On Saturday, June 15th, the parents of seniors came together to graduate their students at a joint ceremony. We're so grateful to all the parents who planned, spoke, decorated, provided food, and took care of all the many other details that made it such a memorable day. Please enjoy a few photo highlights, as well as the reflections from parents, graduates, and our Director.
We at New Hope extend our hearty congratulations to the graduates and continue to pray for the Lord's leading in their lives!
Compiled and read by Tera Hagen
We have been homeschooling some of you for 5 years and some of you for 12 years. It is hard to believe how fast time has gone, and now you are high school graduates! Phil. 1:6 says “And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” We are so excited for you and can’t wait to see you soar in your next steps.
We started homeschooling you for various reasons. For some of you it was just our family way of life; some of you needed a different learning environment. You represent many ways of home education ranging from traditional, online, unschooling, co-ops and tutoring. Whatever the reason, and whatever the style, we have loved being able to custom-make your education and see you learn to love learning. We have seen you work at accelerated paces through some subjects and take your time through others. This decision to homeschool has given us so much family time together, tightened your connections with your siblings, and honestly it has been such a blessing to be able to spend the best parts of the day together. James tells us that every good gift and every perfect gift is from above (James 1:7). We thank God for you, and for this wonderful privilege of homeschooling you.
We were surprised at how much fun we have had learning beside you all these years! We have done the core classes with you, but also added in some extra ones like Astronomy, Current Events, Public Speaking, and Film as Literature. History has been so interesting to study together, and to partner it with your literature studies has been just wonderful. At times, we have had opportunities to enjoy the art of reading out loud together. And of course, the field trips have been amazing. We have done all the local and Boston museums and depended on them to partner with your schooling. We have traveled to Washington DC with you, traveled across the nation, and even went to Sri Lanka, Paris and Barcelona with you!! Some of the mission trips we have been on together have been life changing, Nepal in particular.
It has been a blessing to see you have time and ability to do so many extra curriculars such as figure skating, dance, high school track, swimming and tennis to name a few. Your musical gifts astound us and we have been able to create time for you to participate in ski clubs, debate teams and pursue lifelong hobbies like photography. Many of you have held part time jobs during these years ranging from the local hardware store to the Stone Zoo. We have found that homeschooling has had so many social and group opportunities it has been hard to choose from. We discovered we could spend an entire day homeschooling and not be at home!
We all have learned a lot about patience and perseverance. We have questioned when to guide and encourage you and when to give you space to figure things out on your own.
We have spent hours learning subjects so we could then teach them to you. We trusted in the Lord to guide us as we guided you.
While each of our homeschooling journeys was so individual, one thing we do have in common is how grateful we are to New Hope Courses for Homeschoolers. As you got older, we were less equipped to teach you some of the strenuous academic subjects. New Hope provided these classes, and added so much richness to them. The small class size allowed for very rich group discussions, and a few of you even skyped in classes. The New Hope instructors provided real mentorship and academic support but also held you to a masterly level of comprehension. While most of us just dropped you off here, a few of us were instructors and had the joy of watching you grow and learn, side by side with you. The Christian faith was laced through every class and discussion, and it helped you mature in understanding the world God created around you. Proverbs 9:10 tells us that “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is insight.“
You have strengths that have emerged that are unique to each one of you, yet all those strengths reflect Christ. You are determined, teachable, loyal, and faithful friends. You are passionate about your beliefs and thoughts, and you have smiles that bring sunshine into every room you enter. You persevere, and at times show pure grit. Colossians tells us “whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men”. That describes each one of you in so many ways.
We are going to miss you so much. We love how you stumble downstairs in the morning with a grin on your face, and how we have late night talks about theology, politics and your life purposes. You are SO much fun, and have the best sense of humor – we love goofing off with you! We will miss hearing you play your musical instruments, and listening to you talk about things you are passionate about. You have such a big presence in our homes, and we love how kind you are to your siblings. It has been pure joy to have a front row seat to see you grow up, and also grow in the Lord. We have loved watching you figure out difficult things, and take pride in organizing your time and learning. We are excited to see you soar, but will send you off with a tearful smile.
Lastly, know that we love you so much, and are praying for you always. Remember that God is the true source of knowledge and wisdom. God has made you specifically as you! He has fashioned within you unique giftings and with experiences that have helped to shape those giftings. Be bold! Try new things! Don’t let fear hold you back from doing the things your heavenly Father brings along your path. Most of all, seek Him in each endeavor. He has wisdom for all things, is the best of Counselors, and the strongest refuge. Know that we believe in you, and pray for you always.
