Summer 2014: The Great American Book Rescue




For our final Friday of our summer series, and our final summer blog post, we want to piggy back on the announcement our Development Director Cozy Faber made at our parent meeting last night, about an exciting event coming this fall… here are the details:


The Great American Book Rescue is coming to SLOCA!

Saving books and authors from deconstruction one student at time!


Save the date for Thursday October 23rd!  SLO Classical Academy is proud to present two-time Newbery Award winning author and Medievalist Gary Schmidt for an incredible evening! Mr. Schmidt is the highly acclaimed author of The Wednesday Wars and Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy.  His book Okay for Now has been selected as NPR’s Backseat Book Club on All Things Considered and we are honored to host him this coming October at a very special evening event that you are all invited to attend.




{source, source, source}



Authors through the ages have written to share with the world at large the inner machinations of their minds, of their hearts and of their contemporary societies.  Books allow for a conversation that takes place between the author and his reader regardless of when or where that book is picked up or by whom it is read.  Through the ages we have learned about the human experience through Dickens, Poe, Twain, Shakespeare and more. In order to make the conversation more than just a snippet, a book must be consumed in its entirety.  Reading just a portion of a novel is akin to cutting a Monet into pieces and attempting to understand his effort with only a corner of the canvas.  Deconstructing literature will deconstruct our ability to understand and learn from those before us.  It is a path which will certainly handicap our children who will be the ones to sorely miss their opportunity to wholly consume the insights of the great authors.






Join us on October 23rd at the Madonna Expo Center for a free evening event where the eloquent and charming author Gary Schmidt will extoll for us his perception of reading whole books.  As a professor of English Literature with a training and degree in Medieval History, we are certainly in for a treat!  Guests will also have the opportunity to pledge their support as a proud advocate of SLO Classical Academy where whole books are daily faire!  This evening is free and open to the public, so please share this exciting invitation with everyone you know! 






SLO Classical Academy is not affiliated with any of the above mentioned websites or businesses.


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Summer 2014: Magic Mountain Homeschool Day




Today’s tip isn’t a summer activity, but something you can do now to take advantage of a very fun family day this fall – Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia hosts a Homeschool Family Day each year, and some of our SLOCA families who have gone in the past say this is the BEST way to experience this amusement park. The park is closed to the general public, so it’s much less crowded, meaning the whole family can enjoy shorter (sometimes no) wait times in line. And ticket prices are significantly reduced - less than half of the regular general admission!


So we want to let you in on the deal… click here for info on Magic Mountain’s Homeschool Family Day. There’s a link to a form that you print, fill out, and mail in… yep, it’s old school. That’s why it’s a good idea to schedule it now and send it in, if you’re interested in going. 


Thank you Brenda, for mentioning in the comments that the date for this is Friday, November 7, 2014 from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm.



We look forward to seeing everyone together at our Parent Welcome and Orientation Meeting tomorrow night, from 6:30-8:30 at Grace Church. This mandatory meeting officially kicks off our school year and we encourage both parents to attend if possible!




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Categorized: Archive, Community

Summer 2014: Parting (and Starting) Shots


{photo by Chuck Smith}


It may seem a little strange that as we are about to start a new year of school we are looking back at the end of last year here at Down Home. But on this final Monday of our “Past, Present and Future” blog series, we wanted to share an especially Magical Moment from our 8th Grade Promotion Ceremony in June. 


Sarah Weinschenk, our esteemed Latin instructor here at SLOCA, gave the keynote speech at this event. Her words were so inspiring that we knew our entire community would enjoy it and be moved. So even though this was given to students who were finishing up one phase of life, let it also inspire you as we move into another great year of learning together!


Mrs. Weinschenk began by relating a story about how one of her high school students, Christopher Rein, taught her the origin of the phrase “Parting Shot:” 


{photo by Chuck Smith}


In reading Caesar and discussing Roman military history, Christopher and I had talked about the fact that the Romans weren't really known for their archers, but that their enemies to the east, the Parthians were famous for their archery skills on horse back.  They were especially adept at turning around in their saddles while riding away from their enemies and shooting arrows behind them.  This was known as the "Parthian Shot," but later was corrupted into the "Parting Shot," meaning a final verbal point made at the end of a debate.


