Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Why Catholic School - Part 2

OK, public school was off the table. So we looked around town and asked what are our options? They were limited.

  • Home School
  • Charter School ( not open yet but expected in 1-2 years)
  • Adventist Christian School (Seventh Day Adventist)
  • Ridgecrest Christian School (Lutheran - LCMS)
  • Pilgrim Christian School (Lutheran - LCR)
  • Saint Ann Catholic School
  • Emmanuel Christian School (Baptist)

Home School - I don't think so. My dear wife and I both work. Sure we both think that education of our children is our prime responsibility, but we want them taught by professionals. People trained to educate others. You know - teachers.

Charter School - There were rumors floating around town that there was a charter school starting up. But it was a year or two away. Well we didn't have a couple years to wait. Besides, even a charter school has to ultimately answer to the same pubic school system that I now found so repugnant.

Adventist Christian School - OK, to be fair, we never even looked at this school. Call it bias, shortsightedness, whatever, my dear wife and I looked at the name on our list and both just said - Nope.

Ridgecrest Christian School - This school was first on my list. Growing up Lutheran and raising my children Lutheran I liked the idea of sending my children to a Lutheran School. Ridgecrest Christian School was supported by the local Missouri Synod Lutheran Church. I was raised in the American Lutheran Church which joined with the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches and the Lutheran Church in America in the 1980s to form the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America(ELCA). I had little first hand knowledge of Missouri Synod Lutherans. But I had been told growing up that the Missouri Synod Lutherans were die-hard conservatives who rejected the more inclusive ELCA as being un-Lutheran. I had heard that they didn't even accept ELCA Lutherans as Christians with whom they could share communion.

But I was willing to check out the school. We called and asked if we could make an appointment with the Principal to tour the school. We were immediately transferred to the Principal who assured us that we could stop by anytime. I mentioned that I might like to see a classroom and meet the teacher. The Principal had no trouble with this but asked if we could do so that week because the next week they were testing and she was afraid that there wouldn't be much to see then. So we made an appointment for the next morning. Wow! That was easy.

We arrived the next day and were greeted at the door by the Principal who sat with us and visited for about 20 minutes. I was a little nervous that the Principal was also the Pastor's wife. She seemed nice and competent, but I was concerned about her objectivity if a disagreement between the school and the church should ever arise.

Then we took a tour of the facilities. We ended our tour by being allowed to slip quietly into the back of the 1st grade class and watch the class in session. We spent about 10 minutes there and then headed back to the Principal's Office. The Principal was surprised to see us back so quickly. She was even more surprised when she asked what we thought of the teacher and I replied, "I don't know. I didn't pay much attention to her."

I tired to explain that I wanted to see how the children acted and related to the teacher. I figured the teacher would have to be a complete moron to do or say anything controversial while were sitting right there in her classroom. But after a few minutes the children forgot we were sitting behind them and class continued. I was impressed. The children all seemed alert, eager, and anxious to be a part of the classroom dynamics. It all looked good to me.

We got a copy of the school handbook and promised to call them back in a couple days.

Later that evening while reading the handbook, I ran across one sentence that read something to the effect that the school didn't celebrate Halloween, but would have a harvest festival for the children in the fall.

Well this confused me. They didn't celebrate Halloween? But that was our second favorite holiday of the year. Well we didn't want to be nitpickers or seem ignorant so I was hesitant to call and ask the school what was up with that.

Instead we stopped by our church to ask Pastor if he knew what the Missouri Synod Lutheran's had against Halloween. The secretary at the church told us that Pastor was busy and asked if there was anything she could help with. So we asked her our question. She didn't know, but the choir had just finished practice and she was sure that one of our choir members was a teacher over at Ridgecrest Christian School. So she went and tracked this lady down so we could ask her.

We were introduced to this sweet mild round little woman who at first glance seemed to be everything you want in someone your child would be spending the day with. She cheerfully assured us that she would be glad to answer any questions we had. It became very apparent very quickly that talking about her school was one of her favorite pastimes.

Eventually I popped the question. "Why don't you celebrate Halloween?" I swear the skies darkened, the earth rumbled, and the temperature in that office dropped 20 degrees. Then this sweet gentle woman's face split open! Her eyes started spinning in her head. Her soft gentle voice ratcheted up several octaves as she started ranting and raving about demons and devils and Satan's high holy day. She shouted about possessions and evil works, heathen rituals and sacrifices, all the while stomping towards us like a little kid stomping on ants. She almost came right over the counter at me. She was still ranting and raving and waving her hands in the air as we backed out the door of the office.

We said a brief prayer thanking the Lord for our safe deliverance and raced home to cross Ridgecrest Christian School off our list. We were both terrified. Was that the kind of response our child was going to receive if she asked the wrong question in class one day?

I wasn't sure what bothered me the most about this teacher's outburst. The emotion and outrage that it was delivered with, or the obvious incredulity of this woman that we could be so naive as to not understand the dangers we were courting.

Later we learned that many of the teachers at Ridgecrest Christian School did not have teaching credentials. In fact the next fall we were shown a notice in their weekly bulletin that they were looking for a second grade teacher and wanted to know if anyone in the congregation was interested in helping out.

Two years later Ridgecrest Christian School closed their doors and has not reopened for business.

To be continued...

Why Catholic School Part 1

Why Catholic School Part 3

Other Reasons on why we send our kids to a Catholic School are here:

Why Catholic School

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