“He said he was intrigued; he couldn’t quite put his finger on “how” that student body appealed to him … He just knew he was attracted to whatever it was they brought to his school that day and he wanted to explore that further.”
By Heather Stoltz
As we watch our son, Isaiah, navigate through the process of choosing which college to attend next year, I can’t help but to reflect back to not-so-long-ago when we, as a family, faced the decision of which high school he would attend. It felt like there were so many outside opinions and noise to navigate through to decide which school would be the best fit for his success… his success in high school, which would lead to his victory in college, and ultimately to his success in life as a well-rounded contributor to the success of ALL of society. (What?!? No pressure at all to get this correct.) To be perfectly honest, we knew we couldn’t really blow it, we had committed to a Catholic Education for our children and knew without a doubt that all of the choices on the table were solid for education and they all came with the same promise to continue to build upon the foundation of faith that we’d spent so many years constructing in our home.
We had several parents in our ear recruiting us to a school not far from our house; it was where several of Isaiah’s friends and teammates would be going. It also seemed like a logical choice for us, but we remained committed to exploring our options before officially deciding.
We moved from Oregon to Overland Park, where we didn’t know a soul when Isaiah was in the 5th grade, so there was no clear-cut, distinct, alumni parent situation leading us. No history. No personal experience. No roadmap. I suppose this was positive in the long run because all of the schools that we had our eye on were on equal playing ground as possibilities; we just needed to tour a few and pick one.
Then . . .
Isaiah was in his 7th grade year at Prince of Peace, and it seemed like we were jumping the gun a bit by sending him out to shadow at a high school, but we agreed to let him go after he came home telling us about a group of students from St. James Academy that had come to visit his class that day. He said he was intrigued; he couldn’t quite put his finger on “how” that student body appealed to him but I do remember him saying they were “really nice” to the junior high kids. He just knew he was attracted to whatever it was they brought to his school that day and he wanted to explore that further. (Hey there, Holy Spirit…thanks for stopping by to get the party started!)
Isaiah came home from that Practice Shadow Day at SJA as sure of his decision as he’d ever been of anything in his life. He was going to St. James and that was the end of it. He didn’t even want to shadow at any other school. We were a bit taken aback by the finality of his choice so quickly, and so was he when we explained that the decision wasn’t his to make alone. There were so many other considerations to be made by us, the parents. (I was so incredibly nervous about the commute, it was indeed holding me back.) We tabled the decision at that point. We would just wait and see what happened after he shadowed at a couple more schools. Maybe the buzz and excitement of those schools would be just as positive.
Isaiah never stopped believing that St. James was his “home” and where he was meant to be, but he humored us by shadowing other schools as we required. He also shadowed the full day at SJA. If he didn’t know if before, he did now, and so did we after we attended an Open House session and felt “that thing” that you feel when you walk in the building. I’m not sure if it was being officially greeted face to face with their beautiful chapel (literally placed at the heart of the property), or if it was the warmth of the staff (who genuinely seemed to have my child’s best interest at heart), but when we left, we definitely knew what Isaiah had been feeling all this time. We felt it too. It was different. It was warm. It was love. It was community. It was high values and standards that didn’t compromise where it counted. It was inspiring. It was home. In fact, I secretly found myself wishing I, too, could go back to high school and even found myself looking online to see if there were any job openings so I also could become a part of something so beautiful. (Not kidding. I really did that.)
Shortly thereafter we committed to sending Isaiah to St. James. He didn’t follow his friends and teammates, he followed his heart. He followed the whisperings of the Holy Spirit who had been gently guiding him for over 2 years to a brand new school, surrounded by all but a handful of brand new faces. To our surprise, he just didn’t ever see it playing out any other way. He listened. Not to the opinions and noise around him. He really listened. And we couldn’t be happier.
Maybe you’ve already decided which high school is the best for your family based on things like siblings, location, friends, athletics… whatever it is. And maybe you haven’t. Let me just say that things like the commute work themselves out, they always do. Enter this process with an open heart, and you’ll be shown endless opportunities. May God bless your journey and your discernment process as you navigate through this time.
By Heather Stoltz