Jackson Hole Classical Academy Coram Deo Magazine Vol. 2 Summer 2022 Issue

Page 1


In The Footsteps of Greatness Jackson Hole Classical Academy’s fourth graduate appointed to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point Tradition & Tea: Educating the Heart The Founding of America Music, Mimēsis & the Divine Frenzy Cultivating an Appetite for Excellence
“In the presence of God”

School Leadership

Mrs. Polly J. Friess Head of School

Mr. Ian Landis Assistant Headmaster

Mrs. Monica Vitale Dean of Academics

Dr. Joseph Rudolph Dean of Faculty

Mr. Samuel Lunz Dean of Students

Mr. Peter Freund Director of Finance

Board of Directors

Dr. Gary P. Damore Chair

Mr. Jonathan Robinson Secretary

Mr. Frank Reichel Treasurer

Mrs. Lisa Meaney Mrs. Lynn Friess Mr. Jim Link

Foundation Board

Rev. David Patty President

Dr. Daniel Russ Vice President

Mrs. Polly J. Friess Secretary

Mr. Stephen Friess Treasurer

Mrs. Maggie Valiante

From the Head of School’s Desk

Dear Jackson Hole Classical Academy Community,

“Beauty will save the world.” – Fydor Dostoevsky, The Idiot.

Vladimir Solovyov, a 19th-century Russian philosopher and poet who became a friend and confidant of the writer Fydor Dostoevsky, wrote, “Dostoevsky not only preached, but, to a certain degree also demonstrated in his own activity this reunification of concerns common to humanity – at least of the highest among these concerns – in one Christian idea. In his convictions he never separated truth from goodness and beauty; in his artistic creativity he never placed beauty apart from the good and true.” Scholars conjecture that Solovyov was one of the sources for Dostoevsky’s characters Alyosha and Ivan Karamazov in The Brothers Karamazov. Dostoevsky was right, because these three qualities can live only in unity. The truth taken abstractly is an empty word or subjective value that erodes trust. Beauty without truth and goodness becomes an idol. Goodness taken separately from truth and beauty is only a feeling or powerless upswelling of emotion. These three transcendentals are inseparable forms of one absolute idea. The Greek and Roman philosophers connected the human capacities of logos, pathos, and ethos to these qualities. Truth defines reality and corresponds to logos or reason. Beauty expresses delight and corresponds to pathos or emotion. Goodness fulfills purpose and corresponds to ethos or morality. They believed that together these values brought forth human fulfillment. Truth, goodness, and beauty may sound like abstract concepts, but they correspond to our deepest desires. These transcendentals enable us to discover, create, and nurture. They are gifts, they give us hope, and they are the foundation that makes life possible, known, and worth living. We call them transcendentals because they transcend our everyday knowledge and point to our Creator. In his book, Beauty: What It Is and Why It Matters, John-Mark Miravalle shares that “looking at the beauty of nature makes us think that someone made it all.” God is an artist. He created from nothing. He knows truth, goodness, and beauty and His work is meaningful and transformative.

Our work at Jackson Hole Classical Academy is to teach that there is a clear standard for beauty, that there is right from wrong, that there is absolute truth, and that kindness and compassion are essential. The Greek translation of the word kalosyni, or goodness, is “uprightness of heart and life.” These transcendentals guide our lives and lead to human fulfillment. When meditated upon, they cultivate a spirit of gratitude. When pursued, they lead to wisdom. When lived out, they involve doing the truth with love. Therefore, Dostoevsky rightly stated that “beauty will save the world” – and that is our belief and our mission at Jackson Hole Classical Academy.

What a privilege!

2 | Jackson Hole Classical Academy

Coram Deo is an annual publication by Jackson Hole Classical Academy that is dedicated to presenting topics related to classical and Christian education written by our faculty and staff.

Jackson Hole Classical Academy is a private, classical school in the Christian tradition dedicated to educating the hearts and minds of K–12 students. Our 80-acre campus features 360-degree mountain views, all in close proximity to the Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks.

In this issue 04

The heart of a classical education is training in the virtues through a foundation of piety, leading to true and effective learning. This ancient educational tradition is to allow personal values to guide all learning. Morals ought not to be simply things of study that are reserved from society, but values that are passed down through tradition as the foundation of all, including learning.

The history of the American system, particularly its successes and failures, demonstrates that the U.S. Constitution provides the framework for a republic-forexpansion, rather than a liberal democracy. Citizens of this republic must understand this distinction to effectively contribute to a free and flourishing society.

