American Prep's Philosophy on Classical Ed, Unity, & Empowerment

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January 2024 - Daniel Baker, Secondary Academic Director

American Prep has long prided ourselves on our connection to the classical world and the noble traditions that come with it. Of these traditions, that of the symposia (plural of symposium) is perhaps one of the greatest. What is a symposium? In the most literal sense, it is a gathering to drink but the real meaning is much more symbolic than this literal translation. Humans have always met around food and drink - the word companion translates to one that you share bread with - and the symposium was not only a chance to share drink, but also ideas, thoughts, and discussions. 

The tradition of holding a symposium is alive and well in the classical education world and symposia are held at the local, state, and national levels. We’ve had the opportunity to send our teachers to the National Symposium for Classical Education as well as host our own symposium for our staff but opportunities for students to attend student-center symposia have been few and far between - until now.

Students at our West Valley 3 campus had the opportunity to attend the first ever APA Junior Classical Symposium on January 12th, hosted by our very own Cassandra Ball-Coleman and Travis Coleman. Speakers at the event included Professor Roger McFarlane of BYU as well as many of our own APA students. Presenters highlighted the symbolism, beauty, and lessons that can be found in their favorite pieces of ancient Greek mythology. The keynote by Dr. McFarlane discussed the character of Eurydice and how the academic interpretation of her story has changed over time as well as depictions of Eurydice in popular media.


  • Doctor Roger Macfarlane - Professor of Classics, BYU
  • Alexandria Callister - World Languages Sterling Scholar
  • Nicolle Cama - English Sterling Scholar
  • Elise Christenson - 11th Grade
  • Jacob Brady - 10th Grade
  • Hugo Morales - 8th Grade

We greatly appreciate the efforts of everyone involved in producing this amazing event and would like to specifically recognize the mastermind behind it all, Mrs. Ball-Coleman. Her dedication to the classical studies and bringing them to students is greatly appreciated and we thank her for all the hard work she put in to make the event possible.


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American Preparatory Academy is a classical-liberal arts school with an aim to educate both the minds and hearts of our students. Human flourishing is the goal of a classical education. We engage in the pursuit of truth, beauty, and virtue alongside our students. We focus our efforts in the domains of the liberal arts. We employ the disciplines of humility and diligence to our scholarly efforts.

Our students flourish as they become academically proficient, develop strong moral character, and develop a desire to impact their community in positive ways.

At school, on a daily basis, we enthusiastically engage in the learning and practice of the skills required to accomplish these ends.

Equality and Unity

American Prep values and embodies the American ideals of equality and unity.   We reference our nation’s Declaration of Independence in that we believe that all students and staff have been endowed with certain, unalienable rights that we respect at school. We are all engaged in the pursuit of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and respect that pursuit for each individual. Included in the important rights of each student is that of being viewed as an individual of great worth to the community. Every person in our school community is equally viewed as a person of unmeasurable value and potential.

 We carefully work to ensure that:

  • The right to fully participate in our school programs is available equally to each student.
  • The right to opportunities to develop character traits of diligence, hard work, humility, and scholarship are available to all students equally.
  • Each student and staff member are viewed, treated, and respected as a full and equal member of the community.

Recently, in a response to questions about American Prep's approach to the concept of Critical Race Theory, or CRT, one of our 5th-grade teachers, Sarah Livingston Moore shared her thoughts.

"I'm both a parent and a 5th grade teacher at WV2. I can't speak to the specifics of CRT, but I would encourage anyone concerned about what is taught at APA to look at the history curriculum we use. The Core Knowledge textbooks and scope and sequence are excellent at teaching not only what happened when, but also the attitudes and expectations of differing cultures that underpinned some of the ugly realities of the past. I am continually pleased by the nuance employed by our curriculum in 5th grade, particularly because we cover such potentially difficult periods of history as Meso-America, the Civil War, and westward expansion. The reality of the brutalities of slavery and Jim Crow is not at all ignored, but taught in an age-appropriate way. And the facts regarding the treatment of Native Americans is not only taught concurrently as we move through US history, but is also the exclusive focus of a unit in our textbook/curriculum.

This is all taught with the underlying perspective that while atrocities and racism were very real, and our nation is by no means perfect, we also were the first to encode equality and self-determination in our founding documents. We can recognize our unique position both in history and the present, while also unflinchingly addressing where we have fallen short. The American experiment depends on her citizens' continued engagement with both the mechanisms and ideals of democracy and liberty. Teaching our students to be critical thinkers is a primary goal of a classical education, and history is one of the best subjects in which to give young people the opportunity to begin applying it to the world around us." - Sarah Livingston Moore - 5th-Grade Teacher at American Prep

The APA community is defined by a strong sense of belonging, and it is our aim to ensure that every member of the community knows they are considered a unique, important, and even an integral part of our community.   Our community is often described as the “APA Family”. We nurture our strong, inclusive school culture to maximize its unifying impact throughout our schools and to reach each and every student, staff member and family member.

Student Empowerment

One of APA’s critical objectives is to maximize each student’s empowerment, so they can take full advantage of every opportunity available to them.

Empowering students to take advantage of their rights and all of the opportunities available to them is a critical objective of APA. Student empowerment is accomplished by providing explicit instruction and practice related to empowerment in the school and community environments. Each student’s level of empowerment to engage in opportunities is unique.

Protecting Students' Civil Liberties

Our responsibilities as a school organization extend to protecting student civil liberties, which can be threatened at times through seemingly inconsequential practices. One of those practices is student surveys. Current common surveys in schools often probe sensitive or controversial topics, such as sexual behavior, substance use, or mental health. Utah law requires parental consent before a student is presented a survey with questions on such topics. Unfortunately, schools have been asked this spring by the Utah State Board of Education to issue a Climate Survey, which we believe violates the law unless parents are given all the questions to review, and the school has received prior written consent from the parent.  

While we find it important to survey our parents regarding their child’s school experience, we prefer to not survey our students at all, because we believe that upholding the public trust (as we are a public institution) includes ensuring that our students are never asked to provide personal information to us at school. As school employees, or people who are paid using public funds, we are representatives of the government. Our students are under compulsory education laws which require their attendance at school. These circumstances place us in a position that requires great sensitivity and an acknowledgment of the power differential between us (government representatives) and the minor children in our care during the school day when their parents are not present. Given the fact that most of these minor children want to please their teachers, and believe they should do what their teachers ask in order to be a successful student, it is extremely important that the school representatives have strong boundaries and feel a strong commitment to protecting the student’s (and their family’s) privacy by never placing the student in a situation where they are asked to reveal personal information in order to be obedient, compliant, or successful at school.

We do not believe it proper for a government entity or a government representative to ask students to reveal personal information about themselves or their families. In addition, we do not want our students to believe it is the right of the government to require information from them, which belief naturally happens when a trusted teacher places a survey in front of a student. In fact, we feel it is our duty to teach our students that their civil liberties and individual rights are precious, and it would be our hope that our students would quickly recognize attempted violations of their privacy in these situations and refuse to participate in such surveys.