Rockbridge Academy Blog
Three Ways Rockbridge Changed My Life
Three Ways Rockbridge Changed My Life—A Graduate's Reflection
I was doing just fine until we started to sing, “Great is Thy Faithfulness.”
I’d walked up the aisle. Received my diploma. Moved my tassel from right to left. So far so good, I thought, remembering all the times I’d cried during the last week of school.
Then, we began to sing.
I felt my voice shake. My throat burned, and tears blurred my eyes as I wobbled along with everyone else:
I remembered the fear I felt when I learned we were moving. I remembered leaning over the couch, watching my parents confirm my enrollment in a classical Christian school. I remembered climbing from the car on the first day of 10th grade, plaid skirt starched, bucks not yet broken in, heart hoping, hoping I’d finally fit in somewhere. Now, here I stood, graduating three years later, with “Rockbridge Academy” etched on my diploma.
Suddenly, I couldn’t sing anymore. The words wouldn’t come. Tears trickled down my face as I mouthed the words:
Ever since I can remember, I’ve loved the hymn “Great is Thy Faithfulness.” Looking back over my life, I see God’s faithfulness at work: from 7 military moves, 5 schools in 5 years, and now, college. But nowhere was God’s faithfulness more evident than during my time at Rockbridge Academy.
I first came to Rockbridge as a 10th grader (forever the “New Kid” in my class). Up until then, I’d been homeschooled and public schooled, but never private schooled. Even from day one, something was distinctively different about the Rockbridge community. The people I met, classes I took, and faith I gained all had one thing in common: they displayed God’s faithfulness.
Community: The transition from public school to private school can often be intimidating, especially when you’re going from a 525-person class to a 29-person class. When I learned I’d be attending a small school, fear spiraled through my mind: Everyone will already have friends. No one will want to get to know me.
But almost as soon as I stepped foot in Maryland, my future friends invited me to dinner. They knew my name before I knew theirs. From that moment on, I felt God’s faithfulness at work, in both big and small things. Rather than leaving me to myself, my classmates took time to help me understand the mysterious ways of Rockbridge Academy. They explained the purpose of graded discussions, how to distinguish between “the Rock” and “the Big House,” and most importantly of all… Captain’s Cup. Never before had I felt so welcome at a new school.
But I not only found a community; I found friends to rival Samwise Gamgee from Lord of the Rings, friends who would no doubt carry me on their shoulders up a volcano to destroy the Ring. They’re the kind of friends who hug you spontaneously in the hallway. The kind of friends who comfort you in the bathroom after you bawl your way through a Bible speech. The kind of friends who read your messy story and rave to you about their favorite characters. The kind of friends who display sacrificial, radical love day after day. Like David and Jonathan, our souls are knit together by more than common interest. Our souls are knit together in Christ. For a girl who’s always had a hard time making and keeping her friends, the friends I made at Rockbridge Academy absolutely changed my life. God’s faithfulness worked through my friendships, drawing me closer to the ultimate Friend, who died that I might live, who calls me beloved.
Education: Beauty, truth, and goodness are central to a Rockbridge Academy education. As students learn, God himself is beauty, truth, and goodness. Therefore, learning only truly makes sense through a Biblical lens. When we squint at subjects through the world’s binoculars, images seem blurry. But when we look at life through the lens of Christianity, those same images become clear.
For example, my public school biology class presented Charles Darwin’s evolutionary theory as fact, never introducing other options. But at Rockbridge, biology examined both sides of the debate. We exposed fundamental weaknesses in evolutionary theory, while still considering valid pieces of the argument.
Two years later, in Great Ideas II, we discussed Social Darwinism, the philosophical outworking of evolutionary theory. If man is no more than a monkey and only the fittest survive, then why not kill others if it benefits you? We explored events such as the Holocaust, in which Nazi philosophy viewed other imago-dei humans as sub-human and unfit to live. Even today, evolutionists are rightly outraged by this tragedy. But logically, in an atheistic evolutionary worldview, good and evil are relative. There are no absolute moral standards, because there is no God to set the standard. Therefore, without God, we can’t truly say that what the Nazis did was wrong.