For Plato, a good education corresponded to the classical curriculum in which math, science, and logic shape the mind; languages, history, and art nurture the spirit; and sports discipline the body. But what about music?

By diving deep into specific time periods, subjects, or places, students at JHCA will experience a lasting and multifaceted understanding and a true sense of wonder, poised to create an unforgettable recipe in which each bite perfectly accompanies the next.

Coram Deo Magazine – Summer 2022 | 3
10 12 14
Field Day 2022 06

In The Footsteps of Greatness

JHCA’s fourth graduate attends U.S. Military Academy at West Point

Classical education is unique in that a student under its tutelage receives a front row seat to the minds of the greatest thinkers, poets, artists, musicians, and scientists. Over the course of their thirteen years at Jackson Hole Classical Academy, students are systematically led on a thought-provoking journey through the last 30 centuries of history. You could say that they “walk” in the footsteps of greatness.

We take students on this journey because it teaches them how to think, not what to think. By immersing students in a realm of diverse works and discoveries, teaching them how to reason for themselves, and finally, how to speak eloquently, they are prepared to take on any challenges they may meet. They are prepared to be free citizens who are active members of a flourishing society. They desire truth, goodness, and beauty.

We had the privilege of matriculating one such sojourner this past June. The occasion marked the conclusion of one exciting journey for our graduate, Sarah Tallerico, and the beginning of an even greater one. Having walked in the footsteps of Aristotle, Michelangelo, Newton, Bach, Virgil, and Galileo during her time at JHCA, Sarah will now follow in the footsteps of Ulysses Grant, John Pershing, George Patton, Dwight Eisenhower, Douglas MacArthur, and Norman Schwarzkopf at the United States Military Academy at West Point in New York.

She was nominated by this year’s commencement speaker, Wyoming Senator John Barrasso, to represent the State at the Military Academy.

About Sarah, Sen. Barrasso said, “She has shown she is highly motivated and possesses the strong leadership skills needed to succeed. It’s an honor to nominate her, and I am confident that she will represent the Cowboy State well.”

Dr. Mark Johnson, civilian aide to the Secretary of the Army in Wyoming and Wyoming state coordinator on the West Point Field Force, describes the qualities of a West Point candidate: “In addition to being physically fit, intelligent, and nominated by a U.S. Senator, anyone seeking admission to West Point must have a burning desire to be a sworn servant of the American people.” For the aspiring candidate, West Point offers a fully funded, Ivy League-quality education, military training in the best Army on Earth, and leadership development by the premier institution of its kind in the world.

Dr. Johnson noted that over 15,000 highly qualified students competed for admission to the Academy this year and commended JHCA’s rigorous academic and character development, as Sarah was one of the final 1,100 students to receive an appointment.

In fact, he personally attended JHCA’s graduation ceremony to present Sarah with her official appointment papers.

We are proud to report that Sarah has successfully completed Cadet Basic Training, which is a 6-week training course before a cadet’s first year and referred to as “The Beast.” She will major in Life Science or Math, complete officer training, and go on to study medicine with the U.S. Army with the goal of becoming an orthopedic surgeon like her father and like Sen. Barrasso.

Asked about her favorite part of being a JHCA student, Sarah said, “My junior and senior years at the Classical Academy shaped me into a critical thinker, a confident contributor, and a compassionate leader. I have no doubt that my experience at JHCA has prepared me for the next phase of my life.”

At the graduation ceremony, Head of School Polly Friess said, “Sarah has displayed exceptional maturity and independence throughout her time here. She embodies our mission of cultivating wisdom and virtue in students so they may discover and fulfill their God-given potential. When her family moved to New York four years ago, Sarah made the bold decision to live with a host family and finish high school with us because of the quality of education. I am so proud of Sarah and have no doubt that she will be a positive contributor to a flourishing and free society.”

Sarah’s graduation concluded the eighth year of operations for JHCA, and we are incredibly honored to have been a part of her journey.

Opposite Page: (Top) Head of School Polly Friess welcomes guests and reflects on the school’s mission at the second graduation ceremony. (Middle Left) Boy Scout and JHCA student Bill Robinson leads the processional, followed by Mrs. Polly Friess, Sen. John Barrasso, Dr. Mark Johnson, Coach Samuel Lunz, and Dr. Joseph Rudolph. (Middle Right) Sarah Tallerico, ’22 delivers an eloquent student speech. (Bottom Left) Sarah Tallerico proudly displays her graduation cap, adorned with the West Point crest. (Bottom Middle) Dr. Johnson presents Sarah Tallerico with her official appointment papers. (Bottom Right) Sen. Barrasso delivers a phenomenal, humorous, and inspiring keynote address.

