The High School Seminar Series
CREATING TOMORROW’S LEADERS….TODAY
DC’s Seminar Series Is a True Distinctive Giving Students Opportunities to Answer Some of Life’s Most Engaging Questions.
The Seminar Series at Denver Christian began 14 years ago with Senior Seminar which focuses on the question: “How should we as Christians engage in our culture?” Since then the program has grown to four trimester long seminar courses that are offered each school year. Each seminar class encourages students to examine and articulate a Reformed Christian worldview. Two seminar courses are required for graduation and students who take all four earn the title of “Seminar Scholar” and receive special recognition at graduation.
A discussion-oriented teaching model has always characterized the seminar series. Each seminar class has its own unique emphasis, but all strive to engage students as young Christians and challenge them to integrate their faith with the culture and world in which they find themselves.
These seminar series courses, though challenging, are very popular with students. Students must apply to participate in Freshman Seminar, while sophomores, juniors and seniors may enroll in the two Engaging courses. The final course is reserved just for seniors. Though described as a” hidden gem” in the DC high school curriculum, these courses epitomize the unique perspective DC brings to Christian education in the Denver metro area, if not the entire nation.
Freshman Seminar is built around the question “Who am I?”. This course, team-taught by two teachers, combines both Biblical Foundations and Literature Foundations in a two-period block.
Engaging American Culture explores the components of American culture, focusing on family culture, corporate culture, and our national culture. The course ends with an examination of historical Christian responses to culture and a discussion of how we, as Christians, can be light in our world.
Engaging World Cultures is focused on world cultures and has two sub themes. The first is “Discovering God’s Image in other Cultures.” Our premise is that God’s image is reflected in all cultures, each doing so in unique ways. Thus, students explore and celebrate cultures from around the world that they are unlikely to experience first hand. The goal is to always give them a multisensory experience, thus they hear the music, wear the clothes, feel the fibers, taste the food, smell the aromas and whenever possible leave campus to experience these cultures authentically.
Senior Seminar is the capstone course for the seminar curriculum. In this class students grapple with challenging questions and “grey” areas Christians face today in our country and world. Their research culminates in a major paper and a 20 – 25 minute public presentation on senior night. Students have explored topics such as the death penalty, immigration, and climate change, always discussing the relevant history and the varying positions, then concluding with their own biblical Christian perspective.
This year’s Engaging World Cultures class is no exception, under the instruction of long time DC teacher Barry Meyer, the students have studied Kuranko and West African culture and what changed under colonialism, looking for unique glimpses of God’s image as revealed in these cultures. Topics also include Islam and animism, roles of women, as well as the initiation rites for young men and women and the ceremonies and celebrations associated with each in different religions and cultures. Photos below demonstrate just a few days of the class journey through cultural learning.
Field trips include visits to Mexican mercados, Buddhist temples, Ethiopian Coptic and Orthodox churches, as well as middle eastern, Indian, and Vietnamese restaurants, to name just a few. To learn about these cultures, students research and present their findings to their peers in a multisensory fashion.
Complementing this theme are two texts written by David Smith; Christians and Cultural Difference and Learning from the Stranger. Both stress the value of humbly learning about other cultures as a means to be more authentically Christian. Discussion and blogging characterize the study of these books allowing students to ask questions and learn from the insights of other teens.
The second sub theme culminates in the production of a large, three-panel poster and a presentation to the entire high school. Although the topic changes each time the class is offered, the theme is always an exploration of an issue that American students don’t typically experience in their own lives. Projects have focused on the role of women, refugees, natural disasters, disease and many others challenges that a typical American student might not even be aware of.
Throughout the course, students share their thoughts in discussion, in writing and in presentations. A goal of the course is to give students a model whereby they can learn from each other and perhaps someday learn from another culture first hand. They are also challenged to look for the bright spots in our world that give glimpses of God’s image and to broaden their understanding of being a “Kingdom Citizen.”