Who We Are
At Pacifica Christian High School, we teach our students to think and live well
At Pacifica Christian High School, we teach our students to think and live well. We do this by providing a college-preparatory, liberal arts education for students from all backgrounds and neighborhoods.
Engaging students’ minds to think well and shaping their hearts to live well are critical because it prepares them to enjoy an abundant life. Thinking and living well is about making connections—both intellectual and relational. It provides students with a fuller understanding of what it means to be human and provides them the freedom to find their place in God’s created world.
Our students are free to live out their stories, fully becoming who God desires them to be. We provide students with opportunities that will change them for the better–by challenging and maturing them. We desire our students to be more purposeful and courageous, more joyful and committed—prepared for all that God offers in their lives.
Learning to think and live well is a life-long process. But both the process—or even adventure—and the outcome produce joy. As such, we view a good education as an end unto itself. At the same time, a Pacifica education provides tangible benefits, like preparation for college, career, family, and service to the church and community. By approaching education as a joy-instilling, freedom-producing journey, we provide our graduates with a foundation for success in college, life, work, and faith.
Thinking well does not simply benefit the individual, it benefits the world. Students are not only attempting to grow in knowledge, but to renew their minds to see more clearly, act more justly, and love more lavishly.
Liberal Arts and Sciences
Historically, the liberal arts did not merely prepare students for careers—though they are remarkably suited to do that. They were subjects free people enjoyed spending time learning. Study, discussion, debate, and learning produced joy and revealed new areas of interest. In learning to read, write, calculate, and think, the liberal arts freed students to know both their world and themselves. Following in the liberal arts tradition, proper study at Pacifica helps our students find their places in God’s unfolding story and become ready for all that life and God have to offer. The liberal arts actually makes us more human and provides freedom from the world’s confusion: we learn how to think for ourselves, make important connections, and understand God’s, and our, place in the larger story.
We teach our students how to read the whole Bible–from Creation to Christ’s return. We take them through a study of the Christian church’s history and teachings. They learn not just about the Bible’s teaching and Church history, but also the impact those things have had on our society. This culminates in their being able to understand and apply a Christian worldview to contemporary problems and situations–to think Christianly. After four years, our students see God, themselves, and the world differently—and more accurately.
All of our staff members are committed to the Christian faith. They are prepared to demonstrate the role Christian beliefs and practices have in a full understanding of life and the world. We do not teach that there is a conflict between science and Scripture, belief and intellect, vocation and Christian calling.
Equally important, our staff model lives of Christian faith. They do not simply teach the text, they live a life of faith in front of their students. In chapel, Advisory Groups, travel programs, co-curricular events, and conversations outside of class, students learn how to apply their Christian faith to their lives in the world by being mentored.
Faith & Learning
Throughout Pacifica’s curriculum, we allow both secular and sacred texts to speak for themselves. Learning to trust that it is God who has “put wisdom in our inward parts, and gives understanding to our minds.” At the same time, we reflect on the biblical narrative. In that way, our students discover two things simultaneously: important works of human creation down the ages and how they fit into God’s larger story of Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Consummation. For example, we study Church history, the works of William Shakespeare, the intricacies of the human genome, and the varying political philosophies of Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau. We take time to pursue truth by faith-seeking-understanding, showing how these subjects can help a person better experience the fullness of God’s Kingdom. In short, we integrate faith with learning. This integrated approach is the foundation from which we explore.
We have founded our curriculum upon the Western tradition. We rely heavily on primary texts, letting students engage directly with history’s greatest authors and thinkers. From ancient civilizations to the Renaissance to the founding of the United States of America, Pacifica engages its students in the “Great Conversation.” Students learn to understand our civilization’s great debates and to enter that discussion for themselves. This approach provides them with a foundation from which they can explore, understand, and critique societal movements, scientists, artists, mathematicians, philosophers, and writers from any era or culture, including our own.
Cultivation of Human Flourishing
Because God created mankind in His image and tasked mankind with stewardship of the earth, and because humanity’s chief end “is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever,” we believe that the dignity of humans as image-bearers of God must be preserved in our affairs. The cultivation of human flourishing requires an ordered liberty in our society, in civic life, and in the marketplace. We believe that the free and virtuous society represents the best-known forum for human economic-flourishing, and the development of mankind’s creative and entrepreneurial gifts.
