By Alyssa Gregory, Junior
For the first two years of my elementary school life, I went to a public school.
In Kindergarten, I was the only one of my classmates who could read. Our teacher, when she needed to step out of the classroom for a moment, would put me in charge to direct the class in our reading activities. As a result, I did not have many friends.
After first grade, my mother realized that the public school was not the best place for my education, and she put me in our local Catholic elementary school.
I already knew two people in my class, one of them I had known since before we could walk, and the other was a girl I met through my piano lessons the year before.
I was accepted into the class, and quickly had more friends than I ever had in Kindergarten or first grade.
Much to my surprise, I also was academically challenged. Math and I soon became worst enemies, and our spelling words were sometimes ones even I did not know.
But I enjoyed the challenge and the rigor. Everything was better for me, academically and socially.
The only discomfort I felt was in attending the weekly school masses. I grew up in a family with no particular religious denomination.
We believed that there was a God, but nothing existed in our faith beyond that. Being involved in school masses confused me and, as with most children, my attention often wavered.
But, after three years of weekly school masses and daily religion classes, I realized that the Catholic faith was the one for me.
So, the summer between fourth and fifth grade, I was baptized at St. Boniface Church.
My baptism brought me closer with my friends in that now we shared the same connection to God.
But I realize now that even though I was not Catholic during my first few years at the school, my Catholic school was still the best place for me, academically.
The size of the St. John Neumann community may concern families, because bigger always is better, right? Not in the case of our school.
The small, friendly size of St. John Neumann allows for a more rigorous learning environment in which students receive more one-on-one time with teachers. Teachers know each student by name, and can readily jump in to help when a student struggles.
My Catholic-based education gives me more than I could have hoped for in an education.
It gives me teachers that truly care about each and every student, a friendly student body and a challenging curriculum that pushes me to work harder and succeed.
The closeness between the teachers and students leads to the perfect atmosphere for learning and encourages students to work towards their personal best.
It also gave me a gift that I will forever cherish - my faith.