Growing up Grace: 8 to 18; A Grace Prep Senior’s Memoir

Attending Grace Prep, as any student here will tell you, is a unique experience. It is a tough, demanding, yet cherished school that has the potential to make or break a student. The homework alone is cause for insomnia (I say this as I study for finals).
What students here might not tell you, is how much they secretly cherish the time they spend here. Ten years at the same rule-obsessed private school sounds like a punishment reserved for the most unruly of children. Yet for this senior, it has been a thrill and a privilege.
What most people don’t realize is that Grace Prep is too small to be a school, in the traditional sense. When everybody knows everybody and the staff calls you by name, the “school” is actually an oversized family. Some of the teachers and staff have known me since I was eight years old, and remind me all the time of how tall I’ve gotten or how crazy it is that I somehow aged between the ages of eight and eighteen.
They’re all concerned with performance in school obviously, but it goes much farther than that. Each of my teachers has already taught my sister, will be teaching my younger brother, and know my parents on a first name basis.
This kind of familiarity is a rare thing to find. I took a hiatus from the private school life to try public school my sophomore year, and was surprised to find that my English teacher was not already acquainted with my family, my family’s pets, and my family’s extended family. Well, not surprised, but it was definitely a strange contrast to what I’m accustomed to.
It was nice at times, not worrying that a poor grade would lead my teachers to contact me and my family and encourage me to spend time in whatever lab to bring that particular grade up. At other times, I missed it. We take that for granted at Grace; the fact that the staff cares enough about us that they would go out of their way to be supportive.
I can’t recall the number of times that I was offered personal help with math homework, guidance with my English papers, or one-on-one time to discuss my options for college.
That support and encouragement has positively affected the person I am today, and the wonderful advice I’ve received here will carry into my adulthood. Even as a third grader, I remember Mrs. O’Brien would spend extra time offering help to any student who just wasn’t getting the multiplication table. Or Mrs. Peck who managed to get the entire class excited about Shirley Grammar jingles; I can still recite the helping verb and article adjective songs flawlessly.
Thank you GPA, for aiding me on my journey as I head off to Oklahoma State University.

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