“My high school doesn’t exist anymore.” For the past year or so this is a phrase I’ve used numerous times to explain the education portion of my resume. A potential employer might become understandably concerned if they attempted to verify the contents of an applicants resume only to discover that the institution they’ve claimed to have graduated from doesn’t have an active website.
When you attend a school with an average class size of six, you quickly learn everyone’s name. Mooresville Christian Academy did not provide me the classic teenage struggle of climbing up the ladder of popularity since every student was popular the moment they walked through the door. The most unusual thing I noticed initially was the kindness and sense of community that existed among our student body.
Sure, at times our school’s social life was riddled with drama. When you cluster a group of teens together for any amount of time, social crises are unavoidable. What really set our high school apart from the others was an underlying sense of unity among the faculty and students. No matter what kinds of trivial controversy was brewing among us, there was an undercurrent toward harmony.
As I’ve grown up, I’ve become more and more involved in the art scene. From years of constantly performing my music around area coffee shops, music venues and art galleries, I’ve shared countless conversations with young musicians, poets, painters, etc. When we talk about ourselves, I often hear similarities among their reminiscence of childhood. I’ve listened to many horror stories of “surviving” high school, being constantly humiliated by peers and ignored by faculty. Students at MCA were never subject to the kind of torturous bullying that many young people face in school. Administrators met any kind of serious teasing or harassment with a quick intervention. While this didn’t leave much room for privacy, there was even less room for a student’s suffering to go by unnoticed. As peculiar as my personality and interests are, I shutter to think of how I would have been affected by the negative social elements of a traditional school.
Our school was eventually forced to close its doors due to financial burdens. I believe this was largely due to the administrations unwillingness to compromise its values by conforming to the typical private school model. The tuition remained low so that families of various economic circumstances could enroll their children. Additionally, many were aware that the administration would reduce the cost for families who were struggling to pay tuition. Our headmistress is so compassionate, turning away parents who sought an education for their youngsters was out of the question. She also wasn’t willing in turning MCA into a college prep institution. Her belief was that education should be pursued for the merit of learning alone, and not as a means to an end. This was probably detrimental in marketing the school to prospective parents. MCA greatly encouraged students to take ownership of their own education and future by actively pursuing their ambitions; whether it be a college education or playing in a rock’n’roll band. We were taught that each individual must decide their own unique future based on their distinct goals. I find it invigorating to see graduates of MCA currently pursuing their callings. Here’s a Rolling Stones article about an MCA alumni, Michael Harris and his rock band, The Apache Relay: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/apache-relay-build-up-katie-queen-of-tennessee-song-premiere-20140123
I’m constantly reminded of lasting impression my high school years have left on my life. My experience participating in a small, interactive class setting has made working with abstract concepts more of a natural process in my collegiate career. Although I may be lacking in some areas of academics, such as memorization and regurgitation of information, I find that MCA’s unique learning environment has equipped me with an enhanced ability to evaluate ideas, maneuver through complicated concepts, construct reasonable opinions and while also appreciating opposing viewpoints. This semester, after transitioning into the new department at UNCG, I’ve been reintroduced to the benefits of the small classroom setting. Just like in high school, most of my courses consisted of only six or seven students. The open dialogue and captivating class discussions have reignited a spark in my brain.
It’s disheartening to realize that this wonderful school is now nonexistent. I would have really enjoyed watching younger generations thrive in the kind of supportive community our school housed. Nevertheless, when I see some of the fantastic things our former faculty and students have achieved, I can’t help but feel that our school has somehow achieved its purpose. Either way, I feel extremely fortunate to have been a part of it during it’s operation and always hope to bring a piece of it with me.