Miquon is at the Center of Their Lives

By Brenda Lange

For the Comeau family, the elementary years are the most important time. 

When it came time for the Comeau family, Holden and Carrie, to choose a school for second grader, Sam, the possibilities began to overwhelm them. Public school? Charter school? Independent school in the area? 

“It really was stressful,” Holden remembers.

And then, Carrie learned about Miquon and compared its academic approach to other schools. Holden had always admired the campus when he would run past it on the bike trail in the woods from their home in Manyunk, but didn’t know much about it.

So much value in the time spent out-of-doors

As they continued with their discernment process, Miquon stuck with them. “We kept coming back to it. It just felt right,” Holden says. “I love, love, love that the students spend so much time outdoors being active.” As a former professional triathlete, who grew up on a farm and for whom athletics was always important, that makes sense.

“Sam has a lot of energy and loves to be outdoors,” says Holden, “and when we looked at different schools, the lack of outdoor activity and play was problematic, which was another stressor.”

Although Holden did not attend progressive schools, he played outside every day after school, developing an affinity for the natural world around him—riding horses and playing in the woods and fields around his home in Carlisle, Pa., at every opportunity. Carrie attended a Progressive elementary school in California and moved to Carlisle in 7th grade, and the two were fast friends who began dating after college. 

A Progressive educational curriculum

Although Holden may value the outdoor activity aspect of a Miquon education a bit more than Carrie, they both appreciate that the school’s curriculum is built around it. Her familiarity with Progressive education initially attracted her to Miquon, and her first-hand knowledge that the transition to middle school is a manageable one calmed Holden’s concerns.

Then the couple visited Miquon as part of a prospective parents’ tour, after which he called the campus “magical.”

He vividly remembers hearing from recent students about their experiences after graduating from Miquon, and he loved hearing all the different perspectives . . . what schools the students had attended and what they went on to do after that. (In addition to the fact that he already knew that Carrie herself had been very successful in middle and high school and subsequently earned degrees at Barnard College and Columbia University.)

“I learned for the first time what Progressive education really meant and then saw the results,” he says. “It was a powerful selling-point moment. We visited again a few weeks later and had a similar experience.”

When the Comeaus saw where a Miquon education had taken such a diverse group of graduates, they realized that if they were going to invest and send their kids to an independent school (Sam’s younger sister is Lizzie, 2), which is a stretch for them, the elementary years are the most important time. 

“When they are young, it’s the most valuable time, and it feels as if that value [at Miquon] is beyond measure. It’s the perfect moment for our kids and we feel so fortunate. They won’t ever have another experience quite like this,” says Comeau.

According to his dad, Sam was a little tentative at first because transitions can be challenging. He, of course, loved the outdoor play in the stream and treehouses, but his preschool program had been very structured, and his parents wondered if he would struggle with the less traditional structures at Miquon. That turned out to be a non-issue.

“The teachers are so in-tune with each individual child and do a great job of working with the unifying forces of each subject, of the way everything is interrelated,” says Comeau. For example, last year, the class read “Charlotte’s Web” then did artwork around the story’s theme, saw a play and listened to music from it. Sam’s favorite subjects are science, art, and physical education

Miquon student showing First/Second Grade Teacher Celia Cruz his identity work. Miquon student showing First/Second Grade Teacher Celia Cruz his identity work.

While they have some time to figure out Lizzie’s next educational steps, the Comeaus plan to enroll her at Miquon as well. When they were first searching, everything was on the table, including the major life-altering changes like moving to a new home. Now Miquon and its excellent education is at the center of their lives.

“Our lives are anchored around Miquon, and we feel great about that,” says Comeau. “I know other parents who relocated their family just to be near Miquon. It’s a special place.”