Finding Community at ANC

May 13, 2021 | By Sarah H.

Anyone who has ever stepped foot in Bryn Athyn has heard about the Academy of the New Church. When I moved here two years ago, a common theme in the local goings-on was that the high school was involved. I would hear about sports games, town events, and more, all centered around this one school. I had never attended ANC (or any Bryn Athyn school, for that matter), so I couldn’t understand why this little high school was the center of the Bryn Athyn community. It didn’t seem all that amazing, and I would even venture to say I thought it seemed a bit uptight. Luckily, it wasn’t my problem. I didn’t go to school there, so I didn’t have to deal with it. Right, Mom? . . . Mom?

I transferred to the ANC this year during COVID-19. I started the admissions process before any of us had even heard the word “coronavirus.” I toured the school and shadowed, which helped me feel more comfortable and familiar with the place that I would probably spend the next three years of my life. All that comfort was gone when August rolled around and, to my dismay, the coronavirus had not gone away, meaning everything was going to be completely unfamiliar. The first six weeks of online school came and went, and so came the news that we would be in-person the next six weeks (or so we thought). 

Now you can probably imagine that at this point, the school did not seem like a close-knit community to me, especially since the “closest” anyone could be was six feet (see Mrs. Schadegg’s pool noodle for reference), yet those not-quite-three-weeks in school were enough to change my mind. One of the first things I noticed during my short time in-person was that, as far as I can tell, practically every single student knows the school store manager. That quickly became a common theme throughout the school. Everyone knows most of the staff, and the staff know many of the students by name. When a teacher was on lunch duty, students they had taught in previous years would run up to them (leaving six feet between them, naturally) and talk to them about all sorts of things, as if they were old friends. People would tell me stories about their absolute favorite teachers, and in the next breath, about the terrible tests and assignments those same teachers would make them do, yet they always recalled their memories with a smile (I’ve heard much talk of the notorious IPS binder).  

The opinion I formed of ANC during those first three weeks has remained fully accurate, and after over three months in-person now, I’ve come to love the community ANC has to offer. After doing many fun things around campus, such as the spring musical (Little Women, which is now available for digital rental! I highly recommend!), the number of opportunities this school has given me to get to know students and teachers alike are endless. While my first year at ANC is starting to wrap up, I find myself excited for the many experiences I’ll have during my next two years here. It may have been a school year unmatched in unpredictability and, for lack of a better word, weirdness, but it was enough to show me that ANC has a wondrous and kind community which never fails to make school feel like a home.