As citizens of the United States, we value and celebrate our distinctive cultural traditions and principles which resulted from our Declaration of Independence, our Constitution, our Bill of Rights, and the other documents which spelled out in remarkable clarity a new way of living and flourishing together. These include allowing men and women to pursue truth, beauty, and goodness, the freedom to express divergent views, the freedom to choose and practice their religious faith as they see fit, to conduct business with essential freedom, and to recognize that all of this requires liberty, justice, equality, and personal responsibility ordered to virtuous ends.
Grace & Truth
Pacifica’s school culture emanates from the pursuit of grace and truth in all relationships. We believe the truth sets students free. They are free to know God, themselves, and their world. We also want Pacifica students to be intellectually honest and truthful with one another, their teachers, and the texts they study. The more truthful they are, the more they can grow in knowledge and character and the more the Pacifica community grows together. At the same time, we seek and display God’s grace when encountering truth. We want the fullness of God’s grace in all our relationships: extending compassion, understanding, longsuffering, and forgiveness to others. According to John’s Gospel, the Father’s gift to mankind is Jesus, a man who integrated grace and truth in all he did. That is the example we seek to follow – by God’s grace – in shaping Pacifica’s culture and each of its students.
Conviction & Compassion
All truth is God’s truth. Thus, we can freely explore the past 2,500 years of human thought and experience with great confidence that we will discover truth in scripture and in revelation from our created world. We know faith and reason are complementary and that the pursuits of the mind and the passions of the heart work together to free us to think and live well in all areas of life.
We are not intimidated by truth; rather we build the courage to say that one thing is right and another wrong. That one thing is beautiful and another ugly. That one thing is good and another bad. This is conviction. And so, we direct our students to “dwell on whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise.”
But we teach that the pursuit of truth, goodness, and beauty should be done with compassion and grace. Convictions need not alienate students from those with whom they disagree; indeed, disagreement can actually draw them closer as scholars and friends, and closer to the truth—if handled with grace. Our students’ curiosity and their love for people work to keep them engaged in conversations that matter, with people who matter. Like Aristotle, we teach them to entertain a thought without accepting it, and like Jesus, we teach them to love their image-bearing neighbor, no matter how different they may be.
“Grace and truth,” as well as “conviction and compassion,” may seem at odds. But at Pacifica, we teach and demonstrate they must be held together in order both to think well and to live well.
Joy in Learning
We seek joy in learning through it all! Students learn what it is to be human in God’s world. The more they know about how to live life—according to God’s plan—the more they can live well. Living well produces joy. And growing in wisdom and knowledge provides joy over a lifetime.
People do not live well by accident. They are taught. They are taught by their parents, friends, church, community, and God. Pacifica plays a role in this process. High school is an incredibly formative period in anyone’s life, so Pacifica takes its role very seriously. Teaching students to live well not only changes how students understand the world, but empowers them to experience abundant and joyful lives. Pacifica wants students to take what they learn and unite it with their faith. We provide adult examples of living this way. Our staff engages students not merely in their studies, but also in the deeper questions they face and the decisions they make. Of course we want our students to learn the material, but we also want to prepare them to thrive in life. These can, and should, work together. In addition to academics, Pacifica emphasizes critical elements of living well:
Joy in Life
We believe our faith offers us freedom, an “abundant life,” and the “fullness of joy”—whether during triumphs or setbacks. Therefore, we want our students to be free to experience abundant and joyful lives. We encourage students to live out their stories, fully becoming who God desires them to be. We provide students with opportunities that will change them for the better—both inside and outside the classroom. We want to challenge them and see them mature, to have them learn to “consider it all joy” when they encounter various trials. As they recognize their freedom to act in accordance with virtue, they realize they too can have abundant and joyful lives. This makes them live with more purpose, make courageous decisions, and strengthen their commitments to God. As they learn—in both mind and heart—that for the faithful, all things work together for good, they become prepared for all that life and God have to offer.
Not a Square Inch
Just as all truth is God’s truth, we trust that everything God created is sacred unto Him: “For all the earth is Mine”, says the Lord. Therefore, we want to learn why all things are important to God—and to live accordingly. We teach that all parts of life, not just time at church or in school, matter to God. It is with this understanding that we want our students to pursue learning, relationships, careers, and life. We want students filled with courage and not afraid to engage the world with Christian beliefs. We invite them into an abundant, joyful life by showing them that each moment, every place, and all circumstances offer something of what is true, beautiful, and good.
