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Home-schooling at Wayside Academy.

Home-schooling has been growing by leaps and bounds. In Ontario it is said 80,000 students are being educated at home. Wherever possible, parents band together to form independent schools. In Ontario there are now sixteen of these schools under Catholic tutelage, ranging from the Wayside Academy in Peterborough described below, with 12 students, to St. Michael's College School in Toronto with well over 900 boys.

The following article is the first of a series on private Catholic schools. Readers who participate in such schools are invited to send in their own account.

If ye would have the horse of old,

Scour ye the horse anew

G. K. Chesterton, The Ballad of the White Horse.

David Beresford

Three years ago, some parents got together to discuss Catholic education in Peterborough. That meeting produced Wayside Academy, a small, private elementary school with twelve students, one full-time teacher, a director, and lots of volunteers. Wayside has succeeded due to the common vision among those involved, lots of dedication, and the generosity in both time and resources of family and friends.

The purpose of Wayside is to produce young men and women who can bring the Catholic faith into the world, supporting the Church in her mission of evangelization. The objectives are to form the students spiritually, morally, and humanly. On a day-by-day basis, each student is challenged by their individual studies to develop the self-discipline and motivation needed to achieve their academic goals. There is little wasted time in their day, with even recess and lunch devoted to organized sports. The children attend school from Monday to Thursday, with Friday spent in independent study at home. This day is for projects, reading, creative writing, and field trips. One of the reasons for having the fifth school day spent at home is to reinforce the family as the centre of the student's life, having the home being seen as a normal place for education to occur.

The Catholic faith is an essential part of school life and studies. This fall the children studied the pioneers, learning history, geography, science, and social studies. The whole was suffused with the importance of religion in the life of those pioneers who built the churches that we now attend. The children also sent letters and a spiritual bouquet to the Holy Father for his anniversary. They received a kind letter conveying the Pope's gratitude and his blessing; this was a high point for all of us.

Bishop James Doyle came to bless the school this past October. Before starting Wayside, we approached the bishop for his permission to have a Catholic school. One of his chief concerns was the preparation of the students for the sacraments. This has been done with Father Tad Porzuczek of Our Lady of Assumption parish.

Funding is a problem

To have a school requires funds, and this is perhaps the biggest obstacle we have had to overcome. Tuition is kept modest so that it is not a hindrance to anyone's coming, and the balance is made up with fund-raising in which all the parents participate. We have monthly dinners at a local restaurant which donates space, cooking, and much of the food, with the parents waiting on table and washing up. We also have garage sales and raffles, and as a registered charity we actively solicit donations. The response of the community has been mixed; some people have been very generous, while many show little enthusiasm for our initiative. This year we hope to have a lecture series as well as a dance.

Our school has a secondary purpose, that of being a locus for Catholic families to support each other in the practice of their faith. Many of us have an unfashionably large number of children, and occasionally feel at odds with our culture. Lots of home-schooling families participate with us in events such as baseball games, field trips, and the Christmas pageant. This has had the happy result of bringing us all together in the common pursuit of living our faith in today's world.

Before becoming involved with Wayside Academy, our family was trying to resist the siren song of society, and trying not to lose ground. Since then, we have been exhilarated by the process of rebuilding our Catholic culture with so many good, faithful, charitable families, united in our goal of raising strong Catholics, Catholics who will help the Church revivify our world.

To contact Wayside Academy, call Dale Kennedy, the director, at 705-742-8534, or write to Wayside Academy, P. O., Box 824, Peterborough, Ont., K9J 6Y5.
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Publication:Catholic Insight
Date:May 1, 1997
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