maxwell international school: forced to close, or ready for rebirth?

most of you will have already heard the news about the planned closure of the Bahá’í-inspired Maxwell International School, which was quick to spread when it broke back in mid-November. you may not have heard, though, of the recent grassroots efforts by students, parents and local community members to gather enough support to allow the school to stay open under a different administrative and financial structure. Victoria, B.C.’s A-Channel recently reported on the situation.

Learn more on the Maxwell International School‘s website, or on the Save Maxwell International School Facebook group (if you’re into that sort of thing!)

5 thoughts on “maxwell international school: forced to close, or ready for rebirth?

  1. In reply to your question “would it be so awful if the school closed?” I think it is always awful when someone working for good in the world dies and when an institution or group that is working to help create a better world is forced to close. So many of the people and groups and institutions working for evil or harm to others or personal gain at the expense of others are thriving in our world and yet the good ones are dying or barely holding on. It is so hard to start a group or institution and support it through the initial development, why don’t we support a school that has started and been going for 20 years rather than letting it die and then, in a few years have to try to start a similar school again. The need for schools like Maxwell will only grow ever more urgent in our world.
    Here is a brief story about my involvement with Maxwell. My daughter began attending Maxwell International School for grade 11 this Sept. She declared as a Baha’i this spring after much serious reflection and discussion with me and her mentors in the tiny pioneering Baha’i group here in the Inuit community of Arviat, Nunavut. Unlike Baha’i s in more populated centres, my daughter was very isolated here and did not have the support of larger groups and classes with other students her own age. She was also subject to some serious criticism of her spiritual choice. Most of her school mates were totally uninterested in spiritual matters or were condemning her from the perspective of fundamentalist Christianity. Although she has always been able to discuss and question all aspects of life with me at home, in the process of developing her own identity, she needs to be able to discuss and share her seeking with other people her own age. We had the wonderful privilege of having Wildfire Dance Theatre visit Arviat in March. It was noticeable to me and my daughter’s teachers that she really came alive in the company of the Wildfire members. One of them had attended Maxwell and spoke very highly of his experiences there. When my daughter approached me about going to Maxwell, I made some investigations and was convinced that it was definitely the kind of school I would want my child to attend. I was satisfied with the academic education my child was obtaining in Arviat but not with the values of most of her peers and the repressive spiritual views of many in our town.
    At Maxwell she has been able to be nurtured in her chosen faith and to pursue her spiritual quest in unity and harmony with other people from cultures and backgrounds very different from hers. Even after a few months, I see a maturity, confidence, and breadth of vision and experience that amaze me. I have no regrets at all about sending her to Maxwell, even if it is only for one year. I pray that Maxwell will be able to continue so that other young people may have this amazing opportunity to live in a warm, caring multi-cultural community and be nurtured in their spiritual development during the crucial teenage years.
    Nothing can replace the role of parents and family in the nurturing and education of their children, and I applaud the efforts of Baha’i s everywhere to support their children in growing spiritually. At some point, however, young people need to leave home to make their own ways in the wider world. For many this step occurs when they go to university or other post-secondary institutions, but some need to take this step sooner, for various reasons. As an only child, my daughter needs the experience of living and sharing with other people than her mother. This is something I cannot give her at home. At Maxwell, she can have this experience in a safe, supportive community that shares the values she has chosen and which I support whole-heartedly.
    I saw Maxwell for the first time this September and my impression was very positive. In the staff and the facilities I saw a school where the spiritual development of the students is what’s important, not a school where appearances and possessions matter. I saw a warm, comfortable, but not extravagant facility in a beautiful setting. My daughter’s dormitory has a courtyard with lovely flowers and trees and a small fountain. The view of the lake and the mountains from her dorm room is stunning. The room itself is spacious and light-filled. The students are responsible for keeping the dorms clean. Maxwell is not a “prep school” for the rich. It’s fees are much more affordable than most other boarding schools in Canada. I am a teacher and a single parent and it is not easy to find the money to provide this experience for my daughter, but it IS possible.
    I hope Baha’i s and other parents who care about their children’s spiritual development consider giving their child or a deserving child they know this important experience! Our children growing up in affluent, materialist, individualist North American society are in grave danger of malnutrition of the spirit if we leave them totally open to the prevailing culture and values and don’t give them as many opportunities as possible to experience the life of the spirit. Maxwell provides one significant way to do this.

  2. Thank you so very much for these wonderful, meaningful and Truthful words. Kai is my son, and he truly is a good and fine representative of the Maxwell experience.

    I met Elizabeth before she left for Xmas break; she came over to visit with “Mr. Kai” (as I sometimes call him”. She appeared to be a wonderful young woman. After reading your description, she appears even more impressive.

    I worked as a teacher at Maxwell from ’91 to ’01; then the heart gave out (literally). Since then I have been on medical disability. Our three children (Jordan – ’97, Jelana – ’99, and Kai – ’03) comprise the FIRST set of siblings to complete the entire six year program at Maxwell. I can assure you, the sacrifice and investment is well worth it and beyond, our greatest dreams (of education for our children). As you know, Deloria has been working as the school counsellor there continuouusly since 1991, Our attachment for this place runs deep; and we will learn to understand the “Maxwell (at 20 years old) is just like a teenage leaving home… it is time for the fruits of the Maxwell experience to bloom and flower. And your daughter is a great example of this reality.

    Thank you again.

  3. I’m a high school student in the US and just found this page… what a story. I did some research online just now and I see that the school did in fact close in 2008:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maxwell_International_School

    It’s so sad because it seemed like such an excellent school. Amazing that the students themselves wanted so much to do something to save the Maxwell International school. I wonder if the students in my high school would put as much of themselves into saving our school if it were slated to close. Some might, but others certainly would not.

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