Remember your high school years? The nervousness that surrounds going to a ‘bigger school’, the pressure of exams and eventually applying to colleges, the excitement (and sometimes dread) of starting your first job, and of course the normal ups and downs of the friendships you make throughout your teenage years. High school can certainly feel a bit like being on a rollercoaster.
At Good Shepherd, we want to ensure our teen parishioners have a strong spiritual foundation to build on as young adults. Our goal is to have these parishioners excited to hang out with their church family.
Unlike the younger grades, our high school program (which includes grades 8 through 12) is based on a discussion approach. The students typically read through and discuss that week’s gospel lesson. Often times, the conversation leads to current events, concerns the students have in their everyday life, or issues they may be facing. They have an opportunity to connect with each other in a safe environment and maintain a sense of community.
To enhance our high school program, during the second half of the year we introduced guest speakers. Topics like stress management, volunteer programs, managing anxiety, heading to college, addiction and faith are discussed. The guest speaker spends a few minutes sharing their background and experiences and then invites questions from the group. The result is a step beyond their typical school curriculum–a chance to really dig in to their faith and find encouragement from others who have ‘been there’. The centerpiece of each discussion involves–most importantly–the speaker’s relationship with God. The students seem to really enjoy meeting and hearing the perspective of various adult members of our parish.
We want to continue to grow our high school program so if you have suggestions for discussion topics or other ways to enhance our curriculum, we’d love to hear from you!