Shepherd’s Hill Academy

Class of 2010 Valedictorian

Jonah Chizmadia

Jonah Chizmadia 2010 Valedictorian

“Before I came to Shepherd’s Hill Academy, I was in the middle of a very tough time in my life.  I let the wrong kind of people influence me to do things that I knew weren’t healthy.  I was also in a relationship that was doing more harm than good.  On top of that; I was a senior and having to think about my future, which at that point looked very dim.

When I first came to Shepherd’s Hill Academy, like most of the guys that come here, I was not happy.  I was very angry and upset.  I wondered why God was letting this happen to me.  Little did I know He was going to use this experience to draw me the closest I had ever been to Him.  Just as Job found out the question shouldn’t be “why,” it should be “what.”  What am I to learn from this or what do you want me to do in this situation LORD?  I know one thing; He definitely wanted me to see that I shouldn’t be striving so hard for happiness because happiness is based on happenings.  What I truly needed was inner joy so that when those rough times came around again, I could lean back on the fact that I have a God who is bigger than anything that happens to me here on earth.

I admit, my stay here was no normal senior year, but it was exactly what I needed to grow my faith and bring me back to a good place so I could lead a healthy life.

The different classes and activities we did taught me a lot not only about God, but about life and relationships.  I made TRUE friends and I put the emphasis on “true.”  Friends that will hold me accountable and tell me not what I want to hear, but what I NEED to hear.  I also had counselors who taught me how to be a more Godly man, and teachers who were understanding and extremely helpful  (I probably wouldn’t have made it through calculus without Mr. Paul).

I don’t think any person that comes to this academy will ever forget their experience here.  And I truly do not believe that any person will ever be worse off for coming here.  Our teachers, our counselors, and our friends have all played very important roles in making a unique impact on our life through this boarding school.  “Shepherds” can only take you so far though.  After our time is up here, we have to make decisions for ourselves, like:  “What we are going to do with our life?”  What direction to head in, if we want to go to college or not; and if we do, what we want to do there.  We also have to decide what we are going to be living for in our life.  You could be the richest most successful man in the world by the world’s standards and still be completely empty on the inside.  To me; there is only one obvious “end” to work towards, and that is a better relationship with God.

Through Shepherd’s Hill Academy, God gave me a second chance.  I believe He can do the same for every other student at this school if they will let Him.  If you give Him the chance to work in your life; He will, and you will never be more at peace as it is said in Romans 12:1 “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”  “Do not be conformed to this world; but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”