When I was growing up, the only Kingswood School I had ever heard of was the private high school my father had attended in West Hartford. Every fall they had Kingswood Day, and he took my sister and me along with him. I’m sure he went to see old classmates and teachers, as well as simply to be back in a place that must have had a lot of memories for him. I went because they served hot dogs and ice cream sandwiches and showed cartoons for the children.
Yesterday, glancing through wikipedia’s list of events that took place on June 24 in various years, I learned that in 1748, John Wesley founded Kingswood School in Bristol, England. (It later moved to its current location in Bath.) Following the link to wikipedia’s page on Kingswood School, I learned that there was in fact a connection to the school my father had attended.
George Nicholson, an alumnus of Kingswood School in Bath, decided to establish a school for boys in West Hartford, Connecticut. He gave it the same name, as well as the School’s crest, motto, colors and distinctive symbol, the Wyvern. (Today it is Kingswood-Oxford School, having merged with a girls’ school called Oxford.)
If the school founded by Nicholson retained those traditions, I wondered if it also retained a Methodist view of things. I never was aware of any religious aspect to the school during those Kingswood Day visits, but I would guess that back in the days when my father was a student, most schools – public and private – took for granted certain religious views and practices.
The Kingswood School founded by John Wesley has a page on their website describing the Christian ethos that they see as their heritage.
John Wesley’s aim was to create an academically rigorous school in which young people really understood what they were learning, but he also recognised that “an ounce of love is worth a pound of knowledge” because he understood that happy and supportive relationships are central to the educational process. The Christian foundation of Kingswood remains central to its ethos and explains why the school is such a caring place.
Chapel, fund-raising for charities, and volunteer work are all regular features of school life. We happily welcome students from other denominations and faiths, and students who come from families with no faith. All we ask is that each student is prepared to set out on his or her journey of personal discovery and is willing to participate fully in the caring life of the school community.
I looked also at the page about Chapel and Community, and I found that again the emphasis is on a sense of caring community and giving attention to the needs of the wider community through charities and volunteer work. Having attended a Christian college myself, where daily chapel attendance and Sunday church attendance were compulsory, I find it strange to have chapel services linked primarily to our horizontal relationships with one another, without reference to our vertical relationship to God.
(That same emphasiswas prevalent in the church we attended with my father – which was Congregationalist rather than Methodist. So long as you were a caring person, it was seen as a given that your heart must be in the right place as far as God was concerned.)
Whatever my thoughts about their view of Chapel, however, I was quite impressed with an art project that the students completed this past year. Take a look at this lion, which is not only visually beautiful (I love the color blue) but also teaches a mathematical lesson (he became known as Mathematicat).