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The Statue that Launched a Thousand Fond Remembrances of SLOCA

February 6th, 2018

Today’s post comes from a recent SLOCA High School graduate – Hannah Thompson, who graduated last year (2017) and is currently attending Westmont College in Santa Barbara, where she is double-majoring in English and Music. We asked her to tell us a bit how college life is going after SLOCA, and here’s her story – enjoy!

By Hannah Thompson

Last semester I ran into a bleary-eyed art major frantically staring his way through a stack of flashcards. I happened to notice a little picture of the Laocoön, so I said, “Hey, I know that guy!” I told him, as Mrs. Weinschenk told me, how the snakes had first squeezed his sons to death right before Laocoön’s eyes, before killing Laocoön himself. I would have liked to continue, explaining how, in the Latin, Vergil literally puts the words “implicat” (bind, enfold), and “morsu” (bite), around the word “miseros” (wretched, miserable ones). Here’s the way Vergil wrote it:

implicat et miserōs morsū dēpascitur artūs

Don’t you see the grievous beauty Vergil is up to, using the fluid syntax that, lost to us in English, we may find again through the study of Latin?! But I didn’t say all that; I think that may have been going a bit too far. As it was, I didn’t get very far along in the story before this art major started backing away from me in horrified consternation (the object of which, I certainly hope, was the snake story…).

During my first semester at Westmont College, the education I received at SLOCA has also helped me in other areas beside the story-telling department. I worked 11.5 hours a week, took more than the recommended number of units (my willingness to overcommit myself has clearly not changed), and only pulled one all-nighter. This is not to say that college has been really fun and easy the whole time. I have certainly done my fair share of flailing ‒ just not as much in the academic aspect as the conventionally-high-schooled student is wont to do. Along with the skills acquired at SLOCA (time-management, critical thinking, communication, etc.), I have also gained a fondness for the people we’ve studied. It’s as if I have been introduced to a whole world of big, often-mentioned people. I'm continually surprised by how often I recognize the names and ideas of those great minds who are so frequently referenced in lectures, in chapel, and in class. Oh yeah, Herbert? Great guy. Julian of Norwich? Oh my gosh I love her! Unfortunately, my appreciation for historical characters does not help me much in the world of celebrity gossip. I suffered a mild bout of ostracism after betraying my complete and total ignorance of Prince Henry (the one who’s alive now).

{photo by Brad Elliot / source}

In an English class last semester, my professor found it necessary to distribute a grammar handout. It is not without some remorse that I mention my (hopefully!) inward smugness that day. Thanks to Mr. McCullough’s epic and grammatically-didactic saga of Clem and Mrs. Lemon (those gnomes still haunt me to this day), I already knew that “I” is the subject, and  I could therefore put my time into doing other homework instead of trying to teach myself all of English grammar. Even though my grammar knowledge in itself does not guarantee a healthy social life, people do like hanging out with someone who can bind up dangling modifiers and hunt down stray commas. I certainly edited my fair share of friends’ essays last semester.

In the same English class we went around the room for far too long trying to find the definition of rhetoric, which Ms. AnnE taught us (in middle school) in two words (which I just might remember for the rest of my life): PERSUASIVE LANGUAGE. I often wonder why these things stick in my brain, but I’m fairly certain that it has something to do with how SLOCA teachers approach their task. The teachers at SLOCA are notorious for being described as “passionate” about what they teach. From being in their classes, I have gathered that what they teach matters to them. I don’t remember the Laocoön story because Mrs. Weinschenk hammered some weird participles and ablative absolutes into my brain. I remember the story because it had a weight that was hard to ignore. These things have a kind of reality to them. It’s as if the teachers can’t help teaching about these things. I never thought much of it until I graduated and left.

I am glad (and still coming to realize it) that I was able to go through high school at SLOCA. There were times I seriously considered leaving and going anywhere easier. But I suppose that this is how I know it was worth it.

Thank you for sharing this, Hannah! It’s great to hear from you and to know that SLOCA both prepared you well and gave you so much to take with you into college. We wish you all the best at Westmont!


Want to know more about SLO Classical Academy's High School? We have a High School Open House coming up on Monday, February 12th at 7:00pm at the school. Here are some links for more info and to RSVP - please share:


Informational Flyer


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