From graduate Rachel Corbin:
Hello class of 2019 and congratulations. And welcome to family, friends, and instructors. I wanted to quickly take us back to last year’s graduation. I sat way in the back over there, and I watched as Dan Parisi give a phenomenal senior speech, and as I sat there I thought to myself “you know, next year my graduating class will be huge, there’s no way i’ll give the senior speech”..... flash forward to now… and here I am.
I did not jump at the opportunity to give a speech, but the more I thought about it the more I wanted to share my experience with my time here and how it has shaped me. I want to be able to share everything from the time the biology class in freshman year had to get up on stage at the winter evening and lip sync a rap about photosynthesis to the times when Mr. Drummond would say “let’s take a break from class” which meant there was a possibility that class was actually over. But unfortunately, we don’t have time for me to share all of the memories.
However, I would like to take the time to speak into something that has made an enormous impact on my life and my future. It is how the academics at New Hope have prepared and equipped me for college. I have been blessed to attend classes at a place that cares so much about students and learning but also isn’t afraid to challenge and give responsibility to the student to take charge of their own education. New Hope is a unique institution in that students take ownership of their learning. Yes the instructors teach, but on the three days we are not here, we are tasked with being diligent with learning the material and coming to class prepared. A lesson that stemmed out of this that is truly going to benefit me was how I learned to manage my time. Unlike many learning environments, New Hope students have a four day gap between our Thursday and Tuesday classes. This requires of the student to plan out their time carefully in order to accomplish everything. And yes, we miss an assignment here and there, but hey, we are not all perfect.
This is only one of the many lessons I’ve learned here. I’m sure my classmates can relate with these next examples. Mr. Westrate taught me how to pick apart a book and find the deeper meaning, even if that book is six hundred pages long and only talks about whales. Mrs. Range taught me how to manage meetings and delegate when a large task needs to be done. Mrs. James taught me to tap into the creative sides I didn’t know I had. Through biology and anatomy and physiology my mother taught me how God created us perfectly, with every little molecule and system in place. And because of Mrs. Libert I am standing before you now.
Its with all of these things and more wrapped up together I can say with full confidence that New Hope was the place I was meant to be at and I can’t imagine graduating from anywhere else. So I just want to say thank you on behalf of all of the students to the parents and instructors that made it possible for us to graduate today ready and able to go off into college or where else we may find ourselves.
From graduate Benny Wassell:
Good morning to all of you. Here we are at the end of the homeschool experience. I have been homeschooled my entire life, as many of you have been, and my what a journey we’ve been on. Our parents have given us the great gift of learning in the environment where we are most relaxed, and thanks to the blood, sweat and literal tears of our parents, academically we have come very far indeed. We have read the classics, studied the sciences, written stories and poetry. There have been projects and mud pies, documentaries and drama. As homeschoolers we could have done all these things on our own if we had wanted to. Learning does not necessarily require a community of peers. However, the reason I see so many smiles, (and some tears), is because of the people who came together in this place for these years, to form the community this class of 2019 has experienced. New Hope isn’t just a building or classes: it is a group of people who form a loving community. It is this love, and a love of learning, that makes this place so amazing.
When I first came to New Hope I knew a little about what to expect, because my mother was an instructor. This gave me an inside look into what New Hope was like. Needless to say, by the end of my first week or two of real classes, I was already calling New Hope my home away from home. I have always been a very social person, and I instantly fell in love with the fact that I could have conversations with people just as interested in the material under study as I was. I grew to love this place so much that it felt weird not being here through vacations. And while we are all happy when the school year is over, I have never seen or met a group of people so eager to return to school in the fall. Coming to orientation every year wasn’t ever only about getting to know the new space and classrooms. It was a chance to see the people I had genuinely missed over the summer, and to meet the new faces I would be spending the coming year with.
Here at New hope We sit shoulder to shoulder to discuss the great ideas. Whether we are learning new languages, studying the history of civilization, picking the brains of great authors with Mr. Westrate or picking actual brains with Mrs. Corbin we are forming friendships founded in learning. So It isn’t simply knowledge we take away from New Hope. We have been given comrades and peers, friends and mentors, People who will never leave our hearts and minds, because we have spent our lives with them. If an idea turns on a light in the mind then surely, by bringing minds together, we may light the universe.
