What is Cornerstone Classical School?
Cornerstone Classical School (CCS) is a private school located in Basalt, Colorado (near Aspen) that provides a Christ-centered, Classical curriculum and approach for pre-school through senior high students. For years, the CCS campus next to Christ Community Church was known as Alpine Christian Academy. After some leadership changes, the Christian school transitioned and adopted the classical educational style. Today, the small close-knit, warm school environment continues to grow and draw students from across the Roaring Fork Valley that seek this unique educational experience. The sections below will provide a better understanding of why and how CCS educates its students. Come visit us and see for yourself what makes CCS such a unique and special place!
Classical Education: The Art of Thinking (the Trivium)
Cornerstone Classical School, employs a centuries-old pedagogy of learning known as the Trivium (Latin for “three paths”). This approach teaches in accord with the students’ natural stages of development with the intent of acquiring wisdom. Thus, students are not merely taught ‘subjects’ but are equipped with the tools of learning: the ability to listen, to think for themselves, to discern, to argue, to defend, and ultimately, to articulate. The challenging academic program at CCS draws from the rich heritage of the Western liberal arts tradition. The study of foreign languages, both classical and modern, provides discipline, awareness of the grammar and derivation of English and its vocabulary, and a greater appreciation of other cultures. History is taught chronologically using primary source documents as much as possible. A traditional approach to math and science is enhanced with hands-on exercises and laboratory experiments. Cornerstone Classical School also highly values the fine arts as a picture of man’s historical context and as expressions of his God-given creative gifts.
This time-tested pedagogy consists of the Grammar, Logic and Rhetoric stages (although we also include a pre-K level at CCS), each building upon its predecessor in a sequential manner. Basic factual content and rules—the “grammar”—of any given subject must first be mastered; then an understanding of how to apply the facts—the “logic”—must be discerned; and finally, the ability to synthesize the foregoing into an articulate argument—the “rhetoric”—must be developed. The Biblical equivalent to this progression is found in the admonition to pursue knowledge, understanding and wisdom.
Although the you can learn more detail about each of the grade levels here, as a brief overview:
- Grammar: the curricular emphasis during the grammar school years is on learning basic facts and figures during the time when children love to memorize (and when they are best at doing so). This is achieved most effectively through the use of jingles, chants and songs.
- Logic: The subsequent emphasis during the ‘middle school’ years on logic and analysis trains students to think critically and deeply about subjects, both academic and otherwise. This emphasis corresponds with the middle-school student’s bent toward exploration, questioning, and a desire for deeper understanding.
- Rhetoric: Finally, the emphasis during the ‘high school’ years shifts toward honing rhetorical skills, including writing. This shift prepares students to write college-level theses, utilizing their grasp of proper grammar as well their ability to think logically and critically.
The structure of the Trivium recognizes that though there is much overlap, an ideal time and place exists for each part of learning: memorization, argumentation, and self-expression. Upon graduation, the student can clearly articulate what they know in such a manner as to be both authoritative and persuasive; they have a command of both the spoken and written word.
Senior Thesis. As the ‘capstone’ to the students’ classical and Christ-centered education and proof that a classical Christian education has prepared them for advancement to college, seniors must choose a topic and write a persuasive paper 4000-6000 words in length. They thoroughly research and explore the topic from every vantage point and take a position which they must then defend not only on paper but in an oral defense before a panel of faculty and community professionals. The Senior Thesis experience is difficult and challenging, but has proven to be a rewarding rite of passage, equipping our graduating seniors with a distinct advantage.
A Christian Environment
Cornerstone Classical School seeks to integrate faith and learning so that our students may graduate with a stronger, deeper, and vibrant faith, ready to glorify God in service to mankind.
As a Christ-centered school, CCS embraces the Bible as the final authority for life and teaching. Cornerstone values Christian character and the communication of life principles and values both through integrated teaching and through the godly example of staff members who model Christianity through their lives and demeanor. Education is not indoctrination, but the equipping of students to love God with all of their minds (Matthew 22:37), to ask probing questions, and to explore boldly the various aspects of knowledge from the conviction that all truth is in essence God’s truth. Students are expected to adhere to a Student Honor Code, show respect and kindness to others and model excellent character for the younger students.
Cornerstone maintains a low student-teacher ratio and is committed to nurturing a healthy small student population which will encourage strong relationships and community. No less important than community is the high value Cornerstone places on honesty and integrity. In all of this, the atmosphere at Cornerstone Classical is one of ‘firmness with freedom’ and is a vibrant community of learners.
It is our desire at Cornerstone to make a fine classical and Christian education accessible to any student who would benefit most from our challenging and exciting approach to learning. Thus, we welcome applicants from various levels of academic achievement and from all economic, racial,and ethnic backgrounds. We offer an excellent, elite education without elitism.
Cornerstone Classical is a ministry of Christ Community Church who provides support for the school and encourages the school board to govern autonomously. In our Statement of Faith, we uphold the most basic tenets of historical, orthodox, Christianity and strive to encourage an atmosphere of unity in Jesus Christ which emphasises our common convictions and is respectful of our diversity.