Now, most of you are saying “I went to high school and I survived!” Let’s think about that statement. “I survived?” Really? I, too, am a product of public schools. I went to school in the 70’s and early 80’s and yes, I survived. But let me tell you what I survived 30 years ago. To begin, I was on a school bus where the language was atrocious. My generation was slightly past desegregation, but there were often racially motivated fights on our bus. The VERY old man that drove our bus closed a blind eye to the fights and kids were often caught in the cross-fire (being hit by accident, having things thrown at them, etc.). Once I reached school, I have to say that my education was above average. I had some ‘old school’ teachers that demanded respect from the students, who taught with energy and who had a genuine interest in their students. I did feel prepared for college, but I was a natural student who loved to learn. Many friends did not fare so well in college and dropped out early on. The demands of college classes were too much for many. They had not taken their education seriously, did not love to learn and buckled under the pressure.
Outside of class, the hallways, bathrooms and locker area provided a constant source of entertainment. Passionate kissing, sexual encounters under the stairwell and an openly gay relationship with a teacher and his assistant (yes in the late 70's!) were just some of the things I was able to observe. I learned words, phrases and vocabulary that I was completely unaware of before I went to high school. Also, my arm was badly injured when I was caught in the middle of a fight and thrown into a locker by the quarreling students. And while I was not a victim of bullying, I saw people totally excluded, made fun of and called terrible names by people who just didn’t like them. I would like to say that I was a champion for the victims, rescuing them from this plight, but I wasn’t. I watched and snickered right along with the perpetrators. I am ashamed to admit it, but I was no ‘champion’ for the down-trodden.
When I went to high school, I was a Christian. I had become a Christian when I was around 12 and my parents were regularly providing youth group opportunities for us and kept us involved in our local church. But when I went to school, I remained a ‘silent’ Christian. I was afraid to speak up…no one else seemed interested in spiritual things and I was sure I would be teased if they discovered my secret. Again, I am ashamed to admit, but I was not a light to the darkness. Many parents today will send their children to public school, thinking that they will be a light in this very dark, demented world. But many times, the light is snuffed out by the blackness. My advice for parents who DO send their young, Christian children to public school is to be VERY involved. Know their friends, read your child’s texts and social media. BE INVOLVED like you never have before.
And then there is the ‘dating world.’ I have to admit that I was VERY boy crazy and went from relationship to relationship. Boys became my world. I often think about how much richer my education would have been if I hadn’t spent most of my time day-dreaming! I went right along with the culture and exclusively dated from the time I was 16. My thoughts on sex, dating, and relationships were not Christ-centered but were formed by friends, books and TV. So, once again, I would encourage parents to be extremely involved when it comes to dating relationships.
Now that I am on the other side of high school (by quite a lot of years!), I watch my own children being educated at Christiana and I have to say that I am jealous. I am jealous of the groups of believing friends that they have grown up with. I am jealous of the books that they have read and questioned and discussed with these friends. I am jealous of the game nights and gatherings that they have together as a group. They don’t pair off in relationships, but hang out as one big group. They laugh, they cry, they pray. I am jealous of the way that their Christian lives have been molded through reading and discussing some pretty deep theology. I am jealous that they have prayed together with their friends and held each other accountable to grow in Christ. I love that they are participating in an ecumenical educational opportunity (with Catholics, Methodist, Presbyterians and more!) and really trying to understand doctrine and theology and the history of the church.
And now that I have two children on the other side of high school and college, I realize that even though they didn’t have AP classes on their resume, or marching band, or high level math, they did quite well in college and are making their mark in positive ways in the ‘world.’ They learned to learn in a comfortable, but challenging place. Without questionable activities in the school hallway. Without questionable language. Without fights breaking out. Without inadequate curriculum. But with people who loved them and wanted to invest in them.
Please don’t take me wrong. I was educated in the public schools. I did survive. But as I look back, I wish now that I had had more. I wish I had had teachers that would pray with and for me. I wish I had taken my education seriously. I wish that I had been a bit more sheltered. I can’t go back in time, but I now have this kind of education for my kids. We have the tools to do a high school education. We have our co-op community support. Won’t you join me?