We all have traveled together for along time now and gone many places. Today we part ways, but we will never forget the people we have walked with. Thank you.
From graduate Liam Siegler:
Congratulations class of 2019, we’ve made it! High school is OVER. To be honest, I never thought it would be so glorious to arrive at this place. For me, it’s a lot to take in. See, I’m a very present oriented person, so for years it’s felt like I’ve been in the galleys, slaving away at math, science, literature, and the like for who knows how long. Actually, 12 years to be exact...but the point is, for me, and I’m sure for most of us, the years leading up to the end of high school have been long and hard. But here we are, the past is behind us and now the future awaits.
The future. What is it? Well, in Classical literature we discovered through Saint Augustine’s Confessions that the future is a concept that doesn’t measurably exist because its based in our subjective consciousness, rooted in our perception of time, and it's essentially the present of what’s to come. Okay...that might be a little bit too philosophical and not entirely correct, but I digress. We know what the future is, and for us Seniors, it’s very daunting and VERY real. For us, the future is what lies ahead. It will be the new experiences we face, the new opportunities we earn, and the new friends meet. It will be full of new challenges, new conflicts, and new dangers. Sure, we don’t know the particulars, but what we do know is that there is SO much before us. We know that the next stage of our lives is about to begin.
So how will we approach the future? With fear? Or with our soul lifted high? Yes, there is so much that is unknown, but we must never let that stop us. Yes, there is so much that we can’t control, but we must never let that bind our hearts to apathy. We must open up our eyes to the beautiful, wonderful possibilities ahead. To quote William Wilberforce, “We are too young to realize that certain things are impossible... So we will do them anyway.” This is the perspective we must have. As young adults, we must see that nothing is impossible, because we serve a God through whom everything is possible. Let this be the basis for a new, radical confidence - so that we can move out into the world and bring change.
If you haven’t noticed, this world really needs change. Believe it or not, we live in dark times. People are broken, systems are broken, and maybe someday, if you haven’t already, you’ll experience this brokenness too. But there is so much hope, and one of the most unique things about New Hope is that this hope rests as our foundation, both in the name and in our hearts. We have the Gospel. The light of the glory of God. The sacrifice of Christ on our behalf. These are amazing things and they empower us to make a difference - whether that be in the colleges we go too, the friend groups we are apart of, or our local communities - whatever it is, we CAN live impactful lives. God has uniquely gifted us with specific talents and abilities for this very purpose. Just look at William Wilberforce for example. It took him 20 years, from 1787 to 1817, for his efforts to pay off. Nearly everybody was against him (in fact, lots of people hated him), but with passion, prayer, and dedication, he effectually led the abolition of Great Britain’s slave trade. The door hasn’t closed for us to do great things like that, in fact, its wide open.
So what do we want to become? Who do we want to be? I say we should be unique. I say we should break the norms of complacency and self-absorption and live our lives with a radical confidence. I say we give ourselves to making a difference for the glory of God. Because what really, in the end matters? Our futures are not about us. We serve a God who started history, and will end it. This life is about Him.
When you think about it, we can’t afford to waste our lives. We’ve received so many blessings and there is so much before us. We can’t take graduating for granted.
So let us live like nothing is impossible. Let us love to the fullest. Let's change the world. The past is behind us, now the future awaits.
From Director Chris Westrate:
It’s been quite a road to get here, and each of your roads has been different—more so than in other graduation venues. Not only are each of you unique, but each of your home academies is distinct. I want to start by giving a big round of applause to your parents who, through so many hours and sleepless nights, made this possible. I also want to honor the hard work of each of these students. These kids are so personally committed to their success academically. They do so much of their work independently, and they have made us all proud.
I think I’ve sometimes thought of graduation speeches as the opportunity to give advice for the “rest of your life”. That in leaving the home and high school years, you need a mantra that you can take with you to guide you until you reach Shakespeare’s second childhood. But really, though there are big markers of transition in life at key times (college, marriage, creating a family, midlife, etc.) all of life is transition. It’s my observation that those who stay on the rails through the difficulties and trauma seem to have developed a way of being rather than a set of rules for life. So with this in mind, I want to concentrate on a familiar passage from Dante’s Divine Comedy.
