I look back over my 13 years at Caldwell and see mistakes made yet also countless goals achieved few times better forgotten but more memories to be cherished, and moments of isolation but more importantly the community of a lifetime. I have known little other than Caldwell in my life and can honestly say that I am sad to leave my home for the past 13 years, but in a life full of uncertainties, I am certain that Caldwell has prepared me well for the future.
Thanks to Caldwell, I can tell you that 56 people signed the Declaration of Independence, that the derivative of sine is cosine, and that the first element on the periodic table is hydrogen. But more importantly, Caldwell has taught me how to think. The curriculum at Caldwell certainly contains a plethora of information, but each teacher also instructs students in what to do with information and how to process it. What good is knowledge if one doesn’t know what to do with it? Throughout the Dialectic (middle) and Rhetoric (high) School years, students learn how to think critically and speak persuasively. From “tea time” discussions in seventh grade to a 20-page senior thesis, Caldwell students are constantly being trained to become critical thinkers and persuasive writers.
Our world is changing faster than ever and the ability to critically think allows Caldwell graduates to adapt to new jobs and new fields of study. Because teachers allow students to acquire knowledge through reading and analyzing passages and by discussion-based learning, graduates learn how to process information on their own rather than being “spoon-fed” information (despite our occasional desire for such spoon-feeding). Information has its value but google is a lot smarter than I am and far more reliable. In a world of information overload, it’s critical thinking which makes the difference in the grades we make, the jobs we work, and the lives we live.
Four million fifteen thousand. That's a very conservative estimate of the number of words spoken in a year. With those words we can bless people or hurt people, with those words we can build communities or divide households, and with those words, we can change the world for better or for worse. In order to bring about great change, one must be able to command an audience - command attention if you will. Throughout my thirteen years at Caldwell, I have learned to do just that. Beginning with reciting Psalm 23 in the first grade all the way to confidently delivering a 20-minute thesis presentation, I have been trained to speak in public. Four million fifteen thousand. That is a lot of potential. Caldwell has changed potential into power. Power to fearlessly walk into a scholarship interview, power to pitch a proposal to a boss, power to change the world. But with such “power” comes great responsibility and that is where the most important impact Caldwell makes on a student applies.
Caldwell provides an unrivaled foundation in the faith. By graduation, students have a strong foundation in what they believe and why they believe it. From Mere Christianity to A Universe Next Door, students have been blessed to read some of the best authors and writers of the Christian faith. As Caldwell students prepare to take on the world, each and every graduate has read enough theology to make a seminary professor jealous! As students leave Caldwell to attend college or join the workforce, they have both a foundation on which to stand and arguments with which to defend and persuade. The gift that Caldwell gives spiritually only grows in value as time passes and I am just beginning to understand the blessing of such a gift.
The world bombards each of us with images, stories, and falsehoods but Caldwell prepares students for this harsh reality. Each alumnus has a different story about how Caldwell best prepared them for the world. Some say work ethic and others say public speaking, but the one constant among them is the spiritual nourishment that Caldwell provides. From all-school worship in the gym to worldview discussions with Dr. Talbert, the impact which Caldwell makes on the soul is undeniable and a blessing beyond comprehension. I can honestly say that I would be nowhere near as mature in my faith if I had not attended Caldwell for the past thirteen years.
Home is where the heart is, or at least that’s what they say. Home is the place where I first made friends, where I first learned to write, where my heart broke after hard losses and rejoiced after big wins, and where I will, in a few short weeks, walk off the stage at graduation into a world full of unknowns. Caldwell is home. Although as I leave home I know full well that I am prepared. For thirteen years, Caldwell has challenged me and my classmates to work hard, to think critically, to speak eloquently, and most importantly to grow in my relationship with my heavenly Father, challenges which have prepared me to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with my God.