As a parent of my first child attending Rio Lindo Adventist Academy, I am delighted to say that we feel it was the best decision for our child. Her enthusiasm and personal development since the beginning of the school year have been beautiful to watch. But this year has not been without its emotional challenges. Just letting her go away from us was a leap of faith on our part. Although it is an institution in CA and we are about 7.5 hours drive away, this can still seem so terribly far. We had knots in our stomachs when there were evacuations due to the fires.
Should we go get her right away or let her go to her aunt’s place nearby? Then, should she go to a friend’s house who lives close by should the need arise again? There were so many friendly offers to stay over. Finally, the parent weekend before Thanksgiving was here and we could spend more time on campus and see the beauty of living at RLAA.
Then came Christmas vacation and we were sooooo happy to have her home again. We visited so many of her local friends and had so may come over to hear about her life at RLAA. I answered similar questions multiple different times to several people, “Is she ok so far away? Isn’t it hard for her to be away? Don’t you miss her? How much does it cost? …” Hopeful as always, we sent her back to RLAA in January to face a new year. We anticipated her first flight without us but with the school choir and her friends to Hawaii; we planned for her to finally take the driving test and obtain her driver’s license. We also began looking at summer school programs to get ahead and then made mental sketches of what our family vacation might look like.
All those plans came to a screeching halt when my employer stated that we would be closing schools. Immediately, I worried about our daughter and began texting the girls’ dean. I didn’t want to leave her up north for an indefinite amount of time if everything was going to be shutting down. Though the dean reassured me that all was fine, she later confirmed RLAA was going to shut down temporarily also. We drove up that night and gathered our daughter and some of her belongings and returned home. We were happy to be reunited as a family again and yet our daughter missed her friends and school. She missed Sabbath services, she repeatedly shared that she’d miss the play and the upcoming choir concert and going to Hawaii. We emphasize not spending much screen time daily and yet our daughter was using her laptop and/or cell phone daily for classes. That couldn’t be! Then she was working on projects and other assignments. It seemed like her days were unending.
Stepping back, I amazed at the dedication of the teachers who are on the device daily in order to speak face-to-face with their students. What’s more, I’m amazed at the students who are actually getting on daily to “attend class”! At 8:03, our daughter would say, “I need to get to class in 2 minutes. Bye!” and then escape into her quiet space. We would see her briefly and intermittently throughout the day until about 4 or 5 pm when she’d resurface and join family activities. We are simply impressed with the teachers’ distance involvement. Yes, we still receive daily grade updates and school news comes just as often as it always has.
Even though it seems like the rest of the world is experiencing a lot of chaos and adjustments are being ever-so-frequently, I feel as though RLAA has a firm grip on the education that they are delivering and they are steadfastly doing what they do best: teaching our children and keeping them engaged from a distance. Naturally, we all feel the disappointments and we grieve with the senior class and their families who looked forward to their graduation services being traditional and undisturbed.
We are hopeful that the next school year will be a new start to happy and fun memories once again. We know it will be different but it is hoped that the changes will not take away the essence of the core of what makes RLAA what it is. Because of our first child’s experience at RLAA, all of her younger siblings are already looking forward to being able to attend RLAA when they are of age. We hope it is so – for their sake.
For me as a mom, I continue to soothe the emotions of a teenager who misses her routine and living with all teenagers and some adults. Along with that, I manage my other children’s schedules with zoom school at different times of the day as well as my own multiple work zoom meetings that are daily and seem to be quite lengthy. Add to that mix, juggling several other life events that also take away time and require a different kind of attention due to this pandemic’s restrictions. In the end, we know we are healthy and for that, we thank God.
We are together, and for that we thank God. We know the Lord, and for that, we bless His name. We know God is coming soon and for that, we praise God, because then, we will not ever be separated and we will be renewed at long last.