Summer Reading for Students- 2017

St. Louis Cathedral and General Andrew Jackson“Once you know how to read, then it is up to you to read and read well.  A learned man, a learned lady, is someone who not only knows how to read but who has read well.  This means that you will have to spend time by yourself with books, not just with machines of various sophistications lost in horizontal relationships of the now.” —James Schall, S.J. How are we to live in this broken world, Thursday, 25 May 2017. (1)

“Those of us who have been true readers all our life seldom fully realize the enormous extension of our being which we owe to authors…The man who is contented to be only himself, and therefore less a self, is in prison. My own eyes are not enough for me, I will see through those of others. Reality, even seen through the eyes of many, is not enough. I will see what others have invented. Even the eyes of all humanity are not enough. I regret that the brutes cannot write books. Very gladly would I learn what face things present to a mouse or a bee; more gladly still would I perceive the olfactory world charged with all the information and emotion it carries for a dog.” —C.S. Lewis, An Experiment in Criticism. (2)

As we prepare to open the doors of Ozark Catholic Academy in August 2018, I am pondering what could students and parents read over the summer that will begin laying the groundwork for this new adventure. This post focuses on what I would suggest students dive into if they are entering grades 7, 8, and 9 in August 2017.

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Seeing through the eyes of others or walking in their shoes, are phrases or notions that have been told to us by our parents, mostly our moms. In recent years, we’ve heard this from Everlast through the lyrics of “What It’s Like ” and more recently from Pope Francis when Roman Catholics meet sinners where they are. Opening and expanding our imagination through reading is a necessary step for us to be able to see reality for what it really is–reality.  C.S. Lewis understands that readers desire to see through the eyes of humanity, but even that is not enough for them.  For me, to walk in one’s footsteps, that is to understand or know someone, is to ask about what book he or she is reading and then be able to converse over it.

As your eyes peruse the list of books below, know that it is not meant to be “a list” but a spring board to inspire summer reading. The lists below are by no means dogmatic but do have a theme.  In Fr. James Schall, S.J.’s opening quotation a distinction is made between reading and reading well.  “Reading well” is an inference for possibly the following ideas.

First knowing how to read well, is about getting the most out of the fiction or non-fiction book you are engaged in.  An example of this, even with a novel for enjoyment, is to underline or highlight key lines that make you laugh, cry or leave you with wonder.  Mortimer Adler’s How to Read a Book, is the key text that can give you the tools to further enjoy what you read.

Second in Schall’s understanding of “reading well,” can be taken as reading books that are understood to be good.  Such a notion does not mean there is one list that you should read by the time you leave high school, or even pass from this life to the next.  But rather there are books that truly expand our sight or our experience by allowing us to see through the eyes of others or to walk in their shoes. The list below reflects just that. There are books worth reading that have been recently published, but perhaps the true enjoyment of such books can come about when one has read well those worthy of reading that have come before.

Of course, these books are only suggestions but I hope they will engage the imagination of students whether, it is poetry, fiction, or non-fiction. And by all means the lists below can be read and appreciated by adult readers.  Parents reading books along with their middle school or high school child is a step that we all can take and enjoy a hearty conversation over dinner, whether that dinner is around a camp fire, the beach or while visiting grandparents this summer. Just a reminder that this reading does not supersede any reading you have to do for the school you are currently attending.

Also, I know local libraries offer programs for children to read during the summer and even bookstores, like Barnes and Noble offer reading challenges to young readers.  Visit your local library or even better, a used bookstore and ask if they have such a program or that they might even begin one to bring in young readers.

Enjoy the summer and whatever adventure you have planned or those unplanned; either way, carry a book with you and you may possibly have two simultaneous adventures!

