Who We Are
Who We Are
We engage students by encouraging them to think well, live well, and to do so in a community. These practices are critical in preparing them to enjoy learning, to live an abundant life as young adults, and to be active contributors to our national and local communities.
Jump to » Thinking Well | Living Well | In Community
Teaching students how to think for themselves, to ask important questions, to make connections, and to integrate others’ ideas into their own creates the foundation of a true scholar’s mind. Though it may seem obvious, students are taught to think well at Pacifica because we recognize that schooling and thinking are not the same thing. Pacifica teaches students to value an education for purposes higher than their own- to pursue truth, beauty, and goodness.
Students are not simply attempting to grow in knowledge, but they are challenged to renew their minds to see more clearly, act more justly, and love more lavishly. Pacifica’s practice of Thinking Well is rooted in the concepts of Liberal Arts & Sciences, Faith & Learning, Conviction & Humility, Western Civilization & Great Books, and Curiosity & Inquiry.
Liberal Arts & Sciences
Historically, the liberal arts didn’t merely prepare students for careers—though they are remarkably well suited to do that. They were subjects that free people enjoyed spending time learning. The process of study, discussion, debate, and learning produced joy and revealed new areas of interest to students. It simultaneously taught students to read, write, calculate, and think. The liberal arts freed students to know their world and better understand themselves, allowing students to discover their passions and to see the world differently and more accurately. Following in the liberal arts tradition, proper study at Pacifica helps our students find their places in God’s unfolding story and become ready for all that life has to offer. Through study in a range of subjects—the liberal arts—we can actually become more fully human and free to live lives of meaning and purpose. Students learn how to think for themselves, make important connections, and understand their place—in God’s larger story. The Liberal Arts includes study of English, History, Mathematics, Sciences, Foreign Language, Theology, and Visual and Performing Arts.
Faith & Learning
We believe that faith and reason are complementary and that the pursuits of the mind and of the spirit work together. Our faculty seeks to integrate matters of faith into the curriculum when appropriate, in a way that comes naturally from the material presented in each class. It is not forced, but approached in a way that respects the opinions of all students without compromising principles of the Christian faith. We call this the integration of faith with learning. This commitment provides the foundation from which we begin.
Throughout Pacifica’s curriculum, our teachers allow both secular and sacred texts to speak for themselves. Our students study important works of human creation and discover how they fit into God’s order. We believe that pursuing knowledge allows us to better know and understand God, ourselves and our purpose in the world. Therefore, students explore the works of William Shakespeare, the intricacies of the human genome, and the varying political philosophies of Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau, while taking time to pursue truth by faith. No subject is off limits. We believe that all truth is God’s truth. Thus, we can freely explore the last 2,500 years of human thought with great confidence. The vigorous pursuit of truth, wherever it may be found, is a worthy endeavor. This approach opens the curriculum up and gives students a safe place to listen, engage and explore all avenues of thought.
Conviction & Humility
We encourage students to embrace truth; to build the courage to say that one thing is right and another wrong, that one thing is beautiful and another ugly, that one thing is good and another bad. At the same time, scholars must have the humility to accept they do not know everything, and that the pursuit of truth is a journey rather than a destination. Conviction with the virtue of humility is a model all Pacifica scholars emulate.
We teach the pursuit of truth with compassion and grace. Conflicting convictions need not offend; such moments of disagreement can actually draw students closer when handled with humility. Like Aristotle, we teach students to entertain a thought without accepting it, and like Jesus, we teach students to love their neighbor, no matter how different they may be. As Proverbs 27:17 states, “as iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”
Western Civilization & Great Books
Pacifica’s curriculum is founded upon the Western tradition. We rely heavily on primary texts, letting students engage directly with history’s greatest authors and thinkers. From ancient civilizations to the Renaissance to the founding of the United States of America, a Pacifica education engages students in the “Great Conversation.” Students learn to understand civilization’s great debates and to enter that discussion as contributors. By participating in and learning from a historical conversation, students build a foundation on which to explore the future, adding their own unique voice to the conversation, allowing them to find meaning and purpose today and for the rest of their lives. This approach provides them with a foundation from which they can explore, understand, and critique societal movements, scientists, artists, mathematicians, philosophers, and writers from any era or culture, including their own.
Curiosity & Inquiry
At Pacifica, the Socratic Method and inquiry-based learning are embraced in both humanities and STEM classrooms. Students are presented a problem and then embark on the path to its solution, playing a more active role in scientific discovery, mathematical understanding, and literary enlightenment. Pacifica students are engaged in the art of curiosity, rather than the necessity of memorization, as Pacifica teachers believe true learning best occurs when a curious mind thoroughly engages an idea.
Daily, our faculty engage their classrooms in a dialogue about a reading assignment, physics experiment, or documentary film subject. Since students are active participants in the classroom rather than mere passive listeners, they learn to study and prepare more thoroughly and to defend their knowledge more vividly. Students learn to think critically and wisely, to articulate their own thoughts, to communicate effectively, and to respond thoughtfully to others’ perspectives. Students have the opportunity, guided by faculty apt in the art of teaching through an inquiry-based process, to work together and to challenge each other with passion and civility.
