|The Washington Times||June 7, 2009|
Washington Times Op-ed—Patrick Henry College Continues to Excel by J. Michael Smith
by J. Michael Smith
Sometimes called the “homeschool college,” or “God’s Harvard,” Patrick Henry College (PHC), located in Purcellville, Va., celebrated another graduation May 16. Seventy-six seniors received their diploma, and many are preparing to become leaders in the public arena.
PHC was founded in 2000 through the vision of Mike Farris and the Home School Legal Defense Association board of directors. Mr. Farris served as the president of HSLDA at that time and then became founding president of PHC and is now the current chancellor of the college.
Seeing the rapid growth of the homeschool movement, the HSLDA board was interested in starting a college that would be especially receptive to homeschool graduates. Today, more than 70 percent of the student body has a homeschool background. The founders were also interested in starting a college that would attract high-achieving Christian students from all backgrounds with a rigorous academic program, world-class apprenticeships and a purposeful commitment to genuine Christian discipleship.
In its young history, the college is best known for its debate program. Because of its emphasis on campuswide public speaking, critical thinking, research and writing skills, the college has become a legal debate powerhouse, winning its third ACMA National Moot Court championship in five years, while sweeping the first, second and third place team trophies at Chapman Law School in Orange, Calif. This emphasis on debate, public speaking and critical thinking advances PHC’s mission to have an impact on the nation. Its moot court alumni annually gain admission to the nation’s top law schools and graduate programs, including three presently enrolled at Harvard School of Law.
As a result of the college’s growing reputation, it is attracting a wide range of outstanding students from all areas of the country. Among them were best-selling authors of Do Hard Things, Brett and Alex Harris, who co-founded the Rebelution Web site that connects thousands of teens rebelling against the low expectations of youth. The national test results of the incoming freshman class indicate that the best homeschool students routinely outperform the best non-homeschool students—as well as many Ivy League seniors—in civic literacy and general academic proficiency.
On the international scene, the college is doing a remarkable job as well. PHC won the Outstanding Delegation Award at the Model U.N. Conference in New York City in April. This academic simulation of the United Nations brought students from across the world to engage in multilateral diplomacy on issues ranging from nuclear proliferation to human trafficking. Out of the 300 participating schools, PHC earned the highest award available.
Underscoring the diversity of the students’ interests, PHC students undertook a host of creative outreach opportunities this past year, including long-standing work for national political campaigns, producing Christian-themed independent films, writing plays and novels, or simply serving the local community as EMTs, tutors, employees, employers and church youth leaders.
Another emphasis of the college is the study of the founding documents that helped to form our great nation. Mr. Farris sums up the college’s vision in that regard: “To preserve liberty, America needs able advocates who have a deep understanding and commitment to the importance of American sovereignty, yet who can effectively communicate that message in the international arena. PHC students have demonstrated that they have this absolutely unique set of skills that America so desperately needs.”
Probably the thing that distinguishes PHC more than any other is the fact that it’s a classical liberal arts college that pairs a distinctly Christian worldview with an extremely rigorous academic experience. This has produced graduates who are both serving and making a difference at the highest levels of government, media, business and academic institutions.
HSLDA is proud of what PHC has been able to achieve in such a short time. We continue to support the goals and objectives of the college and our member families continue to send their outstanding homeschool graduates to gain the best classical liberal arts college education available in the country.
Michael Smith is the president of the Home School Legal Defense Association. He may be contacted at (540)338-5600; or send email to email@example.com.
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