Bethlehem was life-changing
My Bethlehem experience started midway through my sophomore year when I decided I wanted a push in academics. On my first day at Bethlehem, I walked in with a collared shirt, my custom-made khakis with the Bethlehem star imprinted on the back, and Jordan’s on my feet.
As I strode through the doors, I felt a warm welcoming love, as if you had just been introduced to your cousins that you met for the first time. I saw familiar faces at Bethlehem because of how small of a town Bardstown is, but I didn’t really know anybody.
Those classmates that I was just meeting for the first time, that I now call family, approached me with such great big smiles and great vibes. When I went to each class, I didn’t know what to expect with the work, but my new amazing friends helped me get through.
Going to a new private college-preparatory school meant that I had to quickly learn some different ways to cope with the school work. The work and the teaching style were quite different from what I was used to. The workload was outrageous. Some classes seemed way too advanced for me, especially English, my least favorite subject. This pushed me to focus on putting school first and being more open and willing to learn.
For instance, I knew how to write a paper and I enjoy writing but I didn’t know that there were so many tools to improve your writing. And even in math and science, because of Bethlehem, I understand and enjoy these subjects more now.
I began to learn at a better pace due to my willingness to work and find skills to improve through my teachers and my classmates.
At Bethlehem High School, of course we learn all of the general education subjects, but we also learn about faith. Although I didn’t know anything about Catholicism, religion class was probably the best thing that has happened in my life.
I went from coming from a household of non-Catholics that would rarely go to church outside of holidays, to being able to take a minute to talk to God daily, lean more toward God, learn about the struggles of Jesus and learn about the Catholic Church’s history.
As I struggled with bad days, tiring days, stressed-out days and sick days, especially with COVID-19 in the air, I got a chance to get closer to God. My biggest breakthrough was due to senior retreat, which is a class trip to reflect on your life as you get closer to classmates and God.
After retreat, I paid closer attention to Bible verses and focused more on my relationship with God. Through my religion classes and senior retreat, I have realized that the prayers I’ve prayed as a child are now reality.
As graduation quickly approaches, I am reflecting on some of those answered prayers. As a child, I dreamed about going to college, playing college football and being the first person in my family to graduate.
In the fall, I will be attending Georgetown College on a sports scholarship and, thanks to my experience at Bethlehem, I am confident that I will be able to graduate and be successful.
The most important lesson that I have learned through my time at Bethlehem is that with family, faith and God, no obstacle is too big.
Bethlehem High is my lighthouse
The trials and tribulations of high school can be a volatile sea, presenting unforeseen circumstances that leave you completely speechless. There is no preparation for navigating this journey alone. Bethlehem High School recognizes this and strives to guide students through this turbulent journey while teaching them the skills they’ll need for independence.
In recent years, Bethlehem has adopted the motto, “Lighting the way.” Initially I didn’t think it was special but to my surprise, after four years of being submerged in the sea of high school tribulations, I have come to realize that I needed a lighthouse. I needed a safe harbor. I needed an anchor or two. I needed Bethlehem High School to light my way through four years of a polarizing ocean storm. Luckily for me, the guidance I yearned for was exactly what I was going to receive at Bethlehem.
On March 13, 2020, everyone across the globe experienced a catastrophic tribulation: the COVID-19 pandemic. No one could have foreseen this lull in our world, as well as the consequences it would have on us and our education. Nobody completely understood the benefits of the school environment until we were deprived of them. There is so much that we missed when we all had to go home. We missed the interaction with teachers, our friends and our classmates. We learned that in-person education allowed for critical information that couldn’t be conveyed through a screen. The only way we knew to get through this was together. However solemn all of these experiences may seem, all of these situations are surmountable when you have such an extraordinary support system like Bethlehem High School.
I entered this school expecting to be capable of accomplishing everything on my own. I learned quickly that I couldn’t.
Now looking back on this expectation, I am glad that I couldn’t. The transition into high school can illuminate one’s need for relationships. The relationships that one builds at Bethlehem and within these storms of struggle become an anchor that keeps you calm and level-headed, assisting through the peak of the raging storm, while also being there when everything is smooth sailing.
I am forever grateful for all the types of relationships I made while at Bethlehem.
Lastly, when you put together the building, the relationships and the experience, that is the lighthouse that Bethlehem uses to “Light the Way.”
The combination of these wonderful experiences has been a beacon of stewardship, guiding me to be the person I am today. When I began this journey four years ago, I could not understand the genuine appreciation I would develop and preach today.
I couldn’t begin to imagine the relationships that Bethlehem would allow me to cultivate and the wonderful people that would change my life forever. Bethlehem High School has truly been my lighthouse, guiding me towards the horizon of my future.
Bethlehem helped me blossom
If I had to pick a verb to describe my time at Bethlehem High School, I’d pick blossom. When flowers are blooming, sometimes they need help to be able to blossom to their full potential. Maybe they need to be watered or maybe they need someone to pick out the weeds. For me, the gardener taking care of the flower represents how the teachers take care of us at Bethlehem.
Some examples of this are when our teachers go out of their way to make sure we have everything we need and how they truly want us to blossom to our full potential. Another reason the verb blossom describes my Bethlehem experience is because the gardener weeds the flower garden to make sure nothing gets in the way of the flower blooming. The gardeners are my teachers who remove all the weeds (stress, anxiety, etc.,) to help us while we are on our way to blossoming.
My teachers have been the main reason why I will always look back on my high school experience and be able to strongly say that I had the best four years ever. At Bethlehem, our teachers don’t just focus on the big things. They pay attention to the little things; like Miss Manion saying she likes my hair, Mr. Simpson always saying hello to me with a smile in class, or when my teachers are able to tell that I’m down just by my body language. The Bethlehem teachers have always had our best interest at heart. They have helped me blossom into the woman I am today, and for that, I am very grateful.
When I was scrolling through Instagram one day, I saw this quote that said, “Through sun and rain, you will bloom all the same.” As I was writing the conclusion to this essay, this quote popped back in my head. It really reminded me of the Bethlehem family. When they say “Once you are a part of the Bethlehem family, you are always a part of the Bethlehem family” they truly believe it. Everyone at Bethlehem will make sure that no matter what you have going on, they will help you to the best of their abilities. No amount of words can express the love all the staff at Bethlehem have for their jobs, their school and their students.
The phrase that I will carry with me and that I want to leave with my classmates, my teachers and all the staff at Bethlehem High School, is a phrase that was said at senior retreat and one that changed my class for the better. So Class of 2022, teachers and staff, “I love you all and I am glad you’re here.”