LAST YEAR on a Saturday morning in December, Bobby Lewis, outfitted in winter mountaineering gear, hoisted a pack on his back and set off with a colleague on a difficult peak climb in the Colorado Rockies. They began their ascent in formidable winter weather conditions: below zero temperatures, howling winds, snow—and three high school students in tow. Yet for Lewis, an accomplished climber and school director, the trek turned out to be worth every step just to witness the progress of one student in particular. Descending the summit late that day, Lewis said he looked over at the young woman during their conversation down the mountain. "She just radiated joy," Lewis explained. "All the obstacles—fear, self-doubt, the habit of complaining she'd had on previous expeditions. All those things had been overcome. That same kind of joy I had seen on the face of a boy who passed a history test last week. That might not seem like a big deal, but he, too, had overcome a lot of obstacles—procrastination, self-doubt ..."
Lewis had many such reports of student progress in our phone conversation the day after he returned from the day climb, one of many weekend activities The Link School offers. Located in Buena Vista, Colorado, among breathtaking views of mountains and rivers and canyons, the coeducational alternative high school provides young Christian Scientists the opportunity of an "experiential" education.
Lewis and his wife, Natalie, founded The Link School last year, and the 2008–2009 academic year marks the school's first. The school's name, Lewis explained, was inspired by this statement in Science and Health: "It is only by acknowledging the supremacy of Spirit, which annuls the claims of matter, that mortals can lay off mortality and find the indissoluble spiritual link which establishes man forever in the divine likeness, inseparable from his creator" (p. 491). Helping students find their spiritual link to the Divine and a sense of purpose and value from that precious relationship is the school's primary mission. In Lewis's eyes, giving students the knowledge and resources to discover and develop their unique, God-given talents and identity is the hallmark of a truly progressive education. With that in mind, Lewis and his staff have designed an unconventional and creative program that combines academics, expeditions, service work, and projects, all of which focus on helping the student develop a sense of who he or she is, and what that student has to give. "The attainment of human knowledge," said Lewis, "should support those two goals."
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