When I started at Village Green I didn’t like that Jr High and Sr High were meeting on the same night. I grew up in a church environment that Jr High and Sr High met on different nights and ran separately. This was a change I was determined to make. However, as time has gone on I realized that there is a true beauty in them being together.
For both Jr and Sr High, it is more of a formative time and they are figuring out who they are, what they will believe and stuff like that. if you just have Jr High students together their examples are the youth leaders which some will look up to but often there is too much of an age gap whereas if we have high school students around they can be an amazing example for our Jr Highs. It is what I like to call the cool factor. This has shown up time and time again. One great example of this was during our All Nighter. One of the fun parts of the All Nighter is that we run around the church in the dark playing tag like games. It is a good mix of spooky and silly. Some of our grade 6 students were clinging to our grade 9 and 10’s as walking in the dark can be intimidating. I know I get spooked sometimes. Watching our older students show comfort and support was a touching moment for me. That never would have happened if I separated the students back when I wanted too.
The other cool thing is the difference in walks with God. At Village Green, we are blessed to have both Jr and Sr High students that absolutely love God like crazy. They do their best to grow and encourage others to do the same. When we do our verse of the week getting to hear both the Jr and Sr High perspective on a passage has done wonders for the students as they learn together. The best part is students are finally getting comfortable enough to share their thoughts as opposed to just letting one or two say everything. This is an area we still need to grow more in but it is fun to see them trying more.
Surprising the maturity difference has been the best part. My reason for wanting the students apart was originally the maturity difference from grade 6 to 12. Which is huge and has presented struggles in our Tuesday night environment. However, now I view it as a blessing. From things like games to the lesson time to even students praying. It has been amazing to see how mature our crew is becoming. Now don’t misunderstand me, we often get off topic or carried away, myself included but there is a genuine buzz and excitement to learn together.
I am so grateful for holding off on splitting our Jr and Sr High’s because it has created this stronger bond that makes our Youth Group a family. The cool part is that we have been able to add to that family a little over this year and seeing the students excitedly accept them from the beginning is such a blessing. Now I wouldn’t want to separate the students. Yes, we split for small groups and some teaching times but I would always keep it the same night because the benefits of them together far outweigh the cons.