A good set of values is essential when it comes time to go out into the world, says 14-year-old Raphaela So of her faith-based education at Wesley Christian Academy in Markham, Ontario.
“Everything’s really Christian-based, like the whole learning process,” says Raphaela, who moves on to high school this year. “We try to do everything in a way that pleases God. So it’s kind of a different concept of how we approach things.”
There’s another level of learning in her classes, she says, whether it’s Bible studies or her favourite subjects of gym, history and science. The morals and values that are part of her faith have become part of her schooling too. “I have to determine what is right and what I should do,” Raphaela says. “I’ll probably, like, take a second, take the time to think about what I’m going to do, instead of going right ahead and doing it without thinking about it.”
For parents seeking a faith-based school program for their children, there’s more to life than math equations. Schools rooted in religious tradition can help kids to not only find the answers, but also learn to ask the right questions.
“We try to relate the lessons from the readings to something they can go back to in their own lives,” says Dr. Carmen Monbourquette, head of school.
The mass also provides an opportunity for students to develop their musical talents: Some of them sing in the choir.
“They have a heartfelt endeavour and a fair bit of talent,” he says.
Perhaps unfashionably in a secular age, Villanova College, an Augustinian Catholic school in King City, just outside Toronto, nails its beliefs to the mast. “Be it known to all who enter here,” says the inscription over the front door, “that Christ is the reason for this school.”
Students dutifully stand when teacher Sean Hayes takes a visitor to his classroom, which features photographs of AIDs-affected African children whom the school helps support.
The atmosphere though is anything but stern. “It’s never boring!” declares Emily, 13. Academically, “I find it challenging. I look forward to coming to school. It’s like my second home, like a big family—with Christian values.”
The many activities—Emily is on the volleyball, soccer, basketball and swim teams—were a big attraction, but she is also looking forward to going to Italy and elsewhere with the school. The enthusiasm is catching: Her younger sister, Natalie plans to attend.