War and Peace, the colonial version

On our final touring day of the trip, we visited one of the most significant sites, Yorktown. As any Geneva 5th grader could tell you, October 19, 1781 marks the end of the Revolutionary War, despite the Treaty of Paris not being signed until 1783. Today we got to experience life in camp as a soldier and to walk the actual battlefield where our nation’s freedom was won.

We learned that the space on our bus isn’t nearly as cramped as the space in a Private’s tent, and that sharing a bed with one friend is substantially better than sharing a tent with five. The students were both entertained and a bit horrified to learn how medical care worked for a colonial soldier. Any soldier labeled as “sloven” could be forced to wear a sign around his neck as punishment. Be sure to ask your student about that, and maybe prepare your own sign as motivation.

Our courage was tested during a weapons demonstration, and most of us freely admitted that the site of a hundred armed soldiers aiming their guns at us would cause us to turn and run without even a shot being fired. The courage of the colonial soldier in the face of overwhelming odds was truly remarkable.

While the battlefield at Yorktown may not have all the bells and whistles that some of our other stops did, the import of what happened there cannot be overstated. Seeing the lush green field, the tall trees, the remnants of revolutionary trenches, it’s hard to imagine that this same field would have been marked with rubble, bodies, and the terror of war as our country fought for her independence.

As we all lined up for a group picture in front of the Yorktown monument, I was especially struck by what a great group of students we have. Our students are learning not just the dates of the history of our country, but the foundation of our nation’s identity. They will have the opportunity to advance the cause of freedom because of the generations that have preceded them.

It was a pleasure to meander around Colonial Williamsburg one last time this afternoon. I watched as students carefully selected gifts for family members back home, or as mementos for themselves. I was privileged to be present as a student faced her fears and sat down at a replica of an ancient harpsichord and played. I witnessed polite and respectful students ordering a meal in a colonial tavern, graciously thanking their hosts, and engaging in lively conversation with their peers and chaperones around the dinner table. They were each eager to share their experiences, and re-tell many of the things they learned in this week.

It has not been a week free of difficult situations, but our students have persevered. Our devotions for the evening focused on love. Not the love that is warm and fuzzy, rainbows and unicorns. The love that is patient, and kind; a love that bears all things. We discussed ways that we have been shown love by others this week and ways that we can show love to others tomorrow on the long bus ride home. I am confident that our students will rise to the occasion tomorrow and will return to you with stories of love shown even on a sixteen hour bus trip home.

We look forward to seeing you all Saturday night!

Junior Classical League State Forum Results

It gives us great pleasure to announce the results of our JCL State Forum trip.  The students did a fantastic job, representing The Geneva School well in their performance and participation in the academic, creative, and athletic contests that they entered both individually and as various teams.  They competed against over 1,100 students from 50+ schools in the state of Florida; so a top-ten finish in any category is therefore remarkable.  We had 42 students from grades 6 through 12 placing in multiple categories.  Congratulations to our classics students and their teachers on their achievements!

Special thanks go to the ten parent and family chaperones, without whose work this trip would not have been such a great success!


