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Approaching the Finish Line

Approaching the Finish Line
Tiffany Burgess, LCHS Dean of Student Affairs
The weather is warming, spring buds are blooming, and Liberty Common has officially entered the fourth quarter of the 2023–2024 academic year. While many young people might be tempted to trade their pencil bags for picnic baskets, Liberty scholars understand the crucial nature of the homestretch. Embedded in their conscience are years of character education—conversations, lyceums, and lessons ultimately leading to wisdom, truth, and beauty.
The adherence to high academic expectations is paramount to Liberty Common’s success.  As explained in the school’s philosophy, “Liberty Common School places a higher emphasis on academic rigor than is the norm in mainstream American high schools. Minimum requirements for core subjects are significantly higher than those of the Poudre School District (one of the state’s top-performing school districts)—twice the district’s minimum requirement in math and science. Additionally, LCHS requires 30 hours of foreign language, where the district has no minimum requirement.” These intellectual standards are important. They are not boxes to be checked but instrumental milestones in each student’s educational journey.
Nonetheless, the acquisition of knowledge and the pursuit of wisdom does not come without struggle. Continuing this important work, especially during the year’s fourth quarter demands fortitude, a classic virtue and LCHS Capstone. While fortitude has been defined in different ways over the years, Liberty’s definition encapsulates the virtue well: "Including forbearance, endurance, and the ability to withstand fear, uncertainty, or intimidation, Fortitude is the strength to defend what is good.” 
One small example of this comes from elementary school. Kindergarters learn Aesop’s famous fable The Tortoise and the Hare.  The two creatures set off on a race, and the arrogant hare is undoubtedly faster. Confident in his superior skills, the hare stops to rest while the tortoise soldiers on. All the while, the persevering tortoise trudges forward, demonstrating his endurance and fortitude. Surprising his opponent, the tortoise crosses the finish line first. Thus, we are reminded of the classic line: “Slow and steady wins the race.”
Another example comes from sixth-grade instructor Mr. Rob Huey. He shared with me how the sixth graders learn about fortitude highlighting the example of Achilles.
“Achilles stuck to his moral principles and refused to fight when in a moral argument with Agamemnon (in Children’s Homer).  Historically, fortitude is also easily referenced in our world-religions curriculum, Judaism and Christianity.”
He continues, “Personally, I see fortitude with students in small ways like telling me I forgot to count a problem wrong on a test (thus lowering their test scores).  Treating other students kindly and with respect when their friend group is treating a student poorly."
Both actions require students to face difficulty and stand up for what is good and right.
LCHS history instructor Mr. Jason Mayer also shared how students in his history classes, students learn about Zeno of Citium, the founder of stoicism. Zeno had it all. He owned a shipping fleet traveling all over the world and was thriving and wealthy. Unfortunately, he soon was shipwrecked, lost everything, was not able to return home, and was stuck in the foreign city of Athens where he did not speak the language. Zeno’s newfound life was devastating. However, forging a path forward through adversity, he sought out a nearby library and spent time reading about the human mind and loss. After reading various books on philosophy, he concluded the way to peace of mind is by virtuous living. He strove to defend the good he had found.
As mentioned here, we have many academic expectations for the young minds at Liberty and we hold them to a high standard. However, in within the school's curriculum, there are many opportunities for students to learn character and virtue in their studies.
Press through these next months students and remember the last few months of school are filled with many exciting (and some challenging) events. Eighth graders have joined high-school students in the Commonsense-dress guidelines, student leadership elections are just ahead, prom and FROSH are around the corner, several House events are in the works, tests are ready for you to conquer, Eagle Games awaits, and, finally, graduation sits as the final milestone for the seniors.
house system competition
Clearly, the fourth quarter is both a demanding and an exciting time of year. Prom dresses are being selected and seniors are planning graduation celebrations. During this time, we must remind ourselves there is still much to be accomplished. There is critical knowledge to be gained and work to be done. Learn from the tortoise, from our sixth graders, and from Zeno: with fortitude, keep striving toward goodness, truth, beauty, and perfection even when it is difficult.