One of the signs our little school is growing up is we now have alumni who have come back as parents. In celebration of our 30th anniversary, we met with Monica Bicking to hear how the school felt as a student and now as a parent of two lower school students.
Few people are more grounded in the Friends School of Minnesota than Monica Bicking. Monica’s mother Gaylyn was the school’s first teacher back in the church basement days. Monica joined her mom at the school when she was finally old enough (five years old!), and became one of our early graduates. She even continued to volunteer at FSMN during high school.
Now as an alum, she has brought her own two children back to the school, and finds many similarities. Traditions like clay trays and Ukranian egg decorating, started by her mother and enjoyed by Monica, are still enjoyed by her own children in class today. And more importantly, she said, “the school still has the same core values. These values follow you through life. They are still with me, and I hope they will still be with my children.”
Another FSMN practice that stayed with Monica and her classmates is our practice of conflict resolution. Monica’s family lives in a co-op house that includes two other Friends School of Minnesota alumni, and she is still best friends with another friend from FSMN. She shares, “the conflict resolution we learned at Friends School of Minnesota has been key to our lifelong friendship. It lets us work through any conflicts with a shared commitment to figuring things out together.”
When asked about the biggest difference in the school between then and now, she talks about how the school has grown. “We didn’t have a separate room for art, for music, or for Spanish. We had the same teacher for all the specialty subjects.”
This growth does come at a cost, she notes. The school can offer much more, but it is also more expensive. She is happy with the school’s increase in financial aid, and hopes that it will continue to grow the diversity and inclusion of our student and family population.
Did she always know she would enroll her own children here? “No, not really. We had moved away from the school. But the curiosity for learning, and the structure for social and emotional growth, brought us back.”
We are glad it did! Thank you, Monica, for growing with us, and for sharing your deeply rooted perspective and commitment to help us continue to grow.