The End of Grade School

Yes, I know–technically, summer doesn’t arrive until June 21. There’s enough of a Pagan left in me to recognize the importance of the Solstice. But around my house, summer has officially arrived since my boys are finished with school.

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It’s been an emotional and exhausting two weeks. My boys have attended the same small Episcopal school since kindergarten, and they graduated on Friday from the 8th grade. The last days of school were filled with lots of activities, honors, and fun for them. For me, it was a time of great nostalgia and reflection. I remember the process of trying to find a good school for them to attend. The boys had been in a Montessori preschool for two years, and we loved it, but we knew we couldn’t afford to send them to the Montessori grade school in our area. It was simply out of our reach financially, and there wasn’t any help available through scholarships or grants. Although we live in a decent neighborhood, the public grade school here was not on par with other schools in the area, and we’d heard terrible things about the teachers from folks who’d worked there and from neighbors who’d sent their kids there. My husband and I had both attended Catholic school, and we’d received excellent educations. My husband, however, was reticent to send our boys to Catholic school because we no longer practiced Catholicism, and he didn’t want our boys to feel left out or confused by Catholic traditions and sacraments in which they wouldn’t be allowed to participate. Honestly, our options were pretty narrow for kindergarten. We could still send them to the Montessori school they attended, but we felt that we should move them sooner rather than later if a school we liked offered kindergarten. We really didn’t know what to do, and time was running out. It was already almost August, and we needed to make a decision.

Of course, I prayed about the subject and asked for Spirit to guide me to the right place for the boys. A student in one of my classes gave me a reading, and I asked about what school I should send the boys to. She described to a T the Montessori school where they already went, and I wondered if Spirit was trying to tell me not to worry, to just send them there for kindergarten and forget about moving them. Maybe the timing wasn’t right. I went out to Camp Chesterfield, the Spiritualist camp where I trained as a medium, and I received a reading from one of the mediums there. I asked about school for the boys, and she said she got the impression they were going to a Christian school where they would receive an excellent academic and moral education. As soon as I heard that, I balked. The Christian schools in my area that I knew about were way too dogmatic for my tastes, meaning that they were conservative, fundamentalist schools that left no room for my leftist, progressive, and open-minded approach to life and spirituality. There was no way I was sending my children to that type of school. I was completely befuddled by Spirit’s messages.

As I drove home that day, I remember saying to my spirit guides aloud in the car, “Look: I know you’re trying to help, and I appreciate it, but I’m more confused than ever. Can you please help me to find the right school for the boys, and can you please make it perfectly clear when I’ve found the right place? Oh, and it needs to be affordable, too. No use showing me a great school if we can’t afford to send them there! And remember, you guys: time is running out! We need to make a decision in the next couple of weeks.” I said my piece to Spirit, and I figured I’d let it go.

A few days later, I was talking to a friend of my mom’s, whose daughter-in-law was helping me by babysitting my boys. I was complaining about the school issue, and she said, “Have you talked to B? She’s sending M (her oldest) to Bethany School because the classes are smaller, and she felt he’d do better there. Maybe you should look into it.” I asked her where the school was, and she said, “It’s in Glendale.” I couldn’t believe that–this was a suburb literally right down the street from my house, and I’d never seen a school there. “Oh, it’s there,” she assured me. “It’s tucked into the middle of a neighborhood. Most people don’t know about it.”

I was intrigued, but I didn’t pursue it. A couple of days passed, and I ran into an old friend. We talked about our children, and she mentioned how well her daughter was doing now in school. I asked where she went, and she said, “Bethany School, in Glendale.” I was shocked, but I knew better than to ignore the mention of the same school twice in one week. My friend said, “Why don’t we arrange a time when you can see the school? I’ll go with you–they do tours.” She happened to live right down the street from the school, so we called and made a time to take a tour. She went with me, and we walked to the Bethany campus. And this was one of the first things I saw:

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This is a picture of the beautiful Bethany School chapel. The grounds at Bethany are lush, filled with trees and plants and stately old buildings that give the campus a charm and a peace that is unmatched by any other school. As soon as I stepped onto the grounds, I knew: this was the place for my children. I recognize a message from Spirit when I receive it!

The medium at Chesterfield was right: Bethany is a Christian school, an Episcopal day school, but it isn’t like the other schools in the area, ones that I found to be too confining in their beliefs. The Sisters of the Transfiguration, the order that runs Bethany, welcome children of all backgrounds, making the school diverse in its socio-economic and religious fabric. Although the children are expected to attend chapel every week and Christian education is a big part of the curriculum, respect is also an important component of their educational approach. I always felt comfortable with what my children were taught in regard to religion, but to me, Bethany is much more than just a religious school. It’s a place that valued my children for the individuals they are. They were challenged academically, and they were expected to do their best. They were encouraged to try new things and to develop an appreciation of other cultures and people. Most of all, they were loved by their teachers, who were devoted to their well-being and their growth as students and as human beings. What more could you ask from a school?

I went home that day after my tour and said to my husband, “This is the school. This is where the boys need to be.”

Of course, we looked at the financial commitment and nearly had heart failure. The school was more expensive than the Montessori school we couldn’t afford. But…Bethany offered scholarships, and the head of school urged me to apply. We did, and I said to Spirit, “OK. If this is the right school for the boys, we need to get these scholarships. Otherwise, we won’t be able to afford it.”

I’m sure by now you know: we got the scholarships. Amazing scholarships. And we got them almost every year after that, even in very tough economic times (my husband suffered two job losses in the 9 years we were at Bethany). We were always able to afford to send them to school there, and I know it’s because that’s where they needed to be. Spirit led us to Bethany, and we put our faith in that fact. When we needed help, it was always available to us. The staff, administration, and faculty of Bethany were wonderful about keeping our boys at the school and finding ways to help us when we needed it. I will always be grateful for their commitment to our family. And I’ll always be grateful to Spirit for helping us to find the very best school for our precious sons.

Those precious sons have now graduated. In August, they’ll start a whole new adventure: high school. They’re attending a Roman Catholic school in our area, and one of our sons won an academic scholarship to this high school, too, which helps us to better afford it. What a blessing! And I know, again, that we’re going in the right direction, that Spirit is leading us to the best place for our children. That’s the intention I set, and I have faith that Spirit won’t lead us wrong. I know my boys will be successful there, too.

If you’re in the Cincinnati area and you’re interested in an amazing school experience for your children, I definitely recommend that you check out Bethany School. You’ll never find a better place.

And congratulations to my sons, Max and Ben, who have finished nine wonderful, amazing, challenging years. They have achieved great things, and I know that will continue in high school. I couldn’t be more proud of them both, and I love them with all my heart.

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