These circumstances give them a chance to live more virtuously: to live well. But this is not simply taught and learned. They must practice virtue, both in life’s momentous decisions, as well as in the seemingly smaller matters. Living virtuously requires far more than memorizing a list of character traits—therefore, we want students to form habits of applying faith and truth to how they live. Each decision matters and will shape them for the better, or worse. C.S. Lewis held the same view: “Good and evil both increase at compound interest.” This is why we want students to learn that the decisions they make on a daily basis are of infinite importance as to who they become.
We become what we daily practice. Because of this truth, we teach students to daily practice the virtues. How, and what, students practice—faith, hope, love, courage, prudence, endurance, temperance, justice, or even music, soccer, math, or languages—shapes who they become. All habits have either a positive or negative impact on students’ daily lives. Therefore, we want them to practice the right things, virtuous things, in order that they might become virtuous people, by God’s grace.
Good Decision Makers
Practicing the right things, however, requires students to make good decisions. Often, long-term good decisions are at odds with the world around them. We understand that students will experience triumph and disappointment as they practice making decisions about increasingly complex choices and situations. Coming alongside the home and the church, we extend grace and truth in these moments, helping our students to better recognize the wisdom that leads to flourishing in life and our choices. At Pacifica, students experience support, encouragement, and love as they mature into young adulthood. We want to help equip them to live in a way that puts them in a position to thrive in all parts of life, well beyond graduation. Living well at Pacifica is not simply about following the rules, but learning to make good decisions throughout life, grounded in God’s view of the human person. By following Paul’s exhortation to “put on Christ.”
Learning From Failure
Students who try new things must experience failure. They- must feel free to do so, or they won’t take proper risks. No one is perfect at a skill at first. We think failure can be a good thing, but only if students are taught to use their failures as opportunities for growth and maturity. We want them to learn to find the significance of each experience. We want them to celebrate their successes as well as to use failures to make them more moldable and adaptable for God’s purposes in their lives.
Our Lives as Invitations into Character Formation
They say that “character is caught, not taught.” In other words, developing our character is not simply something we can learn in a classroom. We gain our character in large part by coming to know and emulate people we admire, and then adopting and practicing their beliefs and characteristics. Pacifica students become part of a healthy and attractive Christian community, identifying with staff who model Christian faith and leadership. In addition, the staff teach students about the central role the Christian faith has in the very subjects they study.
Thinking and living well is done in community. Pacifica encourages students to live abundant and joyful lives, marked by giving and receiving grace. They work hard, play hard, and take risks.
High school students—and most people—desire to have meaningful relationships, to know and to be known. Having fun together, participating in extracurricular activities, and spending time with friends are all parts of a Pacifica education. These transformative experiences allow students to grow personally as they begin to live out the truth and grace they’ve learned in our ever-changing world.
We come alongside each family, engaging in conversations about life and faith, while modeling lives marked by joy. We design campus-life events with these goals in mind. Fun-filled opportunities—such as the Annual All-School Retreat, the Spring Dance, Bring the Rain, and Spirit Days—give students a chance to try new things, make friends, connect with teachers, create lasting memories, and become people who value community.
Our people are the core of our high-quality education. These men and women seek to educate, lead, challenge, encourage, and set examples of faith, character, and service for each student. Curriculum and programs alone do not teach young people to think and live well. That goal requires a complete educational experience in relationship with adults of faith who themselves develop disciplines, encourage curiosity, equip students to achieve success, and inspire a love for learning. Our staff are moral and Christian exemplars.
Family, Church & School
Pacifica alone does not teach students to think and live well. We partner with families and churches. It is a great privilege to come alongside parents and local churches to encourage our students’ faith. Understanding our important role as a school, our primary focus is education. We spend most of our time helping students master the school’s graduation requirements. A good school, however, cares for more. We care about students’ spiritual and social lives. These areas greatly inform a complete education. At Pacifica, we seek to partner with, not replace, the church and the family, whose functions are complementary to, yet distinct from, a school’s. We are keenly aware that our primary role is to educate students, but we are equally aware that we are not their only educators. While we teach the gospel, we recognize that it is God who ultimately brings about belief, and so we never grade students on the basis of what they do or do not believe.
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