The Sword & the Rose: Sixth grade students promoted to Rhetoric School in new Accolade ceremony

Will you do justly?  Will you love mercy?  

Will you walk humbly with your God? 

Mars Hill Academy sixth grade students carefully considered these questions as they were dubbed by Grammar School Principal James Waldy during the school’s first-ever Accolade promotion ceremony.

“The Accolade is designed to celebrate achievement and prepare for transition,” Mr. Waldy explained. “Our hope is this ceremony becomes a rite of passage for our students as they move from the Grammar Stage to the Rhetoric Stage, as they grow in their faith and lives according to the principles of their Christian commitment.”

An Accolade is both a special honor in acknowledgement of a stage of development achieved and also the bestowing of the sword for the purpose of learning to wield it. It is patterned after the journey of a youth in the Middle Ages from childhood to adulthood, just as a classical Christian education follows the journey of the Trivium from poll-parrot to poet.

“The path of a Mars Hill student is analogous to that of a medieval squire on his journey to becoming a knight. The Accolade marks the transition from page to squire,” Mr. Waldy said. “During the Rhetoric years, our students are equipped to become knights and defend their faith in the marketplace of ideas.”

During the ceremony, students received tokens as they recited personal purpose statements for the next stage of their training. A double-edged blade was awarded to each male candidate to remind him of the quick and powerful Word of God that is to be a lamp unto his feet and a light unto his path. The golden rose was awarded to each female candidate to remind her to pursue the beauty that is marked by virtuous character and godly deeds, which — unlike the flower that fades — will stand eternally.

“It is exciting, rewarding, and fulfilling as a teacher to see these young men and women reflect on their past and make a commitment to the future,” said sixth grade teacher Mrs. Tricia Hicks. “Mr. Dave Liebing and I are the final teachers to teach them before they head off to the Rhetoric School. This ceremony is a celebration in recognition of their hard work and of the next stage in their educational journey here at Mars Hill.”