I am a product of both public and private schooling. I went to public school through 6th grade on Cape Cod, and then went to a Catholic school for junior high and high school. I made the switch because when I was in 6th grade, I hated school. Up until that year, I had loved school. I was a big fish in a small pond. I never got in trouble, I participated in every activity, and I was the teacher's pet.
In 6th grade, I was at the top of my class, academically, but totally bored, and feeling very lost in the shuffle of a big school. My math teacher began pulling me out of class to tutor a boy named Ramsey Rose, who was basically the class bully and not the sharpest crayon in the box. So instead of learning more advanced math (I had finished the 6th grade math book already) he made me tutor a mean boy, which was not my job at all. I hated it. And I was embarrassed to tell my mom for some reason, like I was doing something wrong.
One day, I was walking home from the bus stop with my friend, Michelle, who told me she was going to Sacred Heart for 7th grade. I immediately went home to my mom and told her I wanted to go to Sacred Heart. I had no idea where it was (an hour away), or that it cost (a lot of) money to go there, I just knew I wanted out of my 6th grade public school. My parents, God bless them, took me seriously and arranged for a tour of the school.
I could not believe my eyes when I first arrived at Sacred Heart. The students were wearing uniforms, they were quiet when passing in the halls, and the school was so clean and beautifully decorated. I came home from my day of visiting, and told my mom "They have knickknacks in the hall!!" That was unheard of in my public school where kids were fighting in the hall and would have destroyed any decorations they could get their hands on.
My parents somehow managed financially to send me to Sacred Heart (it was $1000.00 just for the bus fee) although I knew they struggled and sacrificed to do it. In return, I enrolled in all the advanced-honors classes, joined as many activities as I could, played soccer, then volleyball, and ran track, all while maintaining a 4.0 GPA.
Things were going so well that my little sister joined me there 2 years after I started, and she also was at the top of her class, and even more athletically inclined than I. Then, before the end of my freshman year in high school, my mom sat me down and told me they couldn't afford to send us to Sacred Heart any more. To say that I lost it would be the biggest understatement of the year. I basically had a nervous breakdown. I broke my mom's heart, she still tears up at the mention of that fateful day. I wasn't trying to be a brat or make her feel guilty, I just really lost it. My mom, being the ever faithful woman she is, headed off to daily Mass. There, she prayed and cried, asking God for an answer as to how we could continue to go to Sacred Heart.
When I was a junior, I had a chance to go visit Franciscan University of Steubenville with my mom, little sister, and a family that already had one daughter attending. We made the long drive out from MA to OH and my world was changed yet again. I came away from that weekend visit saying, "There were so many cute guys there, and they had scapulars sticking out of the back of their shirts!" Swoon, I was in Catholic hormone Heaven :)
That same year, I entered an essay contest to win a visit to see Pope John Paul II, and won the contest, along with 15 other high school students from across the country. After visiting F.U.S., seeing my hero, the Pope, and meeting faith-filled young people from all over America, I knew I wanted to go to a real Catholic college. I am lucky all of this happened before my senior year of high school, because during that year, my priorities, friends, and dating life changed quite a bit, and I might not have made such great decisions. But God had the plan all set in motion for me to attend Franciscan University in August 1997....