Interview by Mrs. Natalie Boyd
At Cambridge our Junior Kindergarten and Kindergarten programs are built with the end in mind. And since a Cambridge education is about formation, not merely information, we are concerned with who our students are becoming and how their education is shaping them as humans. Every grade and subject builds on itself in order to form our students. Thus our early education classes matter and play an important role in shaping our 12th graders into the portrait of a Cambridge graduate. Recently, I talked with two of our Juniors, Benjamin Gingrich and Megan Yi, who have both attended Cambridge since Jr. Kindergarten. In their own words they highlighted several ways their Grammar School years have shaped them and how they are now reaping the benefits of starting early in Rhetoric School.
What are some of your fondest memories of Grammar School?
Benjamin Gingrich – One of my fondest memories was hiking Yosemite with my classmates in 6th grade. The trails were beautiful, and I got rescued from the river as my class hauled a log to make a bridge. I also distinctly remember growing beetles and butterflies in Kindergarten. At the time, watching the worms grow, cocoon, and then fly away was the most fascinating thing that had ever happened–although I was very sad on the day we let the butterflies go.
Megan Yi – Taking the lessons that we learned in the classroom and being able to incorporate them into the feast days likes Ellis Island Day, Colonial Day and the Medieval Faire were some of my fondest memories. Teachers turned what might be, at other schools, a normal history or english class into something fun that I will remember for the rest of my life.
What have been some of the benefits of being at Cambridge since early Grammar School?
Benjamin Gingrich – I’ve been friends with some of the people in my class for ten, even eleven years. At this point we’re practically siblings, and while at Cambridge you may meet fewer people, you become really tight friends with people that you may not have the opportunity to in any other circumstance.
Megan Yi – In grammar school you have the foundations. In the younger grades you build a more solid foundation on which you can expound upon in the later years of grammar school, but also in logic and rhetoric school. In 9th grade Biology you can go back to something that you learned in Kindergarten like the basic parts of a plant. You can recall what you learned in Kindergarten in 3rd grade when you learn about photosynthesis and then in 9th grade biology. Our class still remembers the chants and the songs that we learned in grammar school–even last week we started singing part of a history song. The material stays with you in such a unique way.
In what ways did the Grammar stage prepare you for Logic School? Rhetoric School?
Benjamin Gingrich – Latin is a lot easier if you start early; Latin ended up being one of my favorite classes because after all my years learning the language it didn’t take a massive amount of effort to translate the passages we read, so I could enjoy them more, whereas newer students struggled more and liked it less. The foundations for writing you get in the grammar stage through progymnasmata prepares students well too.
Megan Yi – In the grammar stage you learn all the fundamentals of a subject like how a sentence is structured. Then in the logic stage you learn more about why you are learning certain things, and in the rhetoric stage you learn how you craft all this knowledge into arguments and wisdom. And so in that way you go from learning the simple building blocks of math and sentence structures into learning how to incorporate that into everyday life. It is fun, even as a student, to see how it all connects and builds upon itself.
Why do you think parents should send their child to Cambridge at a young age?
Benjamin Gingrich – It’s a great community to grow up in, and the curriculum definitely builds on itself from one year to the next.
Megan Yi – At Cambridge you see that everyone interacts with one another and it’s a really good community to be in and to grow spiritually and academically. There is always support from your classmates, teachers and faculty members which makes the environment so encouraging.