…allow me to stretch the metaphor a little bit--leaving you all with 2 parting shots, one to penetrate your mind, and one to penetrate the heart.


First:  Never stop reading!  


I recently shared a column from the op-ed page of the New York times with Susie.  In it the columnist, David Brooks, describes a memorable encounter between a man and a woman in the Soviet Union.  The woman, a writer and an intellectual is being persecuted and silenced by the communist government.  During an evening when a man has managed a visit with her, they engage in an intense meeting of minds, discussing their favorite authors, characters, and themes from Russian literature.  Their literary conversation becomes so intimate and results in such a unity of mind and soul, that their encounter is later misinterpreted as having been a romantic one. The point of the story was to illustrate how a shared knowledge and love of literature can allow for human interaction in a way that nothing else can.  The loss of this kind of connection, should people ever stop reading and discussing great literature would be profound.  The other striking thing about this story is the importance of talking about what we read. It is in sharing our experience of literature with others that reading bears fruit not only in the life of the individual, but for society as a whole.


I am sure we all have our systems for deciding what to read next.  I have a stack of books in the living room--loosely organized, alternating non-fiction with novels, Victorian novels with early 20th century, books dealing with antiquity and those with other time periods--library books always get moved to the top, receiving priority status since there is a time limit on them.  Currently I am reading David McCullough’s biography of John Adams.  I know it is the wrong time period for this year at SLOCA, but it jumped to the top of the stack because it is on loan from my mother-in-law.


Throughout his diaries and letters, it is clear that Adams’ intellect, character, and political philosophy were all formed not only by what he read so voraciously, but by what he learned from discussing it with his friends and associates.  In the constitution which he wrote for the state of Massachusetts, he discusses how important it is for the government to provide for the education and cultural edification of citizens.  Commenting on what was necessary for a citizenry capable of governing itself he wrote:  “I must judge for myself, but how can I judge, how can any man judge, unless his mind has been opened and enlarged by reading.”


I did not expect the Adams book to be an inspiration for these remarks because, as I said, we are not studying American history this year. Yet, he was so steeped in classical literature and political philosophy that I found it to be relevant after all. Of reading Cicero’s Orations aloud he said, “ . . . it exercises my lungs, raises my spirits, opens my pores, quickens the circulation and contributes much to health.” (almost sounds like a trip to the spa!)  Both Adams and Washington were known to quote frequently from a popular play of the time entitled Cato. He often addressed his beloved and respected wife Abigail as “Portia” in their letters, which would cast him in the role of “Brutus,” the tyrannicide; but rather than trying to preserve a republic, Adams was creating one. Adams frequently referred to himself as behaving like a Roman, in the type of Cincinnatus, the farmer-patriot. It is not a stretch to think Adams and his fellow founders had Julius Caesar on their minds when they were preparing to commit what some would see as treason, while others saw it as a heroic act. 


You, too, have had Julius Caesar on your minds of late. You may remember that in Act 3, scene 1, after Caesar  has been assassinated, Brutus says, “Ambition’s debt is paid.” Caesar’s rise to the top in Roman politics was fueled by ambition and his keen sense of dignitas, or prestige.  This sense of importance and respect in the public eye was of supreme importance to the Roman elite.  


This brings me to my second parting shot:  Three cheers for humility!


Humility, my favorite of the SLOCA character traits, is one of the most undervalued virtues of our time. In fact, I would say that the attitude of humility is so counter-cultural as to be downright subversive.  I am calling upon you to embrace this virtue as you move on to high school.  


Humility and happiness may be found in not comparing yourself to others.  As you enter high school, you may find yourself surrounded by people, both parents and students, obsessed with, and driven by, AP scores, GPAs, and getting into a prestigious college. They will constantly measure themselves against others’ success, which in turn will be measured by some number--a test score, a grade point average, class standing, and so on.  As you encounter these values, you may think that you don’t have a choice, but must measure yourself that way too. I exhort you not to buy into it--you do have a choice!


