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Head of School Update: Friday December 8, 2017

Dear JH Classical Academy Families,

As parents headed out for Thanksgiving Break, the faculty spent an in-service day with Dr. Dan Russ working through Dante’s Divine Comedy.  Advisory Board Member, Dr. Russ, was in Orvieto, Italy for a month this fall teaching this supreme literary work to doctoral students, so it was quite a privilege to be under his guidance.  The Divine Comedy, a sacred poem from Medieval Christendom, is a stirring drama of the human soul discovering the life of faith in a faithless world.  Using himself as a fictional character, Dante walks through InfernoPurgatorio, and Paradiso and relates his journey from the dismal gloom of hell to the blinding light of heaven.  Dr. Russ gave the simple but profound analogy:  Inferno is without music; Purgatorio is singing the blues, and Paradiso is constant music.  Each section of this three-part poem portrays a different stage in our human understanding of God’s love, and each part of his journey provides Dante the wisdom needed to return to his earthly trials.  People cannot live without loving, and we have a free will to choose to love right or wrong.  As Plato says, “Education is teaching children to desire the right things.” So this was a significant work for us to reflect upon as educators. We are invested in coming alongside students, often through such beautiful texts and stories, during this brief section of their life-long journey of discovering their loves and authentic selves.
As Dante’s vision ends, he concludes his poem:
For the great imagination here power failed;
but already my desire and will
were turning like a wheel moved evenly
by the Love which turns the sun and the other stars.
Paradiso, The Divine Comedy

As Mrs. Landis reaches her final month of pregnancy, I’ve been planning substitutes for her 3-month maternity leave.  I’m so pleased to announce that starting in January Mrs. Gina Feliccia McDermott, with assistance from Big City Broadway, will be teaching Grades 5-8 music classes and preparing the students for a performance of Pirates of Penzance, Jr.  This musical theatre presentation is a light and comic introduction to the work of Gilbert and Sullivan, and has opportunities for 10 lead roles and three chorus groups.  I announced this production to the students yesterday, and there is great excitement among them about bringing a new learning experience to JH Classical Academy during these winter months.   We will be in touch with details regarding auditions and a few extra dress rehearsals in preparation for the Thursday, March 22performance, but most of the work will take place during music class from January to March.  We are also fortunate to have Miss Kate Dalbey bring her music education degree and experience teaching music to our Kindergarten class and 9th Grade Keyboard instruction during Mrs. Landis’ absence.  Please be considering using your volunteer hours to assist Mrs. McDermott in tasks related to producing this wonderful Gilbert and Sullivan production!  We will reach out soon with more details. 
We've had a number of exciting developments in planning for the future of our school.  First, an important conservation tool was approved 5-0 in a November County Commissioner meeting that will allow us to apply for a Conditional Use Permit in late January.  You can read more about that in the article below.  Second, our architects were in town this week and they are working hard on rendering site plans for that application.  We are offering a short Owl Happenings update and interactive session for parents over Coffee & Conversations next Thursday, December 14th after Opening Ceremony.  Third, will be outlining the course descriptions for our combined 9/10th Grade on Thursday, December 14th for 7-9th Grade parents. The discussion will include standardized testing, college counseling, plans for accreditation, and other elements necessary for our high school growth plan.  Progress is slow but steady.  There is much heavy lifting ahead, and many needed approvals ahead.  Yet, creating an educational institution of excellence and lasting significance is a purpose worth fighting for and we appreciate and need all your encouragement and support. 
Please mark your calendars for our very special Ceremony of Carols on December 20, and enjoy these days of advent preparation for the coming celebration of Christ's birth. 
Mrs. Polly J. Friess
Head of School

Mountain Range


Jackson Hole Classical Academy
P.O. Box 7466
Jackson, WY 83002
Enrollment Inquiries:
Polly Friess
(307) 690-8396
All Other Inquiries:
School Office
(307) 201-5040
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Nondiscrimination Policy: Jackson Hole Classical Academy admits students of any gender, race, color, and national or ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs and activities generally accorded or made available to students. Jackson Hole Classical Academy does not discriminate on the basis of gender, race, color, national or ethnic origin in the administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, tuition assistance, athletic, arts or other school administrated programs.