Wednesday, February 21 , 2018, 4:15 am | Fair 42º


Providence Hall Is a High School with a Difference

Christian school puts emphasis on Great Books and philosophy

At 3-year-old Providence Hall, the private high school’s aim is to produce graduates who can make a difference in their own lives, as well as in their community.

“We are based on our historic Christian faith, as well as our classical heritage,” Headmaster David K. Winter said of the school, which calls itself a “strong, college-preparatory Christian” institution.

Providence Hall, 33 E. Micheltorena St., occupies the upper half of the Notre Dame School building, which was originally designed as the Roman Catholic high school that became Bishop Diego. Notre Dame now serves as an elementary school. The campus abuts Trinity Episcopal Church, a half-block from State Street.

Winter said Providence Hall’s curriculum is based in part on the Great Books concept, with a focus on discussion of the subject matter rather than memorization. For the school’s 55 students, that curriculum includes literature, math, science, music and art.

“We combine basic literary development with a philosophical approach,” Winter explained.

Music, art and drama are also part of Providence Hall's curriculum.
Music, art and drama are also part of Providence Hall’s curriculum. (Providence Hall photo)

Winter, formerly the president of Westmont College, is headmaster. The academic dean is Tim Loomer. Future student enrollment is projected to be several hundred, when the school is at full capacity, Winter said. Tuition is set at $15,800 per year but, he emphasized, the school offers “considerable discounts for families that cannot pay.”

Dress is uniform, with boys wearing open-collared polo shirts and trousers other than jeans, and girls wearing skirts. However, Winter noted, there are free days when the rules are relaxed somewhat. He laughed softly and joked, “I think these dress regulations are in force, but I can’t see.” Winter, who is 79, lost his sight 11 years ago and relies on his other senses and special computer equipment to assist him in his administrative duties.

“I don’t know Braille,” he said. “The fingertips are not as sensitive in an older person, but I have computer software that is so good; it enables me to read line by line and paragraph by paragraph.” He enjoys The Wall Street Journal and other newspapers, and he listens to audio books from the Library of Congress for about an hour a day.

The school’s foundation is described in its published statement of purpose as having a “Humanities core course which builds on the natural relationship of history and literature. In addition, all students take rhetoric, which combines effective writing and speaking, and the development of critical thinking skills. There is a full range of academic courses in the natural sciences, mathematics, drama, art, music, and The Foundations of the Christian Faith.”

Providence Hall shares its classic building with Notre Dame School.
Providence Hall shares its classic building with Notre Dame School. (Providence Hall photo)

With all the emphasis on the heavy academic content of the curriculum, Winter hastened to point out that Providence Hall is also into athletics in a big way.

“We have one of the finest girls’ basketball teams,” he declared, “and we’ve been accepted into the CIF. Next year, we’ll be competing with other CIF teams.”

Other athletics offerings for the Lions include girls’ volleyball, track and field and cross-country, and boys’ basketball.

Winter praised the school’s parents, who have been heavily involved in all aspects of the curriculum and athletic activities.

“And we bring in local pastors to talk to the students. We honor our heritage,” he said.

— Margo Kline is a Noozhawk contributor.

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