An Episcopal school in our midst

The Diocese of Southern Ohio is home to a very special place in Bethany School, one of only a handful of Episcopal schools in the state of Ohio. Bethany was founded in 1898 by Eva Matthews, initially as a home for girls. Mother Eva, as she later became known, also founded the Society of the Transfiguration in Glendale. It is on the grounds of the convent that the school is currently located.

Students photo 3Bethany School has stayed true to its roots by offering a strong education to approximately 240 girls and boys from kindergarten through grade 8. In addition to being based in the Christian tradition, Bethany is part of a long history of Episcopal school education that emphasizes values that are on vivid display when a person visits the beautiful 23-acre campus. These include Learnedness, Inclusion, Unity in Liturgy and Valuing the Excellent*.

Just a few of the broad spectrum of students at Bethany School

Just a few of the broad spectrum of students at Bethany School

Learnedness.  As 8th grade students prepare themselves for the admission process for high schools in the area, the strong reputation of previous Bethany students precedes them. Bethany students regularly perform at high levels of academic excellence reflecting the strong history of Episcopal schools that reaches back to 16th century England when the clergy were also university professors. Strong academics consistently express themselves in the identity of Episcopal schools.

Inclusion. The school draws a wide spectrum of students from various religious, cultural and socio-economic backgrounds. This diversity reflects the “large tent” of inclusivity and connection with others that lies at the heart of Episcopal identity. We are all God’s people, Christian and non-Christian alike. We all have a place in the life of this school and in this world that we each call our home.

Unity in Liturgy. Each student attends and participates in weekly chapel services based on the Episcopal liturgy. The Chapel of the Transfiguration was built in the late 1920s, and its presence is the visible heart of the school. Students are free to fully participate in the Eucharist or to receive a blessing from the school chaplain. Either way, each student is reminded of the strong sense of community that lies at the heart of this Episcopal school, and the role that she or he plays in it.

The Chapel of the Transfiguration is the heart of the Bethany School campus

The Chapel of the Transfiguration is the heart of the Bethany School campus

Valuing the Excellent.  This phrase refers to those strong traditions and rituals that lie at the heart of Episcopal schools. These include the strong connection the school has with the Sisters who are a part of the Society of the Transfiguration, the uniform students wear, and the school prayer that students recite in chapel or during weekly assemblies. It is clear to the students that they are part of a long tradition that stretches back over a hundred years and of which they play a role in passing on to future generations of Bethany students.

If you are not familiar with Bethany School, please come and visit the school and see what it is all about. An Episcopal school is one of the great gems of the Episcopal Church – come and see for yourself!

* These terms and phrases are referenced in the article, “Four Great Parts of Episcopal Identity,” by the Rev. Paul B. Hancock, which can be found on the website of the National Association of Episcopal Schools (www.naes.org).

David Gould serves as Assistant Head of School at Bethany School. Contact him at gould@bethanyschool.org