New School Year Brings Fresh Opportunities

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On August 1, area students will have an opportunity to try out the reading program at Columbia and get a leg up on the coming school year. While this is mostly geared toward younger students, some older students may also benefit. As of this writing, we have several new students planning to attend, as well as a few Columbia students returning for the program. It’s open to any families in the area, not just Columbia students. The Running Start for Reading will run on weekdays from August 1 through August 19, during the regular school-day hours (8 a.m. to 3 p.m.).

Thanks to The Dalles Christian Homeschool Band, students at Columbia who are ready may learn a band instrument and participate in regular rehearsals and two concerts each year. The student chorus also sings at those concerts, which take place just before Christmas and toward May. This year, there will be a beginning band and an advanced band, both of which will meet on Friday afternoons.

Beginning this year, parents of Columbia students can stay up-to-date with their children’s daily and weekly progress through a state-of-the-art online system called PowerSchool. This capability goes far beyond report cards, and helps parents to work with teachers for the good of the students.

Columbia continues to use the online, adaptive testing system called Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) to monitor the learning of each student through the school year. Test results provide objective guidance to teachers about areas of strength or concern in the core education of each student.

Pastor Jacobsen has a small class enrolling for the 5th-8th grade classroom. We have a capacity of 15, and there is still some room left. These grades will extend our studies in the Building Christian English series and the Saxon Math series. In math, our seventh-graders will take pre-algebra, and the eighth-graders will take algebra 1. We will also continue our Classical Composition series on the progymnasmata exercises for teaching rhetorical skills. These were developed and used from classical antiquity (think Aristotle) through the middle ages. New courses are included in computer-based practical logic for 5th and 6th graders, and traditional logic for 7th and 8th graders. We take Bible history up a notch in the 5th and 6th grades, culminating in a Christian catechesis course for the 7th and 8th grade. The historical period under study in world history and literature runs from 1600 through 1850, including a good deal of American history. Of course, we will continue teaching the Latin language, using a natural immersion approach that can be carried on through high school into college. Knowledge of Latin has many every-day benefits for budding scholars, while also connecting them with the authors of western civilization back to the Roman republic. See the school web site for more information about the subjects included.

Families in The Dalles and the central Columbia Gorge region have a classical alternative for these middle-school grades at Columbia, where students will experience a lot of individual attention, and enjoy vigorous academic and personal growth. We will continue to have chapel devotions daily, with a longer service on Wednesdays. But the Word of God is in the foundation of the entire program, which makes an important difference from the secular, public school alternatives. There, religious teaching is intentionally excluded, especially Christian teaching. At Columbia, a rational appreciation for the Christian faith, and a love for learning in that context is the reason we exist.

The regular school year at Columbia will begin on Monday, August 22. Along with the Running Start for Reading, students experience a school year that approaches the full-year schedule some have advocated. Less time off during the summer allows longer breaks during the school year, and reduces the loss of knowledge and academic habits that many students have experienced.

With Pastor Jacobsen as a full-time teacher and principal, we look forward to a great school year for our K-8 students and their families. In the meantime, the Bethany and Concordia congregations are continuing the process to fill their pastoral vacancy. At this time, Pastor Matthew Brooks of Parkersburg, Iowa holds the call, and we pray for him as he considers whether he will accept it and move here, or return it and continue serving in the midwest.

Thanks be to God for His gracious providence! May He continue to sustain this important ministry and outreach of His Church.

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