Summit Christian Academy Applies Classical Approach to Celebrate Black History Month

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By: David Harding, ACSI Writer & Editor
Date: February 16, 2023 

Summit Christian Academy (SCA) in Yorktown, VA, decided a couple years ago to “intentionally focus on the topic of race,” as teacher Lindsey Ralls shared with ACSI. Realizing that their student body wasn’t very diverse, and feeling that their curriculum wasn’t either, SCA formed a team to create a path forward in addressing these issues. Undertaking this project proved to be successful for SCA in a couple of different ways, one of them being completely unanticipated.  

The exploratory team was made up of principals and teachers from both the Upper School and Grammar school. Ralls explained, “Since we speak about race very differently to a first grader than we do a senior, it was important that both groups were represented on the team. Each of the members on the team were excited to be included and saw the value in the group. Over the summer, we met once a week to discuss a certain section of the book, Be the Bridge, and how we could implement the ideas mentioned into our school.” 

According to Ralls, “The group was a success. Since it was held during the summer … there was no pressure to hurry up and finish because no one’s workload was heavy. Some weeks, the Zoom meetings would continue well past the designated time, simply because everyone was enjoying the discussion. Additionally, because there was no ‘leader’ it very much felt like an informal discussion where everyone felt comfortable sharing their experiences and opinions. Since the topic being discussed was of a sensitive and emotional nature, this tone was necessary.”  

As the team wrapped up their work, Ralls explained that they “discussed specifics about how we might move forward in implementing what we learned. We wrote a summary of our discussion and gave that to our head of school. At the beginning of the school year, we filled the other faculty and staff members in on what our group had discussed and how we felt like this topic needed to be addressed at our school.  

“As Black History Month approached, we invited a few other teachers into the conversation to discuss what our approach should be. We filled them in on our discussion from the summer and how we really wanted to honor this month, but through a classical lens.” 

Ralls told us that during Black History month, the school’s approach was “more intentional, consistent, and comprehensive than ever before. We used the theme ‘overcomer’ for all grades (7-12). Each grade approached this theme in their own way, depending on what they are learning … in their curriculum. Our 7th and 8th grade students use the Lost Tools of Writing Curriculum. Their assignment during Black History Month was to write a persuasive essay about an African American who overcame adversity of some kind. Our 10th-12th graders examined the lives of various overcomers using the progymnasmata skills they are learning in literature. Other subjects touched on the overcomer theme as well, whether through learning the Lord’s Prayer in Swahili in Chorus, constructing African masks in Theater Arts, or learning in History about how African American soldiers were overcomers during the Civil War.”  

SCA reaped multiple benefits from this project. Ralls said that, personally, her “greatest takeaway from this process was the importance of implementing a ‘low stakes’ group to tackle tough issues. That first group over the summer was made up of a variety of stakeholders, but it didn’t feel high pressure. The topic was a difficult one, especially since we had a variety of races represented, but because of the small group size and the individuals chosen, the group was filled with grace, kindness, and a desire to learn.  

“Black History Month was successful because we were willing to take the time to think about what we wanted it to look like. Our group that met over the summer was willing to discuss the difficult topics with the goal of creating a Black History Month experience that was intentional. C.S. Lewis once said that the educator’s job ‘is not to cut down jungles, but to irrigate deserts.’ My hope is that our students walked (away) from Black History Month feeling like their understanding of African American history had been watered. We didn’t cut down everything they knew about the subject, but instead we offered something new. We introduced them to new individuals, new information, and new perspectives; all through a biblical and classical lens.”  

To learn more about Summit Christian Academy, visit  

It is our prayer that this article will inspire Christian educators to creatively approach the conversation around Black History month in their schools. Let us all be united in one purpose as we continue to sow the seeds of the gospel message of God’s grace and peace in the hearts of the students under our care. Learn more about ACSI’s Biblical Unity project here.  

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