Sara Gray

Sara Gray

School. How can one word evoke such diverse reactions? For some people, that single syllable fills them with dread.

For others, you can see their eyes light up; their minds beginning to whir with animated thoughts.

I’ve always been in the latter camp. My appreciation of learning combined with the social aspect have caused me to love it from my first day of preschool.

Over the years, I’ve ended up at six different schools, so I’ve been exposed to a wide variety of people, teaching styles and atmospheres. Sometimes though, I haven’t been able to appreciate things as much until they’re gone.

Last year, we relocated to the coast to help out my grandparents. I had gone to Kelowna Christian School for two years already at that point, and although I was sad to leave, I was looking forward to my next adventure.

Meeting new people has never intimidated me, and I’ve never had trouble settling into a new school, so as the summer slipped away, I fell headfirst into fall, excited for everything that was to come.

Over the summer, my brother and I started our swim training in the national group of the local club, and the positive experiences I was already having in my new community made me eager for school to start.

The next few weeks came in a flurry of new friends and teachers, and I eased into my new life. Despite all the pieces being there though, a part of me was missing, and it took me a while to understand what it was.

The truth is, I desperately missed KCS. Of all the schools I’d been to over the years, none of them were quite the same, and it took me leaving to see that.

“My new school was great, and provincially, it was ranked higher, but that’s when I learned that numbers, and math and all the algorithms they use couldn’t ever possibly begin to put a value on the feeling that something gives you. And that feeling is what makes all the difference.

People often have the misconception that KCS is just a school of privileged Christian kids, but that’s completely wrong.

There are people there from all walks of life, and people who are in all different places on their journey of faith.

You’re never pressured to be or act a certain way just to satisfy the religious affiliations of the school.

And those different ideas and perspectives are what builds the amazing community that we have. Everyone is just so comfortable around each other, and that’s not something that you can replicate by force or effort.

I can have a conversation with the Grade 12s that I play basketball with, or the Grade 6s who I work alongside on the school newspaper.

One of things I think is the most important is that at KCS I’m never defined in one particular way. I can get high grades, play basketball, do jazz band and swim team, or just have fun with my friends, and I never feel the pressure to be confined to just one circle of people.

It’s completely unique, and in all the different schools I’ve been to, I’ve never experienced anything like it.

Everything was good on the coast. I had every possible thing there to make me happy, and I was, but it was jarring to

be somewhere else after getting used to being in such a warm and tight-knit community.

As I mentioned before, I’ve always been an avid learner, so I thought that my new school, which was very academically focused, would give me more opportunities.

Ironically enough though, I found the constant torrent of homework to be draining, and there was no reprieve from the continual comparison of grades, forcing you into a position of competition with the other kids.

A low “A” would merit a lecture from their parents, and a high “B” would elicit tears. Jokes and laughter in class were sparse, and I found myself missing the kids who were never afraid to make a joke to lighten the mood, even if it might not have been the right time.

When my parents brought up the idea of coming back to Kelowna, even though I had made some great friends, and my swimming was really improving, I knew it was the right decision to come back.

It has been five months now since we moved back, and I’ve never regretted my decision for a second. On my first day of school this year, I was greeted happily by both my friends, and people who I didn’t even know who had come to KCS in the year I was gone.

I’ve settled back in without a hitch, and I firmly believe the sense of community found in my school is unparalleled.

KCS is more than a building, more than brick and metal and stone, because

all those things aren’t what makes my school.

It’s the people. We’re more than peers, or students, or teachers; we’re a family, and that’s something that no high ranking or amount of prestige could ever reproduce.