to start each day with the pledge of allegiance, a scripture reading, and a prayer shared over the intercom.

Enrichment with Extracurriculars

The wide variety of offerings at Lutheran High School is meant to capture and cultivate the bright and curious minds of all students. We strive for inclusion and that means investing in many different LuHi Clubs:

what defines christian educationBluHi Jazz Ensemble - students learn jazz theory, chord reading, improvisation, and jazz history.

Chess Club - casual chess games, all levels are welcome!

Chick-fil-a Leader Academy - a service organization sponsored by the local Chick-fil-a restaurant.

Crossplay Theatre Troupe - a ministry theatre troupe which performs Christ-centered skits for Chapel and Association grade schools. They also lead the summer middle school theatre camp!

Cyberpatriots - Part of a nation-wide initiative to educate young adults on the importance of Cyber Security, and teach them how to defend technology from a wide range of cyber threats.

Debate - a CHSAA sanctioned activity is where students learn valuable skills through speech and debate and participate in competitions throughout the state.

Game Development - learn to create video games as a group.

Interact (student Rotary) - a service organization that helps students go above and beyond school requirements for service. This is different from the National Honor Society as it does not require any specific GPA.

Lions for Life - a group to educate and bring awareness about life issues, service in the community, and fundraising for life-affirming organizations.

National Honor Society - NHS is a service organization that believes the leaders of the school are obligated to use their strengths to serve the school and community. Accepted members must complete an additional 20 service hours, serving in the school or community.

Ping Pong - students improve skills or just have a blast, playing friendly games or participating in tournaments.

Robotics - Robotics is a great way to grow in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) skills, and gives students the opportunity to work as part of a team.

Student Council - a group of students who seek to represent LuHi through specific contributions to student life and culture. They plan and lead Homecoming Week, Sadies Week, Christmas Spirit Week, and Seasonal Pep Rallies and more.

Thrive - for any student that would like to grow in their relationship with God and other students in a positive and encouraging environment.

what defines christian educationWriting Club - students do creative exercises, give feedback on works in progress, and prepare submissions for different writing competitions.

Yearbook - students have an opportunity to contribute to the school yearbook by interviewing students, writing copy, taking pictures, and designing yearbook pages throughout the school year.

Each of these groups is open to all LuHi students, though some require students to hold a certain GPA. A few of them involve an application process, but we always encourage student involvement, wherever they feel pulled. These are fantastic opportunities for real-world experience in fields that interest your teenager.

Don’t see a club you like? It’s easy and encouraged for students to pursue their passions and start new clubs and programs at LuHi.

Positive Peer Environment

The division and isolation between high school students is sometimes palpable. Moreso in a place where unifying them is difficult. In a private school and, more specifically, a Christian private school, we can harness the strength of God’s word to guide them through conflict.

Helping students to recognize the ways in which God may be working in their lives creates an opening for connection with those around them. And with all students committed to strengthening their faith, a wonderful thing happens. We see love, forgiveness, compassion, and kindness bring students closer to one another. We witness an environment where students encourage their peers and respond to negativity and conflict in a constructive way. Sure, we still experience the negativity that comes with angsty teens, but by equipping them with the right tools, we always try to flip that frown upside down.

Biblical Foundation in Everything We Do

As we’ve touched on throughout this article, the main defining characteristic of a Christian private school is the Biblical foundation on which academics and extracurriculars are built. At LuHi, we believe that leaving our Lord out of large parts of our lives is not an option and doing so only causes teens more confusion at an already confusing time. That is why we (and other private Christian schools) start with the Bible to build a strong and effective curriculum that serves to educate and support students. Love and compassion are central to our mission and that shows through in the various specialized programs and classes offered at LuHi.

what defines christian educationChapel

A time for our staff and students to gather together as a community to worship our Lord. We meet as a full student body 3 times a week. This space is important for us to refocus on what really matters: we are beloved children of God saved by Jesus' death and resurrection.

Theology Classes

Students take one year of Theology each year of high school:

Freshmen - Old Testament
Sophomores - New Testament
Juniors - Study of World Religion, Apologetics
Seniors - Christian Living

We also offer a Worship Class for upperclassmen if they are interested in leading Chapel on a weekly basis.

Care Team

LuHi is committed to providing students with mental health resources. Our Care Team, consisting of Mr Ness, our principal, the guidance team, the Director of Ministry, Dean of Women, and a handful of teachers, meets bi-weekly to address student concerns and needs. The goal is to come up with solutions to help address those issues, and maintain focus on mental and emotional wellbeing on a regular basis.

what defines christian educationCollege Prep

Our College Prep program is designed to aid students navigating the sometimes daunting task of choosing, preparing for, and applying to a college or university. Concurrent enrollment (or dual coursework) allows students to earn college credits while also getting a feel for college coursework. For Juniors and Seniors, our Advisor meetings provide guidance on the right college fit, finding and applying for scholarships, application requirements, and time management and organization when applying for college. Our College Drive program ensures plenty of test prep for the ACT and SAT, from freshman year onward.

Mission Trips

Lutheran High offers multiple mission trips each year for students and their families. Annual mission trips include trips to Mexico, Africa, Alaska, and more.

Service Hours

Each LuHi student is required to do 20 hours of service each year. Students are encouraged to fulfill those hours outside of school, serving in their community. We offer LuHi Services events as well as other opportunities to help students meet their service requirements.

Is a Christian Education Right for Your Family?

This is a big question and one we do not take lightly. Of course, we believe that all students and their families will benefit from a Christian Education. We love offering students the opportunity to spend their 4 years of high school getting rooted in a Christian worldview. The important thing is that your family has the opportunity and space to get your questions answered and learn for yourself if we are a good fit for your student.

Lutheran High School offers a few different ways to support prospective families on that journey. Consider scheduling a Tour or Shadow Day so your child can experience a day in the life of a LuHi Lion! Check out our many online resources or connect with us at (303) 841-5551. We look forward to learning more about you and your family!