Finding the Extraordinary in the Ordinary

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This article is sponsored by Wichita Collegiate School and written by WCS parents Elaine and Chris Ashbrook.

As parents, one of our most important tasks is finding the right school to partner with to help raise our children. From playground breaks to Friday night lights; from school plays to essays, our children’s identities – and oftentimes our memories of them as parents – are shaped by the environment that a school provides.

So how does one find that perfect partner? Sometimes beginning at the finish line and asking some questions is the best way to find your starting line.

  • Do you want your child to grow up to be a resilient adult?
  • How can the school encourage a strong work ethic in your child?
  • What are your hopes and dreams for your child post-graduation?

Looking Back from the Finish Line

We have been “empty nesters” since August of 2020, and while we miss the kids, it has allowed us time to reflect on our journey as parents. We are incredibly proud of our daughters and the young women they have become. Were we good parents? We think so, but there is no doubt that the school we chose for them is responsible for so much of our good fortune.

Maeve came to Collegiate as a 2nd grader, and Julia was in kindergarten. Immediately, they were surrounded by classmates, teachers, and families who wanted to learn, who expected to learn, who enjoyed learning, and who, without even trying, made love of learning a new “norm.” These positive attitudes became part of who our children are. They never hesitate to jump into activities or assignments simply because they have never known anything different.

When they were young, dressing up and researching a remarkable person and delivering a speech as that individual was not a scary assignment. It was just a part of being in the 3rd grade’s Wax Museum. Standing on stage and singing, dancing, juggling, or just reading a poem wasn’t something out of the ordinary. They did these things regularly in the yearly variety shows or the 4th grade musical, in which all kids perform.

Later, rattling off the who’s who of Greek mythology or participating in a recreation of Socrates’ trial, learning Latin roots, or participating in a mock Mars mission weren’t activities they dreaded; they were conversations shared with friends and events that were enjoyed and anticipated.

As our daughters neared graduation, discussions about The Great Gatsby or The Scarlet Letter, politics and presidents throughout U.S. history, economic principles and how they affect the world, even Plato’s Allegory of The Cave were not topics that made our girls slip into a comatose state, but instead, were dinner time conversations that held real interest for them.

Finding the Extraordinary in the Ordinary

These and other similar experiences don’t just happen everywhere. They can if you look hard enough and always find yourself in the right place at the right time, but at Collegiate these opportunities and these lessons happen regularly for every student. What might be extraordinary in some places becomes ordinary at Collegiate.

As we meet our daughters’ college friends and their families from all over the United States, we realize over and over just how far from the “norm” their Collegiate experiences were. Not that these people are uneducated – far from it – but whenever we discuss our girls’ Collegiate experiences, there is always some sort of “You did that in school? You learned that when? You read that when? You actually liked being in school?”

None of our girls’ success came easily. That hard work and genuine interest, disguised simply the “norm” and sometimes even fun, was developed, reinforced, and ultimately became a habit because of Wichita Collegiate. Not every day they were at Collegiate was rainbows, unicorns, smiles, and laughter, but the pride and confidence they carry with them in college has a great deal to do with what they experienced here at school. They have also now recognized that their “norm” isn’t the “norm,” and they can walk into any classroom, dorm room, living room, or board room knowing that they can hold their own.

Collegiate’s newly adopted mission statement says that we “inspire students to be the best versions of themselves.” As we reflect on our last thirteen years at the school, we don’t know that there could be a more accurate statement. Without question, our school helps our kids see, seek, and become the best versions of themselves. Seeing the results in our own children makes us even more sincerely appreciative of what goes on at our school. We feel very lucky indeed to have found the perfect partner to help raise our children into the remarkable young adults they have become.


Wichita Collegiate School empowers all students to lead lives of impact by partnering with our students, faculty, families, and community. Contact Kathy Rukes at [email protected] to learn more about how Collegiate can partner with you to provide your child with an exceptional education.

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