Graduation Weekend

Good or bad, I am a product of Adventist education. I leave you to judge which! I will never be ashamed that I went to an Adventist school, because I learned more life lessons there than I could ever tell you about. Let me share a couple of them!

My mom was a teacher for more than 40 years, and taught in schools from New England to Kansas City (and yes, that would include Pittsburgh!) She also spent several years in Africa as a missionary teacher, which is where she met my dad. He just happened to be the son of the education superintendent, but that’s another story…

At any rate, I got a lot of teaching before I even went to “real” school! However, there are some lessons that start to make sense once you’ve started going to school with other people. One day as a third grader, I found out by experience that honesty is a virtue, and a very good one, too. But taking anything too far, even good things, can get you in trouble.

One day we were having a geography lesson about Africa, and a new dam that was being built in Egypt called the Aswan. Since the radio was always on at home so my mom could listen to the news programs, I had heard multiple stories about this big building project. So when my teacher pronounced the name wrong, I cheerfully corrected her in front of the class! As a little boy, I was being as honest as I knew how to be. That’s how it was pronounced, and I was sure she would want to know. Apparently the word “T-A-C-T” was not in my vocabulary yet, but this became one of my first lessons in what that word really means!

Teacher did not appreciate my attempts to help her teach the lesson, and made that very clear. And even then, she was not willing to let it rest and brought the matter up in public the next time she saw my parents at a Home & School meeting. This rather put my parents on the spot, as it turned out that I had been correct, and she had not. Needless to say, Teacher was very glad to promote me to the next grade at the end of the school year!

As I discovered, there are many times in life when we can make other people happier about themselves by not insisting that it’s “our way, or the highway.” When your child’s teacher talks about the meekness of Moses, the patience of Job, or the long-suffering of Jesus, that’s a lesson that can’t easily be discussed in public school. Adventist education helps our students learn to be respectful and understanding, even when other people are wrong (or we just think they are!) So be truthful, but also remember to be considerate of the opinions of others. Be honest, not brutal!

I’d like to bring forward another thought here, one suited for Graduation weekend and its recognition of the hard work our students have accomplished during the past school year. Whether or not you still have their art work on your fridge, it’s important that we recognize our youth of all ages and let them know that we appreciate their efforts.

I once heard a speaker at camp meeting addressing a group of adults. In part he said,

“You look at today’s youth and complain because they aren’t living up to all your standards. ‘Why can’t they be like we were when we were kids and just say no to these temptations and be good, upstanding young people like US?’ Well let me tell you folks, and listen well – it’s because they don’t LIVE in the same society you lived in when you were kids. The devil has upped the stakes so much since then that there’s no comparison any longer. And folks, parents, teachers; it’s YOUR job to support our youth, not criticize them. It’s your job to provide a listening ear, a kind and encouraging word, and maybe even a cookie now and then! It’s time to show your willingness to work WITH our kids instead of against them!”

I believe that Midland provides our students with that type of support, and with the opportunity to try things they wouldn’t get a shot at in public schools. With a student body of roughly 130, the chances of being a student leader or athlete are much greater than they would be in a school of 1300. Midland sports provide roughly half the high school the chance to play on a varsity team; a chance to develop leadership on the field, teamwork, and increased physical fitness.  Not to mention a chance to play without having to worry about games on Friday night or missing a pep rally on Sabbath afternoon. Our students step forward into leadership because they know that everyone has to help out, or nobody gets to. And given that chance to succeed, most of them do exactly that.

So what makes Adventist Education worth it?  Perhaps it is the reinforcement of the values parents teach at home, whether at Midland or homeschooling.  A lesson in Bible class, a story read for classroom worship, a Bible verse shared during morning announcements. It can be the additional individual teacher time, daily staff worship time spent praying for students, or a visit with the principal that ends with prayer. There are the words sung in chapel or the impact of a community service day experience; all of these contribute to a whole person education that can take you anywhere you want to go.

Adventist Education. It’s worth supporting.

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