The High School Decision

Posted by Danny

Lisa would have handled the high school search for DJ.  The applications, the visits, the entrance exams.  I would have been informed at some point where my daughter was going to school.  Of course I would have been consulted on finances if it was not a public institution; but, the decision would have fallen squarely to Lisa and DJ.

I don’t want to make that decision.  I like being told. 

Now it falls to me.

I have completed more bubble forms on-line than the average junior taking the PSAT.  I have typed in my address on four applications, two standardized tests, and on multiple scholarship forms. 

We have shadowed at four schools and attended five orientations.  At this point, I can’t tell you which one is  all girls and which one requires uniforms (I think there is one of each). 

I really liked the Catholic school.  I’d sort of like to be Catholic.  I REALLY like the idea of confession.  I know, I know, God forgives if we just ask.  But I like the idea of spilling the beans to someone through a small brown wooden wall and being given specific tasks to clear the slate.  When it comes down to it, I guess my desire to bear my soul isn’t a sound reason to choose a high school for DJ.

The private school in North Raleigh was beautiful.  The classes were small and the campus reminded me of my visit to Harvard a few years ago.  It was very impressive.  But, it was a pretty long drive from our house AND I would have had to sell at least one child and Jesse to be able to afford the tuition.  I considered that option, but wasn’t sure I could handle the annual clothes clean out without him.

Our base school is a large public school  where Lisa and her siblings attended.  Had she been alive, that’s probably where we would have landed.  DJ visited and enjoyed her day but she came home and said, “It’s really big.  And those were some long, boring classes.”  With my inability to be involved and stay on top of things – that concerned me.  She gets enough boring at home; I’m not sure she can take any more.

Much to her chagrin, I required her to attend the orientation for the local charter school.  It has a great reputation for academics…they stressed to the parents that the kids would have hours and hours of homework each night.  That’s punishment for me!  I’m not sure that I want to be in homework purgatory the next four years myself.  Plus, DJ “hears” that there are only nerds and geeks at that school.  She gets enough of that at home as well.

We have also received four – yes four – complete packets of information from another private school that we haven’t even applied to – I think they may send her class schedule and a bus to pick her up in August unless I drive over there and tell them we are not attending.

After much deliberation, a couple of fights, prayer (at least by my mom – I usually save my personal requests for bigger things like wives with cancer and purpose in life), and a “Are You Absolutely Sure” meeting in DJ’s bedroom, the decision has been made.

In August, DJ will attend St. Mary’s School!  It is a small girl’s school here in Raleigh with a stellar reputation for tough academics and incredible support.  I’ll have to admit I was a bit reluctant about a school  with no boys.  Although I think it’s great not to have that distraction in class, I do want my daughter to have a date before she turns 36.  But this school has a huge focus on making confident leaders out of the young women who attend.  And I can’t argue with that.

Several years ago Lisa went to an open house at St. Mary’s just to hear what they had to say.  She came home and told me, “I know we could never afford St. Mary’s but when you sit and hear their schpill, you just want to drop your kid off when she gets into 9th grade and pick her up when she graduates!” 

I think she’d approve of the decision.

Leave a comment


  1. >>> I was a bit reluctant about a school with no boys.

    You’ve grown, Danny. 😉 Congrats on St. Mary’s!

  2. Hopie

     /  April 6, 2011

    I sat with Lisa at that Open House, and I KNOW she would have been pleased with the decision! I’m so excited for Bailey — word on the street is those Broughton boys really like to date the St. Mary’s girls, so no worries about her losing out on high school dating. I can’t wait to talk to you in 2 years and find out if you’re still worried it (NO WAY!!)

  3. Alice (Manning) Touchette

     /  April 6, 2011

    Hi Danny,
    We’ve never met, but I grew up with Jesse and started following this blog shortly after he posted the first post on Facebook.

    On Saint Mary’s: It was the best decision my parents and I (though more my parents at the time) made. I had the best time there! I made friends I am still close with nearly 15 years later. I became one of those girls who spoke up in class and went on to be one of those women who speaks up in meetings. It helped me focus on academics and drove me towards college acceptance goals. But it also helped me understand the importance on friendship and being part of a community, and how rewarding it can be to invest yourself whole-heartedly in both.

    I don’t usually comment on blogs, but wanted to pipe up and encourage you to feel confident about this decision. I hope DJ loves Saint Mary’s as much as I did. Best of luck to her and you!

  4. That is a great school! I went to Meredith for college – right down the road and nothing is better than an all girls school to keep you focused, motivated, and having the time of your life! I am sure she will love it there!

  5. Patti

     /  April 6, 2011

    Sounds like a good choice! My own daughter has a test today for the middle school we’re planning for her to attend. I miss living in an excellent public school district like we did when my son was in school, but I know a lot of kids who graduated from the school we’re visiting today, so I think it will all be well.
    I look forward to hearing about the new school in future posts.

  6. Jennifer Taylor

     /  April 6, 2011

    I went to St. Mary’s and loved it! Great choice!

  7. Aunt Susan

     /  April 6, 2011

    I was secretly hoping she would consider St. Mary’s. At the risk of sounding like my mother, “You always know a St.Mary’s girl.”
    THEY, are so lucky to have her in their student body.

  8. Jean

     /  April 6, 2011

    I think Lisa would approve too. It’s not an easy decision. You covered all the bases and made an informed decision. Sounds like an exprienced Dad to me. Boy are you getting experience! Talk about writing a book!

  9. Heather Thompson

     /  April 7, 2011

    I too was at the luncheon Lisa attended at SMS. Trust me, you have just handed Bailey a golden nugget – she will have a strong connection to an amazing network of 9,000 alumnae. She will get that internship, first job and big promotion if a Saint Mary’s alumna has anything to do with it. Of my favorite places, the Saint Mary’s circlular drive is tops – I entered a young, uncertain girl and left a confident, purpose-driven woman. Go Bailey!

  10. Aunt Susan

     /  April 7, 2011

    You know I think that if you have to sell Uncle Jesses, you could get a least 2 years expenses, he’s worth that much at least.

    I think Heather Thompson said it all, Bailey will have all the SMS girls behind her and it will be great.

    I do wish now, looking back, that I had taken the opportunity.

  11. Margaret Hambrick Glaze

     /  April 21, 2011

    We’ve not met but my yummy friend Rosemary York sent me a link to your blog and I sat at this desk sobbing until my dear husband leaned over and said “Honey? You okay?” So yes, I am okay and one of the main reasons I am okay is because I went to Saint Mary’s! Just like Heather and Alice’s comments/posts on your blog I went to SM as a young girl and became a confident and sure person because of the support, professors and friends at Saint Mary’s. I worked there in admissions as my first job then again as alumnae director. I delivered the eulogy for the Academic Dean/former professor in January. The tightly woven threads of Saint Mary’s continue to keep me connected to a billion neat, fun, smart alumnae. You’ve made a great decision for your daughter and family. She’ll be loved and supported and to boot she’ll be an academically accomplished gal when she graduates! I’ll keep her and you in my prayers. Welcome to the Saint Mary’s family.

    • Danny Tanner

       /  April 23, 2011

      that is good to know! she’s excited and that’s good enough for me.


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