For the last decade, Westlake Prep has been the seventh member of our family. To our kids—who started here just a few days after potty-training and who are leaving as tweens and teens—this place has been where they learned just about everything they know.
Leaving this important place must feel a bit like a divorce does. I’m not being melodramatic about leaving WL. The particular end to this chapter feels like such an identity switch that I can’t write about it without feeling deep grief…as well as exhilaration for what’s to come.
For the first time, I’m looking at the Westlake years through our family’s rear view mirror and I’m stunned at how entrenched we have been in this place. And, to be clear, we leave with so much more than we gave.
Catie graduated from 8th grade last year and the friendships she made will last a lifetime. These kids have been part of our family in road trips and endless sleepovers. They have bonded in the way that friends who share a magical experience melt into each other’s lives.
Westlake has been the only school Sam and Elisabeth have ever known. Their experience here has grown them into sensitive, creative, confident, kind, lovers of our Lord.
They needed exactly this small Lutheran school. They needed the PreK-3 teacher who sat next to us in church. They needed the patient teacher aides who helped them learn how to read and write—even when they were slower than the other kids and even when one of their names has 20 letters. They needed the creative teachers who made Bible stories into dramatic productions and urged them to memorize the Apostles Creed. They needed the friends who know them so well that they never even think about the two of them as twins. They needed the parent volunteers who told shy Elisabeth that she could be a drama star and who laughed at every one of Sam’s (edgy) jokes.
And, oh, what Nate has gained from this place. He seems to roll with everything, but he feels life deeply underneath his smile. Westlake has given him STEM centers to build his curiosity and true friends who let him relax into exactly who he is. (And also teachers who remind him to get on it when he relaxes too much).
This is what community looks like—to be known completely by a group of people and to be loved. And for a decade, our family has had true community.
But, when you’re a member of a community as intimate as Westlake for so long, you also feel the hurts too well. For our family, the most pain has come from having to say goodbye to our friends who have left over the years. We miss those moms and dads who have worked tirelessly with us on galas and prayed for programs to succeed. The families–like ours–have been bricks in building our school.
For us, the Westlake years will always be the most important for our kids. I am full of gratitude for a wonderful place that truly did prepare our family for eternity. It also prepared them for the next chapter in our lives.
Our family is headed to Lutheran South Academy—Westlake’s sister school. We’re all really nervous to leave this safe building and loving community that holds so much of our identity.
But we are also excited—to move forward, to solve new challenges, to deepen our trust that God will provide, and to see how He will grow us as we become bricks in what He is building at LSA.
Goodbye, Westlake. We will miss you.