4 | Jackson Hole Classical Academy
Coram Deo Magazine – Summer 2022 | 5

Tradition & Tea: Educating the Heart

A practical and engaging approach to classical character formation

The Foundation of Classical Education

The heart of a classical education is training in the virtues through a foundation of piety, leading to true and effective learning. In their book The Liberal Arts Tradition: A Philosophy of Classical Education, Kevin Clark and Ravi Scott Jain begin by discussing the idea that piety is at the heart of education through the classic tradition. The ancient educational tradition with high calling is to allow personal values to guide all learning. Morals ought not to be simply things of study that are reserved from society, but values that are passed down through tradition as the foundation of all, including learning. They also discuss how personal values directed education in ancient cultures:

“[Living out personal values] required trust and commitment, and therefore piety, the proper love and fear of God

and man, was the critical virtue, ‘The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom’ (Proverbs 9:10). This piety aligned the students’ will with the family, with society, and with God. Piety expected the young pupils’ desires, beliefs, and habits to be shaped over years in the process of incarnating them. It was more than just head knowledge. Piety required faithful devotion manifest in action.”

The goal of a classical education is that students become intrinsically motivated by strong morals and virtues to do the right thing, because they love what is good. But what first causes this intrinsic and virtuous motivation? First and foremost it is the inner being of a child that is open to both truth, goodness, and beauty or the opposite. They are ready to be molded and formed in whichever direction they

are guided. In Home Education: Vol. 1, Charlotte Mason says, “does a child eat or drink, does he come, or go, or play—all the time he is being educated, though he is as little aware of it as he is of the act of breathing.” Children are open to all that is around them, they will learn, and it is up to us to guide them in the right ways. Children have an inner being that is taking in all information as the brain takes it in and must be formed above all else.

In her book In Vital Harmony: Charlotte Mason and the Natural Laws of Education, Karen Glass states, “Children are born with active minds, not simply brains, and therefore education must address this nonmaterial, spiritual aspect of a person.” As we educate their inner person we are educating them in using the instrument of their inner being—the physical brain. Charlotte Mason discusses the students’ mind as their inner being and

6 | Jackson Hole Classical Academy

the brain as the physical instrument of the inner being. Mason states, “I am anxious to bring before teachers the fact that a child comes into their hands with a mind of amazing potentialities: he has a brain too, no doubt, the organ and instrument of what same mind, as a piano is not the music but the instrument of music.” We must work with their inner being and teach them how to properly use their physical brain.

Secondly, but equal with the previous point, zeal is important for the intrinsic motivation of students, whether that passion is positive or negative. Learning is not something that simply involves knowledge. Charlotte Mason believed that education must be taught with emotion and not only knowledge. Emotion opens the heart of the student because it moves them deep inside their inner being, or mind, as described by Charlotte Mason. In School Education, Mason states, “Education should aim at giving knowledge touched with emotion.”

Finally, knowledge is needed to help students properly inform and feed their zeal leading to proper intrinsic motivations. Glass states, “As we learn to care about various things—things of the natural world or personal virtues such as honesty—our feelings will motivate us to act because of what we know.” In this way, knowledge becomes a virtue in a person’s life. We are told in Proverbs 19:2, “Even zeal is not good without knowledge, and the one who acts hastily sins.” We want students not only to have excitement for learning or doing good, but we want them

to be properly informed to have the tools necessary to follow through on learning. Students can effectively learn when their passions are sparked and they are given knowledge.

Practical Demonstration of Classical Education Through Manners & Etiquette

Teaching manners and etiquette is at the core of a classical education as it is a training in the virtues. One of the foundational elements of learning classically is to promote within our students a love for virtue. We do this through sparking their zeal and informing it with the proper knowledge.

to fall in love with many virtues through the social tea setting in order to help them spiritually, emotionally, and intellectually fall in love with the virtues. We highlight the following virtues in our time together: gratitude, temperance, humility, patience, diligence, charity, and kindness. We learn what it means to be grateful for community and the blessings given to us, temperate with our passions and desires when food and drink are placed before us, and humble in the way that we think of others before ourselves when hosting and gathering. We learn patience while we wait to enjoy delicious food and drink until it is the proper time. We learn diligence in the way that we persevere and continue to show hospitality even when we don’t feel like it, charity in the way that we give of ourselves to others through hospitality, and kindness through showing true love and grace while we serve and give company.

