Integrating Christian faith in learning
Jessamine Von Arx, Talon staff writer
High school is a time to make memories and work hard. It’s a time you will never forget. Financial times are tough, so is it worth spending $15,000 for a year of high school? Minnehaha Academy offers spiritual opportunities that many other schools do not. How does financial investment at Minnehaha Academy compare to other schools that offer more?
Jim Wald, director of finance/operations, said about 65 percent of tuition money goes to salaries and benefits and the rest goes to things such as light, heat, classroom supplies, money for operations of all the different departments at the school.
Wald compared Minnehaha to different schools.
“In terms of tuition,” said Wald, ”Minnehaha is somewhere in the middle of the pack for Twin Cities private schools.”
Heidi Shannon, director of admissions and enrollment also compared Minnehaha to other private schools.
“Financially Minnehaha Academy is priced considerably lower than other private schools in the metropolitan area, and you’ll find that Minnehaha has top quality academics, award winning athletics and arts programs that compete,” she said.
Shannon has other points why Minnehaha is worth it.
“I work with families from preschool on and what I find is when I work with families they are going to find some big differences [between public and private schools]. They are going to find smaller class sizes, and we have really [few] discipline problems here,” she said. “We have an amazing culture where our students are able to thrive in these class settings with teachers that really get to know every student and we are large enough to be a big school.”
Shannon has many reasons why Minnehaha Academy is worth it.
“We look at test scores [to measure the worth of schools] but you can’t just gauge a student’s success just by looking at them academically,” said Shannon. “We also want to make sure that at Minnehaha our mission is to provide a high quality education but it’s also to integrate Christian faith in learning.”
While integrating Christian faith, Minnehaha also hopes to assist each individual to their future.
“To have them understand that it’s more than just being smart, it’s about using their gifts to serve and that’s what we gauge our success on, is all of those things,” said Shannon.
Is the spiritual aspect of Minnehaha Academy what sets it apart?
Senior Jenn Bazzachini has been at Minnehaha Academy since her sophomore year. She transferred after one year at Wayzata high school.
“I picked this school after I went on a mission trip,” said Bazzachini. “I just had a change of heart and realized that I wanted to go to a Christian school rather than a public school.”
After three years here she is still satisfied with her decision.
“It definitely fulfilled my expectations,” said Bazzachini. “I feel like there is definitely an atmosphere at Minnehaha that’s different than most schools and it was kind of everything I needed at the time.”
Sophomore Calvin Treichler had a story similar to Bazzachini’s.
“I chose MA because my brother graduated from here three years ago and he highly recommended it,” said Treichler. “Minnehaha Academy exceeded my expectations; it was mainly the people, my peers and the teachers. They accepted me for who I was instantly.”
Bazzachini also enjoys the classroom atmosphere
“I would say that the Christian aspect of Minnehaha is enriching,” said Bazzachini. “I, before coming to MA, had never had teachers pray before class or even insert Christianity into our learning which I think is the coolest thing.”
Senior Jenny Finch has been here since kindergarten, but doesn’t have the same thoughts.
“There are a lot of things about Minnehaha that I like,” said Finch “such as the small class sizes and the generally good relationships between students and teachers.”
Finch also comments on the Christian culture.
”I don’t think [the Christian aspect] really affects my learning experience,” said Finch, “although I would say it affects my life experience. Every student, whether Christian or not, is going to learn or not learn at their own discretion, whether we pray during class or not.”
Senior Rose Shaffer had a similar situation to Finch. Shaffer chose Minnehaha after needing a change from a bad experience at her old school and thought Minnehaha would be a welcoming place. She ended up disappointed. She doesn’t necessarily have the same Christian views as most other students and faculty at Minnehaha.
We, on the Talon staff, believe Minnehaha is worth the $15,000 for most. This school is a place with genuine peers, teachers, faculty, opportunities, and a great faith based community, but we understand that not everybody enjoys the integration of faith in learning. If a student doesn’t see the effect of Christian education at Minnehaha Academy, nobody can force that student to change. There are many benefits that the student can get out of Minnehaha but in the end it comes down to the student and what they are willing to accept and take advantage of.