Last Modified: Saturday, September 28, 2013 1:29 PM
What started with a handful of kindergartners from the families of Church of the Good Shepherd parishioners has, after more than a half-century, grown to become a highly regarded school that serves 370 students, age 2 to grade 8, from more than two dozen countries, and of different faiths.
Bishop Noland Episcopal Day School, founded in 1953 at the behest of parishioners, is celebrating its 60th academic school year. The Rev. Deacon Frances “Boo” Kay, head of EDS, said the school’s religiously diverse student body makes it unique. Only 14 percent of EDS students are Episcopalian, she said.
“We have students from many different religions,” Kay said. “We are a Christian school, but we foster the faith that students come with, and we don’t try to convert them. We even have Jewish and Muslim students.”
During its last assessment, the school found that it had students from 27 countries. EDS uses this as a teaching tool to study different countries and to educate students on other cultures’ traditions and beliefs, such as the Chinese New Year, Kay said.
EDS students attend chapel two times a week and Eucharist, and the school’s curriculum focuses heavily on areas such as character development and community service.
The school recently added a Franklin Covey program called the Leader in Me, which focuses on seven habits to help students be productive citizens and find their individual leadership skills. Another component that EDS focuses on is service learning and outreach, including recycling initiatives, food drives and fundraisers for various charities.
“What makes our school so unique and special is our ability to educate the whole child,” Kay said. “While our students are high achievers academically, we also work with each child individually to become a well-rounded individual ready to take on the world.
“The reason that we are able to focus on each child is because we ensure our class sizes are some of the smallest in our region.”
To celebrate its anniversary, EDS has scheduled a week of festivities, which began Friday with a golf tournament, in conjunction with National Episcopal Schools Week.
Other events will include a 5k run today with a picnic afterward for alumni, family and friends of the school. The EDS choir will perform on Sunday during a special service at the church.
At 8 a.m. Monday, the school will host one of the students’ favorite annual events — the Blessing of the Pets service, where students can bring pets to school to be blessed. According to Kay, it won’t be only cats and dogs. In the past, turtles, snakes, horses, goats and even pigs have shown up to receive a blessing.
The celebration will continue Monday with a fundraiser 5-7 p.m. at Izzo’s on Prien Lake Road; 20 percent of all sales will be donated to the school. There will be a special lunch for students and their grandparents on Tuesday and a reunion for past librarians and former Library Club members.
Wednesday will be 1950s Day, and the students will wear ’50s-inspired clothing and eat a ’50s-inspired lunch. The celebration will end Thursday with the annual New Parent Dinner, hosted by the EDS Parent Guild.