Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Changing Schools...and leaving friends

My daughter is entering high school next year. She's been at the same school since kindergarten...9 years. It's a wonderful school, and we have had an incredible experience here. It's a private school in an urban setting, very diverse population, the academics are incredible, SAT scores high, college acceptance rates recognized nationally, etc. She decided last fall that she wanted to take a look at another well respected school here in town, an all-girl's school. She's very intrigued by the single sex aspect of the school. She toured and visited classes last fall with a couple of the high school students and fell in love with it. So we applied, thinking she'd still have several months to think about it and if she got in, would then make her choice.

It's been an extremely difficult choice for her (and for us). She has a few very close friends at her current school who she will have to leave behind. She's also leaving behind the opportunity to play varsity basketball in 9th grade, since her current school has a very small high school basketball team. She'll have to try out for a much more competitive team at the new school.

When she got the acceptance letter, she was shocked to find out she only had 12 days to decide whether to go or stay. It's been a very emotional, stressful week, as she weighed the pros and cons of making the change, in addition to a very full academic load and her athletic commitments. She made several phone calls, returned for a second "visit" at the new school, suffered a stress induced migraine (we think), begged J and I to make the decision for her, (which we did not do), and in the end, decided the only reason she had for staying was because it was familiar and her friends were there. She feels very lucky to have the chance to experience either school, but decided to think positive and make the leap. She's had a few tearful conversations with her friends, made vows to stay in touch, but on the most part, she is excited, although not a little bit nervous.

There are those who believe in positive thinking, and there are those who may be more realistic. We're in the positive thinking camp. If H thinks this is a positive change, and goes into it with that attitude, then I believe it will be. There may be disappointments along the way. Sure, there's the chance she won't make the basketball team the first year. That's O.K., she is a very hard worker, and if she decides she wants it, she'll work extra hard and try out again the next year. If her friends don't stay in touch as much as she'd like, she will make new friends.

I appreciate the people we know who have supported H in this decision. The admissions director at our old school who shed a tear or two with me and assured me that H would be missed and that we were always welcome back. The parent's of H's friends who were sad she was leaving but understood that we made this decision based on what we felt was right for her. H's friends who have promised that they will stay in touch.

Will things change? Sure they will. They will change whether she stays at the old school or not. I am so proud of her for making this decision. For taking a leap of faith to something she's not familiar with. For taking a chance. If no one ever took chances, where would they be? There might be regrets. But for sure, there will be new experiences, new opportunities, and if she doesn't try them she'll never know what's out there.

For those who have expressed negative opinions. That is your right. You have the right to any viewpoint you have, and decisions you make for your family. But this is our daughter, and our family, and we are making the choice we feel is right for us.