“Pinnacle Classical Academy offers more than an exemplary college preparatory education. PCA embodies a philosophy, a passion and a strongly held belief that the purpose of education is to teach a student to live by developing the mind to think, to understand, to integrate, to prove. He must be taught the essentials of the knowledge discovered in the past, and equipped to acquire further knowledge by his own effort.”
The Classical Foundations Program (CFP) had modest beginnings as Pinnacle Classical Academy came into existence and has grown to play a vital role, supplementing and enhancing the curriculum of the school.
Operating with the approval of the school’s board of directors, the Classical Foundations Program has brought national academic and business leaders to speak to our students:
- Our first academic speaker was Dr. C. Bradley Thompson, the Executive Director of the Clemson Institute for the Study of Capitalism and BB&T Research Professor in the Department of Political Science at Clemson University. His 2018 talk at Pinnacle Classical Academy became the basis of a chapter in his acclaimed 2019 book, America's Revolutionary Mind: A Moral History of the American Revolution and the Declaration That Defined It.
- Our first graduation speaker was John A. Allison IV, retired CEO of BB&T and an executive-in-residence with the Center for the Study of Capitalism at Wake Forest University. Allison is also the author of The Financial Crisis and the Free Market Cure and The Leadership Crisis and the Free Market Cure.
The mission of the Classical Foundations Program (CFP) at Pinnacle Classical Academy is to provide students, faculty, and community leaders with a deeper understanding of local history as well as the nation’s founding principles and their application to modern life and society, through historical and economic works that are part of the school’s curriculum and through a series of academic events. The program is supported with private donations and is guided by an advisory board at the behest of Pinnacle Classical Academy’s Board of Directors.
The word “classical” in the Classical Foundations Program refers to the classical understanding of rights expressed in America’s founding documents and evokes the classical educational tradition discussed above. In the words of the Declaration of Independence:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed...
Supporting the school’s curriculum and values is at the heart of the Classical Foundations Program. The Classical Foundations Program has several components that have been approved by Pinnacle Classical Academy’s Board of Directors.
Works of Our Nation’s Founders
Students read and discuss works by our nation’s founders in the following required high school-level classes:
Economics and Personal Finance
To the greatest extent possible, students read works from Henry Clark and Eric Allison’s economics anthology, Economic Morality, which includes texts by authors who directly influenced our nation’s founders, earlier thinkers who inspired these authors, and later thinkers who are part of this tradition.
Students also have the opportunity to hear from and interact with various guest speakers. In 2021, Economics and Personal Finance students heard from Dr. Bruce Yandle, Dean Emeritus of Clemson University's College of Business and Behavioral Science and former executive director of the Federal Trade Commission.
Founding Principles of the United States of America and North Carolina
Students read the following works as part of the course:
- Mayflower Compact
- Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence
- Halifax Resolves
- Declaration of Independence
- Articles of Confederation
- United States Constitution and Bill of Rights
- Federalist Papers (excerpts)
- North Carolina Constitution
American History / English
A number of works from our nation’s founding are read either in American History or in the eleventh grade English, including works by Abigail Adams, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, and George Washington.
Students read and discuss speeches from our nation’s founding as part of their Rhetoric class, including speeches by Fisher Ames, Samuel Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, James Otis, and George Washington.
Constitution Day and North Carolina Statehood Day
On September 17, Pinnacle Classical Academy commemorates Constitution Day with an assembly and classroom lessons on the text of the Constitution. On November 21, teachers and students commemorate North Carolina Statehood Day.
Classical Foundations Lecture and Dinner
Each semester, a visiting scholar delivers a lecture to high school students related to our founding principles, followed by a meeting with faculty and staff and a dinner with community leaders. Past and confirmed speakers include Professor C. Bradley Thompson (Executive Director of the Clemson Institute for the Study of Capitalism), Rob Christensen (author of The Rise and Fall of the Branchhead Boys), Dr. David Bobb (President of the Bill of Rights Institute), and Lily Tang Williams (Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation).
The CFP sponsors a portion of faculty professional development, which includes an examination of the school’s values, the nation’s founding principles, the educational thought of E. D. Hirsch, “The Lost Tools of Learning” (the essay on which the school’s charter is based), and Teaching Johnny to Think. Outside speakers have joined members of Pinnacle Classical Academy’s administration in addressing these topics.
The CFP also helped foster a deeper appreciation and understanding of the school’s values. T.K. Coleman, director of entrepreneurial education for the Foundation for Economic Education, has produced ten monthly videos based on the values and has spoken on campus on the importance of honesty and integrity.
The CFP sponsors essay contests for students in grades 7-12. Local contests supplement student participation in national contests that foster an appreciation of the nation’s founding principles and offer scholarships and other awards of up to $25,000.
In alternating years, the CFP hosts presentations by the Foundation for Economics Education (FEE) and the State Employees Credit Union (SECU).
Through Reality of Money Simulation, students learn about the impact their choices make on their budget and lifestyle. Through FEE’s high school seminar, Pinnacle Classical Academy has hosted speakers like Professor Antony Davies (Duquesne University), Professor James Harrigan (University of Arizona), and Dr. Phillip Magness (American Institute for Economic Research). In listening to these presentations and speakers, students learn about the importance of property rights and character, and their relationship to markets and the economy.
CFP’s inaugural local history speaker was O. Max Gardner, III, who spoke on the Shelby Dynasty. In the years ahead, historians and others will bring local history and culture alive for our students.
The CFP also sponsors the graduation speaker each year. Past and confirmed speakers include John A. Allison IV, retired chairman and CEO of BB&T Corporation (2020); Corey A. DeAngelis, Ph.D., the National Director of Research of the American Federation for Children (2021); Robert Luddy, founder and president of CaptiveAire Systems (2022); and John Hood, president of the John William Pope Foundation (2023).
The Classical Foundations Program will continue to provide and expand supplementary opportunities for students and faculty, as well as community leaders, to increase understanding of our past and how it applies to modern society, and provide the opportunity for students to hear from individuals who have achieved personal happiness and success in a manner consistent with the school’s values.