This piece was first published in the October 2015 parent newsletter of All Saints’ Episcopal Day School in Austin, TX. It is reprinted here with permission.
We went to the safest room in our house in Driftwood, Texas three times during the Memorial Day weekend because of the turbulent weather. What we did not know at the time was that our long-time friends and their guests were missing after a 40-foot wall of water came down the Blanco River and washed away their home in Wimberley. When the water subsided, a search began and the family dog and one adult were found alive.As the days and weeks passed, one of the children and 5 of the adults were found dead. Two children are still missing.
It was emotionally difficult for me to go to the Search and Rescue Center to volunteer. My chest hurt and breathing became more difficult the closer I got to the building. And then I began to recognize some of the volunteers; their faces were familiar, but they looked much older than I remembered. Many were students from St. James Episcopal School where I worked in Corpus Christi for 13 years before coming to All Saints’ in 2000. The operation was incredible and yet the individuals in charge were young adults with no experience with a job like this.
How did they do it? I am confident that we administrators and teachers never imagined that orienteering skills they learned on outdoor education trips would help them divide a large area into quadrants so that a search for family and friends could be done efficiently. Or that participating in the low elements of the ropes course would prepare them to work cooperatively in an emotionally charged group like this, and that completing the high elements would provide them with the ability to separate what can be controlled from what cannot. And that what they learned in their organizational skills class would enable them to manage thousands of people, each wanting to contribute to the success of jobs unlike any they had ever known. But perhaps what I saw them use most was their deep faith in God. They expressed that even if they did not arrive in time to extend a helping hand to their loved ones, God did.
The parents of those young adults chose St. James for a variety of reasons. What they know now, is that some of the most important things their children learned did not come from books. I’m not sure how you found All Saints’ or which skills you believe are critical to your child’s future success. I pray though, that kindness and compassion are at the top of your list. I pray too that you will support the School and its Faculty in its efforts to educate the whole child.
Cindy LaPorte is Head of School of All Saints’ Episcopal Day School, a preschool in Austin Texas.