Meanwhile, in Literature of Modernity, we read The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Ivan Karamazov, one of the book’s central characters, is an atheist struggling to make sense of suffering. He doesn’t understand why a good God would allow children to suffer, and therefore refuses to accept Christianity. But when he tries to make sense of suffering in his atheistic worldview, he can’t. “Everything is lawful” without God. There is no ultimate justice. Instead, the suffering of children is meaningless, right and wrong are flimsy human constructs, and Ivan is left with a horrible headache and a conflicted heart.
These ideas all came together in Apologetics. We concluded that God alone is the basis for morality, and good is good because God is good. We then wondered why a good God would allow for suffering, and explored this question through readings and speeches. Ultimately, everything returned to God and His Word -- the basis for all knowledge.
Rather than separating different disciplines, my Rockbridge education trained me to draw connections between subjects. Furthermore, I learned how to share my knowledge with others. Through graded discussions, oral exams, and the thesis process, I learned to clearly and persuasively communicate truth. These skills are invaluable and will benefit me for the rest of my life.
But my Rockbridge education prepared me for more than a career. My Rockbridge education prepared my heart and mind to seek truth, beauty, and goodness, wherever they are found. And as I seek them, I feel my heart warm to God. He and he alone is the source of truth, beauty, and goodness.
Strengthen Faith: Three years ago, my faith was faltering. 9th grade was often a battlefield. I spent my mornings slouching in my seat, listening to my teachers hurtle grenades at Christianity, questions I couldn’t answer. Then, I spent my afternoons slouching over my phone, immersed in the trenches of an online community as I fought to fill that lonely void in my heart. So the summer I moved to Rockbridge, questions swam in my mind.
What if everything I’m fighting for is a lie? What if Christianity isn’t true, and God doesn’t exist, and I’m just a speck in a meaningless universe?
My faithful God knew what I needed. He carried me off the battlefield and brought me to Rockbridge Academy, where I strengthened my faith along fellow soldiers. Before Rockbridge, I had a heart faith, but not a head faith. I believed God was real, but I didn’t know why. Now, I have a basis for my beliefs. My armor is stronger and my faith is greater.
Some might consider Rockbridge to be a “bubble.” We’re constantly around other Christians, and therefore have limited experience of what we’re up against. Rather than huddle behind our defenses, we should be exposed to the “real world” out there. This concern is valid, and on one level, true. Yes, we’re called to be in the world and not of it. Yes, living in a bubble can leave you disillusioned and unprepared. But soldiers need rigorous training before they step onto the battlefield. A Rockbridge education strengthens our defenses so we’re ready to take on the enemy’s lies.
What’s more, we’re trained and taught by veterans, incredible teachers who are fighting the good fight. Our teachers not only love their students and their subjects. They love the Lord. Teachers: I speak for myself and my fellow students when I say we look up to you. I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard, “He has an amazing testimony,” “I love the way she prays,” and “I want to be just like them.”
Conclusion: By now, this article has almost reached the length of my senior thesis. If I had time and space for everything I wanted to say, it might be longer than my novel. How do you conclude a special chapter in your life? The only way I can: by looking ahead.
As I’ve painted classrooms at our Evergreen campus this past summer, I’ve thought of the students coming after me: students who will sit in these classrooms and learn what I learned. They’ll form lasting community. They’ll solve complex math problems, read great literature, and discuss ancient ideas. But most importantly of all, they’ll hear the Gospel, day after day, week after week, month after month, and cling to their all-satisfying Savior. They’ll experience God’s faithfulness to them in Christ.
Like the students who have gone before, and those who will come after, I leave Rockbridge with more than a diploma. I leave with a community, education, and strengthened faith that will carry me through the rest of my life. I leave in love with Jesus Christ: His perfect life, His substitutionary sacrifice, and His faithfulness to an undeserving girl like me.
About the Author: Chloe L. DuBois (‘21) is a military brat, aspiring author, and daughter of the King on a quest to further His kingdom through her words. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her knocking on wardrobes, hoarding notebooks, and dreaming of forests far away. She is attending Wheaton College this fall as an English writing and literature major.