Coming Home: Sarah Parmeter moved on, but her heart brought her back to Warren County Christian School
Sarah, you’re not in Kansas anymore.
That’s because Warren County Christian School is home to Sarah Parmeter.
There’s been some difficult decisions made in the past few weeks; the biggest meant that the high school sophomore would leave her parents in Kansas and move back to Warren County to live with her grandparents.
Sarah comes from a military family, with her father, Aaron, having served in Iraq. While he was there, Sarah’s mother, Rae Parmeter, brought Sarah and her brother here to be closer to family.
“I wanted the kids to have a taste of what growing up in Warren, Pa. was like,” said Rae, formerly Rae Fox, the daughter of Alan and Geraldine Fox of Mead Township.
Part of home for Rae Parmeter growing up was Warren County Christian School.
“Born and raised here, I started at the Christian school the second year it was in existence in the 1970s,” said Rae, a 1989 graduate of Warren County Christian School.
Moving back from Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah, Ga., Sarah has seen her share of schools.
Like her mother before her, Warren County Christian School touched her heart. Sarah was enrolled at the tiny Christian school in Youngsville for part of her seventh grade year and all of eighth and ninth.
Her father was stationed at Fort Riley, between Junction City and Manhattan, Kansas, before Sarah’s sophomore year.
And Sarah had been here before. Not Fort Riley, per se, but she realized she had no choice but to leave her friends and grandparents in order to keep the family together.
“The Army is so unpredictable,” said Sarah.
“I had anticipated this may be more difficult than she thought it would be,” said Rae. “(Before we moved), I had promised her, ‘if you are not happy in Kansas, the door is always open to you to come home and go back to school there.'”
“I knew that as much as I would love to have my family together, what’s best for her is going to make me happier than my own happiness,” said Rae.
Understand that her mother knew exactly what Sarah was leaving behind to move to Kansas; her daughter had become a member of the Lady Lions high school volleyball team, basketball team, was getting good grades, “and it’s a really good group of girls they’ve got down there at the school,” said Rae. “I feel very confident they are kids I can trust her to be with.”
Even so, Sarah moving back to Warren County wasn’t a decision they were going to make lightly. In fact, Rae didn’t think it would ever happen.
“She started to say something around October (about not being happy in Kansas),” said Parmeter. “I told her, ‘things are kind of hard right now as we’re trying to make the transition. I would really appreciate it if you would give it a couple more months before you made a final decision.”
Rae had her talk to a couple other adults, “besides me,” she said, to go over pros and cons.
“I really was kind of kicking myself for making that promise,” said Rae. “I ultimately knew I couldn’t break a promise to her.”
Sarah had already been cut from the Junction City High School girls volleyball team- from a sport that Sarah loved playing at Warren County Christian School. Now in a school approaching 1,700 students in grades 9-12 alone, there were more cuts on the volleyball team than total students enrolled at Warren County Christian (around 50 students at WCCS, said Rae Parmeter).
“Sixty girls tried out for volleyball,” said Sarah. “I realized I wasn’t going to make it. I thought, maybe next year, and then I realized I probably wouldn’t make it next year, either.”
It wasn’t just sports, it was school plays, and all kinds of extracurricular activities, said Sarah.
It’s not that the school was all bad, it was just all big.
Sarah wasn’t meeting new friends, her grades were suffering, and she wasn’t a part of the school like she was at Warren County Christian School.
“I knew she was missing her friends, and missing the opportunity to go out and be a part of the team,” said Rae. “I knew how important it was to me, when I was a teenager, and I was going to school down there, my friends were,” said Rae, whose graduating class was a total of six students. “Of that six, three of us went to college, two became teachers – one a nationally-recognized teacher. I know I would not have gone on to college and achieved what I did if I had not graduated from there. I had teachers that refused to allow me to skate by (giving me such individualized attention).”
In an effort to not sound like an advertisement against the consolidation of schools, Rae implied it wasn’t time for Sarah to be pushed out into the big world.
When Rae moved back to Warren County from Savannah, Ga., she coached the girls basketball team at Warren County Christian, and knows Sarah’s friends well.
“I know the kids she is with on a very deep level,” said Rae.
Couldn’t find a greater group of friends to help her daughter grow up where she feels like she belongs.
“As far as her happiness level, I think she is much happier,” said Rae, whose daughter may also graduate in a class of a half-dozen from WCCS. “We miss her greatly here – it leaves a big hole not to have her in our lives all the time.”
But from the moment Sarah returned, she was embraced by her friends and the Warren County Christian School girls basketball team, and the 3-pointer she sunk almost as soon as she arrived must have felt like a tremendous burden lifted.
“I sense from her that she is excited (again),” said her mother, “and I know she’s been playing hard. She’s busy and doing a lot again. I think her focus is much better, because I think when you’re playing you are forced to manage your time better.
“I think being part of a team and learning how to get along, and learning how to work together, is very important for kids as they grow up,” added Rae. “Learning how to win gracefully, and lose gracefully, is very important. It can carry them through their life, that ability to keep pursuing even when things are hard.”
When Sarah sat down her family and talked about moving back to Warren County with her grandparents, she showed a lot of maturity, said her mother.
“Being an Army brat has challenges,” said Rae. “Being around that group of kids (at Warren County Christian School) has given her that chance to have some normalcy, and that is something that eases my mind.
“I couldn’t send her back there if I thought (my parents) would let her do whatever she wanted. To know that we have family that is not only willing to do that, but happy to do that, it means the world.”
Sarah knew coming home is what was best for her.
“I feel a lot happier here,” she said. “I’m with the people that are my friends, and my grades are 10 times better. It was like I was never really gone over the summer. It gives me a sense of being needed, being loved, helping each other; I know they are there for me and I’m there for them.”
She scored two baskets on Thursday in a 39-24 New Penn Christian Conference loss to Meadville Calvary Baptist. But who knows how special those two baskets were.