How Kolbe Academy Prepared Me For Film Studies at JPCatholic

I was homeschooled from kindergarten all the way through twelfth grade, with most of my schooling and all of my high school education based on the Kolbe Academy curriculum. Homeschooling was not very common in my hometown when I was growing up, so I felt like a bit of an outsider; however, I always felt that the Kolbe curriculum prepared me well for life, both inside and outside academic settings. Whether it was working part time, doing extracurricular activities with local schools, or participating in high school youth ministry, the skills, lessons and catechism taught through the program served as a strong foundation for these parts of my life. Now, as I have transitioned into college life here at John Paul the Great Catholic University, I find more than ever that what Kolbe taught me in high school has prepared me well for higher education as I study JPCatholic’s rigorous film program.

One thing I clearly remember from the Kolbe curriculum was how much reading I had to do. At the time, it was certainly a source of complaint, but the amount of assigned reading became such a blessing as I entered my first quarter at JPCatholic. As I dove into the theology, humanities, and business core classes of my program, the amount of reading I was assigned was large, but fortunately not foreign to me, and thus was less daunting than it may have otherwise seemed. In addition to the amount, the kind of reading I had done in high school prepared me very well for the kind of material JPCatholic assigned. For example, the Cultural Foundations course I took in my first quarter revisited materials like Homer’s Odyssey and Beowulf, which I had already read in high school; and instead of being redundant, the deeper discussions that the university provided on the literature was rich and rewarding. Likewise, the theology courses from Kolbe gave me a strong foundation in Catholicism, preparing me for the theology core and thought-provoking discussions I would engage with here at the University. Resources like the Catechism of the Catholic Church and Aquinas’ Summa Theologica had already been taught to me in high school, paving the way for closer analysis and deeper learning of these materials at the university.

Growing up in a small town in northern Maine and moving to southern California was hardly a small switch. Fortunately, transitioning from homeschooling to a university setting was not as challenging as one might assume. The core courses in English, history, theology and literature with which I engaged through Kolbe seemed tailored for the multiple writing and reading assignments that JPCatholic would assign to me. The skills I learned from Kolbe’s curriculum gave me sure footing to write strong essays, analyses and research papers, do well on exams, and grasp difficult material in the aforementioned subjects.

That being said, I am not a humanities student; as mentioned above, I am studying film production at JPCatholic. Thus, how does Kolbe’s curriculum, largely rooted in the humanities, translate into this kind of hands-on, technical study? I had very little exposure to filmmaking back home and Kolbe did not teach me a course on filmmaking, so this transition from one academic emphasis to another proved to be the most challenging. I believe it is true, however, that the Kolbe Academy curriculum did prepare me well for my studies in film, even if indirectly. Because I was well prepared for the core curriculum at JPCatholic, it was easier for me to devote my attention to learning a completely new field of study than it would have been if my other classes were just as dauntingly unfamiliar or intellectually challenging. The quality and difficulty of the material in Kolbe’s curriculum already had me used to long readings, critical thinking, and analytical writing skills. In addition, the rich resources of stories and art that the program provided are a useful asset to any filmmaker aspiring to tell similarly rich stories with poignant themes and well-founded philosophy. Finally, as someone with a liking for screenwriting, the writing skills I learned through Kolbe’s curriculum serve me well not just in academic papers, but in writing stories for the screen as well.

As I continue to study film production, my activities have shifted more from in-depth reading of literature and philosophy to more hands-on skills as cinematography and directing filmsets. Yet, I am still so grateful for the intellectually rich foundation that Kolbe Academy provided me, as it doubtlessly served as a launching pad for me to transition into a university that teaches equally rich materials with similarly high demands for excellence. In the end, my twelve years of homeschooling pushed me to strive for excellence and leave behind mediocrity, and the student life at JPCatholic encourages that same motivation. I have been very blessed in my life with education rooted in quality and in Christ, carrying me from Kolbe Academy’s strong Catholic curriculum into living JPCatholic’s mission statement: To impact culture for Christ.

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Blog Post written by:

Alan Hewitt

Alan Hewitt