By all means, maintain your own high standards and set meaningful goals for yourself.  Strive for excellence and integrity in all that you do, but resist the pressure to allow this to be measured by tests and numbers, or how you stack up next to others.  Humility lies in recognizing and appreciating your own true worth, but understanding that this does not place you above others in terms of privilege or entitlement.  If ambition is part of your nature, put it in the services of a greater, common good rather than your own advancement.


So, as you move on from SLOCA middle school, I hope you will carry with you a love for reading and discussing good literature,  an independent sense of your own worth, free from pride, and an appreciation of your talents, to be put in the service of others.



Thank you for this beautiful and wise advice, Mrs. Weinschenk - we are so grateful for everything you pour into our middle school and high school students, and we can all take these words to heart as we begin a new year together!



Reminder: the school store is open every day this week, M-F from 10am - 1pm, if you still need to pick up your books.



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Summer 2014: New Classrooms


{all photos by Michelle Dorman}


Looking ahead to the coming school year, one new thing you’ll see is the location of some of our classrooms. We have worked to arrange rooms in a way that puts levels more together. We have moved the Intermediate classrooms closer to the rest of the school, and Lower Middle School classrooms will also now be closer to each other. 


A map of the campus including all the new classrooms will be included in your packet at the Parent Welcome and Orientation Meeting on August 21st. 


In the meantime, you can SEE these new classrooms for yourself when you come to our Work Day tomorrow – Saturday, August 16th! Work has already begun, but because we have moved several classes into new rooms, we need a lot of help to get these new classrooms ready.





Come meet your teachers from 9-9:30am, then PLEASE stay for our all-school Work Day. This is an annual event and it’s a great way to prepare for the upcoming school year, meet new families and earn volunteer hours too. We will have pizza at 12:30, and work until 2 pm.


We look forward to seeing you tomorrow! 


And we also hope to see you and your family tonight at 6:30 pm for our Family Reading group to discuss The Hobbit! 




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Categorized: Archive, On Campus

Summer 2014: Getting Out and About




It may be mid-August, but summer isn't over yet! Even if you haven't taken a big vacation this year, there are plenty of opportunities for family fun right here on the Central Coast. Besides the amazing hiking, biking, and beaches that we have available to us year-round, here are just a few additional ideas to get you started in your quest for fun local outings the whole family can enjoy:


  • Ride the bus and have a picnic – check out the bus schedule in your hometown and plan an adventure! A bus ride, a picnic basket, maybe a soccer ball or frisbee… it doesn’t take much to make some memories. 


  • Eat WAY out – get the kids involved in choosing an exotic cuisine that you haven’t tried yet (or at least that the kids haven’t tried), and that you can find here on the central coast. Look up the country on a map or google it, then go to a restaurant to experience a meal there! 







  • Take a trip to the Lompoc Aquatic Center – It’s not The Ravine, but this indoor pool and water play area is a blast, great for younger kids, and their rec swim is only a few dollars per person. It's a bit of a trek to drive down to Lompoc, but something out of the ordinary. Click here for more info.




There’s also a mobile app called “SLO Events” that is very handy and lists events by week or category. It’s a nice one to have when you’re in the mood to get out and enjoy our community!


One last suggestion: come to our Family Reading Group this Friday, August to discuss The Hobbit with teacher Nick Stavros and other SLOCA families! 


What are your favorite local places to take the family? Leave a comment and share:


SLO Classical Academy is not affiliated with any of the above mentioned websites or businesses.


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Categorized: Archive, Community, Home Life

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About Down Home

Welcome to Down Home, San Luis Obispo Classical Academy's blog! We are a classical school offering options to make education work for families. We have a full hybrid program for grades K-8, which means two days at school with three days of home education, all days following the classical model and curricula carefully laid out by the school. We also have a four day program available for grades 5-8. Our high school students attend school three days each week. This blog is meant to support and encourage on the home front because in so many ways, the heart of what happens at SLO Classical Academy happens down home. Semper discentes - always learning together.

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