I was one of those kids that gave an eye roll.
When people asked me what high school I attended, I would reluctantly respond, “LCA… I know.”
What did I know? I knew the reputation it had. We were for the rich kids. We were for the hypocritical, materialistic divorced parents to send their kids because they didn’t have time to teach them values.
But after having been four years removed from that place, after setting foot on a public college campus and earning my degree, that eye roll has turned into a smile.
There is a small collection of former private school students that blame my private, Christian school on the outcome of their lives.
If they really believe they are worse off for going to LCA, that’s fine with me, people are free to believe what they think.
What I will not be quiet about is when people who are unhappy with themselves for whatever reason come out of the woodwork years after graduation to destroy the reputation of a place that has, for the most part, been a Godsend to so many kids like me.
When I began my career at Lexington Christian Academy in 1999, I was 5 years old.
There’s not much I remember about those days specifically, but what I do remember is being constantly surrounded by love. The kind of love that you can feel in an atmosphere. The first real lesson I had in love and strength was from a lady named Susan Childers.
That lady was my first ever principal. She braved a long, grueling battle with colon cancer before finally being set free of pain in April, 2005. To this day, I can see the smile on her face even through dramatic weight loss, hair loss and weakening. We made her smile.
It wasn’t again until 4th grade that I truly realized the commitment LCA had to loving its students.
In March, 2003, my mom collapsed in the Eastland campus while eating breakfast with my sister before classes started. I was with my dad on my way to the larger campus, and I was late because, “Mom got sick.”
I didn’t know what that meant, but it turns out it would impact the next six years of my life, and beyond, dramatically.
During that period, my dad’s business was struggling. He was trying to develop custom homes and subdivisions in 2007, when the housing marking collapsed. He had all but become a single father, taking me and my sister to school and then picking us up.
Many days I spent left at LCA, sometimes hours after the final “bell” at 3:30. Each and every day, as the other kids gradually disappeared, teachers would stay with me, sometimes until 5:00 when my dad could get away from work to get me.
They let me sit in offices, use the phone to see where he was, get water from the cooler and helped me with my homework.
School became a place I enjoyed going. Not because it was fun, not because I liked learning, not because I liked wearing a polo shirt and khaki pants.
But because in some ways I had a more complete family there than I did at home.
Thankfully, my mom finally began recovering from her illness by the time I reached the end of middle school and we became a complete family again.
Once I hit my teenage years, I did things teenagers do. I developed an attitude, I became the smartest, most enlightened person within a six mile radius of myself at all times and I didn’t want to listen to what anyone had to say.
In 7th grade, another tragedy in a series of tragic events struck our school. My math teacher, Lois Turner, had just started a new semester with us. She was the only math teacher I had enjoyed to that point, and had she stayed around I may have had some kind of liking for math.
In August, 2006, Comair flight 5191 crashed at Bluegrass Airport. Larry Turner, Mrs. Turner’s husband, was one of the casualties.
I can’t imagine the grief she felt and the tragedy of that experience, so I won’t attempt to speak for her. But from the times I heard her speak, it was the power of her faith and those around her at LCA that helped her through that.
Just six years later, Mrs. Turner lost her battle with lung cancer. That amazing woman made a difference in every single life she touched at that school, and it was beyond evident as we all grieved together.
Once I reached high school, I again realized what that school had provided me with some of the most impactful Chapel gatherings of my life. Every Thursday, the entire student body would gather to sing worship songs and hear messages from speakers.
Some of those days, I slept. I didn’t sing. I made jokes about the speakers or the topics they talked with. But most of those days, deep within me, I could feel a building filled to the top with love.
Love for God, love for each other.
I watched students that played sports, drank on the weekends, cussed regularly and made dirty jokes leave that chapel with tears in their eyes. It wasn’t uncommon for us to be late for our final two classes because we refused to leave that place.
We grieved losses together, Mrs. Baker, Reagan and others, and celebrated newness together. It truly was a special ride.
In the recent wave of attacks against LCA, I’ve heard claims of kids being treated differently because of who they were.
I never belonged to any clique. I wasn’t part of the uber-popular groups or the rich kids club. I wasn’t a standout athlete or a particularly special kid. My parents didn’t have a lot of money. I was actually mostly quiet, reserved and kept to myself. Where was my “rich-kid athlete” privilege? Why was I treated so well?
Of course there were politics involved. There were certain groups, relationships or other factors that could be criticized. But those things exist at every high school, even secular public schools. To suggest that bullying, social cliques and materialism was somehow the fault of LCA is absolutely unwarranted. These are unfortunate attitudes that teenagers develop during those years, but they’ve always existed and always will. And yes, there was a lot of money floating around. But let’s talk about money.
Teachers at LCA don’t make a lot of money. No faculty at LCA makes a lot of money. The only reason to be a faculty member at LCA is the obvious: loving and caring for young people of faith. Yes, many of the students come from well-off families, but is that a problem when they support the school in the way they did? I know of several cases, personally, where one family stepped up and helped a student in need. Whether it was paying for things, housing students, hosting events or countless other acts of love, families at LCA were subsets of a bigger family.
Once of the other criticisms is the rules. We had a pretty simple dress code. It was polos and khakis for everybody. Nobody complained more about the dress code at the time than I. But as I’ve grown older, I’ve realized that the way you present yourself is important. I’m not against tattoos, piercings or hair colors, but just like any professional environment, LCA thought that these things may take away from a professional appearance.
This philosophy is not unique to LCA. Some private secular schools have higher dress standards than we did. I’m sorry that you didn’t get to flaunt your rebellious feminism and that it resulted in you throwing faith in God away.
Throughout high school, the teachers proved time and time again they cared about our well-being more than anything.
One teacher specifically spoke about some encounters he had with the spiritual world, more specifically demonic entities. He hesitated telling these stories, understandably, but when curios students would ask, he would tell us what he experienced.
This has gotten blowback because, of course, it’s OK to consider Christians crazy when they talk about biblical things.
It’s funny to me that these people hate LCA because they are too “tolerant” and “accepting” to conform to the school’s rules, yet they so easily call a teacher crazy for speaking about his personal spiritual experiences. If only his personal experience had been feeling like he was a woman instead… then they might tolerate his personal experience.
If you think LCA, or any private Christian school for that matter, ruined your life, I’m sorry. If you have legitimate grievances, I wish they had gotten worked out while you were there. But when you have become a bitter, hateful person because of the circumstances either you or your parents (or lack thereof) put yourself in, I have no sympathy for you.
Life is truly what you make of it. Your decisions directly determine what consequences you face, and for most of us that is the beauty of a free nation like the U.S.
If you have issues with the person you’ve become, change. Seek help. You can do mostly anything you want to do in life. If you’re not a person of faith because you don’t want to “conform” to Christianity, then maybe it isn’t for you. Christians aren’t supposed to wait for Christ to conform to them and their feelings or politics, Christians are supposed to conform to Christ and his Truth.
But whatever you do stop blaming an institution that loved for us, cared for us, provided for us and blessed us in ways that other kids would die to have.
Whether you admit it or not, LCA was one of the greatest privileges of all of our lives. If you don’t realize it, fine. But hopefully, as the years have passed, most of us have.