One of the things that we are really loving about school is the community that the kids are finding there. That was really the thing that drove us to consider school. Our kids were incredibly isolated with homeschooling in Africa. This simply wasn’t a problem homeschooling in the States. But, there were times during our first term, when our kids went 3-4 weeks without spending time with another child who was not a sibling. We just didn’t think that was healthy and it wasn’t good for morale. So, while it wasn’t necessarily our first choice in regards to academics or curriculum, we decided that for at least a season, we needed to put them in school and let the experience the community that comes with that lifestyle.
Thankfully, the community at the school that they attend is really incredible and exactly what we hoped they would experience. There is a strong spiritual emphasis and the adults who are investing in them there are encouraging them in many positive ways. When we were in children’s ministry, Ryan and I always taught parents that they needed to be sure that there were other adult voices in their kid’s lives who would reinforce what they were trying to instill. This is because, like it or not, there comes a season in most every kid’s life where mom and dad’s word is no longer the most influential. That’s the time when kids need people who care about them, that they have relationships with, who are not mom and dad. We are glad that the kids have some of those people through their school community.
Another thing we like is that the school requires students to get involved in serving others. All of the high schoolers are required to complete a minimum number of community service hours. There are adults who coordinate some of these opportunities. Lizzie is on a team that visits a baby home each week and Abby is leading a group of 6th grade girls in a weekly Bible study time. These are great opportunities for both of them.
I also love that there is a real diversity in the population of students. Just in Lily’s sixth grade class of 16 students, there are approximately 10 different “passport” countries represented, spanning 4 different continents. In addition, because the school is K-12, there are a variety of ages represented and there is a real family emphasis that crosses grade levels.
This past week, I was able to see a fun manifestation of that community. The school hosts a big softball tournament every October. Teams come from around the city and even sometimes from neighboring countries to participate. It’s a weekend of community and fun and it is followed by a week of fall break. In the week leading up to the tournament, they have Spirit Week, which isn’t something that unusual for schools to do. I’ll admit, when I first hear about it, I immediately thought, “This is gonna be like 25 Halloween costumes in 5 days, what a nightmare!” But, it ended up being fun for everyone.
What I loved about the way they did it is that each morning, all of the students, in every grade, lined up around a courtyard area and those who had dressed up marched around the square a few times while the others smiled and waved and took photos. Because I was subbing in the mornings, I was able to see the daily parade and it was so much fun. On one of the days, each grade level picked a theme and the whole class dressed up according to the theme. This was probably my favorite day to see how they all cooperated to pull it off.
I wasn’t great about taking photos, but here are a few photos of their “Spirit Week” adventures.
One day was "fan" day. Four of my five stuck to their KY roots and wore their UK blue. Lizzie chose to go with a more literary take and joined with a friend to be Gryffindor fans from the Harry Potter series.
I was quite surprised when Abe's good friend from school showed up sporting Big Blue pride too! No wonder Abe likes this guy so much!
Here are my 5 on class day. Abby's class went with superheroes, Abby was Cat Woman. Abe was a minion along with his classmates, their teacher was Gru. Isaac and his class went with a Nintendo theme, Isaac took the part of Donkey Kong. Lily was one of the dwarves as her class picked Snow White. And, Lizzie and her class decided to be pirates (who don't do anything!) and they even had the ukulele and song to go with it!
Here are some of the junior girls representing various super heroes. I always knew Abby was a social kid, but these first 9 weeks of school have really proved that point!