Writing and Language Arts – Fall 2019


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Last year we spent some time on Fables, Parables, and Proverbs, and will continue narrative and creative fiction (especially “fiction with a message”) into the 2019-2020 year.

We’ll also dive into the world of the “Chreia,” a short essay or remembrance that praises the author of a saying or proverb and shows why the saying is useful. This book employs all the skills of the preceding books in the series and teaches students how to write a six-paragraph essay on the basis of a saying or an action. The thinking and exercises occur within the framework of the stories in this book, which include wonderful historical figures such as King Arthur, King Alfred, Lady Godiva, King Canute, Omar Khayyam, and more. The six-paragraph essay using the five Ws (who, what, when, where, why) is arranged this way:

  • Praise the author of the proverb or saying used in your chreia
  • Restate the saying in your own words
  • Explain why this is useful
  • Contrast your example with another person in history
  • Compare your example with another similar example in history
  • Epilogue—conclude your essay

(We’ll be using the Writing and Rhetoric program from Classical Academic Press, adapted to a conversational and interactive classroom setting. We’ll also have assigned readings and vocabulary exercises for the students to work on between weekly classes.)

We have a very limited number of spots, so please sign up as soon as possible.

  • Age Range: 9-15 (approx. 4rd to 9th grade)
  • Schedule: Every Thursday from 11am to 12:30pm, starting Sept 12, ending Nov 21
  • Supplies: A Journal for Writing, a composition notebook, your favorite writing instrument. (Optional, but recommended: a laptop or tablet for research.)


Helena Syska has thirty years of experience in education, consulting and corporate training. She loves teaching, mentoring and inspiring others to love learning. She graduated from George Mason University and her graduate work is from George Washington University. She established an award-winning science program and STEM initiatives and served on various committees while teaching for the Diocese of Arlington.

Helena has served as an adjunct lecturer at Northern Virginia Community College, as academic dean for a career school and held the position of Executive Director of the Loudoun Education Foundation which she took through the visioning and goal setting process. In the capacity of Vice President of Academic Affairs, she worked for regional accreditation and degree-conferring status for what is now Stratford University. Helena represented the Sterling District on the Loudoun County Planning Commission for three terms and has been involved in many initiatives in her community, earning her several awards. She and her husband have raised five children in Sterling, VA and spend their time between Loudoun and Richmond, VA.

Helena mentors our “Thinking Like a Scientist” Program , as well as “Writing and Language Arts” and also acts as our Mentor for our “full-curricular” students.