FJCL State Forum Results

Zachary Andreasen: 5th place in History of the Roman Empire (Level Adv.); 8th place in History of the Roman Republic (Level Adv.); 10th place in Greek Language;
Mackenzie Blais: 3rd place in IV Square (5-9); 8th place in PMAQ (Level ½);
Caleb Bravo: 3rd place in Greek Language; 9th place in History of the Roman Republic (Level Adv.); 9th place in Mythology (Level Adv.);
Laura Bravo: 2nd place in Paintings (Level 10-12); 2nd place in Marathon (Girls, Senior);
Jarrett Brodrecht: 8th place in Geography (Level Adv.);
Riley Cashon: 1st place in Greek Language; 3rd place in Greek Derivatives (Level Adv.); 7th place in Greek Literature (Level Adv.);
Brian Cavanagh: 5th place in Latin Reading Composition, Prose; 5th place in Open Certamen (Level Adv.); 7th place in Latin Derivatives (Level Adv.);
Aubrey Clark: 2nd place in Latin Derivatives (Level I);
Oliver Clark: 6th place in History of the Roman Empire (Level ½); 6th place in Models (Level 5-9);
Catherine Collins: 2nd place in Mythology (Level ½); 7th place in Pentathlon (Level ½); 7th place in Open Certamen (Level I);
Lydia Faith: 4th place in Mythology (Level ½); 4th place in Pentathlon (Level ½);
Kiri Forrester: 1st place in Textiles (Level 10-12); 2nd place in Open Certamen (Level Adv.); 7th place in Heptathlon (Level Adv.);
Moira Forrester: 10th place in Heptathlon (Level II);
David Gonzalez: 7th place in Open Certamen (Level II); 8th place in Hellenic History (Level II); 9th place in Heptathlon (Level II);
Jack Graham: 5th place in Decathlon; 5th place in Latin Derivatives (Level Adv.); 7th place in Latin Vocabulary (Level Adv.);
Lauren Lemieux: 1st place in Costumes (Female, 5-9); 3rd place in Customs (Level ½);
Anna Mages: 8th place in Hellenic History (Level II); 8th place in Illustrated Notebook (5-9);
Max Major: 5th place in Greek Language; 9th place in Hellenic History (Level II); 10th place in Greek Derivatives (Level II);
Savannah Mathias: 7th place in Customs (Level ½); 8th place in Pentathlon (Level ½);
Pippa Maughan: 7th place in PMAQ (Level ½); 7th place in Bellum Aquae; 8th place in Open Certamen (Level I);
Brett Paul: 3rd place in Greek Literature (Level Adv.); 4th place in Greek Language; 5th place in Greek Derivatives (Level Adv.); 5th place in Mystery Test; 7th place in Open Certamen (Level Adv.);
Kristen Paul: 3rd place in Dramatic Interpretation (Level II, Female); 4th place in Hellenic History (Level II); 6th place in Open Certamen (Level II);
Sarah Paul: 10th place in Dramatic Interpretation (Level I, Female);
Tabitha Petrak: 2nd place in Dramatic Interpretation (Advanced Poetry, Female); 3rd place in Open Certamen (Level Adv.);
Bree Pollack: 2nd place in Dramatic Interpretations (Level I, Female); 5th place in Customs (Level I);
Ellis Pollard: 6th place in Drawings (5-9);
Cooper Reid: 1st place in Open Certamen (Level I); 7th place in Pentathlon (Level I);
Noah Reid: 5th place in Latin Grammar (Level ½); 6th place in Game-Design and -Construction (5-9);
Abby Rudolph: 3rd place in Maps (10-12); 4th place in Hellenic History (Level Adv.);
Brecken Slockett: 4th place in Customs (Level ½); 4th place in Shuttle Run (Girls, 5-9); 10th place in Posters (5-9);
Sarah Stander: 10th place in Latin Vocabulary (Level I);
Mercia Steinborn: 4th place in Drawings (5-9); 8th place in Latin Vocabulary (Level ½);
Joe Swain: 1st place in Customs (Level I); 4th place in PMAQ (Level I);
Zachary Vargas: 2nd place in Hellenic History (Level I);
Ryleigh Wallace: 4th place in Open Certamen (Level Adv.);
Charles White: 8th place in Pentathlon (Level I);
Martin White: 2nd place in Marathon (Boys, 5-9);
John Wiechart: 3rd place in Bellum Aquae

Agon Team α 2nd

Riley Cashon (Captain)
Caleb Bravo
Brett Paul
Abby Rudolph

Team β 6th

Zachary Andreasen (Captain)
Max Major
Zachary Vargas
John Wiechart

Impromptu Art 5th

Laura Bravo
Kiri Forrester
Moira Forrester
Anna Mages
Tabitha Petrak
Bree Pollack

Junior Division Sweepstakes
Academic 4th
Creative 4th
Ludi 4th
Overall 4th
Senior Division Sweepstakes
Ludi 8th
Overall 20th

The Pleasure and Pain of Plantation Life

We continued our forward progression in time as we visited two different plantations today. Our first stop was along the James River at the Shirley Plantation. The students were amazed to learn that a real family still owns and lives in the exquisite home. They open the first floor to tourists and live mainly on the second floor. Seeing generations of of family photos from the 18th century to present day was fascinating as the students wondered aloud how their lives would have changed over the years as the families grew up in that home.

Even though our students are not at school, today they got to do a bit of plantation life school. Slates, pencils and wool erasers were provided and students practiced some math equations or played tic-tac-toe. I suspect plantation school students brought many of the same challenges and joys to their teachers as our students do today. We also experimented with using our best penmanship with a feather quill and ink. Several of the students were amazed at how long it must have taken for a person to write even just one letter to a friend or family member. But perhaps there is something to be gained by needing to take time in crafting what to say.

We left the James River and headed for the Blue Ridge Mountains and Thomas Jefferson’s home of Monticello. Interestingly enough, the students learned that Jefferson was a cousin to the family who lived at Shirley Plantation, so we were retracing his steps between the two locations.


Monticello is a place of great beauty, creativity, ingenuity, and contradiction. The students discussed how a man who penned the words “all men are created equal” could own over one hundred slaves. A man who believed that educated men were capable of self government, yet prevented his own enslaved persons from that same self government. We stood in a slave cabin and gazed at the mansion Jefferson built for himself. The disparity was immense.

