It’s hard to believe that my son Ty is graduating grade 8 this June! It’s been a roller coaster of emotions as he leaves our neighbourhood school and moves to high school in the fall! As fellow parents chat about buying grad suits (do you know how much suits cost?), planning end of the year parties and the school year ahead, I’m often asked why we made the decision to move our son from the public school system to the Catholic system for high school.
The decision started back in the fall, when Ty and his best friends were deciding about what school to go to. He had mentioned our local Catholic high school as an option, knowing his buddies were choosing to change school boards, but I didn’t really believe it was a possibility for our family. I just didn’t know enough about what Catholic education really meant. I started to do my research about what it would mean to switch boards, learned more from the school’s website about their values and of course, I did a Google search to see the academic ranking of the school and how it compared to others (it was actually ranked 6 out of 740 high schools across Ontario!).
By the time the November parent information night rolled around, I felt really good about the possibility that he may move school boards and attend a Catholic high school, but I still had a few questions. That night I got to hear from the principal and staff about the importance of upholding Christian values, being an active participant in the community and how the school believed in regular acts of service and giving to local charities (they were speaking my language!). Ok, sure, the idea of uniforms was also appealing, but I was most impressed with the core values and how much they aligned with our own family values. While we are not Catholic, we are Anglican. Ty was baptized at 5 months old and has always felt a connection to church and religion his entire life. Not only could I see how much he would love to learn about religion, how could we not appreciate and support the core values in Christian education like; fairness, compassion, respect, concern for social justice and the environment? I was also pleased to learn that students from other cultures and religions are welcomed and that the LGBTQ community is also embraced in an inclusive and caring school environment.
The principal really put it in terms I could relate to, as a parent. He said that the opportunity to learn core subjects like English, math and science would be intertwined with “Lessons for Life” like giving back, living a life with respect for others and respect for yourself. This means a math lesson includes a discussion of income disparity, and a science lesson weaves in social justice. Catholic school graduates vote in elections, donate to charities and volunteer in their communities at very high rates. It was hearing from the staff that night that helped make this important decision for our family. Paul and I both left that night saying that we would do whatever it took to get our son into this incredible school.
School has been somewhat easy for our oldest son. Ty makes friends easily, and he’s helpful, respectful, works hard and adapts to new environments very well. He has always been an incredibly diligent and conscientious student, adored by his teachers for the gentle and kind soul that he is. We feel excited to have the Catholic teachers at high school help us nurture those beautiful parts of his personality as he gets older and help us to mold him into a caring and respectful young man.
Once we were set on the decision, we learned that with the school numbers capped for the first year, it was possible that Ty wouldn’t get in to this school. The school hosted a registration night and we braved a cold winter night in line with 120 other families to grab our “golden ticket” to Ty’s high school education. We were eager to get him into the school of choice, as it had become ours, too. We were number 42 and we finally got the email we were waiting for. Ty had made it in with several of his friends. We even helped him select his first high school classes and I think we are all eager for September to be here! As his last month of elementary approaches, it is bittersweet, though. He will leave some friends as they head to other schools and he will also leave the school he shares with this younger brother, but we are all excited to start a new chapter in his life with new possibilities that high school will offer our amazing son.
This post is part of the YummyMummyClub and Ontario’s Catholic Teachers #CatholicTeachers sponsored program. I received compensation as a thank you for my participation. This post reflects my personal opinion about the information provided by the sponsors.