Friday, May 05, 2006

The Academy -- Part III

Part I and II

I have a rich Seventh-day Adventist heritage. Yes, we're the oddities that observe Saturday instead of Sunday. My great-grandfather was a conference president for many regions (Arizona, Nevada, Jamaica) and for many years. He’d be the main speaker at the old-fashioned camp meetings and his wife, my great-grandmother, had a lovely voice and sang solos and led the hymns. Like many preachers he neglected his home-mission to focus on his evangelistic-mission and as a result all of his children grew up to be agnostics, except for one son, my grandfather, who is atheistic.

Somehow, despite my father’s extremely unloving upbringing, or perhaps because of it, he began to search for deeper meaning. He started listening to his grandparents preach and soon after he married my mother, they were baptized into the SDA church.

Like every demonimation, the SDAs have their own peculiar set of traditions and cultures. One of them is to send one’s kids to academy for their high school years, and many of the academies are boarding schools. The conference SDA church has massive worldwide educational and health systems, second only, I believe, to the Catholic’s systems. One could send their child to the academy in your own town, or you could send him to one in India if you wanted. At some point in middle school, every SDA kid is asked, “Where do you want to go to academy?”

I went to a SDA school from 1st to 7th grade. For 8th grade I lived with my now grown sister for about six months and went to a one-room school house. That was a psychotic experience to unbelievable to write about, so I won’t. I returned to my old school for 9th grade and faced the question, “where do you want to go to academy?”

Public school was never in consideration. It pretty much didn’t exist for us. All of my friends were Adventists and the few neighbor friends I’d had that weren’t were so different from what I was used to that I couldn’t fathom going to a school with them. I wasn’t raised to feel like I was better than anyone, so I didn’t think that. But the kids outside my regular circle were vastly different than me. Often equally nice, but they tended to be much more sophisticated, meaning they knew more about the world than I did. I’m not talking about world events or cultures, but the stuff they didn’t teach in schools, like sex, for instance. We knew about sex, but they had the Cosmopolitan version, with details. They also wanted to party. Oh, so did we, but our version had adult supervision, sherbet punch and Uno. Theirs were considerably different. In my twenties I attended parties, but I’ve had to get the adolescent version explained to me by my husband David (he was one of them). While I know it is typical for most kids, it still blows my mind that his parents didn’t know, or appear to care, where he was just as long as he was back by the set curfew time. I can’t tell how foreign that was to me as a teenager. While I had my rebellious phases I never felt smothered by them.

I wanted to go to Auburn Adventist Academy in Washington. Mainly because it seemed far away, but not too far away, and I had friends who were going to go there. My parents disagreed, as parents will. AAA was too expensive, and getting too rowdy, or so they heard (I think they heard right). Some friend had told them about “self-supporting” Adventist schools. These schools were not run by the Conference so were smaller, cheaper, and supposedly more godly. I believe that some are. Ahem. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

So AAA was out and “self-supporting” was in, much to my great dismay. I waited for my parents to find the one they wanted and fill me in. California? Canada? Right.


At Saturday, May 06, 2006 5:42:00 AM, Blogger lostgirl said...

Sheryl: If you're ever inclined, I'd love to hear about the psychotic experience. Also can't wait for the next installment of your story! I'm guessing that mileage wise, we probably were not that far apart all those years. Sandpoint is an hour or so from Spokane and anyone who lives in North Idaho, regularly goes to Spokane. Don't know how far you were from Spokane though....!

At Sunday, May 07, 2006 8:38:00 PM, Blogger Sheryle said...

You want to hear about my eighth grade year? Oh boy. I'll tell it to you sometime, but it was very bizarre. Twilight Zone.

I'd guess we were maybe four hours away? Tri-Cities is about two and a half hours from Spokane, I think. Our choir traveled extensively throughout the Northwest and I remember going to Idaho -- so we got very close at times!


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