Students have a natural zeal to be with one another, and we can use this to fill them with knowledge of what it truly means to gather in a wholesome community and live virtuously amongst the community. We hope this leads to a lifelong understanding for living virtuously and continuously showing manners and etiquette.

The goal of the Manners & Etiquette program (Tea Party Club) at Jackson Hole Classical Academy is to direct students

It is important that the inner being of students is motivated through emotion while supplemented with knowledge in order to promote the desire to continue learning truth, goodness, and beauty. We want to provide students the opportunity to engage their zeal for being among community and marry it with proper knowledge to create a lifelong desire for virtuous behavior. Providing the inner being of the student with the means to zeal and knowledge can lead them toward intrinsic motivation for the true, the good, and the beautiful. At the end of the day, our goal is for each student to truly love and respect the classical school setting, to see it as a sacred place, and to treat it as such.

Coram Deo Magazine – Summer 2022 | 7
Providing the inner being of the student with the means to zeal and knowledge can lead them toward intrinsic motivation for the true, good, and beautiful.
2022 K–5 Grand Tea Party (Opposite: Langley Hoover and Rosalie McGaugh, Kindergarten. Above: David Wronko and Isaiah Heindel, 5th grade. Max G., 6th, plays the cello. Second-grader Fox Lunz, enjoys the event with her mother, Becky, and brother, Lincoln.)
8 | Jackson Hole Classical Academy AVERAGE CLASS SIZE STUDENT-TEACHER RATIO 8 68% 7:1 2160 STUDENTS GRADES K-12 97 LOWER SCHOOL STUDENTS GRADES K-5 UPPER SCHOOL STUDENTS GRADES 6-12 56 41 The Year in Review EXTRACURRICULAR CLUBS & ATHLETICS 11 FACULTY WITH ADVANCED DEGREES HOURS FACULTY SPENT IN PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT To maintain our outstanding student-teacher ratio, class sizes, and percentage of faculty with advanced degrees, we rely on gifts to bridge the gap between our revenue and operating costs. Your generosity enables us to teach our students HOW to think, rather than WHAT to think, and help them discover truth, goodness, and beauty in everything they encounter. Scan the QR code or call Erin Sullivan, Director of Advancement, at 307-201-5040 ext. 1043 to discuss giving opportunities. Join the movement
Coram Deo Magazine – Summer 2022 | 9

Republic vs. Democracy: The Reason Behind America’s Government


Shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union, American political scientist Francis Fukuyama declared an end to history. He stated that liberal democracy had triumphed over fascism in World War II and over communism in the Cold War; all imaginable political systems had been tried and failed in one way or another, and only our modern liberal order proved functional. Yet, a thought occurs: the United States is not a liberal democracy—it’s a republic. The term “liberal democracy” was not used prior to the 1940s, and even then, it served as an ideological marker to place nations like the United Kingdom, the United States, France, and their Allies firmly in contrast to fascist and later communist countries. Unfortunately, “republic” and “democracy” have since become synonymous. Yet, there are meaningful differences between the two, such as what makes someone a citizen, how the apparatus of government is designed and functions, and even how citizens behave. Moreover, each system has a particular size of nation in mind. The history of the American system, particularly its successes and failures, demonstrates that the U.S. Constitution provides the framework for a republic-forexpansion, rather than a liberal democracy. Citizens of this republic must understand this distinction to effectively contribute to a free and flourishing society.

The term “liberal democracy” represents the marriage of two historical trains of thought. “Democracy,” of course, has its roots in ancient Greece, where it indicated small city-states of no more than 150,000 active citizens each involved in the creation, execution, and adjudication of law. Government was formed by the active participation of all citizens. In this

system, power naturally coalesced with the wealthy, slave-owning few who could make politics their business (with the support of whatever mob they could rally). “Liberal” has often been mistakenly traced to the political tracts of the 17th-century English philosopher of education John Locke and his Two Treatises of Government, though the true origin is in the works of 19thcentury English philosopher John Stuart Mill. In fact, much of what Locke wrote would be considered illiberal today, such as his denial of tolerance to atheism in society, while Mill’s ideas are still much more palatable to the modern liberal, so far as he believed the increasing social and economic equality he witnessed was an improvement to society and placed self-defense as the sole reason one could interfere with another’s free actions.

