By Lily Christou '19
For ten years, I went to an all-girls Catholic school, and when I came to highschool at NCS, I was surprised that NCS doesn’t emphasize religion as much as my old school. I assumed that going to an Episcopalian school in the context of the National Cathedral, a major religious landmark, would result in a greater focus on religion in our daily lives, but I do not find it to be true.
At my previous school, religion class was part of our curriculum; we learned about the history of current events relating to Catholicism and Christianity in general, had Mass, in which the main focus was Christianity, and said a prayer every morning/before eating lunch. Although the student body was predominantly Catholic, many students, including myself, practiced other religious branches of Christianity, and some students weren’t Christian at all. I believe that NCS does an outstanding job of welcoming members of the community who practice religions other than Christianity as well as educating the student body about different religions and their holidays or traditions through Chapel and Cathedral, which further unites the community. Not knowing a lot about pretty much any other religion, this aspect of NCS was extremely informative for me, which I appreciate.
I think it’s very important for us to know about all the other major religions even though we go to an Episcopalian school. The curriculum also fulfills this goal as the required course, Living Religions, teaches the students about the major religions in the world. For the other required credit, NCS students can choose among a few religion electives offered. Last year I took one of these electives called Global Ethics, and I found it very interesting and I gained an immense amount of knowledge about ethical issues that countries and people face everyday that we do not learn about otherwise during school. Although this class is technically a religion class, it focuses on ethical issues, as the course title implies, rather than learning about religion. I think that it would be useful for NCS to focus on exposing us more to Episcopalian beliefs, but not necessarily through additional required religion classes (since I think two semesters is reasonable as each students has her own academic aspirations).
I believe that this is important because we go to school in the context of the National Cathedral, and I, for one, don’t fully understand what a typical Episcopalian service would like or even really anything about what Episcopalians specifically believe. When I graduate, I want to be knowledgeable about the religion on which my school is based off of. Likewise, I think that by incorporating Episcopalian traditions into our school, especially during Chapel and Cathedral, this could be achieved.