I have been blessed and privileged to be involved with JRHS from the start, beginning with some kitchen table talks with Pastor David when I was an undergraduate student at UNH moving into Secondary Education. Back then, I only knew a few things about JRHS.
First, I had personally experienced a typical, but not overly effective education, a product of K-12 public schools. I was facing the reality that now a junior in college, I was not very well educated, and was realizing that many around me were much better prepared for learning, life and career. Secondly, high school in particular was not a place of joy for me, and too many experiences were characterized by social stress, and the invariable pressure to “fit in” with the crowd. And, third, the thought of forming a new school, and offering a different program that would create a different outcome for boys and girls of the future was nothing short of awesome. As a 20 year old, I envisioned a place of learning for students not yet born, that would be far greater than what I had experienced.
JRHS opened up in September of 1992. I was 24 years old. Headmaster, teacher, coach, facilities manager, counselor - and more.
Today, 27 years later, much has changed, yet the taproot of JRHS has remained true, all the way back to the kitchen table talks. Now with (soon to be) four of my own children out in the world carrying the JRHS Diploma as well as hundreds of other diploma bearing students, I see the value of JRHS as a father and educator.
So, here is what I love about JRHS:
1. JRHS is an extension of the family and the home, just a bit bigger. Schools tend to be “institutional”, which invariably creates lines amongst the various people groups. Not so at JRHS. Faculty are in the trenches with our students, fighting the good fight with them; we are the coaches, they are the athletes. Close friend groups form, and a spirit of acceptance and unity is a hallmark of JRHS. Respect, love and honor triumphantly make their ways into a student’s heart, directly contrary to the relational norms of modern youth culture.
2. JRHS teaches hard work. As Christians, we need to be aware that culture is walking us daily towards the “easy-everywhere” philosophy of life. Not so at JRHS. JRHS students are taught that Work is part of the Creation Mandate. We are designed and commanded to be fruitful workers in God’s Garden, and JRHS students become leaders in their colleges, workplace, churches and homes. Repeatedly, we hear how a graduate’s freshmen year in college is not only manageable, but at times easy.
3. JRHS fosters Joy. Too often, we fall into the modern trap that school should be “fun.” Generations before us did not equate nor expect schools to produce fun. Some of it will indeed be fun, and some of it will be just plain hard work. What results from a JRHS education, well invested, is an overall sense of joy, accomplishment and confidence that is accrued over time. Joy wins the day, and the JRHS graduate is prepared for the joys and hardships of life as it really is.
4. JRHS teaches accountability and responsibility. Schools tend to focus on rules and regulations that direct behavior. Not so at JRHS. In addition to the necessary rules and policies, we have created powerful life-forming documents such as the Covenant that impact a student’s heart, not just their outward behavior. Over time, the JRHS student grows to accept and love JRHS, and to see how attributes such as responsibly and accountably are growing in them all the time.
5. JRHS builds mind, body and spirit. At JRHS, we unabashedly state that we are after the formation of the mind, the body and the spirit. Through the spiritual formation that goes on here, a student will become more like Christ every day. Through the academic programs, the student is stepping into a category that is becoming more and more elite in modern culture – to be truly, broadly and Christianly educated. And through a career of projects as diverse as New England’s weather, the JRHS graduate gains skills of their hands and the workplace.
What makes JRHS Great? It is a rare gem of Christian Community, where students pursue profound and meaningful learning, and Kingdom leadership is celebrated. I thank God every day for this amazing place I get to lead.