democracy” simply did not exist at the time of the American Founding—it is impossible for the Founders to have meant by “republic” what we mean today by “democracy.” The Founding generation saw their conflict with their mother country as a conflict of kith and kin: they fought for the vindication of their rights as Englishmen. One quite revealing moment from the 1787 Constitutional Convention, recorded by Rufus King, illustrates the Founding attitude towards England, the King, and popular power. James Wilson, a delegate from Pennsylvania, raised the motion to create an executive—what would become the presidency—as a singular magistrate. An objection was raised that the fledgling nation had just fought off monarchy only for this motion to bring it back, to which Wilson replied, “the people of America did not oppose the British King but the Parliament—the opposition was not against a Unity but a corrupt multitude.”

These two terms, “liberal” and “democracy,” were wedded in the 1940s to describe Western nations characterized by widespread political participation by citizens, regular elections, reasonably free political association, majority preference influencing government action, legal protections of individual rights, and limited government powers. While the concepts described certainly apply to principles laid out in the United States Constitution, the idea of a “liberal

The faction of the Convention that fought most strongly for the presidency as an executive separated from the legislature were not fans of the Articles of Confederation, nor did they care for the democratic leanings they witnessed in the younger generation. They were, as American historian Eric Nelson argues, royalists seeking to preserve in the new American system what was best about the British system. For them, America was to be a synthesis of what could be learned from the rise and fall of Rome and the English legal tradition. They believed that an executive with prerogatives was a strong guarantee against corruption within the legislative body, so long as there were corresponding checks on the executive by the legislative.

10 | Jackson Hole Classical Academy
history teacher’s explanation of our Country’s founding
Four major elements that distinguish a republic from other political systems are its design, concept of citizenship, features of its citizens, and its arrangement.

So why did the Founders prefer a republic over a democracy?

Four major elements that distinguish a republic from other political systems are its design, concept of citizenship, features of its citizens, and its arrangement. First, republics are built for expansion. As previously mentioned, democracy was meant for the small, stable city-state, where citizens could regularly and actively participate in government. In contrast, the system of delegation commonly found in republics enables citizens to participate in government while still maintaining their private interests and activities, rather than having to make politics their fulltime pursuit. These republican systems of representation facilitate the republic’s expansion and its incorporation of new territory: a great example of this is the United States formalizing the state admission processes. The U.S. Constitution provides for admission to the Union through Congress—the representative body—in Article IV, Section 3. Providing a means of expanding the Union indicates the intention of expanding by simply allowing for the possibility.

Citizens in traditional republics are strongly rooted in the land. Historically, republicans did not trust people in mercantile or financial occupations. Wealth detached from the land can be taken away—and without a real connection to the land, how can one be trusted to defend the republic when

it is threatened? The distinguishing characteristic of the republican citizen is the pervading fear that the republic will be lost. Every generation views the previous generation as being freer and more virtuous, and the young as emblematic of corruption and decadence. Despite these perceptions, however, the republic ensures freedom. Finally, the separation of powers, popular input, and limitation of governmental authority are the republic’s surest guards against internal threats to liberty. The actual arrangement of the federal government clearly reveals the extent to which the Founders studied and learned from mistakes in history. The three-branch division of the three fundamental powers of government is an ideal arrangement.

Over the course of American history, we have “democratized” our institutions and allowed political norms to run against the intentions of the constitutional design. Classical political thought from ancient Greece holds that all models of government degrade. Unrestrained democracy results from a corrupted polity, oligarchy from the corruption of aristocracy, and tyranny the corruption of monarchy. One declines into the other: in the case of democracy, for example, a demagogue emerges who influences and directs a majority that governs tyrannically over the minority. The Founders designed the American republic to avoid these degradations. It was equipped with the

potential for democratic local governments and House of Representatives; an aristocratic Senate and Supreme Court; and a monarchical executive. Over time, this clear separation has become blurred. For example, the appointment of U.S. senators by their respective state governments was undone by the 17th Amendment. In addition, all states, save Nebraska and Maine, have adopted winner-take-all systems for presidential elections: so long as a candidate wins the state’s popular vote, he wins all its electoral votes. However, the presidency was never meant to be a representative- or popularlychosen position, as this leads to intense division and polarized policy.

