by Jennifer Martin

Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs —

Because the Holy Ghost over the bent

World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

From Gerard Manly Hopkins' “God’s Grandeur”

Over the next few weeks, we will provide specific highlights of our school, including school culture, curriculum, and other components of the school day.

In our mission statement, we say that we desire to cultivate “Christ-centered leaders who know truth, practice goodness, and recognize beauty.” One of the ways in which we desire to do this is by beginning our mornings with Christ and with each other through the form of Matins. This Middle English term, first notably used in the fourteenth century, means “a morning prayer.” In the fourteenth century, monks would congregate together before starting their day to pray, sing, and recite psalms.

We want our students to practice goodness by forming the habit of meeting with God every morning as well as with their fellow men. This places an emphasis not just on one’s relationship with Christ, but with our need for one another to lead a more fulfilling life in Christ. As Christians, there is no better way to instill this in children than by meeting together to be reminded of God’s beauty and His truth to His people. For this reason, our students will gather every morning as part of the school day (whether they are wide-eyed kindergartners or seasoned older students) to pray, sing a hymn, and recite scripture. We will focus on one passage of scripture (generally a psalm) and one hymn a week so students can know God’s truth and hide it in their hearts. For our older students, this provides them with an arsenal of God’s promises to combat creeping sins, doubts, or fears that will frequently come up in their lives. For our younger students, they will develop the habit and its importance while also looking up to our older students as models of Christ.

You may wonder why we do not call our time together “Morning Prayer” instead of Matins, particularly since Matins is not as familiar of a term for us in our modern Christian culture. Not only does the word Matins bring in hundreds of years of Christian historical tradition with which we desire to link ourselves, but it also has an interesting second definition. In literature, Matins usually refers to the morning songs of birds. This more lighthearted definition speaks to a very sweet component of our school. I love the idea of God’s presence brooding over our students’ morning prayers and songs, much like a mother bird broods over her babies until they are ready to leave the nest. Even in our school’s name, Anthem, we see a proclamation of a song. We encourage students to live by Colossians 3:16, which states to “Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.” This verse is beautifully played out in our “morning songs of birds.”

Parents and grandparents will be welcome to stay and attend Matins every morning with their children if they wish. We desire to develop a community where both our young and old, our wild and wise, can worship together. Matins will only last about ten minutes each morning, once we establish the routine with all of our students.

Pioneer with us so you can watch and hear the joy of God’s word being hidden in your students’ hearts every morning!

St. Benedict delivering his Rule to St. Maurus and other monks of his order

France, Monastery of St. Gilles, Nimes, 1129.

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by Jennifer Martin

In 2013 I taught at a new classical school that had just opened. I remember the mixed feelings of excitement and anticipation on the first day. I had twenty-five sixth graders on my roster but no desks or whiteboard. I wondered what they would think when they walked into my empty room. Would they trust me when it looked like I didn’t have it all together? They came in, sat on the floor, looked nervously around at one another, some probably thinking, “What did I get myself into?” My headmaster walked in and said, “Welcome pioneers!” He spoke to them about the great privilege it was to be the first to step out in faith and chart a new course for future generations. He encouraged the students to look beyond the barrenness of the classroom and look inwardly into preparing their souls for this exciting endeavour.

Within the next few days, desks came, white boards were installed, and we assimilated into our new routines. But for years after, those students always talked about what it was like during those first days: “Remember when we sat on the floor for a week? Remember when we stapled butcher paper onto the wall so we could diagram sentences?” They would laugh about it until they were seniors. I had expected embarrassment because, frankly, I was embarrassed. But they talked about the days of newness and the days of uncertainty with pride. They overcame a situation that many would look at and say, “I’ll wait until they have it all together.”

I taught those same students in ninth grade where we read Vergil’s Roman epic, The Aeneid. We talked about how we could relate to Aeneas, the Trojan hero who had lost his home after the Trojan war. As much as he longs for the comforts and constancy of his old home, he carries forward, guided by his piety to the gods and his piety to the people he leads. For his courage, he is rewarded with founding a new city, the future Rome. His son Ascanius reigns for over thirty years after him, leading to a generation of successful leaders.

The families and students who joined with us that first year felt an immense rite of passage as they watched their children form into young men and women, while the school was also forming its identity. As students and teachers, we formed lasting relationships because we had all grown together. Students graduated with confidence, knowing that pioneering wasn’t for the faint of heart, but that we had practiced the very virtues we believed in: perseverance, piety, and hard work. I still keep in touch with many of those students, who are now successfully thriving as college freshmen in the midst of a pandemic. When I asked one of these students about her experience as a sixth grade “pioneer,” she said:

“Being one of the school’s first students, my viewpoint and mind has changed drastically since then in what I think a good education looks like. I have always been a very social kid so the idea of going to a smaller school after only attending public schools was terrifying to me. But I ended up getting so close to everybody in my grade that it was an incredible experience.”

We know it takes a special kind of person to pioneer a new path. It isn’t easy. There will be mistakes and unknowns. But there will also be milestones, lessons that breed character, and a feeling of joy when you see the new endeavour come into fruition. We are looking for pioneers to apply to Anthem next week. We ask families to trust God in the unknowns and rejoice in the certainties. We know for certain that students will learn excellence and virtue while being nurtured by a caring faculty who will help students experience Christ as the author of all knowledge.

To quote Aeneas, “A joy it will be one day, perhaps, to remember even this. Through so many hard straits, so many twists and turns our course holds firm” (Book 1.240-241). We hold firm in our work and our beliefs at Anthem, knowing that God will work through our students to bring a generation of leaders who are pious, generous, and brave.

We invite you to pioneer with us. Raise the Anthem!

Title: The Fleet of Aeneas Arrives in Sight of Italy (Aeneid, Book III)

Artist: Master of the Aeneid (active ca. 1530–40)

Date: ca. 1530–35

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue

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As we end out 2020, we wanted to highlight an article written about the rise of the liberal arts major. Classical and liberal arts educators have always believed in the value of their education, but over the past few years, experts and major CEOs have started to agree. If you are wondering whether a liberal arts or classical education can help your student be successful in the workforce, then we encourage you to read this article below.

The Most Unexpected Workplace Trend Coming in 2020: the Return of the Liberal Arts Major by Jessica Stillman

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