LCN Article
Living Education: Student Life

January / February 2023

Caleb Johnson

The following article is adapted from four of the Student Life essays available at, in which Kaleb Johnson, a student at Living Education–Charlotte, provides insight into aspects of the LE experience. The students enjoy many exciting extracurricular opportunities over the course of this nine-month program, and we hope you’ll enjoy reading about a few!

Student Orientation

Living Education–Charlotte does things a little differently right from the start, with an “Orientation Trip” to Blowing Rock, North Carolina. This was a welcome difference for me, and I found this trip much more engaging than the orientations I had been to during my time in college.

On Sunday afternoon, August 14, nine students, along with student leaders and faculty, piled into three vehicles and took off on the three-hour trip from the dorms in Charlotte to the Blowing Rock cabins in which we would stay. Once we arrived, we found to our delight (or at least mine) that dinner had been prepared, and we had a fine meal together in the main cabin, allowing students to get to know each other and the staff.

On Monday morning, we had breakfast before heading up to a conference room for the instructors to talk to us about the program. Mr. Jonathan McNair began by introducing the principles of the program, and then Mr. Frank gave us the history of education in the Church, highlighting its importance. Following this, Mr. McNair gave us tips on succeeding in the program and in life. Miss Ross then introduced music’s role in the program and gave advice specific to the ladies, before Mr. Ruddlesden focused us on serving the local Charlotte congregation and gave us practical advice for living together in peace. We then took a break for lunch.

In the afternoon, Mr. Tlumak shared some of his life experiences and told us how to get the most out of the program’s nine months. Then, Mr. McNair showed us a motivational speech, explained what the program expects of each of us, and challenged us to really embrace the program and grow as much as we can.

After being well informed and motivated, we went to tour the Blowing Rock park. When we got there, we found a slight issue with the weather that day: We could not see anything. The fog was so thick that we could only see about 30 feet in front of us! This led to jokes regarding objects we could “see” on the horizon, and the visit ended up being a great experience that all of us students share.

On Tuesday morning, we all had breakfast together again before we departed for the Watauga River for whitewater rafting. Mr. McNair politely informed us that the water would be a little bit cold, and when we got into it, we discovered that it was indeed—about 40 degrees Fahrenheit, to be precise. All the students, along with Mr. McNair, Miss Ross, and Mr. Ruddlesden, split up into two rafts and shoved off into the rapids. We felt every splash of water and relished every sunny break on the way down. Despite the frigid temperature, the two rafts engaged in some friendly splashing and water gun fights, and we all jumped in the water to swim around. After we pulled the rafts out of the frosty river, we changed into dry clothes and departed for the dorms in Charlotte.

Living Education–Charlotte doesn’t immediately begin with classes expecting that the students will build friendships along the way, amidst all the stress and distractions that come with the beginning of a semester. Rather, it begins with a little adventure—allowing the new students to get to know each other in a stress-free environment, letting the instructors introduce themselves as individuals and not just teachers, and giving the new students a shared memory to establish relationships that they will continue to build over the course of the year.

Old-Timey Movie Night

On Friday, September 2, the LE students finished their classes at the normal time—but this was no normal day. They had begun to pack up their belongings when two student leaders, Ellie and Kezia, burst into the classroom. Kezia spoke first: There was going to be a movie night the following Sunday. They wanted us to engage with the local singles scene (a terrifying prospect), and they had a plan.

We were given special invitations to pass on, as we were all instructed to invite a date to attend with us. However, we had only that evening and the next day, the Sabbath, to find someone. It was going to be a tall order.

The girls stressed, wondering, “How do you even ask someone out?”

The guys asked, “What if they all say no?”

Kezia and Ellie eventually managed to restore order and explain that the movie was to be a 1930s film—a mystery thriller called The Thin Man. To maximize the fun, the students and their dates would have to dress in black and white to match the movie.

The students set about finding dates. They scoured the singles’ Bible Study that night and Church services the next day. Many were obliged to talk with brethren they didn’t know, and through diligent effort, most found a date.

Before long, Sunday night arrived and it was time for the big event. The movie night was held at the girls’ dorm, and the preparations were a whirlwind of activity. Some of the guys showed up early to help, too. By the time all the guests arrived, the venue was lavishly decorated, and the students offered the guests different flavors of popcorn, black-and-white moon cookies, and fruit drink “mocktails.”

Once all the guests got their snacks, we took our seats and settled in for the movie. The students and guests were charmed by the film and laughed throughout the evening, and the element of mystery and thrill added to the mood. The fun did not end with the movie, as the conversation continued long afterward. By the end of the evening, only one mystery remained: When will we be doing this again?

Cats! (Not the Musical)

The students had a lot going on over Labor Day weekend, with a drive-in movie night on Saturday night and a black-and-white movie night on Sunday night. By the time Monday came around, one might think that we had run out of activities to do. Yet we most certainly had not—one of the students had the grand idea to visit a Cat Cafe.

Cat Cafes are little shops that have lounge areas where people can enjoy the company of cats along with their beverages. Most often, these establishments are used to help find homes for kittens and young cats that are sociable and well trained and they raise awareness for an animal shelter that is associated with the cafe. They have become fairly popular in cities these days, and the LE students wanted to see what they were like.

We piled into our cars and drove to the Mac Tabby Cat Café, located in Charlotte’s arts and entertainment district. The cat lounge, which was separated by a glass wall, had about eight cats either strolling or reclining around the room.

The cats reflected our own energy level: mildly exhausted and desiring sufficient time to warm-up to a new environment. Gradually, the cats condescended to become acquainted with us. One decided to take up camp on my lap, which was rather convenient, as we were not allowed to pick them up and I was cold. I sat and sipped my drink, quietly taking in the environment.

The cats had quite adorable names like Kevin, Babe (the youngest), and Ulf Ekberg (my personal favorite). A black cat named Jem just lay in his bed atop a cat tower. He poked his head up a few times and seemed to enjoy being petted—or at least did not actively hate it—yet he never moved from his cozy bed and slept for most of the hour we were there. On the other end of the energy spectrum was the rambunctious adolescent cat Babe, who played vigorously with all the toys that were spread out around the lounge. The staff at the cafe gave us a laser pointer, and we took turns seeing if we could get Babe to jump on people by pointing the laser at them. It worked quite successfully on multiple occasions.

When our hour was up, we said goodbye to our newfound feline friends. Overall, it was a great trip that illustrated how, at LE, you are always up to something.

Sunset Beach

On a beautiful, sunny Sunday, the LE students took a trip to Sunset Beach and enjoyed a good day away from the fray.

We began bright and early as we got on the road by 7:30 and arrived at the beach by 11:30, wasting no time starting the fun. The wide beach was picturesque and white, and the water was welcoming. We soon found ourselves lost in a blissful blur of wild waves. We crashed in, out, under, and over the rolling ripples. When we had our fill of swimming, we took a break for lunch. Some of us threw a football around, some of us lounged in the sun, and some of us even played chess on a sandy board beneath the shifting shade of the canopy.

As we all began to feel the fatigue that comes from swimming all afternoon, we took a walk along the seashore and watched the obdurate ocean waves churn. It was a fine chance to get away from the distractions and expectations of day-to-day life.

The LE students left Sunset Beach with fond memories, uplifted hearts, and exhausted muscles. Before we piled into the vehicles again, we stopped to finish the last of the food and snacks. A few of the students even threw a plastic disk around as they ate, seeking to enjoy every last drop of fun. Truly, there is never a dull moment at Living Education–Charlotte.