Despite the democratic corruption of our institutions, America could never be a functional democracy. We are too large and too diverse, very few citizens possess the means and ability to engage in politics as a full-time pursuit, and almost all citizens retain business interests outside of the political sphere. A republic is the ideal means of allowing American citizens to be both private citizens and public servants, supporting ourselves and our nation at the same time, and live without fear of the whiplash and mob rule of democratic government.

A classical education, with its strong foundation in the Western tradition, creates well-informed citizens that understand and respect the distinction between a democracy and a republic.

Coram Deo Magazine – Summer 2022 | 11
Academic Exhibition 2022 (Left: The Kindergarten class tells the story of the pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving. Right: The First Grade class presents the stories of key figures in America’s early history including Abigail Adams, George Washington, Betsy Ross, and Pocahontas.)

Music, Mimēsis, and the Divine Frenzy

How music educates the complete soul—mind, body, and spirit

Each time we choose a descriptive playlist, such as “Relaxing Piano Music,” we acknowledge music’s extraordinary ability to evoke emotional states. Plato recognized this ability, which he called mimēsis, as early as the 5th century BC. In his Republic, he argues that musical mimēsis can be used to instill virtue in children by evoking wellbalanced emotions. Since virtue provides a robust foundation for all other types of learning, Plato concludes that music must be incorporated into the curriculum from the earliest stages.

Plato’s positive view of music education stems from his theory of the three-part soul, divided into the mind (reason), the spirit (character), and the body (desire). A good education teaches students to balance these three parts,

resulting in a virtuous and fulfilling life; a poor education produces the opposite result. For Plato, a good education corresponded to the classical curriculum in which math, science, and logic shape the mind; languages, history, and art nurture the spirit; and athletics discipline the body. But what about music? Unlike the other areas of study, music uniquely develops the entire soul—mind, spirit, and body. Music accomplishes this impressive feat by first targeting the spirited element. This middle element of the soul acts as a mediator between the mind and body— our rationality and our desires. The spirit informs the judgment of ourselves and others. A well-formed spirit facilitates virtuous judgment, which produces a balanced, three-part soul. Thus, by targeting the spirited element so effectively,

music harmonizes the whole soul.

But how does music “target” the spirit in the first place? Here, we return to mimēsis—music’s ability to evoke emotional states. Consider your own emotional experiences with music. Have you ever chosen a specific song because you wanted to feel a certain way? Or perhaps you have selected a playlist to reinforce your current mood? These effects arise through mimēsis. Plato cautions that music’s mimetic power requires great care. Only the very best music evokes emotions in harmonious proportions, which, in turn, mimic sound judgment— the foundation of a virtuous soul. Thus, children should be steeped in the greatest composers as much as possible, including Bach, Mozart, Debussy, and the like. Through their works, children will

12 | Jackson Hole Classical Academy
Above: Mrs. Lisa Landis leads the JHCA Choir at the 2022 Academic Exhibition.

experience well-regulated emotions and well-balanced forms.

As Plato writes in his Republic, “Anyone who has been properly educated in music will sense it acutely when something has been omitted from a thing and when it hasn’t been finely crafted or finely made by nature…He’ll rightly object to what is shameful, hating it while he is still young, and unable to grasp the reason, but, having been educated this way, he will welcome the reason when it comes and recognize it easily because of its kinship with himself.”

In other words, great music predisposes children to recognize truth, goodness, and beauty by subliminally (i.e., mimetically) instilling a virtuous foundation in their souls.

Without this foundation—without studying the very best music—students’ souls may become malnourished. Without the mimetic imprint of a virtuous character, they may fail to recognize truth, goodness, and beauty. Without virtuous spirits, they might not “discover and fulfill their God-given potential and contribute to a flourishing and free society”—central goals of Jackson Hole Classical Academy’s mission.

C.S. Lewis imagines this tragic outcome in his 1943 essay “The Abolition of Man.” Focusing on faux intellectuals and so-called progressive pedagogy, Lewis warns that modern education risks under-developing the middle element lying between the “cerebral” and the “visceral”—a reference to Plato’s mind and body. Lewis colorfully describes those lacking this spirited element as “men without chests.” His creative terminology emphasizes his broader, and more significant, point: a society of “chestless” individuals is a dystopia destined for self-destruction. That is to say, the unchecked mind commits cold, inhuman calculations; the body lacking purpose resorts to empty, carnal cravings; without properly developed “chests” our souls and our societies will devour themselves, like Saturn devoured his children.

Fortunately, Lewis’s grim admonition comes with a hopeful antidote: education of the complete soul—mind, body, and spirit. Music serves a vital function in

this education, instilling virtue through mimēsis. With virtuous “chests”—to borrow Lewis’s term—students can recognize truth, goodness, and beauty.