Our students saw firsthand that while great men can create beautiful places and craft life changing documents and found incredible systems of government, they are also capable of great blindness, wickedness, and sin. Our guide asked us to ponder the question of whether the issue of slavery negates the goodness of Jefferson’s many other contributions. I would encourage you to probe that question with your students when they return home.

The students were fascinated with all of Jefferson’s many scientific experiments and Mrs. Andrews was certainly grateful to hear our guides remark that science is everywhere. The gardens around Monticello are still being cultivated with descendants of the seeds Jefferson planted or Lewis and Clark brought back from their expedition. The clocks Jefferson designed still toll the correct hour, season, and even day of the week. History is living and our students marveled at the plantation life they experienced today. We saw both the greatness and the baseness of mankind.

And we were reminded in our evening devotion that there is One who Himself experienced greater heights than Monticello and took on greater baseness than slavery. And we are called to have the same mind as Christ Jesus. We are called to consider others better than ourselves, to be humble, to serve others. Jefferson served his country well.  We want to call our students to serve each other well, and in so doing, they, too can change the world.

Tomorrow is our last day of touring historical sites as we visit Yorktown and return to Williamsburg (because one day just isn’t enough).

by Michelle Keller, parent blogger

Living Life like a Colonial

Today, in many ways, was the highpoint of our week. Today was the day when we got all dressed up in our colonial costumes and explored Williamsburg as if we were colonial residents back in the 18th century.

Throughout the course of the day, we got to imagine what our lives would be like in a myriad of different situations. We heard snippets of speeches from the House of Burgesses session in which the colonists voted for independence. We put ourselves in the shoes of a woman on trial for murder (or was it self defense?), and wondered what it would have been like to not be able to afford representation, and to have a jury that was more swayed by their physical discomfort in a room without heat or bathroom facilities than by the weight of the evidence.

We crowded into the old gaol (jail) cell and imagined what it might be like to have to spend time there – particularly if Black Beard the Pirate’s gang was sharing the space with us. In a radical shift of social cultures, we then walked through the Governor’s Palace and imagined our lives if we had been in the upper 5% of income levels in colonial Williamsburg. It should come as no surprise that the students would happily choose life in the ornate Governor’s Palace over the old gaol cell.

Our tour guide remarked that she had rarely seen a group of students so intent on what was being said, so eager to ask good questions, and so invested in the experience.

For most of the folks in colonial Williamsburg, life was neither in the jail or in the Governor’s Palace, but lived in very everyday ways as they plied their trade in a variety of occupations. We contemplated what life would be like if we were apprenticed in an apothecary shop, or as a silversmith. Many of the students were struck by the limited opportunities available to women in colonial times, and how different their lives would have been as a result. We met doctors, Cherokee Indians, saw Colonel Washington, watched cloth being woven, shoes being repaired, and dresses being made. Some of us sampled colonial libations (of coffee, tea, and chocolate) and in so doing met, Ann, a slave. Over half of the population in Williamsburg at the time would have been enslaved persons. It was an interesting opportunity for the students to reflect on the value of human beings as image bearers of God.

But colonial life was not all about work, and neither was our day. We enjoyed a rousing relay of hoop races, and just running in the green space. It was so fun to see the students enjoying the opportunity to play together.

As it was our regular chapel day, we had the opportunity to participate in the noonday prayer service at Bruton Parish Church. The students were delighted to read the names on the pew boxes of dozens of famous colonial families, and to imagine attending a service when dignitaries such as George Washington might have been present.

We had dinner in a colonial tavern and even enjoyed some live music. We ended our evening with a ball in the capitol building. Yes, your child danced! Sadly, no photos were permitted, though some of the students might be grateful for that. But I can assure you that there were smiles a plenty as they learned the steps and found they could do more than they thought.

It was a full day, a bit of an overwhelming day. We prayed for dry weather after yesterday’s drenching, and God was very gracious to us in providing an almost entirely dry day. We were fully immersed in the life of a colonial and the students were filled with wonder and questions and amazement.

In our devotions for the day, we reflected on how the colonists placed great value on excellence, order, and beauty. The students remarked on the extreme care and pride with which the tradespeople worked. The end of the day was a fabulous opportunity to reflect on 1 Corinthians 10:31 “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” The students were able to think about how they saw that verse at work today, and how they see it at work in their own lives. Our students are not just on an entertaining trip, though they are having a great deal of fun. It’s not just an educational trip, though they are learning an immense amount. They are thinking about the bigger issues of life as they reflect on life in the 18th century as compared to life in the 21st century. May those thoughts continue to shape their lives far beyond this trip.

by Michelle Keller, parent blogger

The Rain Could Not Dampen Our Spirits

Dr. Clark graciously supplied the title for today’s Williamsburg blog post. It was indeed a rainy day – all day long, a steady, soaking rain. The locals in Jamestown said that it was the first rainy day they’d had in ages and they were grateful for it. Perspective is everything! Our students persevered in the midst of rain, and the gift shop was happy to sell a slew of brightly colored ponchos and keepsake Jamestown umbrellas.