Thinking well helps us to live well. The pursuit of truth, virtue and wisdom is the foundation of living well. At Pacifica we join the Great Conversation to ask what is a good life? Or, how do we live with joy and purpose? Or, what is the meaning of life? Pacifica students engage these timeless questions, which are as important for today’s teenagers in Los Angeles as they have been for philosophers and theologians for thousands years. By seeking what is good, true and beautiful, students will find purpose in what they do, in the relationships they form, and in the subjects of their study.
The practice of Living Well helps students develop a fuller understanding of what it means to be human and provides them the freedom to find their place in God’s created world. We provide students with opportunities inside and outside the classroom that will change them for the better–by challenging and maturing them. Pacifica’s practice of Living Well is rooted in the concepts of Grace & Truth, Courage & Engagement, Reflection & Joy, and Christian Faith & the Practice of Virtue.
Grace & Truth
Pacifica’s school culture is founded on the pursuit of grace and truth in all relationships. We seek to engage relationships with the fullness of God’s grace, extending compassion, understanding, and forgiveness to others. We also seek to be honest and truthful with one another and with the texts our students study. We know as we interact with truth the opportunity for growth in academic excellence, integrity, and character is increased and the community is therefore strengthened.
Relationships thrive when they value honesty and love, grace and truth. According to John, the integration of grace and truth is a gift from the Father, which is modeled by Christ. That is the example we seek to follow in shaping our school culture.
Courage & Engagement
Pacifica believes that students gain far more from their education when they actively engage both inside and outside of the classroom. However, it can take a great deal of courage to develop areas of strength and discover new areas of interest. Students at Pacifica are challenged and encouraged by counselors, faculty, coaches, and mentors to develop imagination, dreams and vision, and the moral courage to live boldly with meaning and purpose. As they explore new interests and strengths, students grow in their ability to overcome obstacles, take risks, and persevere through adversity.
Reflection & Joy
Living well requires creating time to focus on rigorous academics and finding time for friends, family, and reflection. Students who create space and time to internalize information and process what they have learned make meaningful connections across disciplines and within their personal lives. They seek answers, engage in a deeper level of understanding, develop more thoughtful arguments, and strive for greater purpose in their daily lives.
The connection of rigorous academics with space for reflection and relationships is what brings joy to the learning environment. Pacifica students find joy, not only in the results of their academic engagement, but in the process of learning as well. Scholarship is recognized as both an end in itself and a means to a deeper understanding of the individual, their purpose in the world and the world itself.
Christian Faith & the Practice of Virtue
Pacifica’s mission rests on the foundation of Christian faith. Students and faculty are free to discuss real issues relating to living lives of faith. We also believe the best way to experience faith is in an open environment, where questions, dialogue, and challenges are welcomed.
We desire for our students to live lives of virtue, holding themselves to high moral standards, pursuing what is good, beautiful, and true. All circumstances in students’ lives give them a chance to live more virtuously: to live well. But this is not simply taught and learned. They must practice virtue. Students learn to practice virtue in momentous decisions, as well as in the seemingly small details of their lives. Living virtuously requires far more than memorizing a list of character traits-therefore, we want students to apply what they know of faith and truth to how they live. We want students to learn that the decisions they make on a daily basis are of infinite importance as to who they become. And they become what they daily practice. How, and what, students practice – faith, hope, love, courage, wisdom, perseverance, temperance and justice – shapes who they become and how they relate to others.
Integral to thinking and living well is the community in which it is pursued. Meaningful relationships between parents, students, faculty, and staff are the foundation of the Pacifica community. Students developing close friendships with their classmates, parents building trust and gaining support from fellow Pacifica families, and faculty developing personal relationships with students and parents are all elements of our Pacifica community.
Our community is known for creating an atmosphere that is Personal & Engaging, Authentic & Relational, and United & Diverse.
Personal & Engaging
Faculty at Pacifica genuinely care about high school students. They strongly believe that teaching in the classroom is enhanced by meaningful relationships outside of the classroom with each student. Therefore, it is not uncommon for our faculty to eat lunch with students, cheer them on at athletic games, or applaud them on stage. Here, teaching engages both the heart and the mind. These men and women seek to educate, lead, challenge, encourage, and set examples of faith, character, and service for each student, viewing each student as a distinct individual. Curriculum and programs alone do not teach young people to think and live well.
Authentic & Relational
At Pacifica, we come alongside each family, engaging in conversations about life and faith, while modeling lives marked by joy. We seek to partner with, not replace, the church and the family, whose functions are complementary to, yet distinct from, a school. Parents have numerous opportunities throughout the year to get involved in the school community, support administration and staff, develop relationships with faculty, and most importantly, get to know the parents of their children’s classmates. For Pacifica, relationships are key.
United & Diverse
Pacifica is a school for all neighborhoods. We gather families and students from all walks of life, respecting uniqueness while seeking unity and community. This community of learners brings different perspectives and life experiences, which Pacifica believes is essential to acquiring not only knowledge, but also understanding. Discussions in all subjects are approached with open hearts, receptive but critical minds, fostering personal and academic maturity. Students learn the value of compromise, forgiveness, and the art of listening and the blessings of patience, kindness and compassion.