Entering Seventh Grade

  • Conan Doyle, Arthur. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
  • O’Dell, Scott. Island of the Blue Dolphins
  • Serraillier, Ian. The Silver Sword
  • Armstrong, William. Sounder
  • White, E.B.. Stuart Little
  • Currie, Eve. Madame Currie: A Biography
  • Alcott, Louisa May. Eight Cousins
  • Burnett, Frances Hodgeson. The Secret Garden
  • Speare, Elizabeth. The Bronze Bow
  • Fitzgerald, John. The Great Brain series
  • Stevenson, Robert Louis. Treasure Island
  • Portis, Charles. True Grit

Entering Eight Grade

  • Stevenson, Robert Louis. Kidnapped
  • Verne, Jules. Around the World in Eighty Days
  • Wyss, J.D.. Swiss Family Robinson
  • Herriot, James. All Creatures Great and Small
  • Keller, Helen. The Story of My Life
  • L’Engle, Madeleine. The Austin Family Chronicles
  • Twain, Mark. The Prince and the Pauper
  • White, T.H. The Once and Future King
  • Morris, Willie. Good Old Boy
  • Tarkington, Booth. Penrod
  • McCullough, David. 1776
  • Orwell, George. Animal Farm
  • Hillenbrand, Laura. Unbroken (Young Adult Adaptation)

Entering Ninth Grade

  • Sienkiewicz, Henryk. Quo Vadis
  • Douglas, Lloyd C. The Robe
  • de Wohl, Louis. The Last Crusader: A Novel about Don Juan of Austria
  • Rawicz, Slawomir. The Long Walk
  • Austen, Jane. Emma
  • Austen, Jane. Sense and Sensibility
  • Bradbury, Ray. Fahrenheit 451
  • Cather, Willa. Death Comes for the Archbishop
  • Shaara, Michael. The Killer Angels
  • Sutcliff, Rosemary. Silver Branch
  • Buck, Pearl. The Good Earth
  • Lewis, C.S.. Space Trilogy Series: Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra. That Hideous Strength

 

  1. http://www.catholicworldreport.com/2017/05/28/how-are-we-to-live-in-this-broken-world/ found on June 7, 2017.
  2. https://www.brainpickings.org/2014/11/26/c-s-lewis-literature-reading-books/ found on June 8, 2017.

 

Catholic Schools Week, the Afterword

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NWA-OCA 2.1 
February 3, 2017- Memorial of St. Blasé

For me, the week has been filled with a number of different activities celebrating Catholic Schools Week, both as a parent and in founding Ozark Catholic Academy.

I began the week releasing a short video celebrating Catholic Schools Week.  I would like to thank Trolly Line Bookstore for allowing us to film the video inside their store.  As we filmed in the a nook which was categorized as poetry and classics,  I did leave with three books in hand: One Man’s Meat by E.B. White, a hardcover novel by Dr. Samuel Johnson– Detector, and a hardcover of Henry Sienkiewicz’s Quo Vadis.

St. Vincent de Paul, in Rogers, and St. Joseph, in Fayetteville, both had school masses where students in uniform came together and participated in mass in numerous ways. At St. Vincent de Paul, board members had a table with our brochures. As parishioners left mass, they were handed the bookmarks we created for them this week. Many small conversations took place and the bookmarks were well received.

At St. Joseph’s in Fayetteville, they had the school mass at 9:00am followed by an Open House for the school.  I manned a table after the 9:00am and 11:30am mass in the narthex and handed out bookmarks as well.  Fr. Jason Tyler announced at the end of each mass that I was present in the back to answer questions concerning the high school. Parishioners were warm in their comments and thoughts and openly received bookmarks. Probably the most voiced comment from people was that they were glad to hear the high school was happening and have always been interested in having one. I stayed for the beginning of the 1:30pm Mass in Spanish and greeted parishioners as they were entering church.

One conversation with a mother focused on the importance of teachers and how her children’s teachers had really made a difference in their lives. But, she said that something was missing even then—it was not within a Catholic context. Meaning that she thought as good and personal as those teachers were, if their teacher-student relationship had happened within a Catholic school, the possibility of their relationship could have been even more rooted in Christ. She expressed her happiness about a Catholic high school coming, and she hoped her youngest daughter would be able to attend.

In the early afternoon, we published our latest video celebrating Catholic Schools Week.  I hope that if you have not had a chance to view it, you will.

