4 Factors That Set High Schools Apart in Our Current Times  

A guest post from Head of School, Mike Runey

We find ourselves in the most challenging and uncertain times in recent memory. Therefore, as parents and high school students, we have never been more compelled to discover places of hope and light for young, developing minds. Schools aim to provide this kind of support and community. However, in our current environment, whether because of social isolation or tension and disunity, the pandemic has forced high schools to change.  

With the changing context of what schooling looks like, it’s key to find a place where your high schooler will be able to find the support and resources that he or she specifically needs to thrive. In a time where schools have taken on varied approaches to learning, success can look different.   

At Portsmouth Christian Academy, we’ve delved into what it means to continue to be a source of light for our community and for those who would thrive at our school. PCA has pivoted to remain a place where high school students can find the support and resources that they need to thrive, especially in this environment. We are certainly proud of our excellent teachers, our track record of outstanding academics, and proven character and spiritual growth opportunities. We’ve also worked hard to develop our regionally recognized Fine Arts department and championship-caliber sports teams. Importantly, we have modified all of them to operate in this COVID environment to be in-person, agile to change, and effective. Even more significantly, there are four timely and relevant factors that we believe have allowed our school to stand out in these challenging times:   

1. We’re connected and in person.

In a world struggling with what to do in the midst of COVID, it’s commonly understood that the vast majority of students still thrive most with in-person education. Our high school students are back on campus safely and responsibly. This is possible because they’ve committed themselves to adhere to protocols in order to continue learning and engaging in-person.

With that said, there’s importance in meeting each family where they are, depending on their situation and needs. That’s why PCA also offers off-site, live education options for those who want and need it, fully integrated with their classmates on campus. However, even here, staying connected is key.  

2. We’re a compassionate community.

As a young mind in a time of great tension and disunity, both in our country and our world, children need to be cultivated in a place that allows them to come together in unity with those different from themselves. Our school is committed to just that – working to actively demonstrate that we can be different in our views and backgrounds while also being caring in our relationships, always seeking the good of our neighbors. We believe it’s important for a school to be a safe, caring, compassionate community for all students.  

3. We’re providing space for clarity in confusion.

In a time when our society is sending mixed messages about life’s core issues, it’s important that a school environment is a place where students can safely explore life’s big questions. At PCA, we’ve worked to make our high school community one that is grounded and gracious, loving, and truthful. Having a school that allows high schoolers to find this clarity can be crucial.  

4. We’re cultivating character through being leadership-focused.

In a culture that tends to be self-centered, we believe it can be pivotal for your young adult to grow to his or her potential while learning to focus on, serve, and lead others—living beyond themselves in community. PCA is committed to modeling, developing, and sending God-oriented servant leaders into our community and world to make a positive difference in college, the trades, missions, and beyond. It’s important to ask how your high school might be preparing your student for others-focused leadership beyond his or her schooling.  

These are the four key factors we’ve found that have allowed PCA’s High School to stand out and cultivate our students to thrive in our current times. Though these distinguishing factors may look different for each school, we believe that discovering these characteristics in a school environment can be valuable in finding a place where your high schooler maximizes his or her potential.  

These distinguishing factors can set the foundation for an outstanding high school experience, and continue to be what we at PCA’s High School strive for. While we’re not perfect, we are committed to continuing to pursue excellence—in our attitude, our partnership in the community, and in our service to our families. It isn’t too late to start at PCA. Though switching to a new school can be a challenge, PCA is accustomed to welcoming, receiving, and integrating students mid-year. Especially in this season, we stand ready to welcome your family and help your son or daughter gain the most from this year. As challenging as 2020-21 is, we also believe—by God’s grace and provision—that this year is also a great year of opportunity and possibility, whether you find yourself at Portsmouth Christian Academy or beyond.   

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