As Information Night approaches, I am reminded of how important this event actually is. I would love for all of our people to be as excited about it as I am, but I understand if you wonder why we ask all the current ECS families to attend…especially if you’ve already decided to send your kids to the school.
In terms of evening requirements, we try to keep the ECS calendar fairly light. The families of ECS are usually rather involved in their churches and communities; we have plenty to do without additional calendar items. So we make our requests for Raggant families’ time minimal: we have a couple of concerts, the Fundraising Feast and the Information Night. None of these are added flippantly, and we try to give plenty of advance notice so you can plan accordingly. But then we plan and expect for every family to attend, because these events are really important.
You may be thinking, “The concerts I can understand; they’re performances, after all. But the Info Night and the Feast? Why must we attend those?”
That is a fantastic question, and the answer is simple: enculturation.
It’s true that much of what we are attempting to do as a school has to do with academics. But more than this, our aim is cultural. You don’t need to spend much time around ECS to learn that we value fellowship and people. My favorite times of the day are Matins and after school, when our people gather in harmonious enthusiasm, marked by smiles and grace, not earbuds and hoodies.
This is rather countercultural in a time when “teacher accountability” has more to do with test scores than personal character. “Student safety” means protecting kids from their judgmental parents (so we’ll give them condoms at school). “Diversity and inclusion” mean that we must tolerate and celebrate the worldview of anyone…except the intolerant. “Multiculturalism” means you must increasingly disdain and apologize for where (and who) you came from. We’re cheerfully aiming to combat these trends at ECS.
Not only do these evening functions give us a handful of additional opportunities to be with our people, they go a long way to determining who will be included among our people. But for the moment, as it’s just around the corner, I want to zoom in on Information Night and offer three reasons why we ask all the school families to be there.
First, our students are our best promotion. Being around a group of happy, respectful, and intelligent (often witty) young people is a rare pleasure in our culture, and I get to do it every day when I’m with your students. Some are more outgoing than others, to be sure, but generally speaking our students enjoy school, have good relationships with their teachers, laugh every day, engage adults in conversation, love to sing, and aren’t ashamed to be seen in public wearing their uniforms. We have worked to cultivate all of this without manufacturing any of it, but in the end it’s work that the Lord must do or it will not continue. And we wish to not take any of it for granted.
When we have a chance to roll these students out before prospective families (as we will at Information Night), it’s an impressive presentation…and when it comes to the best parts of this presentation, we can take no credit. God’s grace is at ECS, and we want others to see that and want in.
Second, our current families are the best voices for life in the trenches. I’m very aware of many areas where we need to grow and get better as a school, and it is often the case that when you all are speaking to your friends about the school, you share the good and the bad. So when those friends of yours make it as far as my office in the inquiry process, I do not need to warn them about the growing pains, shortcomings, challenges and deficiencies of ECS…because you’ve told them already, and they came anyway!
You all are the best people to speak to prospective families about how our weaknesses affect you as a family. You’re also able to speak about transitions from your previous schooling experiences, how your child has benefited (or not), and how your family has benefited (or not) from your time at ECS. I would expect that families would take my words with a grain of salt. After all, I have to say nice things about the school, right? We teachers may be ones to speak to In loco parentis or Risus est bellum, but you are all able to speak to what it looks like on the ground, and how it affects your families.
Last, review is always in order. As Samuel Johnson asserted, “People need to be reminded more than they need to be instructed.” Every year at Information Night I’m reminded why I would choose ECS for my kids in a heartbeat even if I didn’t work there. In a different setting, I may say that I rededicate myself to ECS year by year as a parent at Information Night…but I digress.
When I see the work the students are doing, when I hear them sing, when I see that they are excited to be there, and when I listen to Sean speak about our philosophy and classical Christian education, I’m deeply grateful for the work of God at ECS, and that my children get to be a part of it.
What’s more, I need that regular reminder that the work of educating my kids is my responsibility, and I’ve locked arms with faithful teachers and families that are flavoring the cultural waters in which my children are immersed. These teachers represent me very well when I’m not there, and together we can do a much better job of educating my children than Sonja and I could do by ourselves.
So for these (and some other) reasons, Information Night is one of my favorite nights of the year. Tell some friends whom you know would be a good fit for the school and bring them along.
See you there.
Risus est bellum!