Later this afternoon, the St. Joseph’s and St. Vincent ’s 5th and 6th grade basketball teams are competing against each other. OCA will host a few competitions during halftime. The winners will receive the very first Ozark Catholic Academy t-shirts. We hope to post pictures and short videos on our FB and web pages later this weekend.

Here is a link to my talk on St. Thomas More presented at St. Stephen’s on January 23, 2017.

In celebration of Catholic Schools Week, here is a link to all the images that were created to visually present, “Why a Catholic Education?”

My sincere thanks to Mrs. Katie Harris who has volunteered to help with the videos, audios, and images created for our social media.

Thomas More: A Man in the World, Rooted in Family

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On the evening of January 23, 2017 I was able to give talk on St. Thomas More at St. Stephen Catholic Church in Bentonville, AR.

Here is the audio split into two parts: the talk and the Q & A.

Talk

Q & A

Vendors, a Lecture and Office Space

 

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Thomas More Sketch found at University of South Florida

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January 27, 2017 – Memorial of St. Angela Merici

Vendors
The typical operations of a start up school continue…building relationships with our bank, Arvest, as well as finding possible vendors such as printers.  I have tried three printers out in the NWA area thus far trying to find not only a good price but also a printer who desires to do business with a start-up, a business that treats us like a long term or larger client.   In future posts I will recognize the printer/s I am choosing to work with, but at this time I am still looking around and seeking recommendations.

Area Charter School
In participating in the NWA Schools Choice Festival, my table was adjacent to NWA Classical Academy table.  I met Ms. Susan Provenza, the headmaster, along with a few of her administrative team members. On Tuesday, I was able to tour their school, and meet with Ms. Provenza to discuss their curriculum and how they are unique to NWA.  I have been getting summaries of the individual schools and all the options here in NWA, but over the next few months I hope to visit traditional public, charter, and private schools in the area to introduce myself, get a snap shot the unique educational opportunities they bring to NWA and begin to build collegial relationships. These relationships with other schools will allow me to better understand how to begin Ozark as strong as possible, understanding the educational community is key as there are many schools, public and private that have recently opened or expanding.  The Northwest Arkansas community is supportive of non-profits and in particular education options, so Ozark Catholic Academy hopes to enter this healthy educational market in a unique position in terms of our Catholicity, character formation, and curriculum.

Office Space
I was officially offered some free temporary office space, which will allow me a place to get work done outside of the house on a day to day basis.  Most of my day is spent driving place to place meeting people, but having a quiet place to follow up with others whether through emails or phones calls is a blessing.

St. Thomas More

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University of Dallas Professor, Gerry Wegemer’s book is great for today’s fathers.

On Monday evening, I gave talk at St. Stephen’s Catholic Church in Bentonville, entitled, “Thomas More: a Man in the World, rooted in Family.”  The audience was made up of parishioners as well as those from the NWA community.  My purpose was to enrich the audience with the life and ideas of Thomas More and hopefully to inspire them to learn more about him.  I used examples of his upbringing and education, as well as his relationship with his father, Judge John More, Prince Henry (soon to be King Henry VIII), his friendship with Erasmus, but moved into a few details discussing More’s relationship with his wife, Alice, and his children, particularly Margaret, his oldest.  I discussed how More’s goal was to prepare the soul of each child for the reality of life.  We can observe that he lived this understanding in how he guided the family as a whole but also how he interacted in a particular way with each child. Guiding More’s thought was the reality that grace builds upon nature.

 

The reality is the faith never goes without [reason]…[I]f reason is allowed to run wild and grow overly arrogant and proud, she will not fail to fall into rebellion against her master’s faith.  But on the other hand, if she is well brought up and well guided and kept in good temper, she will never disobey faith, being in her right mind.  And therefore let reason be well guided, for surely faith never goes without her. (Thomas More Source Book 278)

More’s end goal was for each child’s soul to enter into heaven, but without self-rule, which was grounded in well-trained reason, a child would not be prepared for life.  With the overwhelming amount of technology and gadgets in our lives today, More’s educational philosophy is even more relevant for ourselves and our children.