Most of you have just finished Dante’s almost endless poem. Join the ranks of a few hundred in this country who can say the same thing! As you know, Dante makes himself a character in his own story, the greatest of explorers going into the unknown of the afterlife to discover his mission. For the first 2/3rds his guide is none other than the Roman poet Virgil (they also read The Aeneid this year!), but as they reach the threshold of Paradise, Dante must come under the direction of a new guide who can actually take him to Heaven. What Virgil says to him as he prepares to return to Limbo is very telling:
“Expect no longer words or signs from me.
Now is your will upright, wholesome and free,
and not to meet its pleasure would be wrong:
I crown and miter you lord of yourself.” (Purgatorio Canto XXVIII)
This is quite a line. This is not my first time quoting it at a graduation ceremony, as have others. What does it mean to be lord of yourself? If you haven’t read Dante, it sounds almost like the poet may be getting free rein on his ego. Isn’t the mark of maturity some deference to society, authority, God?
If I read Dante correctly, he is pointing us toward true maturity. After all his wanderings, after his decent and then ascent, Virgil is saying that Dante has come to a place where the free execution of his will will actually produce the life he was always meant to enjoy.
In a sense, today is an icon of that reality. Your parents are graduating you from high school and, in a way, you are flying the nest. This is the moment of independence many of you have been waiting for.
Let’s think about that independence. Indeed, this is one of the arch-values of our society. We celebrate Independence Day with a light show in the sky. But what does it mean to be independent? I’m not big on self help stuff, but of all the definitions I’ve looked at, I think true independence is synonymous with achieving what we call an internal locus of control.
One way to understand internal locus of control is to think of yourself actively making the big and small decisions of your life, but being truly responsible for the outcomes and consequences of those choices. Every day, every hour, every minute. You decide whether to finish an assignment. You decide whether to remain friends with a toxic person. You decide what you study, and what you will do for work, and who you will marry, etc, etc.
Most people think they are doing just this, but in fact, we’ve known so many people who deep down believe that the world is the primary actor, and against them. Most of you read Oedipus the King this year, and he’s a great example. These are folks with an “external locus of control.” These people are always citing circumstances to explain what they do. Or people: “I had to because so and so told me I had to.” Or blaming parents, society, Congress, whatever, when things are disappointing or they experience failure. It’s never the responsibility of people with an external locus of control, for how could they have possibly done differently when everything thrusts them, disempowered, in the way they go?
Men and women with internal loci of control take responsibility for their actions, feel their own will operative most of the time, don’t blame others very often.
But does this mean that, as "lord of ourselves," we are gods unto ourselves? I say no! Dante says no!
I talked about gaining the integrity of self-control and self-determination first because we must have a functioning will to be able to choose God and neighbor. Indeed, when we are mitered lord of ourselves, we are truly able to give of ourselves to other people and to our Creator. Indeed, this is why we are here.
Just as with Dante, when we have grown and matured, and increased in knowledge and wisdom, we are ready to ascend to higher things. Few co-dependent external-locus-of-control sort of people can make the decision to truly submit themselves to Our Lord and to our neighbors. Those who have given up their wills do the "right things" because they feel guilty, or they had to, or it was expected of them. “Do not do it because you must” says St. Peter, “Do it because you want to.” (1 Peter 5:2).
And here’s the irony, maturity requires independence and a strong sense of one’s will and choices, yet, that very maturity means that we will:
Look to others for good counsel and guidance,
Reject the notion that we are each an island,
Take correction when necessary rather than staying stalwart, protectors of our egos,
Defer to others without making a big production of it,
Lay down our lives for others,
Answer a curse with a blessing with those we may, in the moment, hate,
See that independence in it’s most mature form means interdependence, and ultimately, paradoxically, total dependence upon a loving God.
For it is only when we can truly execute our own will, make our own choices, that we can give ourself for others, or ask God for the help we need to navigate the confusion and pain of this world. It is with our God-given agency that we choose Him, that we choose to invest in relationships, that we choose to seek wisdom over folly. It is our independence, if mature, that submits to the needs of others and to the will of God.
My prayer for you is that your will remains strong, that your love for one another and for all the important people in your life only grows with time, and that this next season of life is truly a blessing to you--and through you, to others and the world.
Hear the words of the Epistle to the Hebrews:
Now may the God of peace, who brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, make you complete in everything good so that you may do his will, working among us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen. (Hebrews 13:20-21)