A Vision for Student Life at New Aberdeen

Cultural Events

Dr. Ryan Smith

Diligent study. Pursuit of Christ. Service to others. But what else can you expect as a student at New Aberdeen?

A vibrant student life is crucial for a positive college experience. This is how you develop deeper friendships, relieve stress, discover new interests, and for some, find a spouse. Pursuing wisdom includes finding time for leisure and cultivating friendships with life outside of the classroom.

I have worn a variety of hats in my academic career. My favorite, by far, was planning the student activities calendar. Nothing pleased me more than to hear the Academic Dean, while watching students pour out the front doors, say, “This must be a Dr. Smith event.” Getting students together and developing their own student culture is a passion of mine that I am excited to cultivate at New Aberdeen.

Here are just a few memories that are shaping my vision for student life at New Aberdeen.

The Great Outdoors

There is nothing like experiencing the beauty of God’s creation firsthand. The mountains, beaches, and rivers in the Carolinas are spectacular displays of God’s handiwork. In one of my braver moments, I took 100 college students whitewater rafting and lived to tell the tale! Fortunately for us, North Carolina has a wealth of rafting spots nearby, most notably the spectacular U.S. National Whitewater Center here in Charlotte.

Catching fish, roasting marshmallows, or hiking to a waterfall never gets old. Whether it is at Pisgah National Forest, the grounds at Biltmore Estate, or one of the numerous parks in the Charlotte area, expect to take advantage of the Carolinas’ abundant opportunities for outdoor activities.

The first time I rented a park space for a Spikeball tournament, I was unsure how many students would be interested in this relatively new phenomenon. Suffice it to say, I was astonished. This rather intricate sport requires athleticism, coordination, and communication—skills Plato would applaud in our students.

The Arts

In his marvelous book, The Wedding Supper of the Lamb, Father Capone writes, “We were given appetites, not to consume the world and forget it, but to taste its goodness and hunger to make it great” (189). It was in Father Capone’s spirit that our annual Pie Contest was born. One year, a quarter of the student body made pies! Some were admittedly “experimental” in their craftsmanship, but there were quite a few masterpieces. Jeremy’s Mexican chocolate pie and Anne’s buttermilk pie remain particularly fresh in my memory.

Laughter is always the best medicine, and when we commissioned students to perform Gilbert and Sullivan, hilarity ensued. (Ethan’s patter song from H.M.S. Pinafore blew the audience away!) Drama plays a crucial role in classical education, and it brings together numerous aspects of one’s education: rhetorical abilities, literary comprehension, and various moral virtues, namely, courage! Students who were introverted in the classroom came alive on stage.

The Visual Arts Show, another expression of the fine arts, was another of my favorite initiatives. We took over the Commons with paintings that enlivened the space and revealed a wealth of aptitude for visual beauty. The well-crafted imaginations of students inspired confidence that young Christians have much to say in the vital world of visual art, and they have the means to say it.

Music, my primary field of expertise, plays a central role in classical education. Among all the musical activities that I enjoy, the week-long Summer Piano Institute was a highlight of my summer. Students developed the discipline to learn music, share it with others, and apply those skills in other settings. They went on to pursue a diverse range of careers including computer programming, anesthesiology, and church music.

We are eager to create opportunities for New Aberdeen students to benefit from fulfilling artistic experiences that will enrich them for a lifetime.

New Opportunities Await!

The possibilities that our location offers to New Aberdeen students are endless. Expect to engage in the exploration of God’s creation, physical activity, and the arts outside of the classroom. We can’t wait to see you on your stage!