January 29, 2018
Mason, OH – Fifteen years ago before Mars Hill Academy had a permanent home, mischievous students claimed the Clough Pike Church nursery as their senior lounge.
"At one point we implemented a security measure by putting cups of water on the top of the door to douse whoever entered without permission," recalled 2003 graduate Joel Musser.
This practice stopped immediately after teacher Paul Brinkerhoff fell victim.
Since those early years, Musser, who was one of two students in the school's first graduating class, earned his economics degree from Hillsdale College, launched his financial planning career, married, and became the father of four children.
"Fifteen years have flown by, and I now have an amazing family of six, and the career I've always wanted. I'm now gripped by the 10 physical pounds (okay, 15!) that fatherhood has added and also the figurative weight of shepherding my own family toward Christ and the ideals that are ever present at Mars Hill. I'm so thankful my parents had the foresight and willingness to carpool 40 minutes each way to allow MHA to add to the foundation they were laying in my life."
Musser is just one of more than 100 alumni reaping the benefits of a Mars Hill Academy education.
MHA Latin teacher Esther Cunningham (Class of 2012) walks the halls she once traversed as a student.
"I have had many nostalgic flashbacks watching my students use the same lockers, sit in the same rooms, and even learn from the same teachers I did years ago," recalled the Wheaton College theater graduate.
While at MHA, Cunningham – who also is the high school drama club teacher and acting coach for the school's three plays – discovered a love for Shakespeare and decided to explore his texts in her high school senior thesis.
"For me, the senior thesis was a wonderful opportunity to explore something I was passionate about, present it to the school body, and try to convince them that Shakespeare's words are beautiful and full of direction for the actors," she explained.
This thesis, as well as her other studies at MHA, prepared her for life beyond school.
"My education at Mars Hill taught me to think critically about the world – through Logic classes teaching us valid syllogisms, Latin and Greek classes teaching us how to examine what texts actually say, and through all the high school humanities classes requiring us to carefully read and faithfully extract the implicit assumptions hiding beneath pretty words and a captivating story," she said.
David Swanson, a member of the school's second graduating class in 2004, started at MHA in its founding year as a fifth-grader.
"The best thing I took away from Mars Hill was having exceptional, godly influences in my life," he said. "It has stayed with me all the way through my life up to now."
After being "thrown into the experimental Mars Hill Academy education," he graduated from the United States Air Force Academy with a degree in mechanical engineering and earned his Masters in aerospace engineering. The father of two and his wife recently moved from Germany to Wright Patterson Air Force Base where he manages research and development programs as an Air Force officer and engineer.
"You leave MHA with a certain level of maturity — emotional maturity, maturity in your faith, adult wisdom — that I don't think is common for a lot of students in the world today," he said. "That gave me a certain level of confidence going into college and helped me pursue challenges, want to be a problem solver, and set the bar high for myself."
Mars Hill Academy is Cincinnati's only private, independent K-12 classical Christian school. One of only 42 schools nationwide accredited by the Association of Classical and Christian Schools (ACCS), Mars Hill Academy offers a proven educational method used for millennia to build sharp minds and a love for learning. For more information, please call 513-770-3223 or visit www.marshill.edu.
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