We had an amazing set of guided tours and the students were happily engaged in answering and asking questions about the life of the first English settlers in Jamestown. They were able to look around at the area and discuss the benefits and drawbacks to founding a settlement in Jamestown. As we learned about the “starving time” when 4 out of 5 settlers died, the students were both sobered by the reality of what the people in Jamestown faced, and grateful for their own abundance. Later in our evening devotional time, one of the students reflected on that time and prayed for God’s grace to help her remember to be thankful for even the small things. What a joy to see the students connecting history and faith and gratitude!

Certainly one of the treats of the day (and not just because it was warm and dry) was a visit to the Jamestown Glass Blowers House. I won’t spoil the surprise for the families at home, but students did get to practice their math skills in the gift shop!

Our afternoon was spent immersing ourselves in the culture of the early 17th century settlement of Jamestown. We divided into two separate groups to enable more hands on time. The students were immediately caught up in learning what brought the English to Jamestown and how they interacted with the Powhatan indians who already lived here.

We learned about different weapons, tools, housing materials, and daily life of the Powhatan. The students even had a chance to try their hand at tanning a hide using only a shell for scraping.

From the English perspective, we saw how simple machines worked to load ships, how to navigate and record a ship’s journey. After going below deck of the Susan Constant (and exact replica of one of the ships carrying the original Jamestown settlers) and seeing how cramped and dark the space was, many a student (and chaperone) remembered our sixteen hour bus ride with a great deal of fondness. We had a chance to rest a bit inside the church building and reflect upon the importance of religion to the early settlers.

We finished up the day exploring the fabulous gallery of interactive exhibits exploring early colonial life and the intersection of three vastly different cultures – the Powhatan, the English, and the African slaves from Angola. As I looked around at the students enjoying a meal together after a long, cold, and wet day. I saw multiple different cultures all gathered together laughing, talking, and enjoying the full bounty of God’s goodness.

Our evening devotion closed with Psalm 18:10:

“The name of the LORD is a strong tower;

The righteous run to it and are safe.”

It was so encouraging to hear the students reflecting on all the ways in which they are “kept” and to talk to them about God’s goodness in His keeping. Placing that in the context of the intensively difficult circumstances faced by the settlers at Jamestown makes the promises of Scripture al the more sweet.

Next up…Williamsburg!


by parent blogger, Michelle Keller

We have arrived in Williamsburg

The hour was early, the sky was dark, but our spirits were high as we set off for our week long Williamsburg trip. The students were all excited to find out what groups they were in and get loaded on the bus.










The prospect of sixteen hours on the bus was daunting, but the excitement carried the day. Some students slept, some talked, some read, some played games, many songs were sung and stories told.

Our first stop was at the Florida/Georgia border where we indulged in the first of many group photos. Then back on the bus until a lunch stop at Cracker Barrel. It was so fun to watch the groups work together on figuring out what to order, how much to tip, and how much money that would leave them for dinner (and souvenirs later).









We had a good bit of rain throughout the afternoon, which meant that our afternoon break for “recess” was little more than a quick stretch of the legs on the walk to the restroom. But the students made up for it with some post dinner calisthenics – there were pushup challenges, plank competitions, and some arm wrestling.








After dinner, we were all excited to be in the final leg of our journey. The students did their first devotional in their chaperone groups and shared prayer requests. We know all our families at home are praying for us, and we are so thankful! After devotions, and some Scripture recitations, we treated the students with a showing of the movie “Up” which took us right up to our arrival at our hotel.


It was a long day, and everyone is tired. All in all, the long bus ride was such a fun opportunity to see our fifth graders learning to enjoy one another and find creative ways to entertain themselves and pass the time. I heard very few “are we there yet” questions, but did hear lots of laughter and good, encouraging conversation. What a delight!

Tomorrow we are off to Jamestown!

The Geneva School
The Geneva School
April 10, 2020

    Date: April 10, 2020 - April 13, 2020
    Time: 12:00 am- 11:59 pm
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April 11, 2020

    Date: April 10, 2020 - April 13, 2020
    Time: 12:00 am- 11:59 pm
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April 12, 2020

    Date: April 10, 2020 - April 13, 2020
    Time: 12:00 am- 11:59 pm
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April 10, 2020

    Date: April 10, 2020 - April 13, 2020
    Time: 12:00 am- 11:59 pm
    See more details

April 11, 2020

    Date: April 10, 2020 - April 13, 2020
    Time: 12:00 am- 11:59 pm
    See more details

April 12, 2020

    Date: April 10, 2020 - April 13, 2020
    Time: 12:00 am- 11:59 pm
    See more details

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