Cary Christian School is a three-part story! It has a beginning, a middle and an end. Don’t put the book down. Please read it all the way through. I know you will be blessed, as we have been!
I sit here today two months away from the graduation of my first child from this amazing school that is our second home. I am amazed by the young woman who is so ready to leave my nest and begin the next phase of her life’s journey. On the wall of her closet is still hanging her laminated CCS Kindergarten classwork with her sweet handprint. The neatly printed verse, Jeremiah 29:11, is in my precious child’s handwriting. What a great reminder now and always: “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord.”
We arrived at CCS a little tattered and weary. Our tiny, anxious little girl had not had a great experience in a previous school environment. But God, in His love and mercy and grace, led us to this beautiful place. We started midyear and ended up repeating Kindergarten the following year. So, we have been here a long time (and our tenth- and sixth-graders have a few more years to go).
Now, we stand amazed as our eighteen-year-old daughter is ready to launch into the world, a bold voice for her Lord.
“Mommy, I know my teachers love me.” This single statement, two weeks after Katie’s start date at CCS, was the confirmation that we were in the exact place we needed to be! Not only did Katie feel loved, but our whole family has been surrounded by love, prayers, support of all kinds for all of these years.
Our family is passionate about our school! We have three children here, and if you attend CCS, you have probably seen us a lot over the years. We view the school as an extension of our family. We have attended all of the field trips (times three), and volunteer in multiple areas throughout the school. We want to be connected to this place and to these people with whom we are partnering to educate our children. As a result, we have a deeper understanding of our school model and why and how it works—and it does!
When our children were in the lower grades, I loved hearing the chants and the songs that they used to learn and memorize. In fact, I must admit that it’s by some of those songs that I am able to keep some important dates and information straight in my own mind. Thank you, CCS! I love that in that early stage, we recognize that our children need to move as they learn. Everything that we do has a purpose and is intended to help them in the later years; it all comes together. Even the focus on handwriting serves a very valuable purpose in making connections in our brains. Nothing is wasted; it is time well spent.
Next is middle School. Middle school can be so difficult, can’t it? These years are full of questioning and seeking. Why not harness that and push it in a positive direction? At CCS, we introduce logic and debate. Let me tell you, my children are a force to be reckoned with! They are fully able to recognize false logic in any argument and in commercials or political debates. They are also able to develop thoughtful arguments with reasoned ideas and can refute the other side because they have learned to do their research. How can you know what you stand for and why, if you do not understand the other side of the argument? This is the value of logic! Their ability to understand scripture and know how it fits within their discussion is heightened. They recognize that God’s word truly is alive! In these years they are also beginning to develop some independence. The students enjoy switching classrooms and having a bit more freedom. They also begin to experience team sports and electives. This is where my children began to develop their own strong thoughts and voices in a maturing and reasoning fashion.
But wait—oh, please wait! Do not give up before the story is finished, because the very best part is just down the hall!
I must admit that I used to be slightly afraid of teenagers and high schoolers in general. I struggled with the thought of parenting teens; how would I handle those turbulent years when I found myself steering clear of that whole age group?
Let me tell you something…I really love teenagers and I really love our high school! I have truly enjoyed the deep conversations and the thoughtful debates I have had and heard with and among our students. I have relished listening to them work out their faith and apply it to their daily decision-making. I have witnessed their interactions with their peers as they counsel one another with biblical truth, sometimes needing to confront a brother or sister. Their education extends far beyond the walls of their classrooms at this stage. They use their wisdom and discernment as they live life together in many activities; the house system, drama, choir, chamber choir, sports teams, and many clubs. And, oh, the dances! We at CCS are very unique in how we put together school dances, and it has been a blessing to witness the fun and beauty! Again, it’s all done for a reason and to build on their education, to build them up and to set them apart.
This is the Rhetoric stage. This is the time the students engage with serious ideas and grow in wisdom. As our CCS website describes this period, “The young adult is now capable of using this broad foundation of knowledgeo carefully consider the moral implications of his actions upon the world around him.” All of the work, all of the chants, all of the debates, come together here! Their knowledge of theology grows and they incorporate that knowledge into all that they are learning. Their research and debate skills are magnified as they prepare for their junior and then senior theses.
There is a lot of freedom at this stage. I have been so grateful to be in a community where we are looking out for each other. We are here to support each other and stand in for each other when needed. This is our family, and we embrace each other in good times and times of difficulty. We know each other. Being a small school, we have the blessing of knowing each other a little better and can stay in touch with our children’s friends and the needs of our community. I know our family has been blessed by prayers, meals, and rides on many occasions and for many reasons. Especially as our children are in this last stage, it’s important that we as parents are communicating and supporting our students and each other.
In the senior year, the students join together as a class for their Senior Service Practicum trip. This trip allows them to use their gifts and talents to go out into the world and minister to others. Together, they are able to be the hands and feet of Jesus to those in need. This trip is special. The class spends months preparing. It is a beautiful thing to behold! These students, all individuals, not all best friends, come together as a cohesive and unified group for a meaningful purpose. Ask any senior about his SSP experience, and I think you will be amazed at how much of an impact this experience has had on his life. Barriers are broken down, and they recognize each other in a new light. They respect each other in ways they have not before. And, beyond all of that, they have brought the light of Jesus to hurting people.
Finally: the senior thesis. Our students choose a topic at the beginning of their senior year and work all year researching and writing. This has been something that has astounded me. I wrote a thesis in college. My shy, anxious girl has become a bold brilliant light. She chose a hard topic she was passionate about. It has been an honor to watch as she has grown in wisdom and stature. Her roots are deep. She can stand and defend.
She may be getting ready to wear that cap and gown and exit stage right, but her CCS story may not be at an end. You see, Katie has so loved her time at CCS, that she would like to come back as a first or second grade teacher. May your story be seen all the way through, and may your family be as blessed as ours has been by this very special place we call home!
Photo by Can Dickerson