An even stronger argument can be made for music’s value, however, by slightly tweaking the above formulation. Instead of music purely instilling virtue as a precursor to truth, goodness, and beauty, the greatest possible music can mimetically instill these transcendentals directly into the soul. In turn, the soul receives a divine imprint that guides virtuous action and sound judgment on the deepest possible level.

Marsilio Ficino, an influential Renaissance philosopher within Cosimo de’ Medici’s inner circle, developed this alternative formulation in a 1457 letter addressed to fellow humanist Pellegrino Agli. Ficino titled the letter “On Divine Frenzy”—a reference to Plato’s notion of the divine natures, which Ficino defines as the “first natures which exist in the eternal mind of God.” Music, Ficino argues, can serve as a conduit to these first natures: Truth, goodness, and beauty. Through mimēsis, great music taps into our deepest emotions; its elegantly-balanced proportions recall the perfect, universal harmony—what the Ancient Greeks called “music of the spheres.” Ficino writes, “The soul is fired by this memory and, shaking its wings, by degrees purges itself from contact with the body and its filth and becomes wholly possessed by divine frenzy.” Through this divine frenzy—this transcendental mimēsis—the soul meets the eternal mind of God.

Whether as a divine conduit or an earthly delight, music’s educational value can hardly be overstated. Since the 5th century BC, its mimetic power has been identified as a tool for instilling virtue in preparation for more enlightened reasoning. Enlightened students will not only use their minds, but their “chests” to contribute to a flourishing and free society. In time, such “well-chested” individuals will be prepared to access truth, goodness, and beauty even more directly. With proper guidance, they will discover great music that ignites their soul, sparking a divine and frenzied journey to the eternal mind of God. As a music educator, I am privileged to facilitate this journey. In fact, I have the perfect playlist to ignite the spark: “Music, Mimēsis, and the Divine Frenzy.”

New K–12 Music Teacher Brings Unique Background

We are pleased to welcome Dr. Evan Campbell as our new K–12 Music Teacher, along with his wife, Julia, who has taken on the role of Advancement Coordinator. Prior to joining the Academy, Dr. Campbell was a Visiting Assistant Professor of Music Theory at the Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam in New York. Dr. Campbell has eleven years of teaching experience, and twenty-five years of vocal experience.

Dr. Campbell holds a Ph.D. and M.A. in Music Theory from McGill University in Montreal. He earned his B.Mus. and Classical Guitar Performance Diploma from McMaster University in Ontario.

His Ph.D. research on Claudio Monteverdi’s psalm and canticle settings was partly inspired by his Christian faith. He says, “I am cognizant of music’s role in a well-rounded classical education, and my pedagogy incorporates lateRenaissance and early-Baroque methods firmly rooted in the Trivium.” Dr. Campbell is excited to begin working with JHCA students and to “give students the very best music, even at the earliest age.”

The Campbells both enjoy hiking, cooking, and making music together. Dr. Campbell is especially looking forward to exploring the beautiful nature around Jackson and learning how to fly fish.

Coram Deo Magazine – Summer 2022 | 13
Welcome, Dr. Evan Campbell

Cultivating an Appetite for Excellence

An update on the completion of JHCA’s Curriculum Mapping project

Ask any respected chef what the most important piece is of creating an excellent meal and the answer will be the same: start with excellent ingredients. An education, like a meal, must start with a strong, proven, and enduring curriculum for it to fulfill its purpose.

Unlike the latest fad diets that are popular one season and forgotten the next, classical education uses only nourishing works that have stood the test of time. What our students are given to read, work through, analyze, or recite is timeless or, as our esteemed Humane Letters teacher, Dr. Dan Russ, shared in his Coram Deo article last summer, “permanent truths which must be taught across generations.” Curriculum is what feeds our students in

the classroom, and it is our responsibility to ensure that every morsel provided to them accomplishes that goal.

Over the past six months, our faculty, leadership team members, and academic consultants have pored over every single text, poem, and Biblical verse that forms the backbone of our curriculum to ensure we are presenting our students with the finest ingredients upon which to build their knowledge. As we formed curriculum maps for each discipline, we worked to build vertical alignment, ensuring rich continuity from one grade level to the next. In addition, we strived for horizontal alignment across subject matters, weaving together and reinforcing key concepts and ideas. For example, when fourth graders

are studying the Middle Ages in history and learning about Ireland in geography class, they were completing their own folio inspired by The Book of Kells in art class.

