Creating a community through private schools

Students examine challenges, advantages of having private school education

Bella Greenspan, Features Editor

Kelly Kempf ’19 hasn’t seen most of her friends from middle school in months, some even years. She keeps in touch with a few of them, but getting together more than a few times a year is hard, especially because they all live in different areas and go to different schools.

Kempf came to Stevenson as a freshman from St. Mary’s School, a private Catholic school in Buffalo Grove. She was a student there for ten years, from pre-school to eighth grade. But when Kempf finished eighth grade, her parents had to make the decision about what kind of high school she would go to: public or private.

“I ended up going to public school instead of private because my parents didn’t really want to pay a huge tuition fee for me and my four older siblings,” Kempf said.

Compared to Stevenson’s population of 4200 people, Kempf said the transition was daunting as St. Mary’s had less than 400 students in 11 grades.

“It was a culture shock to move to Stevenson,” Kempf said. “I went from seeing the same 40 people I’ve known for my whole life every day to being around 4000 kids who I didn’t know.”

Sigourney Porter, on the other hand, has been going to private school all her life. She is currently enrolled in Carmel Catholic High School, the same school that her older brother attended.

“My brother decided he wanted to go to Carmel and it was just easier for me to follow him since I had siblings who had already gone there,” Porter said.

Although both girls had different experiences in terms of their educations, they agree on one thing—the aspect of community at their respective private schools can not be replicated anywhere else.

According to the Private School Review, there are roughly 1738 private schools in Illinois, 59 percent of which are religiously affiliated. Most religious schools tend to be centered around a support system, like a parish or a local religious center.

Nicole Raftery, principal of St. Mary’s, agrees that the community involved with private schools is an important one.

“The community plays a big part in making it feel like a family,” Raftery said. “We tend to all aspects of a person, not only the academic and behavioral pieces but also the social-emotional and the spiritual pieces. When you get to know all those aspects of a person you begin to care about them in different and deeper ways.”

Porter feels fortunate that this feeling of community will continue as most of her friends go to Carmel High School with her.   

While most of Kempf’s friends from St. Mary’s did not join her at Stevenson, Kempf hopes that their distance won’t break apart their closeness.

“I miss all my old friends, and it can be hard to keep in touch, but when we see each other we can bring up past memories and it’s such a sense of nostalgia,” Kempf said. “We had a lot of really good experiences, it was like a second family.”