Senior Profile: Phillip Robinson

Senior Profile: Phillip Robinson
by Sheryl Blunt, AFA Parent and Freelance Writer

Phillip Robinson Senior Portrait Ad Fontes Academy

Phillip Robinson was perfectly happy attending a Fairfax public elementary school.

But his parents, who had been weighing the benefits of a Christian education and a more rigorous academic program, decided to enroll him at Ad Fontes Academy for his sixth grade year.

“Initially I wanted to stay in public school with my friends,” said Robinson, who after seven years at Ad Fontes is graduating in June.

Transitioning to private school was an adjustment. “The academics were more challenging–a lot harder than what I was accustomed to,” said Robinson, who had to adapt to an increased workload and higher teacher expectations. “I didn’t know if I’d be able to adapt to new ways of thinking about things,” he said. “The first few months were definitely difficult, but then I figured out what the school really wanted us to do—and that was to think, and to think analytically and critically.”

The encouragement of his parents and teachers produced the support he needed to succeed. “I was surprised that I was able to operate in this kind of environment when I initially thought I couldn’t,” he said. “Actually, I found that it was the perfect environment for me.”

Phillip with Ad Fontes Academy teacher Dave Mathwin

Phillip with Ad Fontes Academy’s Dean of Students Dave Mathwin

Robinson credits Mr. Kerry Lockhart, one of his 7th grade teachers, as well as his 6th grade teacher, Mrs. Suzanya D’Angelo, with challenging him. “They were both pivotal,” he said. “They helped me to learn and grow in ways I thought I couldn’t. That was cool.”

Robinson said he liked the fact that these and other teachers “told us why we were being asked certain things” and “showed us how we could apply our knowledge.” He said he feels well-prepared for college and is thankful for persevering teachers who stuck with him after somewhat affectionately naming him and two of his good friends “The Trifecta of Trouble.”

Among his favorite memories are playing guard and forward for AFA’s varsity and junior varsity basketball teams. “[Varsity Basketball] Coach Cuffee was phenomenal,” said Robinson. “He was a really strong role model. I definitely liked playing for Coach Cuffee.”

Coach Cuffee at Ad Fontes Academy Basketball Game

Coach Cuffee at Ad Fontes Academy Basketball Game

Phillip also enjoyed representing Ad Fontes as a member of the NOVA Kings football team, a member of the Mid Atlantic Christian Conference. The team included private school athletes and homeschoolers  committed to learning and excelling in all aspects of the game, in a manner that glorifies the Lord Jesus Christ.

Phillip Robinson playing football for the NOVA Kings

Phillip Robinson playing football for the NOVA Kings

Another highlight of Phillip’s time at Ad Fontes was participating in the school’s Mock Trial team his freshman and sophomore years.

“Going into a courtroom as a freshman first-year attorney was a really overwhelming experience,” said Robinson. “But having Mr. Lockhart as my coach and others there who had done it before was very encouraging.”

Robinson said he was not expecting to be selected as lawyer the following year. “I had been uncertain and didn’t think I’d done my best,” said Robinson. But not only did Robinson return as an attorney his sophomore year, he was also tasked with making the opening statement.

“Mr. Lockhart placed confidence in me,” said Robinson. “That second year I learned how to take charge of my own case and help other people with their cases too.” The newfound confidence that came from this experience gave Robinson an unparalleled sense of satisfaction that he said he would never have had without it.

Robinson is also thankful for the Christian support and Biblical teaching he received at Ad Fontes that helped him grow spiritually. At the public school he attended, “it was really kind of an unforgiving environment with a lot of teasing and bullying,” said Robinson. “No one really paid attention to the Gospel. When I got to Ad Fontes that changed a lot.”

Phillip and Athens house members

Phillip and Athens house members before arts performance

Interacting with fellow Christian students and with teachers who tied academic subjects to Biblical truths really made a difference, said Robinson. “I am able to say that I grew spiritually as a direct result of teachers relating things to God, and from students making spiritual connections that I’d never thought of. I’ve also learned more about what communicating with God means.”

Robinson said hearing his teachers talk about their own spiritual journeys and experiences “showed us how God has worked in their lives and how He can work in ours.”

Robinson was excited that he had “a lot of choices” for college. After narrowing down his list to Middlebury College in Vermont, Lehigh University in PA, and the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia, Robinson chose Mary Washington based on his desire to attend a school “with a good study abroad program” where he could continue his study of languages.

Phillip Robinson with fellow Ad Fontes Academy House Heads

Phillip Robinson with fellow Ad Fontes Academy House Heads

“I enjoy the challenge of a new language,” said Robinson, who for the last year has been studying Mandarin Chinese through an immersion program. “Toward the end of my sophomore year I knew that I wanted to do something with languages.”

Robinson attributes this desire in part to the six years he spent studying Latin at Ad Fontes. “I now have that foundation for Romance Languages as well,” he said, adding that he hopes to eventually learn three to four additional languages.

As his time at Ad Fontes comes to an end, Robinson said he is reminded of the words in Jeremiah 29:11-13.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

“This verse applies to my life directly because my plans are not necessarily the Lord’s plans,” said Robinson, “and I have to remember to rely on Him.”

Bio: Sheryl Blunt is an AFA parent and freelance writer.