Why Guilford High School?
That's a question my wife Kellie and I heard a lot the year before our son Tyler enrolled in RPS 205 for his freshman year of high school. For most parents, school choice doesn't take much thought since you essentially send your kids to the schools within your residential boundary. But in Tyler's case, we actually fretted over his high school choice since sixth grade because of factors more important than our home address.
First and foremost we wanted our kids (including our older daughter Faith) to be involved in the Rockford community. My wife is a school social worker who never ceases to amaze me with her genuine concern and willingness to make a difference in other people's lives. We believe in our kids being raised with an emphasis of tolerance, diversity and mindfulness to help improve Rockford for all.
Secondly, we value academics. Both our children were lucky enough to attend the Gifted Academies at King, Washington, Marshall and finally Auburn where Faith graduated last year. The impressive group of students, awesome teachers and unbelievable parent participation at these schools created a fantastic learning environment for our children.
Another important factor was Tyler's passion for athletics. He has been playing AAU basketball year round since third grade and travel baseball for the past five years. This builds a strong bond between players as well as their families, and there is pressure to keep the boys together in high school. In Tyler's case, four of his closest teammates were going to Boylan, three to Winnebago and three to Hononegah.
Lastly, we wanted a school close to our home even if that meant moving! We live in the southeast side of Rockford. That's about as far away from Marshall and Auburn as you can get and still be within the city limits. So after over eight years of long bus rides for our kids and a 25 minute commute each way for after school functions … a short drive to a local school would be an important factor.
So again … why Guilford? It involved all these factors. While Auburn was perfect for Faith academically, we thought that the academic rigor to obtain a gifted seal was too much of a burden to put on a kid that was going to be playing high school sports year round. Through visits with other schools (public and private), we were pleasantly surprised by the academic pathway Tyler could create for himself at Guilford. Guilford offered almost as many AP classes as Auburn and would allow him to pursue these at his own pace so he could be involved in after school activities without being overwhelmed.
As for athletics … Tyler's favorite sport is basketball so we sincerely looked at the strong programs and coaching found at Auburn, Boylan, Lutheran, Rockford Christian and Winnebago. The last three were great options, but Tyler wanted to compete at the highest level, which only a NIC-10 school could provide.
The final decision came down to Auburn, Guilford or Boylan. The decision was complicated by the fact that Tyler is Catholic and his best friends were headed to Boylan. Auburn has the highest academics and a very strong basketball program but was eliminated because of the academic rigor and proximity. While Boylan is a good school academically and typically has strong athletic programs, it was also a long way from home, not to mention the added factor of the $8,000 yearly tuition!
Our choice was Guilford High School because it provides the best combination of diversity, academic rigor, athletics and proximity. I'm happy to say that after the first quarter at Guilford, Tyler is doing great academically, socially and getting ready to start his first basketball season. We also just had parent teacher conferences. We were impressed by how young and energetic all of Tyler's teachers are. He actually likes them all which is a first!
Everyone's story is different. Every child is unique. But if you want to make this city a better place, start in your own neighborhood schools. You might be surprised at what they have to offer your children and how you could be a part of building a better community!
All Rockford Public Schools will be closed on Tuesday, Feb. 12, because of the severe weather.
All Rockford Public Schools will be closed on Thursday, Feb. 7, because of the severe weather.
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