Concluding Thoughts

The lecture led me to contemplate ideas for next week’s celebration of Catholic Schools Week.  Look for a week of social media posts (YouTube Video, and our entree into Instagram) giving thoughts to why one should choose Ozark Catholic Academy in NWA when you have so many good choices already. The ground has been tilled and now the seeds are to be planted…

A great place to learn about Thomas More is the Center for Thomas More Studies at the University of Dallas, founded by Gerard Wegemer.

An unbiased plug for my alma mater….the University of Dallas is known as

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NWA-OCA #3


January 20th- Memorial of St. Fabian

Last Saturday, I was able to participate in the NWA School Choice Festival. It was the first time for me to see most, if not all, of the local private and charter school options under one roof. When people came up, I said that Ozark Catholic Academy is the probably newest school in the area as our doors will be opening until Fall 2018. This comment easily broke the ice and received a little chuckle.  

This was the first year for the event, but it was run well without any visible glitches.The event was successful in terms of seeing new faces and meeting potential families; about 45 people came by the Ozark Catholic Academy table. I was also able to meet some of my counterparts at other private and charter schools. I spoke with the Subiaco Academy faculty representative, Mr. Pat Franz as well as two junior students that spoke about their school. I met Mr. Dennis Chapman, headmaster of the New School.
 
I met some faculty as well as the headmaster, Ms. Susan Provenza, of the Northwest Arkansas Classical Academy. The Classical Academy had the table beside Ozark’s table, so we spoke about curriculum and culture. It was nice to see that many people who sought out the Classical Academy moved right over to table when they overheard talk of our focus on character formation and a challenging curriculum. The Arkansas Arts Academy had a strong contingent at the festival, and I was able to connect with their high school principal, Ms. Barb Padgett. I look forward to building relationships with other schools and partnerships in areas and finding ways in which we can support each other.

Both parochial schools, St. Joseph in Fayetteville and St. Vincent de Paul attended. Karla Thielemier, principal of St. Vincent de Paul and Jason Pohlmeier, principal of St. Joseph’s were able to meet with me last week. It was the first time for the three of us to meet together. They are very open and energized about the fruition of Ozark Catholic Academy. We hope this year’s Catholic Schools Week will be the first of many opportunities to present what the Northwest Arkansas community will soon be able to offer — a Catholic education from pre-K through 12th grade. In other words the whole package, which will overcome some of the limits the grade schools have experienced.

Please assist me in making a reality all that Ozark Catholic promises to be and do, especially by continuing to pray for the project and the Rocha family, and by sending people our way so we can continue to build momentum for Ozark Catholic Academy.

NWA-OCA #2

January 13th-Memorial of St. Hilary

So…I am pondering what to say exactly…the day to day details…the meanderings of getting to places on time as I meet new people and reconnect with others now that we are officially here?

Today, the Rocha family wrapped up our second week on the ground in Northwest Arkansas.  The family is adjusting and we are making headway in getting Ozark Catholic off the ground.

Like any business, OCA’s success requires that its business affairs and finances are in order, solidifying our development database and as well as our business office services.

I was able to add to our community of OCA supporters as I reconnected with Joe Patch, IV, who attended St. Thomas High School with me.  Joe was our varsity football, contributing to our winning the State Championship in 1988.  He recently relocated to NWA where he has family roots.

Tomorrow I have the opportunity to promote OCA at the NWA School Choice Festival and I am busy preparing for Catholic Schools Week. Our focus for the overall NWA community is to keep an active and visual presence.

This journal entry also serves the purpose of keeping a strong presence on social media and really getting the word out about NWA.  The Planning Board has also been foundational in its support of spreading the word and seeing opportunities that will benefit OCA.

Friends, Readers, and Supporters in Northwest Arkansas, in Houston, or wherever you live, LIKE the school Facebook page, follow us on Twitter, and share this post.  The twentieth century man of letters, Russell Kirk, said often that we in America and in the West, “Stand on the shoulders of giants.” Let us stand with those who have worked diligently over the years to make OCA a reality.  Ozark Catholic Academy is coming in the Fall of 2018 — Stay with us, Support us and Spread the word.