A Few Words for the Worst Part of the School Year

Greetings from Week 19 AKA the mathematical middle of the academic calendar AKA the worst part of the school year. We are equidistant from the beginning and end, stuck in a no-man’s land with Christmas break behind us and a vast wasteland of “learning” ahead.

We are short on motivation.

The weather is cold.

The nights are long.

Rations are low.

Well, maybe not quite the rations part, but it does feel a bit bleak this time of year.

In my Medieval Lit class, I intentionally schedule Danté’s Purgatorio during this stretch of the year because that’s what it feels like: Purgatory. 

The second part of Dante’s trilogy falls right in the middle: The start is far in the past and the finish is in the clouds. If you do the calculations, Mt. Purgatory is over 3,000 miles high. I bet to some of our students, this second semester looms just as large.

It’s easy to start something; it’s rewarding to reach the finish. But it’s hard to persevere in the middle.

However, it’s during the mundane plodding up Mt. Purgatory that Dante and Virgil grow in their appreciation for one another. The middle allows us to fall into a rhythm where we forget about trying to start well, forget about trying to finish well…forget that we are on a journey at all long enough to look at one another. It gives us time to talk, to trust, to know and be known.

The next long stretch is where true friendships are forged, where real growth happens, where we get to stop worrying about the beginning and the end and start to treasure each other as fellow travelers on the path back to God.

Purgatory is not something to avoid. It is the necessary road between the start and finish. May God himself join you and your happy band along the ascent through the rest of the school year.

All’s well and quick march!


(photo credit)

Published by Chad C. Ashby

Instructor of Literature, Math, and Theology at Greenville Classical Academy Greenville, SC

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