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Youth / OPINION : Public Versus Private Schools: 'Great Things Come Out of Both' : CECILIA AK WULLER; Senior, 17, Bishop Montgomery High School, Torrance

March 29, 1993|Compiled for The Times by Erik Hamilton

If I had to come up with what most people think the biggest disadvantage of a Catholic education is, it would read something like this: "The students of private Catholic schools are all clones. They all believe the same things because they never get exposed to other religions except their own." But Catholic high school students are by no means cloistered from the ideas of society and knowledge of the beliefs of other religions. In fact, many history and religion classes in Catholic schools study these differences. Nor should it be assumed that these other viewpoints are discouraged.

This fact was demonstrated very plainly to me in my literature class during the first semester of my senior year, when one of our first assignments was to write an essay on God, and on who or what had the ultimate control of our destinies. Our teacher made it very clear that we would not be judged or criticized because of any of the ideas that we wrote about. From the start of my Catholic education (more than 13 years ago), this has always been true. Never have I heard that a student's opinion was not permitted to be expressed because it did not adhere to Catholic doctrine. A Catholic education gives students the security of being around other students who tend to share and support their beliefs, but enough freedom to challenge these beliefs and, ultimately, to help students form their own unique value system.

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