Choosing Carmel

A decision that is more than education

Growing up, I never really understood the differences between public and private schools, other than the fact that I never got to wear casual clothes and that my class was an eighth of the size of the local public school. I just looked at public school kids and was envious of their “uniforms.”

I didn’t really understand why my parents paid so much money to send me to a school that doesn’t have a fancy gym, or a huge cafeteria, or cool classrooms.

I am not proud to admit this, I never fully understood the investment of private schooling until I came to Carmel.

It started the summer before freshman year. Carmel courted me like a lovestruck boy–always wanting to get to know me, asking me to come to events. And Carmel wanted me to get to know its people, always asking me to hang out with the upperclassmen who terrified me.

My grade school friends who chose the public route would talk about how they felt lost in the sea of students at their big schools. They were a number, not a person. Mean girls and mean boys terrorized the weak. People beat each other up in the lunchroom. Finding a place to fit in proved very difficult.

I haven’t heard as many experiences like these at Carmel. Transitioning into high school seemed easier. Private schooling provided perspective on the types of people I want to form communities with.

Carmel is not just a school, it’s a family. It’s a place where students show up when they don’t have to. Early morning rosaries, masses as teams–both athletic and academic–where students pray for each other and the rest of the world. These expressions of faith aren’t mandatory, they are appreciated.

The teachers provide an education in and out of the classroom. They come early and stay late. They make and spend their entire careers here.

Former students come back to visit, to thank their past teachers and even to teach a new group of students.

Had I chose public schooling, my education would have been so different for me.

I don’t know what I would have found, but it probably wouldn’t have been a community–a familial community dedicated to companionship and care, an education community with students and teachers who challenge me academically, a supportive community that cares about my feelings and emotions.

The most striking difference had I chosen a public school would have been my faith life. I don’t think I would have felt as comfortable talking about my faith with a student body that might not understand or appreciate it. I probably wouldn’t have taken my faith as seriously as a result.

But even a school that celebrates community isn’t going to give everyone the same treatment. While there may not be much negative attention towards students through bullying, there might not be any attention at all.

Some students just fly under the radar and, in a school of overachievers and leaders, it is inevitable that not every student will be number one.  

But what is also inevitable at Carmel is that every day someone in the building will try to reach out to that student and include her.

Maybe that’s the most important difference between public and private school. Carmel’s efforts to support every student–from the president of every club to the naturally shy kid who has so much to say but doesn’t feel that she can.

At Carmel, we do our best to make sure we can hear every voice. And that’s worth every penny.