MAILING : P.O. Box 8, Los Olivos, CA 93441
We learned about Midland through a friend who thought that my son would like it. The school features things that any 8th grade boy would like: axes, knives, and fire. When we saw the campus it was love at first sight. All was well and good until it came time to take my 14 year old to school in late August. I cried the whole day. I thought, “What am I doing letting my child go here? He’s too young! He needs to be at home still!” I was inconsolable for about a week afterwards. We had no family history of attending boarding schools, no interest in any other boarding school except Midland, and quite frankly thought boarding school was for those families who were tired of their kids and wanted a break from the teenager in the house.
I came to school at the three week mark for the new parents get together. I saw, in the flesh, my kid. Then I knew. He had changed already. The fearful, awkward, anxious, uncertain child from drop off was already happy, settling in, and was clearly in the right place.
Before we pursued Midland, I spoke with a current parent, someone we knew tangentially from both our kids going to the same elementary school, but whose daughter is four years older. She said something that really stayed with me: “When you send your child to Midland, it seems as if you are losing your kid. But it’s the reverse. You are really gaining your kid. They become who they are meant to be. You don’t see them as much, but the quality of time you spend with them is unlike anything you’ve ever experienced with them before.”
I saw her sentiments in action almost immediately. My son’s more willing to help out at home. He laughs more. He considers wants versus needs when it comes to buying almost anything. We can have discussion on the latest news and really discuss the ebb and flow of events and their potential meaning. His confidence is up, he’s more secure in his place, and he has deep friendships.
One surprise from his Midland time is his unexpected love of and devotion to the Horse Program. He told me that the horses taught him to be calmer, since the energy he brings to them is what’s reflected back.
One of the most subtle aspects to Midland’s core values is the importance of doing your part to help the community. Without you and your effort, the community is missing something tangible. That feeling of the value of hard work, that you show up, that you are prepared, is part of the water under the surface that makes Midland a powerful force in a teenager’s life. Within the Jobs Program, my son is part of horse crew, meaning that he gets up at 6:30 a.m., rain or frost or shine, to feed them. It has to be done every day. They are hungry every day. If he doesn’t show up, they will not be happy. It matters that he is there. If he isn’t there, the senior in charge of horse crew and his crew mates give him a consequence. No adults are involved for that initial consequence.
Kids can learn academics at any school. At Midland there are no fluorescent lights, no hallways; instead, walk outside and learn more in one afternoon of what’s really important than you would learn in a week at a traditional school. What’s important are relationships: with yourself, with your classmates, with the faculty, and with the earth. You genuinely know where your food comes from, and what impact you make individually and collectively. What can you count on when the world is turned upside-down? A place of home, within your own skin, with a view of Grass Mountain.
By Nancy Herron
Parent of Ben ’22
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