Everything appears to come full circle at some point in our lives. I believe that everything happens for a reason and in my short experience of 22 years, I’ve learned that God works in mysterious ways, always outside of the confines of the human understanding of time. One of the greatest examples of this I see in my connection to Brentwood Christian School. I was welcomed into this family at the ripe old age of four and I continued my education here until I graduated in 2015. BCS became my home away from home, spending the majority of my days and nights learning, discovering, and growing on campus. I spent more than half my life so far walking the halls of Brentwood and I cannot ignore the impact that the teachers and staff had on my development. I am the way I am today because of what I learned at BCS.
I went on to college at Hardin-Simmons University to graduate in May of this year. I felt prepared and excited for college and I have to credit that to Brentwood. My years at BCS instilled academic independence and confidence that prepared me for the responsibility of college-level classes. But better still, was the foundation on which my thinking and worldview were built. This foundation was first laid all the way back in elementary school in the form of positive reinforcement for kindness towards others and a constant reminder of God’s love for me through caring teachers. It was expanded upon in Middle School and High School with roots in an empathetic perspective and was shaped by underlying Christian values, but also inspired me to think for myself and helped develop my skills as a leader. The foundation on which I based my beliefs was solid enough that even when I had doubts and my faith wavered, I was still able to find my way back home eventually. Brentwood fostered an atmosphere for learning that went beyond the curricular elements of education by encouraging me in all aspects of my life; the fruits of which I still see today.
One thing that sets Brentwood apart from other schools is the fact that students can start at a young age and have the chance to grow up in one place, learning and discovering among the same people. That is a unique experience that produces deeper relationships and an environment of camaraderie, trust, and family. My classmates became close friends because we grew up together; this allowed us to make lasting friendships that stayed with us past graduation. When I did graduate, I knew that the BCS family was one that would always support and encourage me. This was made evident when I was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in July, just after graduating from college. As soon as Brentwood heard the news, I was showered with love and prayers from my past teachers and faculty members. Letters full of kind words are still being received; even students I’ve never met are sending notes to reassure me. How could my parents have known that when my mom enrolled me at Brentwood’s Pre-K that our family would be blessed for years to come by the people we encountered here? In the weeks leading up to the start of treatment, when my diagnosis still felt raw to me, I was given a beautiful gift from the faculty and staff at BCS. My parents and I sat in a cold doctor’s office, waiting for the doctor to come in and discuss treatment options with us. Mrs. Burcham, a first-grade teacher at Brentwood, sent my mom a video via text. We sat and watched as the faculty and staff sang “I Love You With the Love of the Lord” for me; tears rolling down our faces by the end of the video. There is something special about being shown such love by old friends and role models. It was nostalgic for me as well, hearing the quintessential sound of acapella voices being lifted in unison that brought me back to a safe place at just the right time.
Memories rush in of my time at Brentwood. I can hear the sound of my friends’ voices as we sing worship songs during Hall Singing, all sitting on the floor of the foyer of the theater. I remember the nights I spent rehearsing for plays and musicals, practicing lines and blocking until we felt prepared for the live performance. My beloved drama teacher at the time, Mrs. Singleton, challenging me and giving me the confidence I needed to come out of my shell. I remember getting up before the sun to make it to Encore practice at 7 a.m. The songs we sang during Christmas time were always my favorite. Speaking of favorites, one of the best field trips we went on was the overnight stay on the Lexington in fifth grade. It was such a wonderful experience as a kid, exploring a piece of history and having fun all at the same time. I could go on and on about after school shenanigans, basketball games, Jog-A-Fun, study sessions for AP Biology with Mrs. Mallett, and many more wonderful memories, but that would take forever so I’ll leave you with this.
Brentwood was a blessing to me as I grew up and is a blessing to me now as I am navigating a very scary diagnosis. I never could have imagined the impact that this small school would have on my life. I don’t know if I appreciated it as much when I was in school, but I see now that God knew what I would need way before I did. The lyrics to a song that we used to sing when I was younger comes to mind called “He’s Still Working on Me”. A few of the lines go like this, “But I’ll be better just according to His plan. Fashioned by the Master’s loving hands.” I sang that as a child, but now I can see pieces of His plan and how they are falling into place now.
To follow Kaylie’s journey you can read her blog at https://kaylieangello13.wixsite.com/thelittlethings