Growing Up Seventh-Day Adventist: Off to School

Since the time I could first form memories, I knew that I was different. For one, I was a vegetarian. There was no meat in our house, as both of my parents were vegetarians, so I never had any, and I never had any cause to be around any. Secondly, I went to a church school. Now, if you’ve never been to a church school, or even to a private school, there are some things you need to know about it:

1) A church school has classes like Religion, and Bible Study

2) A church school is first and foremost centered around the church, so only those from that particular religion are accepted in the school

3) A church school is very costly to maintain, so there is a pretty steep tuition component

4) A church school requires a uniform

Our uniform was navy blue pants and a yellow button-down shirt for the boys, and a pleated navy cross-hatch skirt or dress with a yellow button-down shirt for the girls. We were checked for properly pressed clothing (no problem for me, as my mother was fastidious about this aspect) on a daily basis. You were always expected to have a second uniform available in case the initial one was dirtied. Boys were also expected to wear a tie on most days, preferably in navy, and some of the girls wore ties as well. Needless to say, with these strict uniforms there was absolutely no room for individuality, but that wasn’t the point. The point was to make clothing a non-issue, and it worked, except that we all couldn’t stand the uniforms.

The fact of tuition caused many problems as well. You see, our school, Larchwood SDA School, was funded by several Philadelphia area churches, so students came from all over, from each of the “sister” churches. Some churches had more money to assist their students, while other students had to foot the bill themselves, and within their families. Since their families were not rich, they had to struggle to get by, and sometimes they had to leave the school mid-semester to go to a public school. It was always a depressing time when one of our classmates was in this predicament, and would disappear before the year was done.

Also, because only Seventh-Day Adventists were accepted in the school, we didn’t have any exposure whatsoever to the outside world. Everyone there thought like us, believed what we believed, and there really wasn’t room for argument or debate. While it was a good thing to have others like us we didn’t have to always explain our religion to, it was also bad to not get to question our faith. Because it is in the questioning of your faith that you grow and mature as an individual, and collectively.

Finally, with classes like Religion, and Bible Study, that counted toward our final GPA each year, it was a veritable church meeting we went to each day. Due to this, I think I can quote entire passages from just about any book in the Bible (well, that and the fact that my father is a preacher). This serves me well when I get into a battle of scripture with just about anyone these days. I’m still not sure if I’m grateful for this or mortified by it. Probably a little bit of both.

Growing up SDA was a phenomenal experience because it was like a completely different world from the world outside. Insular in its complexity, and set apart from the rest of the world, it was unique. It definitely helped me to become the person I am today, and for that I am grateful.


Growing Up Seventh-Day Adventist: Taking the SATs on Sunday

Growing Up Seventh-Day Adventist: Suiting Up

Growing Up Seventh-Day Adventist: Being a “Preacher’s Kid” [Freshly Pressed]

Growing Up Seventh-Day Adventist: A Different Kind of Brother

Growing Up Seventh-Day Adventist: Divisions

Growing Up Seventh-Day Adventist: Academy Life

Growing Up Seventh-Day Adventist: Getting Healthy

Growing Up Seventh-Day Adventist: Keeping the Sabbath

7 thoughts on “Growing Up Seventh-Day Adventist: Off to School

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  1. Sam keep up the good work,i’m happy to see and here really good things about you and your family,but I’m not surprised because of who your parents are…..very educated and intelligent people….I wish you and your family all the blessings….Keep up the good work……B

  2. Sam, not sure when you went through school, but as a child of the 70′s I attended the largest SDA church school in DC, Dupont Park, and had older siblings who started there in late 60′s. Before I was school age, we lived for a while in Philly and not only did my older brothers attend Larchwood, my mom subbed there. We always had non SDA schoolmates in school and in academy, TA. Your statement that only Adventist kids were allowed at Larchwood cannot be correct. Adventists have always viewed our educational system as an evangelistic tool to spread the message of salvation and I value the family I have from my years of school, Adventist or not.

    1. What I meant was that the vast majority were indeed adventist regardless of how the church viewed itself. Sure there were a few non-adventists in the group, so I apologize for saying only adventists went to Larchwood or any other adventist elementary school.

      1. Your statement was very clear. I fundamentally disagree with it and the idea there was no room for independent thought. I’m so proud of my heritage as a black american and am so blessed to be a part of this movement. I may be reading a lot into your blog, but you seem to resent your upbringing but try to end each post on a positive note – for your readers?? I can appreciate your honesty, but trust me when I say you have a home life VERY similar to my own. We kept sabbath 25 hours instead of 24. Guarding the edges, right? But I realize now it was all parents knew to do. I pray my kids appreciate the sacrifices my husband and I make with God’s help to educate them (yep, SDA school) and raise them to love Him and themselves. It’s all we know to do. I also wish you the best in your journey. You are very honest and that’s never a bad thing. : -)

      2. If you believe my statement was clear but you think I was saying there was no place for independent thought then I was sadly not clear. There was a place. I just never found it myself. Thank you for what you said about my honesty. I try to keep my perspective in all things.

      3. As for ending my posts on a positive note, I am a very positive and optimistic person overall. And I am proud of the person I have become, including where I come from.

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