My name is Gabby Black and I recently graduated from Caldwell Academy. I was a member of the varsity volleyball team, Executive Leadership Council, Beta Club and the editor of the 2021 yearbook. Next fall, I will attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I attended Caldwell from Kindergarten to 12th grade and I am so thankful for my years at this school.
As I reflect on all that my time at Caldwell has meant to me, there are so many wonderful experiences and memories that stand out. The most important of these being how Caldwell cultivated my love for Christ and gave me a firm foundation on which to build a personal relationship with Him. As early as Kindergarten, I remember Jesus being the center of my education at Caldwell. During my first year as a Caldwell student, I accepted Christ into my heart and began to really understand what it meant to be loved and forgiven. In addition to leading me to take this first step in my relationship with Jesus, Caldwell encouraged me in this relationship, daily, by praying for me and with me, teaching me about the character of Jesus and His life, and by surrounding me with people who live lives centered around Christ.
I truly believe that God has His hand on this school because He has used it and its staff and faculty to encourage me time and time again. One example of this was just this past year. During one forum, a weekly gathering of the rhetoric school, Mrs. Gilbert spoke to the Rhetoric school about a song which she loved called “Seasons” by Hillsong Worship. I had been having a rough month and that day I was feeling especially low, but then Mrs. Gilbert spoke of so many truths that I needed to hear in that moment. She reminded me that God works in seasons and sometimes we have to endure the hardships in order to grow. Because of moments like these, Caldwell strengthened my faith and uplifted me when I needed it most.
One of my favorite classes that I took at Caldwell was Worldview, a class in which we learned about and discussed issues facing both the Christian church and the world. In this class, I learned how to articulate my own beliefs through the personal manifesto assignment, a project with a series of sixteen questions related to worldview that you must answer. I loved this class because it was never about having the “right” stance on a problem or issue but it was focused on understanding these issues from a Christian perspective and preparing you to give an answer to them in a setting other than Caldwell. I think that this class truly helped prepare me to go to college next year and be able to express my beliefs in a respectful and educated manner.
Outside of my faith, Caldwell’s classical approach to education taught me so much during my years as a student here. At Caldwell, I learned how to truly think for myself, voice my opinions, and effectively communicate with others. One of the things I always tell people about Caldwell is that they taught me how to learn. Instead of simply presenting me with information and expecting me to just memorize and reproduce it, they taught me to engage with it, discuss it, and process it. One of my earliest memories of this was in my seventh grade Humanities class (a class that studies history, literature, Bible, and logic). We would have discussion days where our teacher would throw out a question to the class and then we were expected to carry the discussion from there. I remember the first time that my teacher told us about an upcoming discussion day and I was so stressed that I would not know what to say and would not be able to participate. However, when discussion day came around, everyone in my class, including myself, was able to engage in the conversation and add new and intriguing ideas to the discussion. After this, I became more and more comfortable and confident articulating my thoughts as it became a commonplace activity in many of my classes.
In addition to speaking, Caldwell honed and fine-tuned my writing skills. From small writing assignments in the sixth grade to writing my senior thesis (15-20 page persuasive research paper), I was challenged to use logical argument and to write eloquently. When I was in Dialectic (middle) school, I thought there was no way I would ever be able to write a twenty page paper for my senior thesis. However, Caldwell’s writing instruction gradually elevated my writing skills through projects such as mini thesis (8th grade research paper), Schaeffer paper (either a short story or small research paper), and junior thesis (10 page persuasive research paper). When it came time to write my senior thesis, I was more than prepared and able to complete the project without an abundance of stress. Of course, the project was difficult but Caldwell provided me with all of the tools that I needed to succeed.
Another aspect about Caldwell which I truly value is its emphasis on community. Caldwell encouraged me to form true relationships with those around me. The Caldwell community has given me mentors, friends, and so much more. When I was having a rough patch during my senior year, I turned to my former yearbook advisor and she stepped into my life in the role of mentor. She guided me through some difficult times, prayed for me on the hard days, and celebrated with me on the good days. If it were not for the Caldwell community, I would not have had mentors like this in my life, outside of my family, that I could turn to when I needed it.
Furthermore, I made friendships at Caldwell that I am confident will last a lifetime. These friendships are genuine and authentic because they formed out of a desire for true connection and relationship. These friends challenge me in my walk with the Lord, pray for me regularly, make me laugh harder than anyone else, and are truly there for me no matter what. Finding friendships like these can be hard to do but because Caldwell makes community a priority, it was easy for me to do.
I am so grateful for 13 years at Caldwell because I was guided in my faith, taught how to learn, think, and speak for myself, and given a community where I was known, cared for and loved.