How We Got Here and What We Do
It appears that there are a few questions as to how Atlas School began in the first place. At least one recent editorial in the local paper indicated that Douglas Wilson was the founder of Atlas School. While Pastor Wilson has been a cheerful well-wisher, the truth be known it was not he that started the school. Atlas School grew out of some private tutoring I gave one year (almost 6 years ago) to two middle school aged boys. At the end of that year, another family or two asked if their boys might join the classes, and I was happy to have them. These families were all home schooling families that for whatever reasons recognized the need for more structure in the schooling of their sons. Word got out that summer, and by August there were 12 boys. Parents asked if I would try to cover most of the subjects, and the ones that I couldnít teach or that didnít fit into my schedule were taken over by two other gentlemen. We realized that a house wouldnít really fit our needs for space so one of the parents that knew the director of CCM asked if we might be able to use some space at the Nuart Theater. He said that it was fine, so we began having classes the Fall of 2001 in the theater at the Nuart. We brought in tables and chairs, and we set up and broke down each morning.
Since the families involved in Atlas were home school families, we tried to set things up to make what we were doing somewhat congruent with their interests and needs. Classes are only held in the mornings, finishing every day around lunch time. Since 2001 we have met in the Nuart and in the classrooms next door to the Nuart. Weíve never received a complaint until just a few months ago in the wake of numerous other complaints being filed against other organizations and institutions affiliated with Christ Church and friends. Many probably still donít know that we even exist, but most people that spend any time downtown have at one time or another seen a small troupe of boys in navy blue sweater vests walking down Main Street. We have occasionally sat on the benches in Friendship Square reciting Kubla Kahn, and from time to time we have taken walks through the streets in our nature studies hunting for leaves and various species of trees. We have also had trash pick up days where the boys dress down and bring gloves and trash bags in order to help out with keeping downtown a little cleaner. On cold winter mornings Iíve been known to give into pleas and take three or four students down to a local coffee shop for hot chocolate and readings from Beowulf. The boys study math and spelling and science like most of other boys their age, but one of my passions is languages, particularly the old ones. All of the full time students take Latin, Greek, and Hebrew. We also try to read a lot together. I spend the last few minutes of every day reading out loud from Tolkienís Lord of the Rings or the Chronicles of Narnia or sometimes just silly bits from P.J. OíRourke or Annie Dillard. We read and write poetry together, and sing as often as we can. We begin every morning with a short prayer service were we sing Psalms, pray and read Scripture together, and our week ends with a feast on Fridays. A festive table is spread by the mothers of the Atlas boys: good food, full goblets, and candles. There we laugh and sing together, and enjoy the fellowship of one another. And thatís about it.
If it helps, when I taught at Atlas and was on the de facto board, I was a member of Christ Church, but I was visiting other churches, exploring other option, so to speak.
Doug Wilson started Atlas. Sheesh, what will they think of next?
Your school sounds glorious. Do you know of any others like it around the country? If I may ask, is teaching at Atlas your full-time occupation?
Also, were you fluent in Greek, Hebrew and Latin before entering Greyfriars?