New Headmaster Speaks to Digital Natives: HHCA Sets a New Course
Author: Kitty Bartell
On July 1, 2013, less than one year after arriving on Hilton Head Island, Dr. Daniel Wesche was named headmaster of Hilton Head Christian Academy. This dynamic new leader isn’t letting any grass grow under his feet, setting ambitious goals and creating a diploma-driven program to align with those goals, preparing to send students into the 21st Century ready and able.
Goal #1: to foster an environment that promotes a 21st Century education. “Not just bringing in more technology,” Wesche explained, “but training our students to be able to use the technology well, as critical consumers of information and Christian thinkers. Kids these days think with their thumbs. They’re born of this digital age, and they’re digital natives. They’re familiar and comfortable with all these digital components, but there is still a need to teach them how to think. We want to train them to be responsible consumers of that digital information.”
Goal #2: To invest in discipleship and leadership programs. In addition to appointing a campus pastor, Douglas Langhals, “we’ve redesigned our Bible curriculum and Bible modules to make them more relational and allow students to get into deeper relationships with adults and mentors so that they can have them speaking into their lives at various points throughout their high school career,” Wesche said.
The school’s new Diploma of Distinction is the merging of these two goals, first being offered to the class of 2015. “This is an opportunity for students beginning the second half of their junior year, and then all of their senior year, working on a mentor-lead project of real world significance,” Wesche said. Structured much like a graduate thesis, with a proposal, a committee of readers, a review board, a literature review, and a follow-up paper, the Diploma of Distinction will result in a project that “is something of their choosing that they are passionate about, that they get to work on with a faculty member. It will provide incredible benefits for themas they go into college applications and scholarship applications.”
With a focus on meeting the needs of the whole family, HHCA will be opening a new preschool in August, 2014. They also recently added a new building, housing an indoor practice gymnasium, an auditorium, a stage for smaller fine arts productions, rooms for band and art, and additional regular classrooms.
Nowhere is Wesche’s vision better demonstrated than in the school’s iLab (Issachar Technology Lab), a place where students gather to learn, take tests, create, and socialize. The iLab gives a wink to the Apple generation of technology available there, with a firm nod to Christian teaching. Issachar’s tribe in the Old Testament was a group who understood how the times in which they lived could co-exist with their religious beliefs and practices. Issachar and Wesche would have been fast friends.
Hilton Head Christian Academy is located at 55 Gardner Drive, Hilton Head Island, SC 29926. For more information, please visit hhca.org or call (843) 681-2878.