By diving deep into specific time periods, subjects, or places, our students will experience a lasting and multi-faceted understanding and a true sense of wonder, poised to create an unforgettable recipe in which each bite perfectly accompanies the next. We want our students to thrive from our education and to leave with their appetites whet for more. As they enter college with an unwavering foundation of knowledge, skills, and wisdom, they will have a discerning palate for what is true, good, and beautiful, and will not settle for less.

14 | Jackson Hole Classical Academy
Above: Jackson Neishabouri, Sascha Mizelle, and James Neishabouri, 10th, present at the 2022 Academic Exhibition.

College Prep the Classical Way

JHCA appoints onsite veteran college advisor

Monica Vitale joined Jackson Hole Classical Academy as the Dean of Academics and College Counselor with a master’s degree in Global and International Education from Drexel University. Prior to joining JHCA earlier this year, Mrs. Vitale worked for 15 years in several academic, advisory and admissions roles at a collegepreparatory boarding school in New England. She says having been on both sides of the admissions desk has allowed her to better prepare students for college and career.

“One of my roles back East was to support our international students through the college admissions process, which offered me a unique lens from which to view this often daunting experience. In addition, having served in prep school admissions as the person reviewing files and making admissions decisions, I am better able to assist students with how to make a lasting, positive impression in the college interview process,” she said.

Many of the students Mrs. Vitale mentored have gone to study at excellent institutions nationally and internationally. She says the “Aha!” moment when students work through the fog of post-high school decisions and see where they are meant to be is the most rewarding part of her job.

“I love walking alongside students as they find their path. For some, it’s going to a competitive university, for others it’s a dynamic art school, yet others find their place in a small liberal arts school. The

myriad of choices allows for a wonderful placement for each unique student,” she says.

At JHCA, we believe that every student has a unique potential, which requires careful extraction. We do this through a rich academic curriculum, diligent development of character, and the pursuit of truth, goodness, and beauty in all things.

In light of this, Mrs. Vitale says she loves getting to know each student, their story, their hopes, their worries, and their unexpected talents, and helping them find an institution that will allow them to flourish and thrive.

Her advice to high school students currently going through the college admissions process?

“Don’t be so focused on the end goal that you lose track of the path you’re on. High school is a time of immense academic, social, and personal growth. By moving slowly, carefully, and thoughtfully through the college process, students can pace themselves and still savor their memorable high school years,” she says.

Along with her work as the Academy’s college counselor, Mrs. Vitale recently finished a major curriculum mapping project for every course offered at JHCA, the first step in our accreditation process. The Academy is seeking accreditation through Cognia, an internationally recognized K–12 accreditation body. Representatives from Cognia visited our campus in June 2022 to conduct staff interviews, faculty observations, and examine our potential for growth. We are pleased to

announce that after this visit, our status with them moved from applicant to candidate and Cognia even anticipates our accreditation much sooner than is typical.

“This has been an inspiring and energizing endeavor and I am thrilled at the knowledge, skills, and wisdom our students are gaining from each course here,” Vitale said.

Mrs. Vitale and her husband, Andrew, coach and teacher at JHCA, have two daughters in the lower school. They say they have witnessed immense academic growth in the six short months since arriving. “From a mother’s perspective,” Mrs. Vitale said, “the education at JHCA is exceptional and I am so proud that my daughters are a part of it. Whether students have been here for multiple years or just a few months, the curriculum, teachers, and mission of this school truly helps each student find and nurture his or her potential.”

So how does a classical education best prepare students for success after high school?

Mrs. Vitale says, “Through their extensive knowledge of suffixes and prefixes from Latin lessons, their development of logic and problem-solving skills through Chess and logic classes, their articulate selfexpression from rhetoric, or their holistic understanding of the interchange between history and literature through their Humane Letters course, JHCA students graduate with an unsurpassed education and are poised to thrive in college and beyond.”

Coram Deo Magazine – Summer 2022 | 15
P.O. Box 7466 Jackson, WY 83002 jhclassical.org Coming Up Square Dance & BBQ at Bar J Ranch October 1 at 5:30 p.m. Discover Classical Learning Night November 9 at 7 p.m. High School Information Night November 16 at 5 p.m. Ceremony of Carols December 15 at 5 p.m. Scan this code for more information and to RSVP! Questions? Call 307-201-5040 or email advancement@jhclassical.org